Medicare Supplement Rate Increases – Medicare Deductible/Coverage Changes Take Toll on Medigap Rates

Medicare Supplement rates have taken a hit in recent months for South Carolina, with several large companies announcing rate increases. Typically, your rate only increases on your policy anniversary date, so if a company announces rate increases to start on 5/1, for example, the increase affects your rate starting on your policy anniversary date (not on 5/1).

Although reasons for rate increases are complex – one of the main reasons is that most policies go up based on your age – this year’s increases are likely due to two major factors – Medicare changes and the economic climate. Medicare has increased the deductibles from 2009 to 2010, as well as making other changes that enlarge the ‘gaps’ that Medicare Supplemental plans cover. When the gaps that have to be covered are larger, the increased costs are passed on to the end-consumer. With the ongoing uncertainty as far as health care reform and its impact on future Medicare changes, this is something to keep an eye on in future years.

One final factor that is sure to be having an impact on Medicare Supplement companies is the recent influx of people from Medicare Advantage plans and employer coverage, moving over to Medicare Supplement plans. Because of the reduction in benefits/increase in costs with the Advantage plans for 2010, many of those people elected to go to supplemental plans. Also, because many people have lost their retirement health insurance benefits, they have had to elect supplement plans. In both situations, the majority of these people are in ‘Guaranteed Issue’ situations, which means the insurance companies are required to accept them despite any poor health conditions. Unhealthier people equals more claims, which in turn, equals higher rates.

If you are getting a rate increase and want to avoid it, chances are you can do so. Over 85% of people can save money on their Medicare supplement coverage by getting Medigap quotes and comparing supplement options to save money. Visit us at: to find out if you are in this 85% or the 15% that can’t.

2010 Medicare Changes – New Deductibles, Premium Increases Affect Everyone on Medicare

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) recently announced the 2010 Medicare changes, which will have some affect on all Medicare beneficiaries. Despite the fact that there is no cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security for 2010 (for the first time in 20+ years), there are some significant changes to Medicare deductibles, plan premiums, etc that you should be familiar with.

  1. New Medicare Deductibles
    This is the area that affects the largest number of Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare Part A deductible is increasing from $1060 (2009) to $1100 (2010), and the Medicare Part B deductible is increasing from $135 (2009) to $155 (2010). For those that have Medigap policies, which cover these deductibles, you will not have increased out of pocket costs at the doctor or hospital, obviously. However, if you do not have a Medigap plan to fill in these Medicare deductibles, you will pay these higher amounts beginning in January 2010.
  2. Part B premium increase
    In many cases, the Medicare Part B premium is NOT increasing for 2010. If you currently are paying the standard Part B premium (in most cases, deducted from your SSI check) of $96.40, your premium will likely stay the same.
    However, if you are new Medicare Part B enrollee (as of 1/1/2010) OR if you have an income over $85,000 (individual) or $170,000 (married couple), you will likely pay a higher amount. For those new to Medicare Part B, the new standard premium is $110.50, which is a 15% increase from the 2009 Part B premium.
  3. Changes to Medicare Supplement plans
    The Medicare Supplement (Medigap) changes do not actually take effect until June 1, 2010; however, when they do, they will provide some new options and mark the end to some old options. Some plans, such as Plan J, will not be available to NEW applicants, whereas two new plans, M and N, will begin (Medicare Supplement Plans M and N). For a full outline of the new standardized plan chart, visit Medicare Supplements chart.
  4. Changes to Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans)
    As you have probably already seen, if you are on a Medicare Advantage plan currently, the MA plans have changed a good bit for 2010. In most cases, premiums have gone up and there have been some reduction in benefits with some plans. Additionally, some of the major players in the MA marketplace have pulled out of the MA market. This is plan-specific and does not apply to all plans, but it makes it more important than ever to know what you have and know what else is available in your county.
  5. Changes to Medicare Part D
    The Medicare Part D premiums have changed, in nearly all cases, for 2010. In doing so, the plan that was good for you in 2009, may not be as good for you in 2010. Again, this is plan-specific, and the only way to get an accurate picture of how this affects you individually is to do an analysis of your current plan against other options.

Overall, the changes to Medicare for 2010 will be disconcerting to some, causing an increase in out of pocket costs. However, for those with a Medigap plan and who stay on top of their Part D coverage to ensure they have the best possible plan for their unique situation, the impact of these changes can be minimized.

For a full analysis of options available to you, visit Medicare Insurance Quotes.

Medicare Advantage 2010: Annual Enrollment Period Less than Two Weeks Away

Although it may make things more difficult for those who are on Medicare Advantage plans and those who work with them, the annual 45-day enrollment period is what we have to work with. And, this year’s AEP  is nearly here.

The 2009 period (for the 2010 plans) is expected to be especially interesting, as there are at least 4 major Medicare Advantage companies pulling out of the Medicare Advantage marketplace completely. This represents hundreds of thousands of customers nationwide that have to find a new company/plan. These individuals also have a special right to purchase a Medigap plan, if they so choose, which they would otherwise have to qualfiy for medically by answering medical questions. However, due to the involuntary loss of their current Medicare Advantage plan, these individuals can choose either a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan of their choice, with no pre-existing condition exclusions or ability to be turned down.

