How to Compare Medigap Plans

Comparing Medigap plans is an essential part of choosing the “right” plan for you. It can certainly seem like a daunting task, but it is not nearly as difficult as you may think. First and foremost, plans are standardized, so comparing them is based on other factors, besides differences in coverage. This greatly eliminates confusion that could exist if comparing multiple variables, such as coverage, price, company rating etc. So, how do the plans vary?

  1. First of all, the plans can vary greatly in price. Although coverage is the same (i.e. one Plan F is the same as another), prices can be as much as double with one company versus another.
  2. Secondly, plans can vary based on company reputation/rating. AM Best is an independent rating source of the companies. They are universally used to get an idea of a company’s financial strength/stability. Although this isn’t a guarantee of future solvency or stability, it can at least be a factor in your comparison.

So, with the knowledge of how the plans vary, how can you compare the options?

  1. First, decide on which plan you want. If you are not familiar with the different coverage plans, you can view the standardized coverage chart here: STANDARDIZED PLAN COVERAGE CHART. Plan F is the most comprehensive plan option (and most expensive) – it pays for everything that Medicare doesn’t cover at the doctor/hospital.
  2. Once you know which plan you want, you can very easily compare the plans based 0n price and company rating. Since coverage, claim payments, doctor acceptance, etc are standardized, the next step is obtaining a list of the plans available for your age and zip code. At that point, you can compare their prices and ratings.
  3. To obtain this list of available plans and the quotes for your age/gender/zip code, you have two options. You can either call every insurance company that does business in your state and ask them for the quotes or set up meetings with them to obtain the quotes. Alternatively, and significantly easier, you can simply use a brokerage to compare all options in a centralized place. By doing so, you can get quotes for all plan options and make an informed, unbiased choice. Whether it is a MSC.com or another brokerage, this is the easiest and most useful to compare Medicare Supplement plans.

To get a Medicare Supplement comparison from us, you can call us at 877.506.3378 or contact us on our website at Medicare Supplement comparison.

Genworth, Owned by Aetna, Upgraded by A.M. Best

Genworth, parent company of American Continental and Continental Life, is now owned by one of the largest insurance companies in the country, Aetna. Recently, on the offshoot of the recent purchase by Aetna of Genworth, A.M. Best upgraded Genworth’s Medicare Supplement companies (American Continental and Continental Life) to an ‘A’ rating. They were previously an ‘A-‘.

A.M. Best is the independent rating service that rates the financial strength of insurance companies. Ratings are based on financial strength and stability and in no way reflect any input from consumers or reflect claim payment information, etc. However, since Medicare Supplement plans are completely standardized by the Federal Government, claims from all companies are paid through the Medicare “crossover” system. So there is no variation from one company to the other, as far as how fast or when they pay claims.

Genworth’s Medicare Supplement companies were a great choice for Medicare Supplement insurance before the recent upgrade; however, after the upgrade, they are an even more attractive choice.

American Continental and Continental Life are competitively priced in many states, including Arizona, Iowa, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Montana and many more.

To get Medicare supplement information or to get a Medicare Supplement comparison, please visit us online or call us at 877.506.3378.

Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com is a leading, independent brokerage for Medicare Supplement insurance.

Medicare Supplements – Make Changes Now to Save in 2012

Medicare Supplements are plans that fill in the “gaps” in Medicare. These plans, contrary to popular misconception, do NOT have an annual enrollment period. On the contrary, you can enroll or disenroll in these plans at any time of the year. There are, however, some general health questions, so you must have relatively good health to get a Medicare Supplement. But you do not have a deadline for making changes.

What this means is that, although the Medicare annual enrollment period for Part D Rx plans is over, as of 12/7/11,  you can still make changes to your supplement plan to save money for next year. If you are in a Plan F, you may want to consider changing to Plan G, which is generally a more financially advantageous plan. Or, you can change to a different company completely. If you have had the same plan for more than 12-18 months, it is almost certain you are paying more than market value for your Medigap plan. Just like any kind of insurance, rates change very frequently with Medicare Supplement plans. So it is to your advantage to re-evaluate on a bi-annual basis.

In many cases, making a simple change in company, while keeping the same coverage level (all Plan F’s, for example, are the exact same), will allow you to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your supplement coverage each year.

Many people just simply do not realize that you can change plans; because of that, many people end up paying more each year to one of the higher-priced companies. The premiums for Medicare supplement companies/plans can vary greatly, as much as $150/month for the exact same coverage.  It is always most advantageous to be in the lowest-priced company for the plan that you want. With Medigap plans, coverage, claim payments, doctor acceptance, and everything else is exactly the same from one company to another.

