Medicare Supplement Plan N Explained
Medicare Supplement Plan N is one of 10 major Supplement, also called Medigap, plans that you can purchase if you’re a Medicare beneficiary. Plan N helps you pay for some of the health expenses you may have after Original Medicare coverage.
Although Plan N isn’t the most popular Medigap plan, its popularity is growing. The plan debuted June 1, 2010, and by December 2014 it covered 6.8% of all Medicare Supplement enrollees, according to an AHIP study.1 The same study also found that between 2013 and 2014 alone, Plan N was the fastest-growing Medigap plan with a 33% increase in enrollees.
So why is Plan N becoming more popular? It could be that Plan N offers a nice balance of coverage for Medicare benefits and premiums.* Read on for more details about Medicare Supplement Plan N.
Plan N outline of coverage
Like all Medigap plans, Plan N helps cover some of the leftover costs after Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) pays its portion. In most states, the benefits are standardized, so you’ll get the same coverage no matter which company you purchase the plan from.
Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin standardize Medigap plans a bit differently, so check with Medicare or your insurance agent for details if you live in one of these states.
Plan N covers 100% of the following Medicare benefits:
- Part A coinsurance and hospital costs for up to 365 inpatient days after your Original Medicare benefits end
- Part A deductibles
- Blood you receive in the hospital (first three pints)
- Part A hospice coinsurance and copayments
- Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance
- 80% of costs for emergency care during foreign travel (up to plan limits)
Plan N is unique in its coverage for Part B (medical insurance) coinsurance and copayments.
While most Medigap plans cover 100% of Part B coinsurance, Plan N leaves you with copayments for certain office and emergency room visits. You’ll pay up to $20 for doctor visits and up to $50 for ER stays as long as the hospital doesn’t admit you for an inpatient stay.
To see how Plan N benefits compare to the other standard Medicare Supplement plans, check out the chart below.
|Part A coinsurance & hospital costs (up to 365 days after Medicare benefits end)||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Part B coinsurance or copayment*||X||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X|
|Blood in hospital (first 3 pints received)||X||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X|
|Part A hospice coinsurance or copayment||X||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X|
|Skilled nursing facility coinsurance||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||X||X|
|Part A deductible||X||X||X||X||X||50%||75%||50%||X|
|Part B deductible||X||X|
|Part B excess charges||X||X|
|Foreign travel emergency services (up to plan limit)||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%|
|Out-of-pocket limit (2018 plans) **||None||None||None||None||None||None||$5,240.00||$2,620.00||None||None|
What Plan N may cost you
We’ve covered what health expenses Plan N helps you pay for, but what about the cost for the plan itself? Although Medigap plan benefits are standardized, the monthly premium* you pay depends on where you live and the company you buy from.
When comparing Plan N vs. Plan F or Plan N vs. Plan C, the monthly premiums* for Plan N tend to be lower than either F or C. This is because F and C have more benefits than N. In the next section, we dive further into the differences between Medicare plan costs.
Why you might want to choose Plan N
Plan N’s major benefits are similar to the most popular Medigap plan, Plan F, but you’ll get a bit more coverage with Plan F. The major difference between these plans is that Plan F covers the Part B deductible and excess charges; Plan N does not.
What’s the Part B deductible? It’s a yearly amount you must pay for health care before Medicare starts paying for services. In 2019, the Part B deductible is $185 for the year. And because Plan N doesn’t cover the Part B deductible, you’ll have to pay at least $185 more per year to have Plan N instead of Plan F or some other Medigap plan.
For example, in 2017 we looked at estimated yearly Medigap premiums* for a 65-year-old in Illinois.2 The estimated annual premium* for Aetna Plan F was $1,965, while Aetna’s Plan N was only $1,395. That’s a $570 difference. So, although you would have had to pay 2017’s $183 Part B deductible with Plan N, you would have saved $387 over the course of a year.
|Example Aetna Medigap plans†||Yearly premium*||Part B yearly deductible||Total yearly cost|
(premium + deductible)
|Plan F||$1,965||$0 (covered by Plan F)||$1,965|
There’s another benefit Plan F has that Plan N does not: coverage of the Part B excess charges. Certain doctors or other providers may charge you more for a service than the Medicare-approved amount. “Excess charges” refers to these extra costs.
Doctors who don’t accept Medicare’s rates for services are legally allowed to do this, and unless you have a Medicare plan that covers excess charges, you may have to pay these costs out of pocket. But if you avoid doctors that don’t accept Medicare’s rates, you shouldn’t be affected by excess charges.
The important thing is to review the Medicare Supplement plans, the benefits, and the premiums available to you and find the balance that works for your health and budget needs.
How and when you can get Plan N
To get any Medigap plan, you must first be enrolled in Original Medicare—Part A and Part B. You can apply for Plan N during your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period begins once you are age 65 and have Part B. During this time, you have a guaranteed issue right, which means you won’t be charged more for a Medigap plan due to your health history.
If you’re ready to shop for Medigap plans, we can help you get started with a hassle-free quote.
Your other options
Plan N is one way to ensure your health care costs are covered, but you have several other options available to you. For an overview of Medigap Plans, check out our Medicare Supplement page. You may also be interested in some of the links below:
1 AHIP Center for Policy and Research, “Trends in Medigap Enrollment and Coverage Options, 2014”
2 Illinois Department on Aging, “2016–2017 Medicare Supplement Premium Comparison Guide”
* You must continue to pay your Part B premium.
† This is not a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult medicare.gov.