First, a little bit of housekeeping. The Smart Choice was the original name for Anthem's Blue Cross' high deductible F plan. Now, with the aim of clarity, it's simply called the Plan F High Deductible. Same basic premise, just a different name. Now that we've cleared that up, let's look at the pro's and con's of the Smart Choice or Plan F High Deductible which you can quote above against the traditional F plan (which is very important).
The Smart Choice was pretty ground breaking at the time and we've had the plan for almost a decade now. It basically combined the standard F plan (which is generally the richest California Medicare supplement plan available) with a high deductible to bring the monthly premiums down significantly. Otherwise, it functions just like an F plan but with your amounts that Medicare does not pick up being subject to a calendar year high deductible. So how does this plan stack up?
First, keep in mind that your traditional Medicare (Part A and B) benefits will work the same way. Yes, you have a Hospital deductible (Part A) and a separate Physician deductible (Part B), but after these are met, Medicare starts paying 80% of the eligible expenses. You're only paying 20%. That's pretty rich if you've come off of the individual or Group health insurance market. The Part A deductible is just over $1200 and the part B deductible is roughly $150 in 2015. We use these cleaner approximations since these numbers go up annually. The High Deductible is just over $2K for on the High Deductible F plan with Anthem Blue Cross. You will pay the two deductibles (A and B) and the 20% coinsurance until you meet the High Deductible and then the plan functions as F plan with very little out of pocket for covered benefits.
As an example, I'm comparing a 65 year old in Monterey county. The High Deductible F plan is $40/monthly. The standard F plan is $130 (which is about average for the F plan across carriers). We're looking at $90/monthly and approximately $1000 annually in premium difference. Worst case, if we need to meet our full deductible, we're looking at approximately $2000 annually. So essentially, we're saving $1000 to potentially take on the risk of $2000 annually. If we're in good health, that's not a bad risk to assume. Obviously, if we have health issues right off the bat, this probably isn't a good trade-off. If we have a really bad year, we make up the difference in two years. Keep in mind that as we get older, we're more likely to hit that deductible. You can compare the High Deductible F plan with other carriers through our California Medicare Supplement Quote Page.
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