Household Discounts for Medigap Plans

Medigap companies are always looking for a competitive “edge” in the market place.household discount for medigap plans
One of the most recent trends is the inclusion of the household discount that most companies now offer. Although these discounts range from 5% to 12%, they can have a significant impact on which company is right for you.

The biggest change, in recent months, has been the inclusion of the discount for people who share a household with another adult, regardless of whether that other adult has the same insurance policy. In other words, you can qualify for the discount (with many companies), just based on being married or living with another adult. In year’s past, you would have had to both sign up for the same insurance company/plan. Now, that is not the case with many companies.

Some of the companies that offer some form of household discounts now include Mutual of Omaha, Aetna, Medico and Equitable to name a few. These discounts range from 5% to 12%, depending on the company and where you live.

As you may already know, Medicare Supplement plans are Federally-standardized. So for example, a Plan F with one company is the same as a Plan F with another company. Price and company reputation are the only differentiating factors between companies, so it is important to compare based on premium.

If you have not compared your Medicare Supplement coverage lately, it is a good time to do so. Not only is there the new revamped calculation of the household discount available through many companies, but there are also several newer, very competitively priced companies in the Medicare Supplement market. Several of these are large companies that have “repriced” their plans, while others are well-established companies that have ventured into the large and expanding Medicare market.

If you have questions about this or would like a quick quote via email, you can call us at 877.506.3378 or request information at Medigap quotes.

Medicare and Medigap Trends – Five Things to Keep Your Eye On

going on medicareLike many things, insurance is always changing. This has been particularly true over the last few years, and we believe it will continue to be the case into the future. As such, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on some trends that affect Medicare and Medigap insurance. We’ve listed five Medigap trends here that are pertinent for people on Medicare.

  1. Doctor acceptance of new Medicare patients. Some people have been concerned about this for years, and we have heard reports of doctors not seeing Medicare patients in certain geographic areas. Overall, I don’t think this will become a prohibitive problem. But nevertheless, if it occurs in large numbers, it could create quite a “bottleneck” effect for Medicare patients at doctor’s offices that do accept Medicare patients.
  2. Reduction in number of choices in Medicare Advantage plans. This is a trend that is certainly already under way. In many counties, there were 20/30 + plan choices in past years. Those numbers have been greatly reduced, and there are now some counties that have just a couple of companies offering plans. This is due, at least in part, to government regulations that have made it more difficult to make money in and participate in this market. Overall, I think its clear that lack of competition will be a bad thing for the overall appearance of these plans.
  3. Growth of “newer” Medigap plans – a move away from Plan F. This, too, is a Medigap trend that has already begun in earnest. Plan F, which is the most comprehensive Medigap plan, still has the majority of the market share in Medigap plans. However, with the onset of the 2010 re-standardization of plans, there are new offerings, some of which may appeal to different people and have a lower premium. One of the plans that appears to have caught on the most is Plan N, which is a lower level of coverage that still offers comprehensive Part A coverage but does have some out of pocket costs under Part B charges.
  4. The Online Movement. Because you’re reading this online, we’ll assume this comes as no surprise to you. As the next generation of “age-ins” turns 65, the likelihood will continue to increase that they are computer-savvy and more and more comparing and shopping for Medigap and Medicare plans will be done online. Companies will continue to endeavor to meet this demand by making more and more information available online. This and other Medigap trends will certainly have an impact on how companies “market” to the new generation of turning-65ers.
  5. New Medigap Companies Entering the Marketplace. We have seen several companies that are new to the Medicare market enter the fray over the last couple of years, trying to capture the large influx of Baby Boomers aging into Medicare. This includes companies like CIGNA, AFLAC and others, who have either begun or expanded their Medicare plan offerings recently. This will likely continue, with companies that have not offered Medigap plans beginning to do so.

Overall, it is a good idea to stay apprised of any changes to Medicare and Medigap insurance. Certainly, all of them will not affect you, and some may not come to fruition, but being aware of them allows you to be prepared if or when they do.

As always, if you have any questions or want to discuss further, you can contact us at 877.506.3378 or online.

