Medicare Supplement Plan J – What’s Happening to it in 2010?

Medicare Supplement Plan J is one of the Federally-standardized Medicare Supplement plans. Much has been written and discussed about the upcoming June 1, 2010 changes to the standard Medicare Supplement plans. One of the major changes with the modernization of the plans is the elimination of several plans, including Medigap Plan J. It is important to note, however, that existing Plan J policyholders will not lose their current Plan J coverage with this modernization of the plans.

In reality, the elimination of Plan J is by default. The two benefits that J has to set it apart from Plan F, the most common Medigap plan, are Preventive Care and At Home Recovery. Those two benefits are being eliminated from all of the plans by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) due to lack of use. The elimination of these benefits means that J is a duplication of F, so it is thereby discarded.

The two benefits that are being abolished were not extremely popular, or frequently used, benefits, anyway. However, in some cases where J was very close in price to F, the J plan has made sense for some Medicare-enrollees.

To reiterate again, existing Plan J policyholders will not be kicked off of their current Plan J coverage or have to leave it. It is important to note, though, that existing Plan J policyholders will be in what is called a “closed” block of business. What this means is that there will be no new J policies sold after that June 1, 2010 date. Some speculate that this will lead to Plan J rates increasing more rapidly on Plan J than on other plans. While this does make logical sense (older policyholders equals more claims equals higher rates), it remains to be seen the true and lasting effect that the removal of Plan J will have on current J policyholders.

The course of action that I recommend, as always, is a careful, unbiased consideration of all options available in your zip code. Unless Plan J is within $10-15 of F (or other higher level plans), it generally will not make sense for you financially, based on the lack of use of the two distinguishing benefits and the uncertain future associated with J.