With the slow weeding out of Plan F, the two most popular Medicare Supplement Plans are Plan N and Plan G. But which is better?
What are Medicare Supplement Plans?
Medicare Supplement Plans were designed to cover the gaps of original Medicare, namely coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums. They will not cover services not already covered by Medicare (such as dental, vision, hearing, etc…). There’s a full list of benefits offered by Medicare Supplement Plans on Medicare.gov.
Basically, although Original Medicare provides excellent coverage, costs for coinsurance and deductibles can become quite expensive. Also, because Original Medicare does not have out of pocket limits, these bills can stack up endlessly. That’s why many people sign up for Supplement Plans (aka Medigap). Essentially, you’ll pay a little more upfront in the form of monthly premiums to limit overall out of pocket costs.
There are many different plans to choose from all with different levels of coverage and different price points. Remember, these plans are standardized, but the price you pay for your monthly premium is determined by your location, your carrier, and other factors. Always make sure to shop around or use a trusted broker.
Plan G vs. Plan N Benefits
Plan G & Plan N look very similar at first glance. This is why it can be so difficult to choose between the two. Both plans offer:
- Part A Hospital Coinsurance
- Part A Hospice Coinsurance
- Blood Transfusion (3 Pints)
- Part A Deductible
- Part A Nursing Coinsurance
- Foreign Travel (80%)
- Part B Deductible
Plan G will cover Part B coinsurance entirely. Plan N has copays associated with Part B. You may be charged a $20 copay for office visits and a $50 copay for the ER. Additionally, Plan G covers Part B excess charges and Plan N does not.
Plan G offers little more coverage, so usually the monthly premiums will be higher. As always, it depends on the carrier and your location. Medicare.gov will also ask your age, gender, and if you use tobacco products. You can logon to Medicare.gov and use the plan finder to find the price range specific to you. Unfortunately to narrow it down further, you’d have to contact each carrier individually. Remember, you will not receive any type of discount or incentive by going directly to the carrier, so it’s in your best interest to utilize a broker. Specially look for a licensed broker who will not charge you an additional fee.
Also, remember all supplement plans increase on a yearly basis to account for inflation and rising health care costs. Plan N is going to increase at a slightly slower rate. That is because Plan N is not guaranteed issue. That means that if you enroll outside your individual enrollment period (which for supplement plans is the 6 months after your turn 65 AND enroll in Medicare Part B) you may be subject to medical underwriting and therefore denied based on your health.
Out of Pocket Costs
With both plans, you’ll need to continue to pay for your Medicare Part B premiums in addition to your supplement plan’s premiums. For Plan G, that’s it. So, it’s very easy to calculate your health insurance costs. It’s just your Part B premium plus your supplement plan’s monthly premiums.
Plan N has a few more costs. You need to be aware of copays and Part B excess charges. You’ll be charged a max copay of $20 for doctor’s visits and $50 for the ER. So factor the frequency of those visits into your yearly budget.
Part B Excess Charges
Then there are Part B excess charges. If a doctor accepts Medicare, generally speaking they accept the amount that Medicare pays. A small amount choose to charge what’s known as Medicare Part B excess charges. They can charge up to 15% in excess of what Medicare will pay out. And if your plan does not cover Part B excess charges, you will be responsible for these costs. Plan N does not cover Part B excess charges.
Bear in mind, some states don’t even allow Part B excess charges. However, if you need to visit a specialist that charges them, you should be aware. Also, many centers of excellence have Part B excess charges.
And the Winner is…
So, which is the winner? Well, you decide! It depends on what your needs are and what premiums you can access. Plan G offers a little more peace of mind. Plan N has the potential for savings, but you better watch out for those copays and excess charges. As always, it’s an entirely personal decision based entirely on your needs.
Remember, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan year round, so why wait? You can reach us at iHealthBrokers at 888-918-0518 or schedule an appointment today.
Jesse Smedley is the Principal Broker for iHealthBrokers and the founder, president, and CEO of Smedley Insurance Group, Inc. and iHealthBrokers.com. Since the inception of SIG in 2007, Jesse has been dedicated to helping people save money on their health insurance by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their health insurance options, both under age 65 and Medicare beneficiaries. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for expert columns regarding health insurance and Medicare.