Medicare Supplemental Insurance – How to Compare

Comparing Medicare Supplemental insurance is an easy thing to do. The plans are Federally-standardized, and because of that, each company offers the exact same coverage for “like” plans. To put it simply, one Plan ‘F’ is the exact same as another Plan ‘F’. However, prices can vary a good bit, so it is important to compare prices to make sure that you have the best possible rate for the plan that you want.

If you are already on Medicare A & B with a supplemental insurance plan, you should follow the following steps to compare your plan and rates against other available options to make sure you are not “throwing away” money:

  1. First and foremost, you should do a Medicare supplemental insurance review each and every policy year. Some years this may take 30 seconds – sometimes, it may take a few days of thought (but can save you hundreds of dollars a year).
  2. The easiest way to do this is to use an independent brokerage agency. My agency, Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com, is happy to provide you with an unbiased Medicare Supplement quote, but even if we don’t, we urge you to get a comparison of plans in your area from another independent agent.
  3. Once you have this comparison, you can compare other companies to your current company for a “like” plan. For example, if you have a Plan F now, you can easily compare other Plan F’s to ensure that you would have the same level of coverage. What is the premium difference? Is it significant? It helps to think of it as an annual amount. Are you saving $100 or more a year. Switching is easy to do, and is a matter of signing a few pages. There are no pre-existing conditions restrictions, so the only drawback in switching to a less expensive policy is the 2 minutes it takes to sign your name on the application.
  4. If you are open to looking at other Medicare supplemental insurance coverage levels, you can look at other plans that are different from the plan that you have currently. Plan F is the most common plan, but often, Plan G and Plan N are better values. So, you may want to consider those plans as well, which would offer even greater savings.
  5. No matter how you do it or which plan or company you choose, it is highly important that you do this on at least a bi-annual basis. Medicare Supplemental insurance premiums go up, typically, on an annual basis (policy year not calendar year). Also, new companies and plans are released all the time. Often, their rates are lower than what you have now. In 2009, over 80% of people requesting information on our website were able to reduce their premiums for equal or better coverage. So you must compare and “shop around” to look out for your wallet and ensure that you have the best available option for your Medicare Supplemental insurance coverage.

If you have any questions or want our assistance in comparing your options, you can reach us toll-free at 877.506.3378 or you can request a Medicare Supplemental insurance comparison on our website.

Medicare Supplement Quotes – The Secret To Shopping Online

Getting Medicare Supplement quotes online is easy to do. Just throw your information out there, sit back, and wait for the information/quotes to roll in, right? Sure, you can do it that way. However, there is a way to do it without being bombarded by agent phone calls, pushy sales pitches, and spam.

You see, most Medicare supplement websites are after one thing – your information. Then, they turn around and sell this information to the highest bidder (usually around $10-15 each) to a “lead company” that then re-sells your information to “no more than 3 agents” (what they mean by no more than 3 agents is, “we sell it to as many people as we possibly can”). But, there is another way. Proceed with caution when requesting Medicare supplement quotes. Follow these simple step-by-step instructions to making sure you are going to get the information you want without the high cost of invasion or privacy.

  1. First and foremost, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get Medicare supplement rates online. Most companies do not allow this information to be published. If it is published, it is highly possible that it is not up to date. So, requesting quotes, or a quote comparison, online is a necessity.
  2. The key is how you request these quotes and who you request them from. If a company doesn’t allow you to receive the quotes by email exclusively (requires a valid phone number and doesn’t say they will send them by email), then they may be going to re-sell your information.
  3. You should be able to find a company phone number and address on the website to ensure that this business is not an “Internet-only” business that is simply a re-seller of information.
  4. See if you can determine if the website is an independent insurance brokerage or simply a quote-gathering website.

In short, independent insurance brokerages are a great way to acquire quotes and sign up for Medicare Supplement plans. They allow you to compare all quotes in a centralized place and make an unbiased choice. The key is determining which website belongs to an independent agent or agency and which belongs to a lead-seller. That way, you can get the Medicare Supplement quote that you want without paying the price of privacy.

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplemental Plan N – A Great Alternative to Being Declined Coverage

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Plan N is a “Guaranteed Issue” plan. What this means is that they offer this plan on a no health questions asked basis to all who apply. This is one of the few plans offered like this, nationwide. In some states, there are special times of the year or other special circumstances that allow everyone an open enrollment period with no health questions asked.

