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AARP Medicare Supplement Plan N

 

AARP Medicare supplement Plan N is a good alternative to an Advantage planThumbs Up AARP Medicare Supplement Plan N

Insurance companies have been offering Medicare supplements (Medigap policies) since Medicare first began in 1966. AARP Medicare supplement insurance underwritten by United Healthcare is a solid choice. Of the plans available Medicare supplement Plan N is getting a lot of attention.

In 2003 the NAIC re-tooled Medicare supplements to create 11 standardized plans. These plans are called Modernized Medicare supplement plans. Two new plans were added; Plans M and N. AARP Medicare supplement Plan N has some features that many Advantage Plan members may find to be of interest.

What makes Plan N unique?

AARP Medicare supplement Plan N is very competitively priced. Many Medicare beneficiaries enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan because a supplement is financially out of reach. United Healthcare may have solved that problem with Plan N. Priced considerably lower that their most popular plan, supplement Plan F.

United Healthcare is able to offer much lower rates because of the way Plan N is designed. Plan N is the first supplement to include co-pays for doctor visits and emergency room visits. Another cost sharing feature is the beneficiary’s responsibility for the Part B deductible. In addition to the monthly premium, the policy holder may pay:

  • The Part B deductible currently $183 for 2017.
  • Up to $20 for a doctor visit.
  • Up to $50 for an emergency room visit.

Aside from the possible co-pays, once the Part B deductible is met, Medicare supplement plan N pays 100% of Part B co-insurance.

AARP supplement Plan N benefits:

Medicare Part A co-insurance hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up.

Part B co-insurance or co-payment. Subject to Part B deductible and co-pays detailed above.

Blood (First 3 pints).

Part A hospice care co-insurance or co-payment.

Skilled nursing care co-insurance.

Medicare Part A deductible.

Foreign travel emergency (plan limits apply).

Medicare preventative care Part B co-insurance.




Why not a Medicare Advantage plan?

One thing is certain. Medicare Advantage plans are changing and in many instances, monthly premiums are increasing. Some Advantage plans now cost more than a Medicare supplement. An Advantage plan will certainly  require cost sharing for hospital inpatient charges. Most plans require you to pay a couple hundred dollar co-pay, for a fixed number of days, as part of your cost sharing responsibility. You may even be required to pay more than if you had only Medicare. This is not the case with AARP Medicare supplement Plan N.

Many Medicare Advantage plans offer no benefit over Medicare when it comes to outpatient surgery and durable medical equipment. Many outpatient tests require 20% co-insurance and 30% co-insurance when you are out of their network.

Medicare Plan N does not require a network. You can receive services from any provider that accepts Medicare assignment.

When you get down to it, you are paying a lot of extra money to receive the additional benefits that an Advantage plan includes. When you compare Medicare supplement Plan N to an Advantage plan, you will be pleasantly surprised at the value Plan N brings to the table.


116 comments

  1. Mary, if you choose doctors who accept Medicare rates (assignment), you will not pay the 15% excess charge. Most doctors do accept assignment. Some states do not allow excess charges. In New York, the excess is limited to 5%. Interestingly, Medicare has a rate lower by 5% for doctors who do charge excess, so for people in NY it is a “wash” and is like having no excess. An insurer agent explained to me that the doctors who do charge excess are some specialists and/or in very urban areas (like New York City). Suppose you really want a specialist that charges excess. They charge $2000 for an operation and you pay a 15% excess. That is $300, not that much considering that specialist is very important to you. Or you could find a doctor that does not charge excess, there are plenty.

  2. David, you Q & A’s are very helpful. Please tell me what will Plan N cover for mental health sessions with a psychologist; what will be paid for a visit to Urgent Care; and what will be paid for ambulance?

    Thanks!

  3. Alice, Plan N will pay your share of Medicare covered expenses for ambulance and urgent care. If Medicare covers charges for the psychologist you will be responsible for up to a $20 copay.

  4. If I have plan N and travel overseas dies it help me to get a health travel insurance? Or would it be a duplication of benefits?
    If I get sick and make a visit to a doctor while traveling with plan N covers some of the costs?

  5. Sue, Plan N includes emergency travel coverage but it is limited. You should review your policy or check with your agent. Having a Medicare supplement will not help you secure a medical travel policy. Medical travel insurance policies vary widely… read the fine print.

  6. Thomas L MacDonough

    Taking into account Medicare A and B and Medigap AARP Plan N what is my maximum out of pocket cost estimated to be for a cal year?

