Medicare Part F: What Is It? What Does It Cover? What Does It Cost?
Medicare Part F is the most popular Medicare supplement plan around. Here’s why, plus what it covers and costs.
The good news for Americans who aren’t entirely happy with the health coverage Original Medicare provides them is that they have options.
In particular, they have options when it comes to finding supplemental insurance that will help them pay some of the healthcare costs Medicare Part A and Part B don’t cover.
The bad news for those very same people is that the many options available to them in this area can quickly become overwhelming.
For starters, they have to choose between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement insurance. And should they decide to go with Medicare Supplement insurance, also known as both MedSup and Medigap, they have even more choices to make. Specifically, they need to choose between 10 different MedSup plans.
If that sounds intimidating, consider this: one MedSup plan is far and away more popular than the rest. Which one? Plan F — or as it’s sometimes called, Medicare Part F. You may also see or hear it called Medicare Supplement Plan F, MedSup Plan F, Medigap Plan F and Medicare Plan F.
Should you enroll in Medicare Part F just because many other Americans enroll in it? Of course not. After educating yourself on its coverages and its costs, though, you may well come to the conclusion that Plan F is the best MedSup plan for you.
Speaking of which, in this article, you’ll learn about and find answers to important questions like:
- What is Medicare Supplement Plan F?
- What does Medicare Part F cover?
- How does MedSup Plan F compare to other MedSup plans?
- What does Medicare Supplement Plan F cost?
What is Medicare Part F?
Medicare Part F is one of the 10 MedSup policies Americans enrolled in Original Medicare can buy if they want additional health coverage, or if they want help paying for their Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.
Beyond that, Part F is the most comprehensive of all the MedSup plans on the market today. What does that mean? It means it helps the people who buy it with all of the payment gaps left open by Medicare Part A and Part B.
To put that another way, it often means that those who enroll in Plan F rarely, if ever, have to worry about out-of-pocket costs when they visit a doctor or otherwise seek medical assistance.
Did you become eligible for Medicare on or after Jan. 1, 2020? If so, you can’t enroll in MedSup Plan F, unfortunately. Only people who became eligible for Medicare before the start of 2020 can enroll in or switch to this plan. MedSup Plan G offers nearly the same benefits as Plan F, though, so consider enrolling in it instead if Plan F isn’t available to you.
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Why is MedSup Plan F important? Why should I care about it?
The main reason you should care about Medicare Supplement Plan F is it provides the most coverage of any of the MedSup plans available today.
Also, it is the most popular of the many Medicare Supplement plans private insurance companies currently sell to Americans. In fact, according to various reports, somewhere between 56% and 66% of people who buy MedSup or Medigap policies choose Plan F.
What does Medicare Supplement Plan F cover?
You’ve already heard a few times that Plan F offers more comprehensive coverage than any other Medicare Supplement policy. But what does that mean?
According to medicare.gov, it means that MedSup Plan F pays for 100% of the following:
- Medicare Part A deductible.
- Medicare Part B deductible.
- Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after you’ve used up your standard Medicare benefits.
- Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment.
- Part B coinsurance or copayment.
- Part B excess charge.
- Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance.
- First three pints of blood each year.
MedSup Plan F also covers 80% of medical care you receive while traveling outside the U.S. — up to your plan’s limits.
The “excess charge” mentioned above is the difference between the amount a healthcare provider legally can charge for a procedure or treatment and the Medicare-approved amount for it. Basically, if the first amount is higher than the second amount, the difference between the two is the excess charge. Plan F pays that charge.
Something to keep in mind as you contemplate enrolling in this plan: like all MedSup policies, Plan or Part F is standardized. In other words, although many different insurance companies sell Plan F, the benefits are the same no matter where you buy it. The costs aren’t necessarily the same, though, so shop around before you settle on a MedSup plan. That is key if you want to get your best price for this kind of coverage.
Keep this in mind, too, as you compare MedSup plans: some insurance companies offer a high-deductible version of Plan F. If you choose this option, you’ll have to pay all your Medicare-covered costs up to a certain deductible amount — $2,340 in 2020 and $2,370 in 2021 — before Plan F starts kicking in its share.
