Trying to understand your Medicare options can seem like staring into a bowl of alphabet soup — there are a lot of little pieces and so many letters. For instance, what are the best Medicare Part F plans?
If your health insurance plan includes Medicare, you need to understand what is offered and any costs you may incur. Benzinga’s done the research to help you sort through Medicare and better understand Medicare Part F plans.
An Important Note About Medicare Part F
An important note for consumers: As of January 1, 2020 individuals who are newly eligible for Medicare cannot enroll in Plan F. However, if you have Plan F already, you can keep it.
So, if you’re just starting Medicare and you want Medicare Supplement coverage, you will need to choose a different plan. Plan G is the closest in terms of benefits, as it covers all the same things except for the Part B deductible.
That said, read on to learn more about the best Medicare Part F plans.
Best Medicare Part F Plans:
Medicare Part F Plans Overview
Medicare is the federal health insurance program. It covers people who are 65 or older, people of any age with end-stage renal disease and younger people on Social Security disability. It has several parts and each covers a different aspect of healthcare.
Part A: This covers hospital care and includes skilled nursing care and some home health care.
Part B: Includes doctors’ services and outpatient care — any treatment that doesn’t require an overnight stay.
Part C: This part is a little different. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are actually Part C of Medicare. Insurance companies offer these plans as a way to provide your Part A and Part B services. These plans are optional, and some people choose Medicare Supplemental insurance (often referred to as Medigap) or remain with just Original Medicare as an alternative to an MA plan.
Part D: Part D is Medicare’s prescription coverage. You may receive Part D coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan. You can also buy a standalone Part D plan to go with A and B or your Medicare Supplement policy coverage.
When people refer to Part F, they likely are referring to a Medicare Supplement plan. We’ll go into more depth about Medicare Supplement Plan F below.
Why should you consider a plan to supplement Medicare? If you just have Medicare Parts A and B without any other coverage, you may get hit with high out-of-pocket costs when you need care. As a result, the majority of Medicare beneficiaries opt for a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan to help with those costs.
Some of Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs include:
Hospital stay deductible: This is the Original Medicare Part A deductible. You have a deductible for each benefit period you are hospitalized. You can have multiple benefit periods in a year, which means that you can pay the deductible multiple times each year. If you are hospitalized for more than 60 days, you also have to pay coinsurance.
Doctors’ services: This is called Part B coinsurance. You pay 20% of all covered doctors’ services and other outpatient medical care. While 20% may not seem like much, given the high cost of healthcare today, 20% can add up quickly.
Medicare plans can help cover these out-of-pocket costs, as well as offer additional benefits.
Medicare Supplement Plan F
The federal government standardizes Medicare Supplement plans (except for a few states). As a result, a Plan F from one insurance company provides the same benefits as a Plan F from another company. No matter the provider, Plan F covers:
- Part A coinsurance for hospitalization
- Part B coinsurance
- The first 3 pints of blood if you need a transfusion
- Part A coinsurance for hospice care
- Part A coinsurance for skilled nursing care
- Part A deductible
- Part B deductible
- Part B excess charges
- 80% of foreign travel emergency charges (up to your plan’s limits)
Part B excess charges come from healthcare providers that don’t accept Medicare assignment. Assignment is when healthcare providers agree to accept what Medicare pays.
If doctors don’t accept assignment, they can charge up to 15% over the nonparticipating provider amount approved by Medicare. If the nonparticipating provider amount for a service is $1,000, the doctor could charge you an additional $150. That $150 wouldn’t be covered by Medicare. Plan F covers those costs.
Since all Medicare Supplement Plan Fs have the same benefits, consider reviewing each insurance company’s pricing and service. You can review costs using our simple tool. Just enter your ZIP code, and in a few clicks, you’ll see plans from our trusted partners.
Many consumers prefer to work with a local Medicare insurance broker who can help them compare their options and costs. The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance makes available an online directory that can be accessed without entering any personal information.
Legalities Surrounding Medicare Part F Plans
As a federal insurance program, Medicare offers certain rights and protections to all its beneficiaries. If you purchase a Medicare Part F, your rights include:
- Protection from discrimination
- Being treated with respect
- Receiving information in an understandable way
- Having your personal information kept private
- The ability to file a complaint
If you have a complaint about Medicare, you can file a complaint with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the department that oversees Medicare.
Private insurance companies sell Medicare Supplement plans like Plan F, and each state regulates insurance companies. If you have a complaint about your Medicare Supplement plan, contact your state health state insurance assistance program.