    Thanks, T. MacDonough

  7. What if you want Plan N for the hospital benefits but am concerned about doctor copay? Right now my father in law pays nothing, not even the 20%, for doctors visits because it falls under preventive diabetes screening. Would that change?

  8. Porsha, Preventative screenings are included in Medicare coverage and he would continue to pay nothing. If he required a doctor’s visit for a non-preventative issue he would be responsible for up to a $20 copay.

  9. Thomas, If you are referring to medicare covered expenses only, you would be responsible for the Part B deductible, up to $20 for a doctor’s visit and up to $50 for a ER visit. Plan N generally does not cover non-Medicare related expenses although AARP Plan N may include a gym membership and vision discounts depending on your State of residency.

  10. I am 65 years old and in excellent health. I do not take any medication whatsoever and have a physical once a year. Can you please explain to me why I should pay $142.00 per month for the supplemental Plan N? Do I really need this plan, is there another less expensive plan I should have or is the Plan A & B enough? Please advise because I’m ready to drop this Plan N.

  11. Harry, Plan N has a higher premium because it is more comprehensive. Only Plan F is more comprehensive than Plan N. You certainly could switch to a less comprehensive plan and get a lower premium. Moving to a less comprehensive plan typically doesn’t require you to go through medical underwriting. That said, if you do decide to move down, submit your application prior to dropping Plan N and make sure you are approved before you drop Plan N.

    You should keep in mind that unless you have Guaranteed Issue Rights in the future you will be subject to medical underwriting should you decide to move back to a more comprehensive plan. This article includes a benefits chart for all Medicare supplement plans. Also, moving to a less comprehensive plan may not get you a substantially lower premium (call PlanPrescriber at (888) 310-0376 to compare multiple companies) and you should weigh your decision carefully. Unless $30 or $40 is a substantial part of your monthly budget you may want to stay where you’re at as your health may change due to aging, sickness or an accident.

  12. DOES PLAN N COVER TREATMENT, SUCH AS INTRAVENOUS FUSION DRUGS FOR CANCER? BLOOD TESTS FOR CANCER? ETC.

  13. I’ve heard that once enrolled in an AARP medigap plan one can switch between plans monthly. I’ve searched the net and cannot find out more info. Is this true and where can I find info?

  14. Cheryl, If original Medicare covers a treatment or procedure Plan N will pick your share. The exception is the copay feature for doctor and ER visits.

  15. Lorie, Switching between plans generally require that you undergo the medical underwriting process. And why would you want to switch monthly?

  16. Hi David, Thanks for reply. I was told by an Agent, who has been around for long time, that I could switch to Plan F for the month of January and then switch back to N which I’;ve had for awhile. The purpose would be to fulfill the deductible on plan N because it is covered under F and to schedule all the appointments I could in January so no co-payments would be charged in January. Plan F covers them. That would cover the $50+ charge of plan F for one month about 5 times. I know it sounds “to good to be true” but this person has been in this field for a long time and is an upstanding member of this community and has never steered me wrong before.
    There should be no medical underwriting if you stick with the same company, different plan, right?
    Lorie

  17. Lorie, I do follow the logic but It’s always been my experience that moving to a plan with more comprehensive coverage requires medical underwriting. Moving to a plan with less comprehensive coverage does not. I would certainly not disparage the advice or ethics of an agent who is a trusted member of the community but I have reservations that the insurance company is going to let him play this game.

    Premiums for Plan F (vs Plan N) are calculated to cover the cost of the annual deductible and the statistical likelihood of X number of doctor/ER visits. That increase in risk (cost to them) is amortized over the annual premium. What your agent is proposing is playing the insurance company by increasing their costs and destroying the logic of their pricing model. He may be able to pull it off once or twice but eventually the insurance company is going to catch on and reevaluate their relationship with him. In other words if he goes forward with this practice it’s going to short the insurance company premiums and cost them money. Insurance companies may play us as insured but they don’t like to be played… especially by their own agents. That said… let him try it for you. You don’t have a downside, other than them not issuing the Plan F.

  18. It depends on the state and the insurer. In most states you risk being denied insurance or get charged a higher premium if you try to switch Medigap plan after the initial enrollment. 5 states have their own variation of the “underwriting” rule. For example, New York does not allow underwriting if you switch plans, so you are free to change plans. The result is people buy a lower premium plans when newly retired and healthy, and the premiums for Plan F are high as the pool has more sick people.

