Monthly Archives: May 2018

Plan F: Changes Coming in 2020

hand pointing to the year 2020Do you have a Medigap Plan F? What changes you need to know now.

You may have heard that changes are coming to Medicare Supplements in 2020. In 2015, Congress passed MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act), a bipartisan law to provide physicians with incentives and higher pay to accept and treat more Medicare patients. MACRA added value and quality to Medicare plans, but in order to pass this, Congress needed to make changes to how Medicare patients used their supplement plans. MACRA specifically phases out Plan F and C because these plans don’t require patients to meet a deductible (essentially, it was rolled into your monthly premium), and this resulted in patients sometimes over-visiting the doctor for minor complaints.

So, who does this affect?

Most directly, MACRA affects those who will be eligible for Medicare in or after the year 2020. For all those enrollees, Plan F, High Deductible F, and the less popular C will no longer be offered. For those who are eligible before 2020, but are waiting to enroll because of employer coverage, you will still have the option to enroll in Plan F (although we don’t recommend it—keep reading to see why).

What if I currently have Plan F?

If you are currently enrolled in Plan F, you have the option to be grandfathered in and keep Plan F, but because fewer people will be on Plan F, your rates will continue to go up for the same coverage! A better option is to switch to a Plan G or N and not worry about the 2020 change. For those on the high deductible Plan F, our understanding is that a high deductible Plan G will be introduced (we’ll update this post with those details when we know them).  We strongly recommend that you switch from Plan F to a Plan G, because this won’t result in a significant change in coverage, and it’s quite likely that your rates will decrease.

How do I choose between Plan G and Plan N?

For those who are younger than the age of 70, we recommend Plan G, as it provides the same level of coverage as Plan F; the difference being a lower monthly premium with an annual deductible of $183. For those who are older than age 70, we generally recommend Plan G or N, although with Plan N, we advise a direct conversation with an independent agent who can carefully review that plan with you, as holds unique complexities. If you still feel reluctant to switch plans, you can review how the coverage compares here, and review how current sample rates compare in the chart below.*

65 70 75 80
  Male  Female   Male  Female   Male  Female   Male  Female
Plan F $130.12 $114.82 $133.15 $116.13 $153.67 $133.63  $192.15 $167.09
Plan G $103.87 $94.43 $111.55 $101.41 $134.19 $120.62 $155.11 $141.01
Plan N $87.71 $76.30 $98.21 $85.38 $116.12 $100.96 $136.28 $118.54

*(1) All rates are non-tobacco and non-discounted rates. Household discounts may be available on a case-by-case basis. And, tobacco user rates may be higher.

As you can see, Plan G and Plan N are already less costly than Plan F and the savings more than compensate for the $183 annual deductible that Plan G and N require; in our example, a 65-year-old non-smoking male on Plan G annually pays—with deductible included—a total of $1,429.44, while annually paying $1,561.44 with Plan F.

What should I do next?

Your next step should be to discuss the 2020 changes with an informed, reliable, and independent agent. An independent agent can advise you to implement the most valuable changes to your Medicare plan. At Griffin Insurance Solutions, we are successfully guiding our current clients through these changes, and we can help advise you as well. To learn more about the changes coming in 2020 or any other questions you may have about Medicare, please contact us for an in-person appointment, by email, or phone at 919-704-6147 or 800-774-1434.

 

Going to SHIIP? What you need to know

NCDOI SHIIP logo

What you need to know before your next visit to SHIIP

In North Carolina, one of your best resources to learn about the basic workings of Medicare is SHIIP, or the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, a non-biased source run by the NC Department of Insurance. But completing your coverage through them may cause some unintended (and unexpected) headaches down the road. Here’s our do’s and don’ts guide for your next conversation or visit with SHIIP.

So, who should visit SHIIP?

If, after researching online, you still feel unsure about how Original Medicare works or how to complete your coverage, SHIIP may be the place to go for your in-person consultation with your local SHIIP “Counselor.” Most Counselors are unlicensed volunteers who have enough training to answer basic questions about Medicare in North Carolina. But, make sure you prepare ahead with all your questions because SHIIP is by-appointment only.

Can I sign up for Medicare with them?


No and yes, but you shouldn’t. Here’s why:

For Parts A and B, no. The only way to enroll in Medicare A and B is either online or at your local Social Security office, and SHIIP directs you to do so.

For Medicare Supplements, they cannot sign you up, but they do offer estimates. Unfortunately, the estimates they give you are not up-to-date and may not be the best you can get. So, although SHIIP gives you an estimate to an appealing plan and may even provide you with a direct phone number of the supplying insurance company, you might miss out on some of the finer points and discounts that an independent licensed agent can help you find, like if you are eligible for a spousal discount. So, you might leave the SHIIP office paying more for your coverage than necessary.

For Prescription Drug Plans, they can assist you with signing up, and their prices are accurate. But we strongly recommend that you don’t enroll with SHIIP because you will need an agent to maintain and adjust your coverage over the coming years. If you enroll in a drug plan without an agent, he or she cannot step in on your behalf with the insurer if/when you later find a problem or need to make any changes, like to cover a new prescription or to switch pharmacies.

For Medicare Advantage Plans, SHIIP can also help you enroll, but, again, given how many moving parts there are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, we wouldn’t advise that you enroll with them. Between the annual changes, the varying prescription coverage, the networks, and the co-pays versus the deductibles, it’s very difficult to find a tailored fit without the expertise of an independent agent and the options he or she can offer.

If you’ve already signed up for a Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan through SHIIP, never fear, you can still re-enroll with an agent at the annual open enrollment time (between Oct 15 and Dec 7th).

Takeaways?

SHIIP is a valuable resource for learning about all aspects of Medicare, but when it comes to enrolling, you are best served by finding an independent agency like Griffin Insurance Solutions who can give you unbiased guidance to make the best decision for your Medicare coverage needs. We use quote engines to find the best rates and offer plans from over 15 different insurers to help seniors find the best plans tailored for them every day, and we can do the same for you. Contact us today for an in-person appointment by email or phone at 919-704-6147 or 800-774-1434.