But, generally speaking, you do have to qualify medically when you sign up for a Medicare supplement plan. In the case of Mutual of Omaha’s Plan N, though, this is not the case.

This has truly been a benefit for those who have been previously unable to get coverage. Those who have health problems ongoing or have a history of health problems generally get declined by Medicare Supplement plans, when they apply. This allows them an option, in which they will not get declined.

Plan N is a new Medicare Supplement plan – it began on June 1, 2010. It has been successful as an appealing plan to those who are losing, or leaving, Medicare Advantage plans, which have encountered significant cuts for 2011, in most areas. Plan N does have a $20 doctor’s office co-pay, as well as a $50 emergency room co-pay. Additionally, it does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible of $162/year. That said, it still covers the 20% not covered by Medicare at the hospital so that, between Medicare and your supplement plan, you have little to no cost for hospital visits, or stays.

We believe Plan N, which is offered at an even lower price point than other supplement plans, is a great alternative to those who cannot get other coverage, have been declined or are simply paying too much for an overpriced Plan F. Plan N allows significant premium savings (as much as 50-60% lower than Plan F prices) while still giving you the hospital coverage and doctor flexibility that you need from your supplement plan.

If you want a customized quote, or if we can assist in providing additional Plan N information, please let us know. You can reach us at toll-free 877.506.3378 or request a Medicare Supplement quote. Alternatively, you can visit our Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement page for more information about this company and their plans.

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.

PARTS of Medicare vs. Medigap PLANS – Understanding the Difference

One of the most confusing (to most people) things about turning-65 is understanding the terminology. More specifically, there are “parts” (of Medicare) and “plans” (Medigap). Many people get these confused and it can lead to making decisions that are not to your advantage.

Parts of Medicare

There are four parts of Medicare. Medicare Part A is the part that covers hospital and inpatient services. You get this automatically from paying into the Medicare system during your working life. Medicare Part B is the part of Medicare that covers doctor’s office and outpatient services (like labwork, etc.). You must sign up for Part B in order to have this part of Medicare. There is a $110.50/month premium for this that is generally paid through a Social Security deduction.

Medicare Part C is an optional part of Medicare that is also known as Medicare Advantage. If you wish to stay with “original” Medicare (Medicare Parts A & B), you do NOT need to sign up for Part C. In fact, if you sign up for ‘C’, all of your coverage is provided through the private Part C company and Parts A & B no longer provide your benefits.

Medicare Part D is the prescription drugs part of Medicare. This part of Medicare is also optional and provided through private companies. In order to have prescription drug coverage, you must sign up for Part D. You can do this by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or through an independent agent.

Plans – Medigap

Medigap plans are also named by letters, which is the source of most people’s confusion. The plans are standardized and each company is required to offer the plans from the standardized plans chart. This chart goes from “A” to “N”. You should select a plan that meets your needs from a reputable company with low rates. You can view the full chart here that shows what the standardized plans cover: Standardized Plans Chart

If you have any specific questions, or if we can help in any way, please do not hesitate to reply to this email or contact us toll-free at 877.506.3378. Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com is a leading, independent Medicare Insurance agency. Because we are an independent agency, we work as a centralized place to compare all plan options, ask questions, and make unbiased decisions.

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.

Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance in 2011 – What We Know & What We Don’t Know

It’s hard to think of Jan. 1 when it’s 95+ degrees outside, like it has been in most parts of the country the last month. However, it is August and 2011 will be here before you know it. I anticipate there to be several changes with Medicare and Medicare insurance in 2011. Some of which were in place before the health insurance reform act, some of which are offshoots of the act itself. Here’s a brief look at what we do know and what we don’t know so far:

