2018 Washington Medicare Supplement plans
(Definitive Guide)

Mike Worrell

Mike Worrell

Independent Medicare Broker

What Are Medicare Supplement plans?

-Medicare Supplement Plans, also know as Medigap, are Standardized Insurance plans that pay the remaining balance after Medicare pays their portion, leaving you with little to no out of pocket expenses. If you have original Medicare in addition to a Medicare supplement you can go to any medical facility in the entire country. So long as they accept Medicare they must take a Medicare supplement from any company.

What’s the difference between Medicare Supplement companies?

-There is no difference in coverage or functionality. What is different is the premiums they charge and how often they raise their premiums. Please review the paragraph below. It’s taken from page 9 of the “Choosing a Medigap Policy” Published by Medicare

Medicare_Supplements_Are_All_the_Same

What do the different Medicare Supplements cover?

Medicare Supplement Plan F

-Plan F pays all of the cost sharing and co-pays left over from Original Medicare leaving you with no out of pocket expenses.

Medicare Supplement plan G

Plan G, is nearly identical to plan F. The only difference between Plan F and Plan G is the $183 Medicare part B deductible. Plan G is almost always the most cost effective route when selecting a Medicare supplement plan. The amount of annual premium between a Plan F and a Plan G greatly exceeds that small $183 annual deductible making Plan G the best financial choice.

Great Video On Comparing Plan F to Plan G

Medicare Supplement Plan N

-Plan N, is a little different. Plan N you pay the $183 Medicare Part B deductible, you pay an office visit co-pay up to $20, an Emergency room co-pay up to $50, and it does not cover Medicare Part B excess charges. What I mean by “up-to $20” is the co-pays are 20% of the bill capped at $20. So if you go to a primary care doctor and Medicare approves $80, your co-pay would be $16. Plan N can make sense for some people but it does add financial risk to the table. The biggest risk factor being no coverage for Part B excess charges, which you can learn more about a few paragraphs below.

Medicare Supplement plans A/B/C/D/K/L (E,H,I,J are all no longer available)

These plans are rarely purchased today because you can almost always get better benefits from an F/G/N and pay a similar or less premium for it.

Medicare Supplement plan E,H,I,J

Medicare discontinued these plans for a few different reasons. Some of the plans had duplicate benefits of other plans. Also some of the plans just weren’t a good fit for most people so they stopped allowing them to be sold.

Mike's Take: "It's generally best to stick with a Plan G or a Plan F. All things considered, co-pays for the doctor, Co-pays for the Emergency room, plus no coverage for Part B excess charges. I don't think Plan N is worth the addition risk for the minor savings in premium"
Mike Worrell

What Are Part B Excess Charges?

Medicare Part B excess charges are when a provider or Medicare facility does not accept Medicare Assignment. That means they are allowed to charge above and beyond the amount that Medicare has approved for that particular treatment. The provider is still limited in how much more they can charge, they are allowed to charge 15% more than the approved amount, and Medicare will approve 5% less than they normally would anyway. So it’s 15% more than that lesser amount. Confusing huh! Also Medicare will only reimburse the patient if the medical facility doesn’t accept Medicare assignment. Most standard medical facilities accept Medicare Assignment. However, specialty centers (if they’re willing to accept Medicare they often don’t accept assignment) which means if your Medicare supplement does not cover Part B excess charges, you would be liable for those bills. A few examples of facilities that don’t accept Medicare Assignment would be: the Mayo clinic, and other specialty treatment centers for certain diseases and cancers.

How Can you Avoid The Hassle of Part B Excess Charges?

A Medicare Supplement plan F and Plan G both provide coverage for Part B excess charges. Another semi-popular plan, plan N– does not cover part B excess charges. So that is a risk you’d need to be willing to accept if you decide to purchase plan N.  Over at Medicare.gov they have a list of all the Medicare Supplements (medigap) plans available and you can see what plans cover Part B excess charges: Medicare Part B excess Charges

Do Medicare Supplements Have Pre-Existing Health Condition Exclusions?

