Medicare supplement (Medigap) buyers may be putting factors such as reputation and service quality ahead of price when they’re shopping for Plan F type coverage.
Researchers at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation come to that conclusion in a new review of Medigap market trends.
The Medigap program gives private insurers a chance to sell commercial insurance products that fill in some of the gaps in the Medicare Part A hospitalization and Medicare Part B physician services programs.
Since 1990, federal law has required Medigap issuers to sell plans based on a small number of plan design models. The plan types available today range from Plan A to Plan N, with plans E, H, I and J no longer being actively marketed.
About 23 percent of all Medicare enrollees had Medigap coverage in 2010, and 40 percent of those 9.3 million Medigap enrollees had Plan F type coverage.
Plan F is the richest, most popular Medigap plan type on the market.
A Plan F plan pays all Part A and Part B coinsurance amounts and deductibles, all Part B co-payment amounts for other than preventive services, all Part A costs after hospital benefits are exhausted, the cost of the first three pints of transfused blood and skilled nursing facility coinsurance. It also pays for Part B physician charges over the usual Part B limits, and it covers some costs resulting from medical emergencies that occur outside the United States.
A Plan F plan cannot restrict which providers an enrollee uses.
Another type of Medigap plan, a Plan C plan, also provides “first-dollar coverage” for health care, the Kaiser researchers noted.