Best Medicare Supplements – What Are the Best Options for Your Age and Zip Code?

The best Medicare Supplement plans are easy to find. Keep in mind that, with Medicare Supplement insurance, plans are standardized, so the “best” plans are the ones that are the least expensive.

The easiest way to find these least expensive plans is to do a medicare supplement comparison. This will show you exactly which plans are competitively-priced for your age and zip code. Many people attempt to include other factors in their comparison of the “best” Medicare Supplements; however, the fact remains that everything except price is equal.

Some things that do NOT help determine which is the best Medicare Supplement are:

  1. Which company “pays better”. The reality is that all companies pay the same. They each pay through the Medicare “crossover” system. This system dictates that all companies pay the same amount for a service/procedure and all pay in a timely manner.
  2. Which supplement is accepted by more doctors. Many people think that, just because they have heard of a company or plan, it means that a doctor is more likely to have heard of it also and thus more likely to accept it. However, with Medicare Supplements, as long as you have a standardized Medicare Supplement plan (i.e. G, F, N, etc.), your doctor/hospital must take the plan if they take Medicare.
  3. Which plan has the most coverage. Again, since plans are standardized, a Plan F with one company is the exact same as a Plan F with another company. So, one company simply does not have more coverage than another.
  4. Which plan has been in business the longest. This also is not a factor in how a company pays, what kind of coverage they offer, etc. With Medicare Supplements, these plans are Federally-standardized so there are not differences from one company to another.
  5. Which plan has the best television commercials. This is, obviously, not important in comparing plans. I just include this to say that you will get swamped with information about Medicare (TV, mail, phone, etc) if you are turning 65 or comparing plans. It is important that you have a good understanding of HOW to compare plans so that when you do compare, you can choose the best Medicare Supplement for you.

So in short, these things above just simply don’t matter. The only thing that matters when comparing Medicare Supplement plans to find the best Medicare Supplements for your age and zip code is price. Ultimately, your monthly premium is the only thing that differentiates one Medicare Supplement from another. If you want to get a rate quote chart that offers a Medicare supplement comparison of the plans available in your area, please contact us on our website or by calling 877.506.3378.

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 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.

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.

Medicare Supplement Plans – Three Little-Known Ways to Save Money

Many people are talking about saving money these days. It is a primary topic of discussion. Prices for some things seem set in stone, though, as if there is no way to reduce your costs. Most seniors assume that Medicare Supplement plans fall into the “set in stone” category; however, that is not necessarily the case, as there are several significant ways to save money on your Medigap plans.

Below, we have listed three way to save money on your Medigap insurance that many people may not recognize or know about:

  1. Household (husband-wife) Discount – This is probably the easiest way to save money – to have the same plan as your spouse. Not all companies offer this, but the majority of competitively-priced companies do. It is an incentive to keep all of your business (both you and your spouse) with the same company. If you ARE with the same company and are NOT receiving this discount, you should ask your current company about it – or, possibly, find a new company that would be less expensive and/or offer this discount.
  2. Payment Mode Discount – Companies handle this is different ways. Many are less expensive when you pay monthly by bank draft; however, some are still less expensive if you pay annually or semi-annually. Regardless, this is something to look into.
  3. Early Enrollment Discount – A few companies offer an early enrollment discount for those who enroll in their plan within a certain time period after turning 65. This discount usually is reduced over time; however, when enrolling at or near age 65, the discount can make one company’s rates better than another.

Keep in mind that the actual rate for Medicare Supplement plans is set. One agent or broker cannot offer a better rate than another. However, these company-offered discounts can affect the rates a good bit and make rates with one company more competitive than another.

If you are not getting all, or any, of these discounts and you feel like you should qualify, we recommend comparing your coverage to see if there is another company that offers the discounts and would be more advantageous to you financially.

Garrett recommends that you look into these three ways to save money on your Medicare Supplement plan. Even if it doesn’t work out for you, and you are not able to save any money, you don’t have anything to lose. Best case scenario, you find several ways to reduce your premium with either your current company or with another, more advantageous company.

Medicare Supplement Plans – the 2010 Modernized Plans

Medigap plans will encounter some major changes in 2010, for the first time since the plans were introduced in 1992.

The 2010 Medigap Modernization Act will revamp existing Medicare Supplement plans nationwide. However, it will not affect any current Medicare Supplement coverage that you have. It only affects those who sign up for effective dates of coverage on or after June 1, 2010.

If you are turning 65 on or after June 1, 2010 or considering a Medicare Supplement change on or after that date, you will want to pay special attention to the new plans and how they will affect you. Some of the major changes will be:

Hospice benefit to be included as a basic benefit in all of the plans. This will now be considered a core benefit and will be a part of all of the new plans.

Plan E, Plan H, Plan I, and Plan J will be eliminated completely. Just to recap, this will not affect your coverage if you have one of these plans already. It just applies to those who sign up for the plans after the June 1, 2010 date.

Preventive Care and At Home Recovery benefits are eliminated completely from all plans that included them. Medicare has decided that these benefits, which were not used very frequently are not worthy of inclusion in the standard plans moving forward, so they have been removed from all plans that had them.

Possibly the most important revision is the addition of two new plans, Plan M and Plan N. These two plans promise to be a very viable alternative for those on Medicare Advantage plans that are either losing their coverage or facing the large premium increases/benefit decreases that are anticipated in those plans. Both plans will use cost-sharing to allow for lower premiums. Plan M will make the insured reponsible for 50% of the Part A deductible, while Plan N will have a $20 doctor’s office co-pay and a $50 emergency room co-pay. Both plans project to have 15-30% lower premiums than current Georgia Medicare Supplement Plan F’s.

Medigap Insurance Plans – The Three Least Important Things About Choosing a Plan

Everyone wants to talk about what is important about choosing a Medigap insurance plan, and reasonably so. However, one thing that is not often discussed is the numerous things that are NOT important when comparing and choosing a Medigap plan.

Below, we have listed three of the least important things to consider when choosing a Medigap plan. Unscrupulous or uninformed agents sometimes emphasize the importance of these three factors to serve their own purposes; however, the three following factors are simply not important when it comes to comparing Medicare supplement plans:

  1. First and foremost, the “name recognition” of the company is not important.
    Medicare supplements must be accepted anywhere that takes Medicare. For this reason, an AARP plan is not better than a Sentinel Life plan etc. As long as it is a Medigap plan, the plan can be used anywhere that takes Medicare so there is no reason to base a decision on whether a company has “pretty commericals” or, worse yet, because you had them through your employer and they “pay good” (see #3 below!).
  2. Secondly, the coverage the company offers is a non-factor (since all coverage is standardized).
    This is simply not a factor because Medigap plans are standardized. Do not allow anyone to confuse you when talking about both Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans within the same conversation. The two are completely separate and there is no way of equally comparing them to one another. Medigap plans, however, compare very easily to one another because of this standardization of coverage. A Plan ‘F’ with one company is the EXACT same as a Plan ‘F’ with another company.
  3. Lastly, the claims process of the company is not a variable in the Medigap plans decision.
    Claims, for Medigap plans, are all filed automatically through the Medicare “crossover” system, so there is no variability in this from company to company. Do NOT make the mistake of letting someone tell you that one company pays its claims and another one does not. That is simply not true. If you want to validate this or check into it further, call Medicare directly, and they will tell you the same thing.

To find out more information and see a rate quote comparison for your age and zip code, visit Medicare supplement comparison.