Medicare Supplement Plan J is one of the four Medicare supplements that expired on May 31, 2010. It was so popular that we still get questions about the plan. If you are just looking to acquire a Medicare supplement plan, Medigap Plan J is not available for new applications. You can see all the available Medicare supplemental plans such as the Plan N. If you are already on Medicare supplement Plan J and are interested in comparing it to current plans or want to understand the purpose of Medicare, then keep reading as we make a quick comparison of the Medicare supplemental insurance companies. With healthcare, it’s important to be fully informed on the decisions that you make and to make sure you’re getting the coverage that you need. As a Medicare enrollee, it’s always a great idea to be on the lookout for a plan that offers adequate coverage for an affordable price.
Medicare Supplement Plan J Coverage
Medicare Plan J offered the most comprehensive coverage of any of the Medicare supplements offered before May 2010. It filled all the gaps left by Medicare Parts A and B which included:
- Medicare Part A and Part B deductibles
- Medicare Part A and Part B coinsurance
- Medicare Part B excess charges
- Hospice cares coinsurance
- Skilled nursing car coinsurance
- Foreign travel emergencies
As you may have noticed this looks very similar to Medicare supplement plan F (learn more about Medicare supplement plan F). What separated Medigap Plan J was that it included coverage for prescription drugs. This was a very nice feature but was unnecessary once Medicare part D was introduced as an option for prescription drugs.
Because a lot of Medicare enrollees are taking at least one prescription medication and medication prices continue to go up, the costs for those treatments can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, especially for more specialized drugs. Originally, Plan J was the perfect plan for anyone that wanted to offset the costs of the prescription pills, but now Medicare Part D can help enrollees pay for the medications. So, anyone enrolled into Part J could be paying for coverage that they don’t need.
Because of changes in federal regulations, no Medigap Plan was allowed to offer prescription drug coverage, which made Plan J obsolete. Although if you had already signed up for the plan before the law was signed, you could keep the plan, which was an excellent deal. But if you aren’t happy with your Plan J, but should you do? It’s time to sit down and take a serious look at your Medicare Supplemental insurance.
Should I Change Plans?
The first and most obvious reason to switch from Plan J is that you are paying for some extra coverage that is included at no additional cost through Medicare. What is not so obvious is how insurance works against the rates that you pay.
Insurance companies are not non-profit organizations. They are in the insurance business to make money. The way they determine if they are making money is the revenue in on a specific plan versus the revenue they have to pay out. So let’s look at Medicare part J to understand why your rates will have to go up over time if you stay on it.
Think of each type of coverage that an insurance company offers as a pot of money. Medigap Plan J was eliminated as an option for people on Medicare on June 1, 2010. This means no new people are going on that plan. So from the insurance company perspective, there are no new sources of revenue for that pot of money. On top of that, the people that are on Medicare plan J are aging and will be using medical services more and more. So there are more and more expenses coming out of the Plan J pot of money. For that pot of money to stay profitable, they will be forced to charge more and more over time.
Plan J Alternatives
Because there are so many different options, it can be confusing deciding which one you should switch to. The most common are Plan F because of its coverage. Plan F covers the same things listed above as Plan J minus the Part D prescription drug coverage. Because they are so similar, it makes Plan F the obvious choice for many Medicare enrollees. Plan F gives the most coverage and makes it popular because it’s a “buy it and forget it plan”, but the all-encompassing coverage will always come with a higher price.
But maybe you are looking to switch to a plan that has less coverage and can save you money on monthly premiums. If you are, Plan C and Plan G are both popular alternatives to those looking to switch from Plan J. Both of these plans only leave one coverage gap, but they both will be cheaper than the plans listed above.
Plan C covers everything except for Medicare Part B excess charges. Part B excess charges are any fees that a physician can charge up to 15% above the Medicare-approved amount. For the most part, Medicare enrollees don’t have to worry about these excess charges, but for large services or treatments, these excess fees could rack up an expensive bill. . Take the time to consider switching to Plan C, this plan works well if you don’t think you will have any massive treatment fees.