Best Medicare Supplement Plan – The Right Plan For You

The best Medicare Supplement plan is the one that is right for you. There is certainly a lot of information available regarding Medicare and Medicare Supplement plans. And, a great deal of it comes to your mailbox when you are turning 65 or going on Medicare. You may hear a company or a friend or family member tout one plan as the “best one”. While getting feedback from others can be useful, it is a good idea to be cautious when it comes to choosing a Medigap plan that is being advertised or touted as the best Medicare supplement plan.

Since Medicare Supplement plans are standardized, coverage is the same on all Medigap plans. Additionally, all plan pay claims the same way – through the Medicare “crossover” system. And lastly, you can use any Medicare Supplement plan at any doctor/hospital that takes Medicare – there are no networks. Because these three aspects of the plans are standardized, comparing the plans is a function primarily of the premium rates and the company rating/reputation.

The best Medicare supplement plan is, you could say, the one that has the lowest rates for your age, gender and zip code that is sold in your state. There are typically 30-40 companies that sell Medicare Supplement plans in each state. Not all of the companies that sell the plans offer all 10 of the standardized plans. Some only offer 3-4 of the plans. And, rates can vary widely, so it is crucial to find the best Medicare supplement plan for you by comparing the rates.

Some of the “big name” companies that sell plans in this market are: AARP (United Healthcare), Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mutual of Omaha, Aetna, CIGNA, Central States Indemnity, Stonebridge, and Forethought. While not all of these companies offer plans in every state and not all of them are competitively priced in every state, they are all ‘A’ rated or higher (by AM Best) and are generally good options when it comes to finding the best Medicare Supplement plan for you.

The only way to get an unbiased and complete look at the Medigap rates for your area is to use an independent agent (broker), who can provide this information for you so that you can compare in a centralized and unbiased place. If you have any questions about this information or wish to get a comparison to find the best Medicare Supplement plan for you, you can contact us at 877.506.3378 or online at: Send me information on the best Medicare supplement plans for me.

 

Medigap Plans – The Three Most Common Mistakes People Make

medigap plansMedigap plans are plans that fill in the gaps in Medicare Parts A & B. The plans are Federally-standardized and the way they work is relatively straight-forward, especially as compared to other types of insurance. However, it is important to make wise decisions when it comes to choosing and having a Medigap plan. There are three potentially critical mistakes that we often see when it comes to Medigap insurance.

  1. The first mistake, and this one is the most common, is neglecting to get a plan during your “open enrollment” period when you first turn 65 or go on Medicare for the first time. This mistake has its foundations in two common misconceptions – that you can get a plan any year during an annual open enrollment period or that you don’t have to “qualify” medically to get a plan. Both of these are inaccurate.First of all, your open enrollment is the 6 month period that coincides with when you sign up for Medicare Part B or turn 65. There is not an annual open enrollment period for Medigap plans, contrary to popular misconception. The annual open enrollment period that you hear referenced in advertising is the “annual election period” and it is for changing your Medicare Part D plan (or Medicare Advantage plan).The second misconception is that you do not have to qualify for a plan. I’ve heard many people say, especially since “Obamacare” passed, that they did not think that you had to qualify for insurance now. Unfortunately, that is not the case for supplemental types of insurance, like Medigap.So if you do not sign up for a plan when you are first eligible – many people think they are in good health now and will just wait until they “need” a plan – that can be a major mistake in regards to your future eligibility.
  2. The second significant mistake that we see made as far as Medicare supplement insurance is the way Medigap plans are chosen. Many people do not take the time to understand the standardization of plans and simply choose a plan because they have heard of it, it sounds good or a neighbor or family member has it.The reality is that over 90% of people are happy with their Medigap plans. The plans are very easy to use – they are standardized, pay claims automatically through the Medicare “crossover” system, and often cover everything that Medicare does not cover (Plan F). So, what’s not to like?However, just because your friend or neighbor is “happy”, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best plan. In fact, if they’ve had it for more than a year or two, they are probably paying too much for it. Rates often change annually and they can vary widely (have seen them range from $90/month to $300/month for the EXACT same coverage). Insurance companies “bank” on people keeping the same plan with Medigap plans, because of the overwhelming satisfaction people have with how their plan pays claims. However, it pays to understand the standardization both initially and later when you wish to re-evaluate – this way, you can compare based on price and company reputation (the two factors that matter) and make a wise and informed choice.
  3. The last of the three common mistakes people make with Medigap plans is the “set it and forget it” mistake, which is somewhat referenced in the paragraphs above. Medigap plans have rates that are consistently changing. There are new companies that enter the marketplace, market factors cause rate changes, and generally, rates just change over time and as you get older. The last thing you should do is make your one open enrollment decision and then never re-evaluate your plan and other options.
    What we generally recommend is comparing plans every two years. This way, you can find out how your plan compares rate-wise to other, equivalent-coverage options. If you can save money on another “like” plan and are in relatively good health, you can simply change to the new plan with a future effective. Then, once approved, you can cancel your old plan effective that same date. Keeping an eye on your rate to ensure you are not paying to much is definitely a wise thing to do when it comes to Medigap plans.