Why would anyone pick a high-deductible Plan F over the standard one? Keep reading. You’ll find the answer to this question below.
How does Medicare Part F compare to other MedSup plans?
Going into detail about how Medicare Part F compares to the nine other available MedSup plans might be a bit overwhelming. So, let’s focus on how it compares to another popular Medicare Supplement policy, which some call Medicare Part G.
The only way MedSup Plan F differs from Plan G is that Plan F pays your Medicare Part B deductible while Plan G does not. All other benefits are the same between these two MedSup plans.
Both Plan F and Plan G cover Medicare Part B excess charges, by the way. They’re the only two Medicare Supplement policies that pay these fees. If having low out-of-pocket expenses is important to you, you might want to pick MedSup Plan F or G over the eight other plans insurers sell.
Keep the similarities between MedSup Plan F and G in mind if you only recently signed up for Medicare. People who became eligible for Medicare on or after Jan. 1, 2020, can no longer enroll in MedSup Plan F. If you’re one of those people, MedSup Plan G might be a good alternative for you.
How does Medicare Plan F work?
The main thing you need to know about how this and all other Medicare Supplement plans work is that you have to be enrolled in Original Medicare, or Medicare Parts A and B, before Part F kicks in and starts filling your Medicare payment gaps.
Once that’s out of the way, though, and once you’re enrolled in Part or Plan F, Medicare pays its share of your approved healthcare costs like it always does and then your MedSup policy follows up by paying its share.
How much does Medicare Supplement Plan F cost?
It’s a lot easier to say what MedSup Plan F covers or why someone should enroll in it than it is to say how much it costs.
That’s because the price of this kind of Medicare Supplement plan changes depending on:
- Where you buy it.
- Where you live.
- Your gender.
- Whether or not you smoke.
Yes, insurance companies usually charge men more than women for these policies. They also charge tobacco users more than people who don’t use tobacco products. And they charge people in certain areas of the U.S. more than they charge people in other areas.
Some insurers even base what they charge for a Plan F policy on how long someone has been enrolled in Medicare Part B.
To figure out how much you may have to pay for Plan F coverage, contact a number of insurance companies that sell the policies in your ZIP code. Compare the prices they quote you and then make your decision based on that.
Remember, all Plan F policies offer the exact same benefits. This is true no matter where you buy the plan. Different insurance companies may charge different premiums, deductibles, copayments or coinsurance for it, but they can’t change its coverage.
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How can I lower the costs associated with my Medicare Part F plan?
One way to lower what you pay for Medicare Supplement Part F is to move to an area where this kind of coverage costs less than it does where you live now.
Not many people are going to go to such lengths to save a few dollars a month, though, so here are a handful of other options for cutting your MedSup Plan F costs:
- Shop around. Different insurers charge different amounts for the same MedSup plan, so you could save some money by getting quotes from several companies.
- Ask the insurance companies that serve your area if they offer any discounts on these plans.
- Quit smoking.
Can I enroll in Medicare Part F if I’m already enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B?
You need to be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B (or Original Medicare) before you can enroll in Part F.
No insurer will sell you a Part F or Plan F policy if that’s not the case. Of course, why would you want it if you didn’t already have Medicare Parts A and B? After all, the whole point of Plan F is that it pays some of the costs Parts A and B don’t cover.
Can I enroll in Medicare Part F if I’m enrolled in Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage?
If you have a Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage plan, you can’t have a MedSup plan, too.
If you have Original Medicare plus a MedSup plan and you’d like to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan that offers the same or similar coverage, you can do that. Drop the MedSup plan before you do so, though, as it won't pay out after you enroll in Medicare Advantage.
Can I enroll in other Medicare Supplement plans while I’m enrolled in Plan F?
You can’t be enrolled in more than one MedSup or Medigap policy at a time. In fact, insurance companies aren’t allowed to sell more than one of them to you. Or they can’t sell you a second if you’ve already enrolled in one.
