If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Cost Plan, you may need to start looking into options for the near future. These plans will not be offered after 2018. But you have time to review your options or make a switch during this year’s open enrollment period, which begins October 15 and lasts through December 7.
Medicare Cost Plans are hybrid Medicare plans that share features from Medicare Advantage and Medigap supplemental insurance plans. They’re offered by private insurance companies to consumers in 15 states and the District of Columbia. About 535,000 Cost Plan enrollees, with more than 400,000 living in Minnesota, will be affected when the plans go away at the end of 2018.
Why Are Medicare Cost Plans not Renewing?
The short story is that Cost Plan contracts will not be renewed in areas that have at least two competing Medicare Advantage plans that meet certain enrollment requirements. If your organization has decided to convert your plan to Medicare Advantage, it can continue as a Cost Plan until the end of 2018.
What Are the Options for Employer- or Union-Sponsored Cost Plans?
If you purchase your Cost Plan from your workplace or union, your plan may simply change to a similar Medicare Advantage plan. Also, you can disenroll from your Cost Plan at any time to return to Original Medicare.
However, you can only switch your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug coverage during the annual enrollment period.
Are Insurance Companies Offering Alternatives to Medicare Cost Plans?
Many of the country’s leading insurance companies are expanding their options in areas that currently have Medicare Cost Plans. During this year’s annual enrollment period, you’ll likely see additional Medicare plans from existing companies and offerings for plans from companies that are new to your area.
Chances are, you’ll have more choices than ever, including Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans with $0 premiums. It could get confusing, so consulting with an insurance agent can help smooth the process.
Switching to a Medicare Supplement Plan
If you’re an individual who chose a Medicare Cost Plan so that your coverage is easily portable when traveling to other states, your best choice may be to switch to one of the Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, that can also fully protect you when you’re out of your coverage area.
Medigap plans are similar to Medicare Cost Plans in several aspects, but there are some distinct differences. These plans are sold by private insurance companies and help fill in the holes that are left behind by Original Medicare (Parts A and B).
Be aware that if you switch to a Medigap plan, you may need to purchase separate Part D coverage for your prescriptions, since these plans don’t cover drug costs on their own.
There are 10 different Medigap plans that you can choose from to help pay for different expenses, such as excess charges and foreign medical emergencies. You’ll have to consider your health, finances, family history, and all of your other options to determine which plan is best for you.
Switching to a Medicare Advantage Plan
Cost-conscious individuals with a Cost Plan may benefit by considering a Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as Medicare Part C. It includes all the benefits of Original Medicare and can also include extra features such as emergency care, wellness programs, Medicare Part D, as well as other benefits. The main difference from a Medicare Cost Plan is that you must use in-network providers for your care.
One benefit of Medicare Advantage plans is that they include out-of-pocket limits. Original Medicare does not include an out-of-pocket spending maximum. This means that your copays or coinsurance can continue to add up with no limit. A Medicare Advantage plan does include such a cap. Because private companies offer Medicare Advantage plans, CMS rules require an out-of-pocket limit for plans of $6,700. Some plans may offer even lower caps.
HealthMarkets Can Make Your Medicare Cost Plan Switch Easy
HealthMarkets offers Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and Medigap plans, and we know how to help you choose the best option. We have licensed agents ready to talk to you at (800) 488-7621. You can also find a local agent online. If you’re ready to find the right Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan that fits your needs, call today!
Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.