If you have any questions about this information or anything else regarding Medigap plans, you can contact us online at Secure Medicare Solutions or call us at 877.506.3378.

 

How Does PPACA (“Obamacare”) Affect Medicare Supplements?

How does PPACA, or “Obamacare”, affect Medicare supplement insurance. This is a good, and common, question. It’s one that we get asked frequently since the bill was passed into law a couple of years ago. The short answer is that PPACA does not directly impact Medicare Supplement insurance in any way.

The bill does not apply to supplemental, or secondary, policies in the same way that it applies to primary insurance or “under-65” insurance. So, for people on Medicare, there is minimal impact overall and no impact to their Medicare supplement coverage. Medigap plans (another name for Medicare Supplements) are still standardized into the ten plans that were established in June 2010. These plans are set forth by the government – private companies that offer Medigap plans must go by these coverage outlines, but they can set their prices however they want.

Although Medigap plans are not directly affected, the PPACA does affect Medicare in some ways, primarily in the areas of Medicare Advantage (the private plans that replace Medicare) and Medicare Part D (Rx coverage for people on Medicare). For Medicare Advantage plans, the bill took some money away from the plans in the form of reimbursement rates. This is where part of the money to pay for the under-65 portion of the plan comes from. Medicare reimburses the private Medicare Advantage companies a certain amount per person for those who elect Medicare Advantage instead of Medicare itself. Decreasing this amount will obviously decrease the level of coverage (or added benefits) that these plans can offer.

For Part D, the biggest change is the reduction and eventual elimination of the Part D donut hole. This is the portion of Part D coverage during which the insured must pay the largest portion of their cost. In the past, the individual was responsible for paying the full retail costs of medications during this coverage “gap”. Because of the PPACA, this gap is being reduced each year up until 2020, at which time consumers will pay 25% of the retail costs of medications during the coverage gap (instead of the 100% that they were responsible for in 2010 before the bill).

For Medicare Supplements, many people believe “Obamacare” will have a “trickle-down” effect on Medigap insurance companies, particularly those who also are involved in the under-65 insurance market. There have been several companies that have pulled out, or reduced, their service areas for under-65 insurance, and some feel that this will affect their profit needs/motives in the Medicare supplement market.

If you have questions about this information or wish to discuss this further, you can contact me at 877.506.3378 or online at Secure Medicare Solutions.

Secure Medicare Solutions Website Re-Launches

Secure Medicare SolutionsAfter a complete overhaul, Secure Medicare Solutions’ web presence is re-launching today. The re-launched site sports a different design, different platform, and new, easy-to-understand information about Medicare. It is a resource for people shopping for Medicare Supplement insurance, trying to learn more about Medicare and Medigap or for people wanting to learn more about the Secure Medicare Solutions agency.

“The site is designed to be easy-to-use and informative,” said Garrett Ball, President of Secure Medicare Solutions. “Our focus has always been about educating people about Medicare and Medicare Supplements. We want this to be a one-stop shop for people who want to learn about the plans, compare them in a centralized place and make informed choices.”

The blog section of the site has also been re-designed and will be updated more frequently with information about Medigap plans and Medicare changes/information. Please bookmark and check back often for updates and information.

Secure Medicare Solutions, Inc. is an independent Medicare insurance agency. We are headquartered in North Carolina but we serve 40 states nationally and specialize specifically in Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap) and Medicare Part D. For more information about Medigap plans specifically, visit this page. If you want to get a comparison of the plans available for your area, visit our Medigap quotes page. You can always reach us by phone, toll-free, at 877.506.3378.