    Plan N also permits an additional charge on the bill for doctor office visits if the doctor does not “accept assignment” (up to 15% of the Medicare rate). You are responsible to pay any excess amount. Fortunately this is rare and usually only done by specialists. I have not had this happen to me yet. In New York, the rule is the excess amount is limited to 5%, which matches the reduced Medicare rate these doctors get and bill for, so it is a “wash” (evens out) to the patient.

    Also, insurance companies differ based on state. In my state, the blue cross insurer does not do underwriting if you switch Medigap plans as long as you have had credible insurance before applying for a plan like Plan F (they are the largest insurer in the state). However, Aetna requires underwriting if you switch from any of their plans to their Plan N.

    Exceptions like these make Medicare complicated, and your state may have exceptions.

  19. You might also call UnitedHealthCare directly and ask if underwriting is done in your state if you switch Medigap plan. (Some insurers let you buy directly instead of via an agent). For AARP (United Healthcare) in my state, the difference in premium between Plan N and Plan F is about $70 for non-smokers.

    Whatever your agent tells you, get it in writing (an email). It would be a big surprise if you start with Plan F and a month later switch to lower premium N, (you do not save much, if anything, depending on your state and age rate category), and then find out you can’t get back to Plan F (upgrade) next year to game the system again.

    However, at the AARP website, the only exclusions to underwriting, where you might be denied coverage or get a higher premium, are during the initial enrollment period when you turn 65 (or end employment coverage) or if a credible plan you are on is cancelled: Other exclusions probably is what is listed on the Medicare website, such as you move out of state. All have a time limit.

    This is what the AARP website says:

    The following individuals are entitled to a waiver of this pre-existing condition exclusion:
    1. Individuals who are replacing prior creditable coverage within 63 days after termination, or
    2. Individuals who are turning age 65 and whose application form is received within six (6) months after
    they turn 65 AND are enrolled in Medicare Part B, OR
    3. Individuals who are “Eligible Persons” entitled to Guaranteed Acceptance, or
    4. Individuals who have been covered under other health insurance coverage within the last 63 days and have enrolled in Medicare Part B within the last 6 months.
    Other exclusions may apply;

  20. Netmouse, Excellent… thanks!

  21. Hi! I just called United Health Care and spoke to an agent fully familiar with the plans. She said I could switch between Medigap plans with their company anytime during the year provided the change is made on or before the last day of the month prior to the change. She agreed that it is a “good move” and didn’t imply that I was gaming the system and people do it all the time to save money. Plan F will cover the medicare deductible for the whole year even if I just stay on it for a month. A simple phone call to an agent can change it back to Plan N. She was not aware that this info was anywhere on their website but sure didn’t act like it was a big secret. Plus, since I joined the Plan N a few years ago, in my state I qualify for the premium of Plan F as it was years ago when I joined and not today’s rates. .

    Happy New Year.
    Lorie

  22. Lorie, Looks like you’re starting out the new year by saving a little money. That’s great!

  23. Lorie, this is fascinating. Are you saying that if you have Plan F in January only, that covers the Part B deductible for the whole year, and that means you do not have to have all the doctor appointments in January and can do doctor visits any time of the year?

  24. Thank you for your replies and very wise advice to check certain things in this matter. I think it’s going to be ok. Maybe some people decide to stay with the better plan and it averages out for the company.
    Lorie

  25. Lorie, this is fascinating. Are you saying that if you have Plan F in January only, that covers the Part B deductible for the whole year, and that means you do not have to have all the doctor appointments in January and can do doctor visits any time of the year?

  26. Netmouse, That’s the way it was explained to me by an AARP agent. If you have a plan with them, you can call and ask for an agent to explain it to you. She said when I got Plan F and got medical expenses enough to fulfill the deductible, the insurance pays medicare the deductible and it is paid for the year. In my case if I switch back to original plan, she said I will have to pay a co-pay but deductible is satisfied. If you haven’t had any expenses to incur a deductible yet this year, you can change to F. I stuck Plan F in Feb. so haven’t changed back to another plan yet but plan to soon. At that time will see if what she told me is true. I know a little about how insurance plans work so I didn’t misunderstand her and have her name and the date of our conversation. She said lots of people switch all year long and it’s a smart thing to do.
    Good luck. Let me know how it works for you.
    Lorie

  27. Maria Maria Lamberis

    Does plan N cover the Silver Sneaker plan at the YMCA

  28. Maria, Silver Sneakers would be considered an extra benefit beyond the standard Medigap coverage. AARP has in the past included it in some markets. Consult a local agent to find out if it’s covered in your State.

  29. Maria, my blue cross/blue shield does not include silver sneakers or similar with Medigap plans. But it does with (some) Medicare Advantage plans.

