Medicare Supplement insurance fills in the “gaps” in Medicare. These are plans sold by private insurance companies that are designed to work with Medicare. Most importantly, they are Federally-standardized, so comparing plans between companies is easy to do and should be done, primarily, on the basis of price and company rating. Coverage is exactly the same from one company to another.
There are a few ways that you can “shop” for Medicare Supplement insurance. The old-fashioned way is to invite insurance agents into your home, one after the other maybe, for face-to-face meetings to discuss the one company that they sell. The newer, more efficient and advantageous way to “shop” is via an independent agent/agency.
This can actually be done exclusively online or over the phone. You don’t even have to meet with anyone. Sure, you’ll get boatloads of stuff in the mail, especially if you are turning 65 or leaving some sort of employer-type coverage. However, with the standardization of coverage, claim payments and doctor accessibility, one company or plan is not better than another. The primary thing you always want to look at is price, along with company reputation.
Here are three tips for comparing Medicare Supplement plans:
- First and foremost, understand the standardization of plans. The most important thing to know is that companies offer the same coverage plans. For example, a Medigap Plan F with one company is the exact same as a Plan F with another.
- Secondly, you should use an independent agent or agency, whenever possible. No matter which agent/agency it is, we highly recommend you use an independent resource to research and sign up for a plan. If you go exclusively to the company or an agent that only works with one company, that is like asking Ford what they think about Chevrolet. Obviously, an agent that only sells one company is going to stress that his/her plan or company is best. On the flip side, an independent agent can give an unbiased comparison of all of the options.
- Lastly, base your decision on what you think and understand, not what you see or hear. What I mean by this, is that everyone has an opinion on their Medicare Supplement plan. Not a day goes by that I don’t have a conversation with someone who doesn’t realize the plans are standardized and thinks they have a great plan. Then, when they realize they can get the same exact coverage for $1000+ less a year, their plan doesn’t sound so good anymore. There is lot of advertising and misinformation out there. So, work with an unbiased resource to sort through it and so that you can make an educated, informed decision.
All in all, choosing a Medigap policy is not that hard to do. The plans are standardized, you can go to any doctor and the claim payments are all standardized. So, the most important thing is finding a well-priced plan from a reputable company. Do that, and a Medicare Supplement insurance plan can save you thousands of dollars a year.