To get more information about the plan options or to get an unbiased Medicare Supplement comparison of the plans available for your age and zip code, please visit our website at the link above or call us at 877.506.3378.

When Is the Medicare Supplement Annual Enrollment Period? (Trick Question)

Many people mistakenly believe that the Medicare Supplement plans have an annual open enrollment period that occurs at the end of the year. However, this is not the case. The end of year open enrollment period actually only applies to the Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans (the plans that replace Medicare).

Medicare Supplement plans actually do NOT have any sort of annual enrollment period. On the contrary, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan at any time of the year. They do employ medical underwriting on the application (regardless of the time of year!), and applications are either approved or declined based on your answers to the health questions in most situations. However, you can change at any time of the year, as long as you are in relatively good health.

Another common misconception about Medicare supplement plans is that they are the same as Medicare Advantage plans. However, this could not be further from the truth. Obviously, as we’ve discussed above, the two types of plans have different enrollment rules (as far as time of year you can enroll). Additionally, when you enroll in, or change, your Medicare Supplement plan, you do have to qualify medically (answer medical questions on the application), regardless of the time of year. With Medicare Advantage, however, you can only change a certain time of the year (annual enrollment period) and there are no medical questions. This is especially important to someone turning 65 to consider, particularly if you have some pre-existing conditions. If you take an Advantage plan when you first go on Medicare at age 65, you may not be eligible for an actual Medicare Supplement later.

The misconception about the Medicare Supplement plans having an annual enrollment period is fueled by several factors. First of all, I believe that the heavy advertising (television, direct mail, etc) that AARP, Humana and others do this time of year can be misleading. Also, some of those companies (incorrectly) imply that their plans are Medicare Supplements, when they are actually Medicare Advantage plans. Also, this is the time of the year that you change your Part D prescription plan, so many people end up doing both at once (Part D and Medicare Supplement).

Regardless of the misconception, it is important to understand how Medicare Supplements work, as well as understanding the differences between actual supplements and the Medicare replacement plans like Medicare Advantage. To get quotes on Medicare Supplement plans, as well as more information about what they cover, you can contact us at 877.506.3378 or on our website at Medigap insurance quotes.

Medicare Supplement Annual Enrollment Period – Is There One?

One of the common myths with Medicare Supplement insurance is that there is an annual open enrollment period. Many seniors, either through faulty information or incorrect assumptions, believe that there is an annual period, during which you can sign up for Medicare Supplements or change your current Medicare Supplement insurance. On the contrary, you can change Medicare supplement plans at any time – there is no set enrollment period.

One of the main reasons for this incorrect belief is that there IS an annual enrollment period for Medicare Part D (prescription coverage) and Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage), which people often mistakenly refer to as a Medicare supplement. The enrollment period for these types of plans is November 15-December 31 of each year (this time period is changing for 2011, but these are the dates for the 2010 annual election period).

That said, the end of the year is an excellent time to review your Medicare Supplement coverage and make any necessary changes. Medicare Supplement coverage does not change on an annual basis like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D. The plans are the same over time; however, your rates do change. Some companies change rates based on your age (this usually occurs around your birthday), other companies change rates annually (this occurs 1/1 of each year), and other companies change rates on your policy anniversary date. Either way, when your rate changes, it is highly likely that you are able to switch to an equal plan from a different company and save money on your coverage.

It is advisable to re-evaluate your Medicare Supplement / Medigap coverage on at least a bi-annual basis, as insurance is a rapidly changing field that requires one to be aware of current rates and trends. In the last year in many areas of the country, Medicare Supplement rates have actually gone down due to new companies entering the marketplace and new plans being released (Medigap Plan N). This means that now is a better time than ever to re-evaluate your coverage and make a change if you find that you can save money for equal coverage.

To receive a full comparison of Medigap quotes for your age and zip code, you can contact us at Medicare supplement quote or toll-free at 877.506.3378.

2011 Part D Information – Breaking News About Premiums, Donut Hole Coverage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released today the projected average premium for the Part D plans in 2011. Projected numbers for 2011 show that the monthly premiums will increase by approximately $1, from $29 in 2010 to $30 in 2011. This is good news for Medicare Part D policyholders who feared large increases in the Part D premiums next year.

With some of the changes caused by PPACA (i.e. “health insurance reform”), some Medicare enrollees, as well as some in the insurance industry expected the Part D premiums to increase a good bit for next year. So, this news is welcome.