  30. Could you please tell me if the Plus Gold is better than the n plan?

  31. Marilyn, I’m not familiar with the Plus Gold (Advantage Plans can vary by State) and I believe you are comparing apples and oranges. Medicare supplements (like Plan N) work differently than Medicare Advantage Plans. Also, what might be best for one person is not necessarily so for another. Check out my 8 Part Video Mini-Course on choosing a Medicare Plan at: http://free-mini-course.com/

  32. Does plan N cover the charges incurred when you fall in the “Donut Hole”?

  33. Katinka, Plan N does not provide any Part D drug benefits. There are currently no medicare supplement policies that include Part D.

  34. Have Medicare and AARP Medicare Supplement Plan N through United Healthcare Insurance Company. If I have cataract surgery will Plan N pick up excess over what Medicare pays?

  35. Margaret, Plan N will pay your share for cataract surgery minus the Part B deductible if you have not already paid it this year.

  36. The switching rules are correct for UHC, which is why I sell Plan N the most (except when there are frequent visits needed). When moving from N to F a new contract is required, but no underwriting. In some cases this can be a disadvantage because you can fall out of a lower-aged pricing structure that you ‘lock into’ when you initially sign up with UHC (an 80 year old that signed up and stayed since age 65 pays lower rates than an 80 year old that signed up at 75). Or in the State of Missouri you remain at the age rates you signed up at, so if you have to write a new contract you’re changing your age rates. Generally, once someone really needs the F they’re going to stay with it. It’s a fallback option for those with better health.

  37. Soon no one can switch to Plan F. Since Medigap F and C will no longer be available to new enrollees in 2020, it is expected those who have and choose to keep these plans will see premiums greatly increase as the pool of people become older and sicker. The premium rise will probably start sooner. I find in my state that today Plan N has the very low premium and is the best choice. I have had the unfortunate need to see many doctors this year and am still saving a lot over the high cost of the Plan F premium.

  38. Is there any dental coverage with plan N

  39. Marcia, No. Plan N is a Medigap policy. Medigap helps pay a portion of your share of Medicare covered expenses. Medicare doesn’t cover dental. So… we’re out of luck on that!

  40. Attention “Net mouse”. Re: elimination of plan F in 2020 – will the plan F high-deductible also be eliminated? It is an excellent money-saving choice for reasonably healthy seniors. We were on that program with American Standard,but switched a couple of years ago to an advantage plan.
    Now, however , while creeping slowly into our 80+ years, I was considering going back to their hi-deductible again. I am not at all familiar with plan N ! Is that perhaps where I should be looking if the advantage plans limitation on using only local doctors is a concern.? Thank you for your time and consideration. Dawn

  41. Hi, trying to help my 80 year old in-laws understand Plan N – they are changing insurances for the first time as their retiree plan is being discontinued. How are prescriptions handled? Is it entirely separate? I’m trying to estimate the cost of their medications on the new plan.

    Thank you!

  42. Tara, Plan N is a Medigap policy and Medigap policies do not include drug coverage. They will need to sign up for Part D coverage. They can speak with an agent toll free at 888-310-0376. An ehealth agent licensed in their State can help them. They can also compare all companies that offer Plan N as well. Remember, plans are standardized so the only real difference is the premium. Plan N is an excellent choice.

  43. If I switch to a Humana Advantage plan in 2017 after having a UHC Plan N through 2016, then choose to switch back in 2018, what medical hurdles will I have to surmount (pre-existing conditions, etc) to do so?

  44. Frances, Insurance companies have their own individual guidelines. There are many reasons why they may not accept you. Talk with a local insurance agent before you drop plan N.

  45. If you would still be 68 when switching back, there are no questions. If you have not been hospitalized in the past 18 months or have had certain surgeries in the past 2 years, you will generally be fine. Otherwise you will be asked a long list of questions about health conditions.

  46. Hi ~ I am looking for a supplemental for my dad who was recently diagnosed with cancer. He is on medicare and we are looking for something to help with the other 20%. It has been difficult trying to go through all of the insurance plans along with taking him to his doctor and chemo visits….just so much information to go through and process. Can plan N help or would another plan be better.

  47. Victoria, Plan N is an excellent choice. Is your dad in his Open Enrollment Period or does he have Guaranteed Issue Rights? If not he will be subject to medical underwriting and getting approved with a cancer diagnosis is not likely.

  48. I have AARP plan N. I understand Silver sneakers is included in some areas. Is it included in Florida zip 33955

  49. Darrell, You can check eligibility at this website.

  50. With plan N can I go to any doctor?

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