South Carolina Medicare Supplement Plans Brace for Influx of Medicare Advantage Customers

With the already-set and anticipated changes to the Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage program for 2010, Medicare Supplement plans in South Carolina and nationwide are bracing themselves for what they expect to be an “onslaught” of new customers to the Medicare + Medicare Supplement marketplace.

South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans are expected to see increases in premium of $40-70, on average, for 2010, as well as reducing some of the benefits that they have provided in the past. In addition, the days of the $0 premium Medicare Advantage plans are, most likely, gone (or almost gone). Medicare Supplement companies are expecting, and rightfully so, that many of these people will find themselves searching for Medicare Supplement plan options to replace their Medicare Advantage plans.

With Medicare Advantage plans increasing in premium to levels of some of the lower tier supplement plans, plus having more cost-sharing (i.e. co-pays and deductibles), most companies and those in the industry project that the supplement plans will be a more viable option for this Medicare enrollees in 2010.

Coupled with the sharp increase in the last two years of companies dropping retiree insurance, the last two months of this year are projected to be the busiest ever for Medicare Supplement enrollments.

With this information in mind, if you plan to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan this enrollment season (or, even if you are changing to a new plan), it is advisable to get an early start on doing so. Companies, agents and Medicare itself are expected to be very busy this enrollment season. Below are a couple of resources if this situation applies to you:

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment

South Carolina Medicare Supplement policyholders often ask me about the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period, thinking that it takes place at the end of the year (November-December). However, Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment is not a once-a-year occurrence. It occurs only when someone is turning 65 or first signing up for Medicare Part B – NOT each year on an annual basis.

In other words, you can change or add a Medicare Supplement plan at any time during the year, not just during a once-a-year period. Many people do elect to evaluate their options once a year at the end of the year; however, this is not the only time that you can do it. In fact, you are likely to get more attention from the company or broker you are dealing with if you evaluate/change plans in the middle of the year.

Many people get confused about this, in part, because South Carolina Medicare Part D does have a once-a-year Annual Election Period (AEP), and it is November 15-December 31 each year. Also, the Medicare Advantage plans, the privatized version of Medicare, do also have enrollment/disenrollment restrictions, which include a certain times of the year for you to enroll or disenroll from those plans.

Maybe the best time of all to review your South Carolina Medicare Supplements coverage is whenever your rates change. Since coverage is Federally-standardized, there is never any reason to pay more than the bottom-line price for your supplement insurance.

South Carolina Medicare Resources

For South Carolina Medicare enrollees, there are many resources through which you can get answers to your questions, obtain information about your benefits, and evaluate your current coverage. We’ve compiled a few of those resources below with links to the corresponding web sites:

  1. South Carolina Medicare Insurance – Medicare in SC – This is the home page for Secure Medicare Solutions, which is a leading, independent resource for Medicare and Medicare insurance information in South Carolina. At the site, you can research information about your South Carolina Medicare Supplements coverage or South Carolina Medicare Part D information.
  2. South Carolina Medicare Minutes – South Carolina Medicare Minutes is an independent blog and reference for all things related to South Carolina Medicare and Medicare insurance. The blog has frequent updates about things of interest to those who have Medicare in the Palmetto state.
  3. – The Official U.S. Government Site for People with Medicare – is the official government Medicare site. This site give you information about how the various parts of Medicare work overall, how they work with one another, as well as information about how to sign up for the various parts of Medicare.
  4. Center for Medicare Advocacy – This is an independent site with unbiased information about Medicare and how it works. You can get the answers to a lot of frequently asked questions on this site.
  5. Garrett Ball – Expert Author – This is the main site for, which is a leading, human-reviewed article site, which compiles qualified articles from expert authors from around the world. Garrett Ball, who has been given the designation of expert author, writes articles particularly about South Carolina Medicare Insurance, which can be found on his author home page.

