By David Forbes
What makes Medicare supplement plan N a good alternative to an Advantage plan? Your Medicare Advantage plan can change every year. The benefits can change, the premium can increase or the plan may not renew for the following year. What if you don't like the changes? Or maybe your Medicare Advantage plan is not renewing for the following year.
Take a look at Medicare supplement plan N as a viable alternative. Plan N was introduced in June 2010 as one of the new Modernized Medicare supplement plans. Plan N offers more freedom than an Advantage plan, as well as lower premiums than most other Medicare supplement plans. In some cases, it will have lower premiums than some of the Medicare Advantage options that are available. Benefits are fairly comprehensive Benefits of plan N include: Medicare Part A:
Part A hospital deductible
Part A hospital coinsurance
Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
Medicare Part B:
Part B outpatient coinsurance
Foreign travel emergency - 80% to lifetime max of $50,000 after $250 calendar year deductible
Premiums for Medicare supplement plan N are less than other supplements because the policy holder will share some of the outpatient costs. If you purchase this supplement, you will be responsible for:
The Part B deductible - currently $155 annually
Up to a $20 co-pay for a doctors visit
Up to a $50 co-pay for an emergency room visit
Why Medicare supplement Plan N is a smart alternative to a Medicare Advantage plan When you purchase plan N you are not bound by any network restrictions like many Advantage plans. Also, supplements offer standardized benefits from one company to the next and are readily accepted by medical providers. Because these are standardized plans, it is easy to compare one company to another. The difference between plan N from one company to the next is price and the perceived level of customer service.
Other than the small co-pays for doctors visits and ER visits, you will have very little out-of-pocket expense. No deductibles or daily co-pays for inpatient hospital stays are required. You may have less out-of-pocket expenses for some outpatient procedures. Many Advantage plans require the same coinsurance levels as original Medicare for outpatient surgery and other medical services. Your plan N supplement will cover the 20% coinsurance for outpatient surgery that Medicare doesn't pay. Unlike an Advantage plan, plan N is not an annual plan and you are not subject to enrollment periods. Many providers are offering plan N with limited underwriting and pre-existing conditions are not relevant in many cases. If your Medicare Advantage plan is not being renewed you are guaranteed acceptance into a Medicare supplement plan.
What are you missing?
Supplements fill in the gaps left by Medicare. You are generally not afforded additional benefits, like dental, vision or gym memberships. So you need to determine the importance of these ancillary services compared to the freedom and level of coverage offered by the supplement. Medicare supplements do not include Part D drug coverage. You will need to purchase a separate drug plan and will still be subject to Part D enrollment periods. Whether or not the plan will fit your budget is obviously a huge factor. But that said, there are Advantage plans with higher premiums than plan N.
One benefit of a standardized plan, is that it lends itself to being easy to shop for online. Unlike an Advantage plan, you don't need to review dozens of brochures to learn about the differences from one plan to the next. The benefits are the same with Medicare supplement plan N no matter which company you are looking at and you should be able to compare plans online with little trouble.
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