Do Medicare Supplements Offer a Family Discount?

Many times, I get the question about whether Medicare Supplements offer a family discount or whether a husband and a wife can sign up for a joint Medicare Supplement policy. While all Medicare Supplements are separate policies, many companies do offer a husband-wife discount. This discount can provide a significant savings, when you take out a policy with the same company. So whenever possible, it is recommended that you do so.

Often times, there are several companies around the same price for a standardized Medicare supplement plan. Coverage is the same; however, rates can vary considerably. By choosing the company that offers the husband-wife discount, you can reduce your premiums and ensure that you have the lowest possible price for a plan.

Obtaining the Medicare supplement family discount is easy to do. With most companies you can get it whether you apply at the same time or not. Sometimes, if one spouse is on Medicare and the other is not yet age 65, you should consider which companies may offer a discount that will help you later, when you are comparing and selecting plans.

Some of the prominent companies that do offer a husband-wife discount are Mutual of Omaha, Aetna, CIGNA, and AARP / United Healthcare. All of these companies offer a discount on their standardized Medigap plans that allows you to reduce the premium cost of your plans. The amount of the discount varies, but it can be anywhere from 5% to 12%. It also dependent on your state.

One of the new, exciting things with the household discounts in Medicare Supplements is that you do not have to BOTH be on Medicare with some of the companies. Some of the companies now offer the discount just for being married or living with someone over age 60.

When you are comparing Medicare Supplement plans, you should always get a Medicare Supplement quote from a reputable independent agency. They can give you an idea of all the plans that are available for your age and zip code, as well as what the rates for those particular plans are. From that comparison, you can easily determine which option is going to make the most sense for you, since plans are Federally-standardized (coverage is the same from one company to another).

Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com is a leading, independent brokerage, and we can help provide the Medicare Supplement comparison that you are seeking by email. To obtain this, simply visit Medicare Supplement quotes.

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.

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.

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.

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.