UNITED STATES—Toni: We have received a 20 percent increase in our Plan F Medicare Supplement. I am a 70-year-old female in decent health, but my husband is undergoing cancer treatment at MD Anderson. Also, his cardiologist has advised him that he may need a pacemaker.

I understand that Medicare Annual Enrollment is our time to change our Medicare Supplement plans. I’m concerned that with the Medicare Supplement increase that we may not be able to afford the premiums with future increases. Would a Medicare Advantage plan be a good option to change to with Fred’s cancer issues? What we should do? Cathy from Little Rock.

In 2015, Congress passed legislation called “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015” (MACRA) to help the medical industry by correcting the “Doc Fix” proposal. MACRA also made changes to Medicare Supplement’s plans F and C which began on January 1, 2020.

Many are wondering can I make a change, or do I have to wait until October 15 when Medicare Annual Enrollment begins.

I have good news for you and the Toni Says® Medicare article readers because you do not have to wait until Medicare Annual Enrollment to make a Medicare Supplement change because you can change your Medicare Supplement any time during the year. Medicare Annual Enrollment is a time to change your Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan

You are not alone with receiving a Medicare Supplement increase because it seems that many of the Medicare Supplement insurance companies are giving renewal increases with many Medicare Supplement plans and not just with Plan F.

Those who want to change their current Medicare Supplement plan and have had their Medicare Part B longer than 6 months must now answer underwriting questions regarding their health as you and your husband will have to do.

Cathy, you have an option to change from Plan F to other Medicare Supplement plans such as plan G or N, but you must qualify medically. If you cannot qualify because of a health issue, then there is a Medicare Advantage plan which puts you in control of your healthcare called a Medicare Savings Account (MSA).

Difference between a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage MSA Plan:

  • Medicare Supplement Plan G: offers lower rates and the same Medicare benefits as Plan F except the Medicare Part B deductible is not covered and will be paid for by the enrolled Medicare beneficiary. Part B deductible for 2020 is $198. The 2021 Original Medicare costs and deductibles have not been released yet.
  • Medicare Supplement Plan N: generally, has lower premiums than Plan G with generally more out of pocket. There is a $20 co pay for a doctor visit with $50 co pay for emergency room.  Part B deductible is not covered, and Part B excess charges are not paid for by the insurance company which Plan G includes.
  • Medicare Advantage MSA (Medicare Savings Account): high deductible Medicare Advantage health plan plus a special savings account for medical expenses. No network see any Medicare provider or facility that will bill the MSA plan. Can only enroll in MSA during Medicare Annual Enrollment Period from October 15 to December 7.

Caution:  You can change your Medicare Supplement policy at any time. Do not cancel your existing policy until you have been approved by your new insurance company.

  • Toni Says Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Online Zoom Webinar begins Thursday, October 15 at 4:00 p.m. Online reservation link is available at www.tonisays.com.

Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide® is giving a $5 discount on the  Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book to the Toni Says Medicare column readers at www.tonisays.com.