What if I want a different MedSup plan? Can I switch from MedSup Plan F to another MedSup plan?
While you can switch from one Medicare Supplement plan to another in most cases, you may pay for it. After all, if you go to switch MedSup policies and you don’t meet certain requirements, you’ll probably have to pass a medical screening before another insurer will sell you a plan. And depending on the results of that medical screening, you may end up paying a lot more for your new plan than you did for your old one.
It’s even possible you won’t be allowed to switch MedSup plans, depending on your situation. Given this, thoroughly research all of your options in this area before you enroll a policy. That way, you won’t have to worry about how changing from one to another could negatively impact you.
Who should enroll in Medicare Plan F? Or why should someone enroll in Plan F?
If you would like to deal with as few out-of-pocket healthcare costs as possible while enrolled in Original Medicare, Plan F probably is the Medicare Supplement policy for you.
Plan F also may be the best MedSup policy for you if you’re the kind of person who likes covering all the bases, so to speak. Combined with Medicare Parts A and B, MedSup Plan F offers all the coverage you could want or need as you age.
Who shouldn’t buy Medicare Part F? Or why shouldn’t someone buy this MedSup plan?
Medicare Supplement Plan F is great because it provides the most coverage of the 10 currently available MedSup plans.
That coverage comes at a cost, however; specifically, Plan F is the most expensive of all the MedSup policies on the market today.
Before you decide to pass on Plan F, though, do your due diligence and see how much the insurance companies that serve your area charge for it. It’s possible you won’t pay much more for this coverage than you would for Plan G or some other MedSup or Medigap plan.
Why should I enroll in a high-deductible Part F plan?
High-deductible Plan F policies usually have lower premiums than “standard” Plan F policies. As a result, if you need or want to keep your monthly payments to a minimum, this might be your best option as far as Medicare Supplement policies are concerned.
Just know that you’ll have to deal with higher out-of-pocket costs if you get sick or otherwise need medical care. Given that, people who are fairly healthy are the best candidates for high-deductible Medigap Plan F coverage.
Can anyone enroll in Medicare Part F? Or who is eligible to enroll in Part F plans?
You should be able to buy Medicare Supplement Plan F coverage if:
- You’re over 65.
- You’re enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B.
- You’re not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
- You live in the plan’s service area.
- You didn’t become eligible for Medicare on or after Jan. 1, 2020.
If you go to buy Plan F or any other MedSup plan outside of a Medicare open enrollment period, you might have to jump through a few extra hoops. One is that you may have to pass a medical screening, which means answering a number of questions about your medical and health history. Another is that your doctor or physician may have to get involved in various ways.
Also, if you’re under the age of 65 and you have Medicare coverage due to a disability or end-stage renal disease, you may not be able to buy any MedSup or Medigap policy. Or you may not be able to get the one you want.
When can I enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan F plan?
You should be able to buy a Part F plan whenever you want if you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B in some form or fashion. (In other words, a Medicare Advantage plan counts.) Or you should be able to buy it whenever you want as long as:
- You’re not under the age of 65.
- You don’t have Medicare coverage due to a disability or end-stage renal disease.
- You became eligible for Medicare before the start of 2020.
That said, the best time to buy MedSup Plan F or any other MedSup plan is during Medicare open enrollment.
If you wait until that after that period ends, you may have a harder time getting Plan F and you may have to pay more for it. Why? Because you’ll likely need to answer a number of questions about your medical history before an insurance company will sell you a plan. And your answers to those questions could cause an insurer to refuse MedSup coverage or to charge you an arm and a leg for it.
Where can I buy Medicare Part F?
Although most Americans get their Medicare Part A and Part B coverage through the federal government, that’s not how you get Medicare Supplement coverage.
To get Part F or Plan F coverage, or any other kind of MedSup coverage, you have to go through an insurance company that is licensed in your state to sell these policies.
Will Medigap Plan F cover both me and my spouse?
MedSup policies cover only one person, so you and your spouse each have to buy your own Part F plan.
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