Dear Tom and Alan:
I will reach the big six-five this March.
I started doing research a few months ago and thought I had it pretty well under control. Well, wouldn’t you know it, they changed everything!
I had it all figured out for my expenses: Medicare—$135.50; Medicare Supplement Plan F—$125 (approx.); Prescription Drug Plan $30 (also approx.).
Of course, the biggest switch is that Plan F is no longer available to new people as of Jan. 1, 2020. So that leaves me with either Plan G or Plan N.
And…the $135.50 is going up to $144.60. How can I get a handle on the costs for the new year?
Tom: Here goes, Brad. That increase on Medicare Part B from $135.50 to $144.60 affects everyone on Medicare and it goes up each year.
It also dings you if you make too much money. For 2020, if you file a joint return and have income in excess of $174,000, it starts going up even more.
You can look on medicare.gov to find the table that shows how much more you have to pay depending on income. There is a similar table for drug plans. We covered both of these a few columns ago, but, of course, there are changes from year to year.
Al: The reason Plan F (and Plan C) is no longer available is that intrinsic to the plan was the payment of the Medicare Part B deductible.
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Congress wanted subscribers to have “skin in the game” so last year’s deductible of $185 is going up to $198 and will be paid by all … except those that got on Plan F prior to Jan. 1, 2020.
If it strikes you as somewhat arbitrary and unfair to simply remove a benefit like not having a deductible … I’m right there with you. You can be certain that the Part B deductible is going to increase every year.
Tom: Back to Plans G and N.
Brad’s dilemma got us looking at our rate books for the different companies we represent for Medicare Supplements. The most competitive company as far as costs for Plans G and N seems to be Blue Shield.
For new subscribers, they offer $25 off the price, plus $3 off for auto-check, plus 7 percent off for two people in the same household.
Blue Shield also offers Plan G Extra, which includes a vision and hearing benefit.
Here are their 2020 rates before any discounts: Plan G — $131; Plan G Extra — $145; and, Plan N — $116. We just received a notice from Blue Shield that there will be an average 6.8 percent increase on Plan N effective April 2020.
Al: As a comparison, Anthem Blue Cross Plan G is $125.49 and Plan N is $127.65 for a new to Medicare subscriber age 65.
The AARP plans through United Healthcare rates are $140 for Plan G and $118.65 for Plan N. Both of these companies have discounts of their own.