If you currently have Medicare, you are probably aware that if you do not have additional insurance, you may be responsible for large out-of-pocket expenses. But fortunately, there is a way to keep your medical bills under control: a Medicare Supplement Plan. There are ten Medicare Supplement Plans that work in conjunction with Original Medicare to help you manage the out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Original Medicare. One of these ten Medicare Supplement Plans is Medicare Supplement Plan B, which we will talk about in depth below.
Medicare Supplement Plan B is the second most basic plan when it comes to the benefits it offers, with only Plan A having less coverage. That means you should carefully consider all of your alternatives before making a choice, and think about exactly how much coverage you need versus how much you’re willing to spend in premiums. Many enrollees, though, are content with Plan B because of its lower premiums when compared to those of some other Medicare Supplement Plans.
Medicare Supplement Plans vs. Medicare Parts
You may have noticed that the components of Medicare Supplement Plans and Traditional Medicare are both labeled with letters. Some of these elements share the same letter, which can be perplexing. To clarify, when we refer to ‘parts’ like Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D, we are referring to traditional Medicare. These ‘parts’ provide your core coverage. When we talk about ‘plans,’ we’re referring to Medicare Supplement Plans A, B, C, and D. The ‘plans’ are the extras you can buy to help fill the gaps in traditional Medicare.
What Medicare Supplement Plan B Covers
As noted above, Plan B is one of the ten standard Medicare Supplement Plans that Medicare beneficiaries in most of the country (except for a few select states) can choose from. If you sign up for this plan, you’ll have coverage for some select out-of-pocket expenses associated with Original Medicare.
Plan B covers:
- Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs – Part A only fully covers your first 60 days of inpatient hospital stays in a benefit period; after that, you are required to pay a portion of your bills for each day after your initial 60 days. Days 61-90 have a coinsurance of $400 a day. If your stay is between 91 and 150 days, and you use your Lifetime Reserve days, your coinsurance will be $800 a day. Plan B covers 100% of these costs.
- Medicare Part B coinsurance – You’ll typically have to pay Medicare Part B coinsurance for doctor visits and other outpatient care. That means Medicare Part B pays 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for covered services, leaving you to pay the remaining 20%. For example, if your doctor charges $100 for a service. Original Medicare will only pay $80, and you will pay the remaining $20. Plan B, though, covers 100% of this 20% coinsurance.
- First 3 pints of blood – Original Medicare only pays for the fourth and subsequent pints of blood if you need blood during treatment. Plan B will pay for the first three pints.
- Medicare Part A hospice coinsurance – Hospice care is for patients who are nearing the end of their lives. These services are covered by Medicare, but copayments are required. These copayments include $5 for each symptom and pain relief medication prescription, as well as 5% of the Medicare-approved amount for inpatient assisted living. Plan B covers all expenses related to hospice care.
- Medicare Part A deductible – The deductible for Medicare Part A in 2023 is $1,600 per 60-day benefit period. This deductible is charged for every 60-days as opposed to annually. So, you might have to pay it more than once in a year. Plan B will cover all of these deductibles.
What Isn’t Covered?
Before you choose Medicare Supplement Plan B, you should know that it has a few big holes in its coverage. Plan B does not cover:
- Part B excess charges – If your doctor does not accept Medicare assignment, they can charge you more than Medicare will cover for the service, and you will be responsible for the difference. This is your “excess charge”.
- Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance. – After the 20th day of your stay as an inpatient in a skilled nursing facility, Medicare Part A requires you to pay coinsurance. Part A coinsurance for skilled nursing facility care is $200 per day in 2023.
- Emergency care during travel outside the U.S.
- Part B deductible – Since 2020, new Medicare members can’t buy any plan that covers the Part B deductible. Although existing members may own older plans that do cover this.
The Cost of Medicare Supplement Plan B
Medicare Supplement Plan B premiums typically cost between $112 and $318 per month. But keep in mind that private insurance companies sell Medicare Supplement Plans and can set rates based on things like age, location, and whether or not you smoke.
So, the average price listed above can change depending on which insurance company you choose. You should also know that Medicare Supplement Plans can be priced in three different ways: community-rated, issue-age-rated, and attained-age-rated.
- Community-Rated – With this type of pricing, everyone who has the same Medicare Supplement Plan pays the same monthly premium, regardless of age. Premiums may rise due to inflation and other factors, but not due to your age.
- Issue-Age-Rated – In this case, your premium is determined by the age you are when you purchase the Medicare Supplement Plan. Premiums will be lower the younger you are, and will not increase as you get older. Premiums may rise due to inflation and other factors, but not due to your age.
- Attained-Age-Rated – With this type of pricing, your premium is calculated based on your current age, with the premium increasing as you get older. Premiums will be lower when you are younger, but they will continue to rise as you get older. Premiums may also rise as a result of inflation or other factors.
Enrolling in Medicare Supplement Plan B
Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is the best time to sign up for a Medicare Supplement Plan. If you sign up during this period, your health status will not be used to determine eligibility for coverage or your premiums.
This opportunity will only present itself once, so seize it while you can. Once you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare Part B, you enter your Open Enrollment Period. Which lasts for six months. If you continue to work past age 65, your six-month period will begin when you stop working or lose insurance through a qualified group employer plan.
All of the above means that Medicare Supplement Plans are the most affordable and easiest to obtain during your Open Enrollment Period. Since insurance companies cannot consider your health or medical history when determining your premium.
If you do not apply for a Medicare Supplement Plan during this time, or if you wait too long after your OEP, you may be subject to a medical exam or review of your medical history (underwriting). Meaning your application may be denied due to pre-existing health conditions.
- What’s the difference between Plan A and Plan B?
Plan B covers the Medicare Part A hospital deductible, while Plan A does not. In all other ways, the two plans are identical to one another. Except for the price, which will be set by the insurance company you choose.
- Does Medicare Supplement Plan B include prescription drug coverage?
Medicare Supplement Plan B pays for the cost of prescription drugs that are administered in a hospital or inpatient facility. But Medicare Supplement Plan B does not cover the cost of any medications that you take at home even if they are prescribed to you.
You will need to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in order to obtain coverage for prescription drugs while you are on Original Medicare (either with or without Medicare Supplement Plan coverage).
- Why should I choose Plan B?
Plan B will work for you if you are in good health, not making any plans to travel outside of the United States, and looking for more affordable premiums and are less concerned about out-of-pocket expenses in the event of hospitalization.
It’s possible that Medicare Supplement Plan B is the right choice for you. But before you make a decision, you should look into the costs of all of your other potential choices. Medicare Supplement Plan B is not typically the most cost-effective option for the vast majority of people. But the circumstances of each individual are different. It is important that you select a plan that not only fits your budget, but also enables you to get the necessary medical attention when you do require it.
How EZ Can Help!
If you’re looking for a Medicare Supplement Plan, it is essential that you compare the benefits and costs of each one. That means doing a lot of research. Which can take a long time, since you’ll have to call multiple insurance companies to get quotes.
But that’s where EZ can help! If you work with one of EZ’s agents, you can cut the time it takes to compare prices in half. Working with a licensed agent gives you access to multiple Medicare Supplement Plan carriers and plans in one place. Virtually eliminating the need for you to do any extra research on your own.
Your agent can explain the differences between each plan, in addition to giving you price comparisons. Furthermore, your agent can help you weigh out-of-pocket costs versus premium costs. This will help determine which plan will be the most cost-effective for you. To begin comparing Medicare Supplement Plans, enter your zip code in the box below to compare plans online or call us at 877-670-3602 today.