There are some very good Medicare Advantage plans still in South Carolina for 2010, despite many changes overall to the plans, which has led the aforementioned plans to drop out completely and other plans to raise premiums and/or reduce benefits.

To get information about the 2010 South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans or get quotes, visit South Carolina Medicare Quotes.

South Carolina Medicare Advantage Plans: Still Some Good Options

South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans for 2010 are beginning to be released. Despite much concern among seniors that there will not be any more good choices for the privatized version of Medicare, there appears to still be some South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans that will be advantageous to South Carolina seniors.

As always, Medicare Advantage plans may be a good option for you if you cannot afford a Medicare Supplement, qualify medically for a Medicare Supplement, or if you are in very good health with few medical expenses.

The 2010 South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans feature plans with premiums starting at $0. Many of these plans include prescription drug coverage, dental insurance and vision/hearing insurance also.

If you have had Medicare Advantage in the past, or have it now, this is the perfect time to compare your options. As you have probably seen (or will see soon), a good number of the plans are either leaving the Medicare Advantage program altogether or greatly increasing premiums. What was a good option for 2009 may not be a good option for the upcoming year.

To compare options and get information on the plans that are available in your specific county, visit South Carolina Medicare Insurance Quotes. For faster service by email, please enter “MA” and your county of residence in the “Comments” box. We will get back in touch with the relevant information about the plans in your area within 24 hours (usually within one hour!).

2010 South Carolina Medicare Advantage Plans

The 2010 South Carolina Medicare Advantage Annual Coordinated Election Period (AEP) is near. It begins November 15 and lasts through December 31.

Because of the significant changes that have been made to the Medicare Advantage program for 2010, it is more important than ever to do a full comparison of your options in order to make an informed decision on which plan would be best for you in 2010.

If your current plan is changing, either premiums or benefits, as most are, the probability is high that you will be able to find another plan that better meets your specific health and benefit needs.

As you may already know, Medicare Advantage plans are a privatized version of the government’s Medicare program that covers some things not typically covered under traditional Medicare. The benefits (and premiums) on these plans range greatly from company to company and from county to county.

To access Secure Medicare Solutions Medicare Advantage information / quotes system, and get the customized information sent to you, visit South Carolina Medicare Advantage.

South Carolina Medicare Supplement Plans M and N

June 1, 2010 marks an important day for Medicare Supplement plans in South Carolina and the rest of the country. The South Carolina Medicare Supplement plans are changing for the first time since 1992. We have addressed some of the changes in our previous post, which can be seen here: The 2010 Medigap Changes.

Possibly the change with the effect on the largest amount of people is the addition of Medigap Plans ‘M’ and ‘N’. These plans are totally new to the marketplace and have never before been offered. In fact, nothing like these plans has been sold as a Medigap plan previously. We’ve outlined the coverage that will be offered in those plans below, as well as what we believe to be the benefits of these plans, when compared to existing Medicare insurance options.

Plan ‘M’
Plan ‘M’ will be very similar to the current Plan ‘D’. It will still cover the 20% not covered by Medicare at the doctor’s office, hospital and skilled nursing facility. However, it will use cost-sharing in exchange for lower monthly premiums. The insured will be responsible for 50% of the Part A deductible, which is currently $1068 per benefit period. Current plans either cover the Part A deductible fully or not at all. Most people expect that the premiums for Plan ‘M’ to be about 15-20% less than current Plan ‘F’ premiums.

This plan may be a good fit for those who currently have a Medicare Advantage plan, that is terminating coverage or that they are leaving. Many of those individuals are used to having a hospital deductible, and with Medicare Advantage premiums expected to go up next year, Plan ‘M’ premiums project to be very close to Advantage plan premiums anyway.

Plan ‘N’
Plan ‘N’ is the second of the two new Medigap plans. This plan is also similar to the current Plan ‘D’, in that it covers the 20% that Medicare doesn’t cover at the doctor, hospital and skilled nursing facility. Instead of using a deductible method, like Plan ‘M’, this plan will use cost-sharing through co-pays to keep premiums lower. Insureds will have a co-pay at the doctor’s office of $20 and a co-pay of $50 for emergency room visits. This plan projects to have premiums that will be 30% less than current Plan ‘F’ coverage.

Just like Plan ‘M’, the expected market for Plan ‘N’ is the Medicare Advantage customers who are either losing or dropping their current coverage. Plan ‘N’ can definitely be a valid alternative for those losing or dropping this coverage, but who want to avoid Plan ‘F’ premiums.

Overall, the 2010 Medigap changes offer many benefits to those on Medicare+Medicare Supplement insurance, through additional benefits and new plan options. We get asked all the time how health care reform will affect them and their Medicare. While it remains to be seen what will happen with that and how it will effect those on Medicare, the 2010 changes have already been announced and everyone who has a Medicare Supplement should educate themselves about how this will affect them.