And what about Plan G? Plan G provides all the excellent coverage of Plan F, but without the Part B deductible. Plan G will have no out-of-pocket expenses except for its monthly premiums and the Part B deductible, which is $147 in 2016. Plans C, F, and G are only a few of the options you have available that aren’t Medigap Plan J.
How to Switch Medigap Plans
Switching Medigap plans is a lot easier than you probably think. It can sound like a tiring task, but it’s very easy, and the insurance agents handle most of the work. There are four reasons that you could want to switch to a different Medigap plan, the first is the one that we’ve discussed, you have an old Medigap policy, or you have had your policy for less than 6 months, and you have a preexisting condition, you’re paying for coverage you don’t need, or your plan doesn’t need all the coverage you need.
If you want to switch Medigap policies, all you’ll have to do is contact the new insurance company (assuming you’re going with a new insurance company) and tell them you would like to apply for a new policy. If your application is accepted, call your current provider and ask them to cancel your current coverage. That’s easy; now that wasn’t so hard now was it.
One thing you should know about before you switch plans is the “Medigap free-look period” that allows you 30 days to see if you want to keep your new Medigap policy. If you decide you don’t want to keep the new policy within this 30 days, you can switch back to your old policy. The only problem is that you DO have to keep paying BOTH premiums for the month.
What Plan Should I Switch To?
There are ten other Medigap Plans that you can switch to, or you could switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan. A lot of people that couldn’t sign up for Plan J decided to go with Plan F instead, which is the most encompassing Medigap plan.
If you think you’re paying too much for your Plan J coverage, we can give you quotes on all the possible coverage options for your state. Don’t waste hours on the phone calling dozens of different insurance companies answering the same questions over and over. Maybe you’re looking for South Carolina Medicare Supplemental Plans or maybe you have questions about coverage in other states. We can help.
So you want to switch plans, where should you go? This question really depends on you. There are dozens of different factors that you have to consider when picking a new Medigap Plan. A couple of the biggest factors is your health and your finances. Before you switch plans, decide if you need the extensive coverage that Plan J offered or if you should switch to a plan that doesn’t fill in as many gaps, but could leave more money in your pocket every month.
While you can’t predict the future or how your health is going to be in a couple years, you can look at your past health, your family history, and reduce your risks. If your family has a history of severe health complications or poor health, then investing in a Medigap plan that gives more coverage is a great idea. On the other hand, if you are in excellent health with few problems in your past and you have a family history with few health complications, then you can probably afford to skip out on the all-inclusive coverage and save money every month.
The other important factor in choosing a Medigap policy is your finances. How much money do you have set aside for healthcare? Would a serious surgery or treatment bank your bank and ruin your retirement? Can you afford to pay more every month for more coverage with a supplemental insurance plan or can you only afford a plan that has more holes? Because most retirees live on a fixed income, it’s vital that you weigh the costs of what you are paying versus the coverage you need.
The older we get, the more attention our bodies need. A lot of seniors don’t work on improving their health because they think it it’s going to make any difference at their age, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Having a healthy diet and regular exercise like walking or jogging can have positive impacts on your health, which translates to lower healthcare expenses.
Our team will work with you to get the best combination of coverage and price for your needs. Use the form on this page to get started and we will look at your individual quotes and help you decide what plan will suit your needs best. It’s that easy. No crazy paperwork or difficult questions. We can even help with more specific needs such as looking for a Medicare supplement in Georgia or an AARP Medicare Supplement rate, just ask, we are here to help!
Why Medigap Plans Matter
The older that we get, the more money we put towards health care costs. Every year there are thousands of Medicare enrollees that get stuck paying for massive hospital bills. The majority of these people assumed that Medicare would be helping pay for a large part of these expenses, but they are shocked to find out that they are forced to pay for almost the whole thing.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance is a great way to fill in all of the holes that is left by Medicare. This additional insurance can keep you from breaking your retirement nest egg to pay for hospital visits or other expenses.
Having adequate healthcare insurance not only keeps you from having to pay medical bills that continue to rise every year, but also ensures that you are getting the medical attention you require to stay happy and healthy for years to come. One of the most common reasons that people don’t go to the doctor or hospital is because they can’t afford the costs.