The PPACA, which was signed into law in March, changed some of the benefit structure for Part D. The changes that beneficiaries will see from this include a 50% reduction in brand-name co-pays when they are in the “donut hole” and a 7% reduction in generic co-pays when they are in the “donut hole”. This will greatly help anyone who reaches the “donut hole” to save on their medications while they are in that coverage gap.

To get more information about Medicare Part D or these changes, visit Medicare Supplement Quote. You can also request information on Medicare Supplement plans (Medigap) and/or Medicare Advantage.

FOUR COMMON MYTHS ABOUT MEDICARE / MEDIGAP PLANS

In talking to hundreds of folks each week who are on Medicare from around the country, we hear some pretty “wild” things. Whether given the wrong information by news media, an unscrupulous or misinformed agent, or just assuming something to be true that is not, there is a lot of misinformation about Medicare and Medigap plans. Here are a few we’ve heard recently that fall on the “MYTH” side of the TRUTH vs. MYTH divide.

  1. You can only change Medigap plans once a year, during the end-of-year enrollment period.
    This, as many of you already know, is false. Medigap plans have NO enrollment/disenrollment restrictions. The reason many people believe this is twofold. One, there IS an enrollment period for Part D prescription drug plans, which runs from November 15-December 31 each year. Also, there is an onslaught of marketing (mailings, TV ads, etc) for Medicare Advantage plans during the end-of-year enrollment period because you can only change those plans from Nov. 15-March 31. For Medigap plans, however, you can change at any time, as long as you meet a company’s underwriting requirements (which vary from company to company).
  2. Company ‘X’ pays it’s claims better than Company ‘Y’.
    Medigap claims are paid through Medicare’s national “crossover” system, which is handled directly through Medicare. This is an automated process that does not at all resemble the way that traditional health insurance (under-65) claims are paid. I have NEVER had a complaint or problem with a company not paying a claim due to this standardization of plans and automation of the system. Even if a company were to completely go out of business, claims are backed up by the state insurance reserve programs.
  3. Some of my doctors do not take certain Medigap plans.
    With Medigap plans, all doctors that take Medicare are required to take Medigap plans. What some doctors do not take, and are not taking in increasing numbers, is the Medicare Advantage plans. However, with a Medigap plan, you can see any doctor/hopsital nationwide that takes Medicare.
  4. Company ‘X’s rates do not go up over time – they stay the same.
    This is something that many agents use in a dishonest way. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. While this would certainly make our job easier, it’s just not true. Medigap insurance, just like auto insurance or the price of eggs, goes up over time. Different companies use different criteria to change rates, but there are not any plans that do not go up in price over time.

Health Insurance & Respiratory Diseases – Getting Insured

Facing a challenging medical diagnosis can be overwhelming. There are many things that can cause stress in a situation like this, not the least of which is getting or maintaining appropriate health insurance to keep your health care expenses down.

COPD, which is a progressive respiratory disorder that makes breathing difficult, can be particularly difficult when applying for health insurance. Here are some tips on getting insured, even if you have this diagnosis:

Under-65: Individual Health Insurance

Individual health insurance companies require you to answer health questions and look into your medical history when you apply for a plan. Because of this, having COPD can be a problem when applying, as this is generally a questions that is asked in order for you to qualify for a plan. Here are a couple solutions to the problem of being declined for health insurance because you have COPD:

  1. The first and easiest way to get insured is to find coverage through either your, or a spouse’s, employer. Employer group plans typically do not ask medical questions, and although they may exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions for 6 or 12 months, you can have complete coverage after that time period.
  2. The second way is to investigate high-risk pools. Over thirty states currently maintain high-risk pools. This coverage is expensive; however, if you have a good number of medical expenses with more expected, it can certainly be worth it.
  3. The last option is to move. That sounds like a lot of work to have coverage, but if your situation is dire enough, you could move to one of five states (NY, NJ, VT, MA, and ME), which require “guaranteed issue” (i.e. the insurance companies cannot turn you down).

Over-65: Medicare-Age Insurance

When you turn 65 and go on Medicare, you do not have to qualify medically, obviously. Also, you have a 6-month period following that 65 birthday, during which you can compare Medicare supplement quotes and sign up for a plan without having to qualify medically for the supplement. This ensures that you will have full coverage, with no out of pocket costs. Medicare covers 80%, and the supplement covers the other 20%.

If you do NOT sign up for a plan during this open enrollment period, you can always sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan later. These plans do not provide as comprehensive of coverage; however, they also do not ask any medical questions to qualify you.

If you want more information about finding a Medicare plan if you have COPD, you can get a Medigap quote or contact us at 877.506.3378.