This is never an issue unless there’s a lack of communication between you and your agent, provided your agent is competent, which unfortunately sometimes isn’t the case. While a select few companies do have Pre-Existing condition exclusions, it’s only for people who haven’t had creditable coverage. If you’re just starting Medicare, as long as you’ve had either employer coverage or some other form of health insurance you’ve purchased, a company can not use a Pre-Existing condition exclusion on you and has to cover 100% of your Medical claims from day one. If for some reason you have no insurance and you’re starting Medicare, let your insurance agent know, so they can steer you away from plans that have Pre-existing condition exclusions.

Mike's Take: "This is one of the reasons it's important to work with a seasoned Medicare agent. A lot of agents aren't aware of Pre-Existing condition exclusions and how they can impact consumers."
Mike Worrell

How Does A Medicare Supplement (Medigap Plan) Benefit You?

FREEDOM OF CHOICE

 –If you have original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan, you have the freedom to pick and choose your doctors. You even have the freedom to choose your hospitals. You choose who you want to see and where you want to go. It’s insurance coverage on your terms. 

CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTHCARE

 – You have the power to choose the treatment options that suit your particular needs, instead of your insurance plan choosing for you ( which is the case with Medicare advantage). This is the BIGGEST upside to Medicare and a supplement. No one wants to be at the mercy of their health insurance picking and choosing their treatment especially not later in life. Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement is the option where you get to stay in control. 

YOUR COVERAGE NEVER CHANGES

Once you purchase a Medicare supplement plan, it is highly unlikely your coverage will change at all for the foreseeable future. You never have to change a Medicare Supplement plan or worry about it down the road. If you have a good agent they will reach out periodically ( once a year or every few years) to help lower your premiums but that’s about it.

YOU CAN TRAVEL!

-You’re retiring, it’s time to do some much needed travel! What if I told you over 30% of seniors on Medicare have an insurance that doesn’t allow them to travel safely? The only way to travel the country safely is with original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement plan. A Medicare advantage plan limits coverage to the specific county you purchased it in. Advantage plans are required to cover you in emergency situations outside of that county, but not without astronomical out of pocket costs to you. 

You Don’t Have To Deal With Medicare Advantage Plans!

– Medicare advantage are the plans that replace Medicare. Aside from having zero of the benefits above, they also come with other major downsides. You have cost sharing and co-pays for EVERYTHING that you do. Some of your treatment is only covered at 80%, leaving you with the other 20% under Medicare Advantage. In most cases you give up the right to dictate your healthcare through an HMO. An HMO is a Health Maintenance Organization. The entire purpose of an HMO is to manage YOUR healthcare to ensure you’re not wasting the companies money. Is that really the type of insurance you want covering you in your later years?  You can learn more on of our other pages here: https://washingtonmedicareplans.com/medicare-advantage/ 

Mike's Take: A Medicare Supplement, is all around better than Medicare Advantage. If you want Freedom of choice, Financial Protection from Health care costs, and the Freedom to Travel. Medicare Advantage should be off the table completely.
Mike Worrell

How Do I Sign Up For A Medicare Supplement Plan?

Applications for Medicare supplement plans are very easy nowadays. Most applications can be completed in a matter of minutes right over the phone with a simple voice or email signature. We strongly recommend working with an independent agent when signing up for a Medicare Supplement. An independent agent should be able to show you the lowest priced plans in your area, but should also maintain a relationship with you over the coming years advising you on opportunities to lower your premiums– saving you money.

What’s Unique About Washington State And Medicare Supplements?

Washington State has some very unique Medicare supplement rules. In Washington, you’re able to move from Medicare supplement to Medicare supplement with out having to worry about your health. As long as you have one of the Medigap plan letters B-N, you are able to switch to another company or another plan no health questions asked. Washington state Medigap plans are also community rated, which means everyone pays the same premium regardless of age or gender.

Mutual of Omaha Medigap

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Learning Center

We work with Many Medicare Supplement Insurance companys, but Mutual of Omaha has a great resource center to help educate people just starting Medicare- Click Here