South Carolina Medicare Supplements: Mutual of Omaha Plans Offer Low Rates, Equal Coverage

South Carolina Medicare Supplements are standardized – that is, each company offers the exact same, standardized coverage. Moreover, they pay claims in the same way – via Medicare. Mutual of Omaha is an ‘A+’ rated company that offers, in most cases, the lowest rates in South Carolina for the standard Medicare Supplement plans.

Mutual of Omaha’s Medicare Supplement plan G and plan F are two of the Medicare Supplement plans that Secure Medicare Solutions offers in South Carolina.

Mutual of Omaha is also in their 100th year of business this year, and they have a great reputation for customer service and financial stability, as the highest rated Medicare Supplement company in South Carolina (A.M. Best – ‘A+’). If you are not sure if you have the lowest rate on your Medicare Supplement plan or if you want to compare Mutual of Omaha’s rates to your current rates, go to South Carolina Medicare Insurance Supplement Quotes for a no-obligation rate quote comparison.

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.

South Carolina Medicare Supplements — When is Open Enrollment?

I get asked this question all the time: “I have a Medicare Supplement. When does that open enrollment period start again?” When you have employer-sponsored insurance, as many people do during their working lives, you get accustomed to having a certain period of the year in which you can make changes. Plus, you are inundated with the Medicare Advantage and Part D (prescription drug) advertising, phone calls and mailings trumpeting the onset of the annual open enrollment period.

Overlooked in all of this is the fact that, for South Carolina Medicare Supplement plans, there is no certain open enrollment period. You can change Medicare supplement plans at any time, as long as you can qualify medically.

However, Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug coverage plans, do have an annual enrollment period, which runs from Nov 15-Dec. 31 of each calendar year. Then, Medicare Advantage plans have an additional enrollment period (with some stipulations) from Jan. 1-Mar. 31.

If you have a Medicare Supplement, though, don’t be confused. The best time to re-evaluate your coverage and save money is during the middle of the year when no one else is doing it!

South Carolina Medicare Plans

South Carolina Medicare Plans fall into two categories. The first category is South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans; the second is South Carolina Medicare Supplements.

South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans are a privatized version of the government’s original Medicare. With these plans, the insured has coverage provided exclusively by a private company. You still pay your premium (Medicare Part B) to Medicare; however, the private companies provides your insurance. These plans have typically been more popular in urban areas, where there are more doctors that accept the plans. With these plans, the insured has a system of cost-sharing (co-pays and deductibles) in exchange for a lower monthly premium and, sometimes, networks that the insured must stay within for full coverage.

South Carolina Medicare Supplements are plans that are designed to fill in the “gaps” in Medicare. These plans are standardized by the federal government (since 1992) and must follow the Medicare Supplements chart. Plans are accepted anywhere that takes original Medicare, and generally speaking, South Carolina Medicare Supplements pay the Medicare deductibles and the 20% at the doctor and hospital not covered by Medicare. There are some plans that do not cover the Medicare Part B deductible ($135/year in 2009); however, all of the plans, A-J, except one (Plan A), cover the larger Part A deductible ($1,068/year in 2009).

Questions about what the plans do and do not cover can be answered at: South Carolina Medicare Supplements or at Contact Secure Medicare Solutions.

South Carolina Medicare Supplement rate changes

Just like many other things in this time of economic downturn, some South Carolina Medicare Supplements are undergoing rate increases/changes during 2009.

With that said, it is more important than ever to have a South Carolina Medicare Insurance quote done to ensure that you are paying no more than you should for your South Carolina Medicare Supplement.

Since South Carolina Medicare Supplements are standardized, plans are the same from company to company. So, the primary factor in choosing a plan should be price and reputation of the company. That makes keeping an eye on your rates (and the rates of other South Carolina Medicare Supplement companies) essential.

You can view the South Carolina Medicare Supplement standardized chart at the following link: South Carolina Medicare Supplements Insurance and Plans.

You can have an updated South Carolina Medicare Supplement rate quote comparison emailed to you: South Carolina Medicare Insurance Supplement Quotes.