Most states also provide free assistance with understanding Medicare and Medicare plans. You can find your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) by visiting SHIP’s website.
Enrolling in Plan F
The best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement like Plan F (also known as a Medigap plan) is during your Medicare Supplement open enrollment. Your open enrollment starts the first day of the month you turn 65 and start Part B of Medicare. If you wait to start Part B because you have other insurance coverage, your open enrollment will start the month your Part B begins.
If you don’t enroll during your open enrollment, you may not be able to enroll in a plan. This is because insurance companies can ask you to answer health questions if you’re not in open enrollment, and they can decline coverage.
Another wrinkle in Plan F is that people who start Medicare after January 1, 2020 can’t enroll in Plan F. It’s no longer available. If you have Plan F already, you can keep it. If you already have Medicare, you may be able to enroll.
But if you’re just starting Medicare and you want a Medicare Supplement, you’ll need to choose a different plan. Plan G is the closest in terms of benefits, as it covers all the same things except for the Part B deductible.
Best Medicare Part F Insurance Providers
If you are eligible for Medicare Plan F, take a look at our picks for the best insurance providers.
1. Best Overall for Medicare Part F: Blue Cross Blue Shield
Blue Cross Blue Shield insures 1 in 3 Americans. Although it’s a large company, it’s broken up into local providers so you still receive excellent service.
Blue Cross Blue Shield has an extensive network of doctors and is rated highly for quality of care and clear online educational materials to help you fully understand your benefits.
2. Cheapest Medicare Part F Plan: Humana
Humana typically offers some of the cheapest Medicare plans around, but plans do vary from state to state. Humana offers a range of Medicare Supplement plans, and you can choose to enroll in a Part D prescription plan with Humana too.
Humana website allows you to manage your plan online. You can view and print a new ID or check the status of your claims at any time.
3. Best for Education: Aetna
Aetna offers educational materials on its website to help you understand your Medicare benefits. It offers a range of Medicare Supplement plans and other Medicare coverage.
If you need help, you can speak to a representative who specializes in your type of plan and receive support as you navigate the enrollment process.
4. Best for In-Person Service: Mutual of Omaha
Mutual of Omaha has local agents to help you choose the best Medicare Supplement plan for your needs.
The company also offers dental and prescription coverage, so if needed, you can purchase everything from 1 place.
Is a Part F Plan Right for You?
Don’t let the Medicare alphabet soup of Medicare options intimidate you. Medicare and Medicare Supplements like Plan F come with advantages — plans are portable and you don’t need referrals to see a specialist. When you pay your monthly premium, most of your out-of-pocket costs are taken care of.
To find plans in your area, give our simple tool a try. It just takes a few clicks to find the coverage you need.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different parts of Medicare?
Medicare has 4 parts named Parts A, B, C, and D. Part A provides hospitalization coverage while Part B provides outpatient coverage, like doctor visits. Parts A and B make up Medicare’s core coverages. Part C is provides private-market Medicare plans, called Medicare Advantage Plans. Part C coverage often includes additional benefits. Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs. Get a Medicare Insurance Quote through the top providers here.
Is Medicare free?
Because there are 4 parts to Medicare, there can be different cost structures. Most people won’t have to pay for Medicare Part A (hospitalization). Eligibility for premium-free Part A is based on your work history during which you paid Medicare taxes. Many people do pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, however, which covers outpatient medical services, like doctor visits. Deductibles also apply to services covered under Medicare Parts A and B, so you’ll pay a part of the annual cost.
Medicare Parts C and D are optional coverages and have premium costs of their own. Medicare Part C refers to Medicare Advantage Plans that offer additional coverage in exchange for a monthly premium. Part D, the prescription plan, reduces the cost of medications but also requires a monthly premium. Subsidies may be available for low income households to help reduce overall Medicare costs.
Do I need to sign up for Medicare?
If you signed up for Social Security before age 65, you were enrolled in Medicare automatically but benefits will begin at age 65. In most cases, there are penalties for not enrolling at age 65, so it pays to sign up on time. Click here to get a medicare quote in minutes from the best providers.
If you have employer coverage, you may be able to delay Medicare coverage while your work plan is still in force. However, the size of the employer determines whether you’ll pay a penalty for not enrolling at age 65. Employees (and their spouses) of companies that offer group health insurance to 20 or more people are usually exempt from late sign-up penalties if they are covered by the employer’s plan.