What We Do Know

  • Medigap coverage is not changing on 1/1/11. Your coverage will never change, unless you willingly change it. The plans are standardized and the same from company to company.
  • Medicare Advantage plans will be required, in 2011 and on, to have a network in place. In other words, PFFS plans, which is what most of the plans have been in the past, will be extinct. Those companies that do PFFS plans will offer the same plans through a network (PPO or HMO-type plan) OR they will cease offering those plans altogether.
  • Several major Medicare Advantage companies will not be participating any longer in the program (i.e. CIGNA) and others will operate in far fewer counties. People in plans that are not renewing have a special enrollment period that starts October 1. They can choose a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan without having to qualify medically or worry about pre-existing conditions.
  • As a side result of these non-renewing plans, there will be thousands upon thousands of Medicare-eligible individuals having to find new coverage at one time. I expect this to cause an influx of people onto the more stable Medigap plans, which will in turn cause slow turnaround times for Medicare and the companies themselves. In short, if you are one of these people who is losing a plan or are re-evaluating your drug coverage, getting started in October is highly advisable.
  • Medicare Part D is projected to have a smaller, yet to be determined, ‘donut hole’. Over the next 10 years, this ‘donut hole’ is supposed to be closed completely.

What We Don’t Know

  • We don’t know what the fate will be of all the Medicare Advantage companies yet. They are still in the process of filing plans, getting them approved, etc.
  • We don’t know what Part D plans will cover/not cover for next year. Their plans typically aren’t released until mid-October for the Nov. 15 start date.

Sometimes, new Medigap companies/rates come out around the first of the year; however, the information hasn’t been released yet. We will certainly keep you posted on it, as it is released, however, if/when new plans come out.

Medicare Part D – Annual Enrollment Period is Nearing

The annual enrollment period for Part D runs November 15-December 31. For 2011, that enrollment period is going to change; however, it will stay the same for one more year (2010).

This is the time of year to compare all of the new Part D plans to your current plan to see if there is any savings to be had on a Part D plan. You can do this on the Medicare.gov website, which was recently revised in an effort to be more “senior-friendly” (see for yourselves and let us know what you think?!?!). Or, you can get quotes for the available Part D plans through an agent or broker, particularly an independent agent so you can compare all of the options in a centralized place.

If you have a Medigap (or Medicare Supplement) plan, this is also a good time to re-evaluate it, based on price. The plans are standardized, so price is the primary comparison point. You need to make sure you have the best price possible on your selected plan, so that you can avoid paying more than you should.

Part D plans are NOT standardized. On the contrary, they change each and every year, with new formularies, deductibles and premiums. This makes it more important than ever to re-evaluate each year.

Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com is a one-stop “shop” for comparing all of your Medicare insurance. You can re-evaluate your coverage, and in 85% of cases, save a good bit of money per month for the same exact plan. Insurance is an  increasingly changing field, and if you don’t change with it, you are at the mercy of what an insurance company wants to charge you. To get Part D information/quotes (starting in October) or Medicare Supplement quotes, visit us at www.medicare-supplement-comparison.com.

What Does Medicare Cost – the Parts of Medicare and Their Cost

Medicare is the Federal program that provides insurance coverage to those over age 65 and/or deemed disabled by the government’s guidelines. Many people are completely uncertain as to how it works and what its costs are for them. Common misconceptions are:

  1. That it is completely free (an unfettered handout)
  2. That it is the same as Medicaid OR that Medicaid is for “older people” and Medicare is for low-income people.
  3. That Medicare, in and of itself, is complete coverage

These misconceptions cause much confusion with Medicare, and this article is going to look, specifically, at one oft-mistaken aspect of Medicare – what it costs.

First of all, there are two parts of “original” Medicare – Part A and Part B. During an individual’s working life, they pay into the Social Security/Medicare system through payroll deductions (in most cases). This entitles you to Medicare Part A at the time you are either qualified for it through disability or reach the month of your 65th birthday. There is no additional cost to Medicare Part A – it is something that the working public contributes to throughout their working years.

For Part B, however, there is an additional cost when you reach age 65 or disability qualification. This cost is now $110.50/month. This is typically done as a deduction from your Social Security check, although you can also pay it quarterly if you prefer. This current (as of 2010) cost of $110.50/month applies to everyone, with the exception of people whose income dictates that they pay a higher amount. Also, there is some assistance available for Part B costs for those with low enough incomes.

Medicare Part C is a relatively new part of Medicare that is called Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private companies. These companies are paid by the Federal Government to “manage” your Medicare benefits. They are required to offer at least as good of coverage as Medicare A & B offer, but some companies go above and beyond this “original” Medicare coverage to different extents. They companies also, typically, pass some relatively small premium on to the customer. This amount varies from company to company and from area to area.

