With time often comes change, and this time, these changes impact beneficiaries as the new year rolls around. What types of modifications to Medicare can be anticipated this upcoming year? Turns out, there are quite a few things to look for as we rapidly approach the new year.
Not only will these changes have quite an effect on current beneficiaries, but they’ll also impact any future beneficiaries joining Medicare. From everything to the elimination of first-dollar coverage plans, to introducing new alternative plans, there’s no doubt that 2020 will sure be a big change in comparison to 2019.
What to Expect in 2020
Beginning January 2020, first-dollar coverage plans won’t be available for beneficiaries; at least not those that are Medicare eligible after 2020. Also, new plan options like the rumored High Deductible Plan G will become available.
While these Medicare plans may differ from what is currently offered, they are still beneficiary-friendly in cost, as well as in coverage.
First-Dollar Coverage Plans
These are Medicare supplement plans that pay the first dollar of coverage leaving a beneficiary with zero out-of-pocket costs. In other words, this is a form of insurance coverage that bears no deductible.
These forms of coverage plans do carry larger premiums because of the high value of coverage. Current first-dollar coverage plans include Plan C, Plan F and High Deductible Plan F.
Not only will these changes have quite an effect on current beneficiaries, but they impact any future beneficiaries that will be joining Medicare in 2020.
Discontinuation of First-Dollar Coverage Plans
All Medigap plans that cover Medicare Part B deductibles will be eliminated. The reasoning behind this move is a decision made by Congress, in which they believe that Medicare beneficiaries are over-utilizing healthcare services.
Without any out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries, they were able to over-use benefits without question. With this change in ensuring everyone meets their Part B deductible, lawmakers are hoping to help prevent beneficiaries from continuing to over-use healthcare services when not always necessarily needed.
Congress is just trying to help find ways to lower Medicare expenses, and this is one of their solutions. However, some feel that deductibles prevent beneficiaries from getting proper care because of the costs. This, in turn, could potentially end up in a domino effect, and cause worsening conditions.
Changes Beneficiaries Can Expect
Any beneficiary who becomes eligible for Medicare after 2020 will have these changes applied to them. Beneficiaries turning 65 years old before the first of the new year, will still be eligible for first-dollar plans. These individuals are grandfathered in.
Anyone who is currently on a first-dollar plan won’t have to worry about changes. If you won’t eligible for a first-dollar coverage plan, there may still be alternatives to help alleviate some out of pocket costs.
Plan N could be a great alternative to first dollar coverage. This is a cost-sharing plan; beneficiaries are responsible for a co-payment of up to $20 for physician visits and $50 for emergency room visits. Plus, rate increases should remain low on this policy since it’s not Guarantee Issue for those losing creditable coverage.
Plan G is another great alternative to first dollar coverage. Medigap Plan F and G are structured very similarly. The Plan G offers a much lower premium than Plan F.
Another new option that is going to be available is Medigap High Deductible Plan G. This policy is almost identical to High Deductible Plan F and should have a similar premium. Currently no insurance companies are selling this policy; however, it’s expected to become available in time for 2020.
Many different things come into play when choosing the best policy for a beneficiary and their needs. Health conditions, eligibility, and locations; just to name a few. Typically, seniors tend to go with Plan G because of all that this plan has to offer.
It’s Important to Remember
If an individual is eligible for Medicare before 2020, they can enroll in a first-dollar coverage plan; despite the discontinuation of first-dollar coverage plans taking place.
Another thing to note is that if a beneficiary turned 65 years old in 2019 and didn’t enroll in Medicare Part B until after 2020, they still qualify for enrollment to a first-dollar coverage plan. This is because they were Medicare-eligible before the first of 2020 and that eligibility continues for life.
As far as new beneficiaries go, several alternative options are available. Rather than the Plan C, Plan F and a high deductible Plan F’s from 2019, Medicare will now offer Plan N, Plan G and a high deductible Plan G.
Patients will also be required to meet their Part-B deductible, but the costs of the alternative plans seem to align with the costs of the previous plans, before 2020. The biggest difference is paying the first dollar of coverage yourself instead of the insurance company paying first.
Jagger Esch is the president and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ, a senior healthcare learning resource center. As a young entrepreneur and seasoned insurance expert, Esch has a passion for helping people. He has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate them on all their Medicare options.