Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plan F
Medicare Plan F covers more expenses than other supplement plans, and it's one of just two plans that pay for the Part B deductible. It also covers the Part B excess charge, a benefit that’s just as rare. But monthly premiums are typically higher than other plans, so if Plan F has more coverage than you need, this might not be the plan for you.
The rules for who can enroll in Medigap plan F have changed starting January 1, 2020. If you're newly eligible for Medicare in 2020, skip ahead to find out how this update will affect you.
Medicare Plan F: Who is it for?
- People on a fixed income: When your deductibles and most cost-sharing expenses are covered, your out-of-pocket costs may be more predictable.
- International travelers: Plan F may cover most of your health care costs while traveling abroad.
- People expecting high health care costs: Plan F’s higher premiums may be worth it for those with a lot of medical expenses to cover.
- People who became eligible for Medicare before 2020: You can still enroll in Plan F, even if you've never had this particular plan before.
John is 73, and he has end-stage renal disease (ESRD). He’s choosing Plan F because he needs regular kidney dialysis, as well as physical therapy for an old shoulder injury. He has a wife and helps care for two teenage grandchildren, so John needs fixed health care costs each month. Several times a year, he and his family visit relatives in Mexico, and John sometimes receives care while out of the country.
What coverage does Medicare Plan F offer?
Like other Medicare Supplement plans, Plan F covers Part A and Part B costs that you’d otherwise have to pay out of pocket. To learn what costs other parts of Medicare cover, read our Ultimate Medicare Guide.
Medicare Plan F coverage
Is it covered?
Part A coinsurance past 365 days
Part B coinsurance or copayment
Blood (first 3 pints)
Part A hospice coinsurance or copayment
Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
Part A deductible
Part B deductible
Part B excess charge
Foreign travel exchange
Part B out-of-pocket limit
Table created using information available at Medicare.gov as of 7/29/2020.
Medicare Part B costs
Plan F is one of two Medicare Supplement plans that covers Part B excess charges (what some doctors charge above what Medicare pays for a service). Plan C is the other.
Like many other Medigap policies, Plan F also covers Part B copayments and the deductible. That means you could see a doctor with little to no money out of your own pocket.
Medicare Part A costs
Plan F also covers many Part A expenses, such as coinsurance for hospital stays, a skilled nursing facility, and hospice care. You’ll also have coverage for the first three pints of blood, should you ever need a transfusion. After that, Part A takes over to pay for additional blood.
Plan F also covers the Part A deductible, which resets with each new benefit period (typically when you’re admitted into the hospital the next time).
Original Medicare doesn’t pay for health care costs incurred abroad, but Plan F can cover up to 80% of those costs. When out of the country, you could pay as little as 20% for care.
What you need to know before enrolling in Medicare Plan F
While Plan F offers more coverage than other Medicare Supplement plans, it’s not right for everyone. Two alternatives to regular Plan F—Plan G and high deductible Plan F—could be a better option for you.
Medigap Plan F will have limited availability
Beginning in 2020, Plans F and C, which cover the Part B deductible, are no longer available to people newly eligible to Medicare after January 1, 2020. If you became eligible for Medicare in 2019 or earlier, however, you can still enroll in Plan F in 2020 and beyond. Learn more about the elimination of Plan F for newly eligible enrollees—and how that may affect your decision to enroll in this plan.
Medicare Plan F vs. Plan G
Plan F offers the most comprehensive Medigap coverage available, so it's not a surprise that it's the most popular plan nationwide. Lately, however, Plan G has been giving F a run for its money—especially since Plan F is no longer available to newly eligible Medicare recipients. The only thing F covers that G doesn't is the Part B deductible ($198 in 2020), but Plan G’s lower premiums may make up the difference.
Plan G is also the only other Medigap plan with a high deductible option.
High deductible Plan F
In addition to regular Plan F, some states also offer a high-deductible version. This plan covers everything a regular Plan F does, but in 2020, you’ll be responsible for paying the first $2,340 (up from $2,300 in 2019) of costs out of your own pocket before coverage kicks in. In return, you could pay lower premiums each month.
Get Medigap Plan F
As the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, Plan F could be a logical choice for many Medicare recipients. If it seems like the right choice, call a licensed insurance agent who can help you choose the right insurance company for your needs.
When can I apply for Medigap Plan F?
While you can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan at any time, you may pay much higher Plan F premiums if you wait too long to sign up. During your one-time Medigap Open Enrollment Period, insurers can’t turn you down or make you wait for coverage due to preexisting conditions. Outside this period, all bets are off.
Is Medicare Supplement better than Medicare Advantage?
Medicare Supplement is an additional insurance policy you can buy to help cover costs that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn’t. Medicare Advantage is a way to receive Part A and B, as well as additional benefits such as dental care, eye exams, and prescription drug coverage, all in one package.
Which is better depends on your situation.
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