Medicare Part D is the part of Medicare that covers prescription drugs. This is also, like Part B and C, an optional part of Medicare. This is offered through private companies, which extend a premium to the customer in exchange for coverage of your prescription medications. The average Part D cost nationwide (for 2010) is approximately $31, but this premium can vary greatly from area to area and for different levels of coverage.

Medigap plans are not a part of Medicare itself. They are offered through private companies and supplement your “original” Medicare. In some cases, they offer complete coverage so that, between Medicare and the Medigap, you don’t have any out of pocket costs for doctor or hospital care.

For more information about what Medicare covers and what it costs, you can view: Medicare coverage information. Or, to get more information and an idea of what Medicare supplements cost, visit Medicare Supplement quote.

What Does Medicare Cover – The Parts of Medicare and What They Cover

This is typically the first question someone asks when they begin the process of comparing plan options prior to their 65th birthday (or Medicare start date). It is, in its simplest form, the most important base knowledge that you must have to compare plan options in an educated way. This will, in layman’s terms, explain the parts of Medicare and what they cover.

Medicare Part A

What It Covers: Medicare Part A is the most basic part of Medicare. It covers medically necessary hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health and hospice care. If you have Medicare Part A, it covers 80% at the hospital/skilled nursing facility.

Medicare Part A does have a deductible that must be met before the coverage starts. This deductible, for the year 2010, is $1,100.

How to Get It: You pay into the Medicare system in your working years, and that qualifies you for Medicare Part A. There is no additional premium. You get Part A automatically when you either go on Medicare disability (prior to age 65) or when you turn age 65. It starts the first day of the month in which you turn 65.

Medicare Part B

What It Covers: Medicare Part B is an optional part of Medicare. It is the part of Medicare that covers doctor’s visits, doctor’s services, outpatient services, laboratory work, and medical equipment. In order to have full coverage, you have to have both parts A & B. But you are not automatically signed up for B, you have the option of declining it.

How to Get It: As mentioned, Part B is optional. You have the option of declining it when your Medicare starts, although in most situations, you are sent a Medicare card showing effective dates for Parts A & B, and you must notify Medicare if you do not want Part B. Part B, contrary to Part A, does have a monthly premium of $96-110/month depending on income and when you turned 65. Most people pay this as a deduction from the social security checks.

Medicare Part C

What It Covers: Medicare Part C is a privatized version of Medicare called Medicare Advantage. When you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you opt out of the Government’s Medicare coverage and elect to be covered entirely by the private company. These plans vary greatly in their coverage; however, most plans have in common the coverage of doctor/hospital charges, lab work, outpatient, some preventive care (varies greatly) and prescription drugs (optional).

How to Get It: To get a Medicare Advantage plan, you have to sign up through the private company’s agent or directly through the private company itself. You can only do so during designated enrollment periods. Generally speaking, these are when you first turn 65 (three months on either side of your birth month), November 15-December 31 each year, and/or other special enrollment periods such as losing employer coverage, moving to a new state, etc.

Medicare Part D

What It Covers: Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. These plans are administered through private companies but approved by Medicare. The coverage on the plans varies greatly, and it is essential to compare the details of the plan formularies before choosing one.

How to Get It: Like Part C, you can get these plans through the private company’s agents or directly through the private company. You can only do so during the same enrollment periods as mentioned above.

Medigap Plans

What It Covers: Medigap plans are designed to fill in the “gaps” in Medicare A & B. The plan coverage is standardized from company to company so you can easily compare “apples to apples”.

How to Get It: You must have Medicare A & B to sign up for a Medigap plan. You can sign up for one through the company directly or through an agent. Medicare-Supplement-Comparison is a leading independent agency that works with Medigap (and Parts C & D). If you would like a rate quote comparison of all the options in your area, please visit Medicare Supplement quote.

Getting a Medicare Supplement comparison is an easy way to compare your options for Medicare Advantage, Part D and Medigap plans. Most seniors agree that Medicare, by itself, is not sufficient coverage, and supplementing that is a necessity. If you have any questions about this information, please contact us on our medigap quotes page or at 877.506.3378.