May 2013 Medigap Plan Report

Contrary to popular misconception, there is no such thing as an annual enrollment period for Medigap plans. In reality, you can change, or sign up for, a Medigap plan at any time of the year. There are no restrictions on when you can sign up for this type of plan.

The rates for Medigap plans can change during the year also, and many companies do change rates mid-year. Because of that, it is important to stay “on top” of your rates and compare rates when your rate changes or if you feel like you are paying too much. In almost all cases, if you have been on a plan more than a year, you can obtain the same coverage for a lower price through a different company.

May is as good a time as any to sign up for, or change, your Medigap plan. There are several newer companies that have become major players in the Medigap market in recent months. Some of the “old” names are still prominent – i.e. AARP/United Healthcare and Mutual of Omaha. But also, new companies like Central States Indemnity, Forethought, AFLAC, and Cigna Supplemental Benefits are competitively priced in many states and making a name for themselves in the Medicare marketplace.

Keep in mind that, with Medigap plans, the coverage, claim payments and doctor acceptance are the same with all of the companies. So there is no variation from one company’s plan to another, although the rates can vary greatly.

Overall, in the last three to five years, rates have certainly trended upward in most states. However, in recent months, with the influx of new companies offering lower, more competitive rates, rates may have actually come down in quite a few markets.

Plan F continues to be the most prominent plan, holding 40+% of the market share. However, people are purchasing Plans G and N at increasing amounts, as the Medicare-eligible population becomes more educated on the differences in the plans and how the benefit differences line up with the premium differences. For many people, particularly those in good health, Plans G and N actually make more sense than the more common Plan F.

If you have specific questions or want to get quotes that are customized for your age and zip code, you can contact us online at Medicare-Supplement.US or toll-free at 877.506.3378.

 

Medigap Providers – Who Is the Best One?

There are literally hundreds of companies that provide Medigap insurance nationwide. Different companies work different parts of the country so there are not that many options in each state. But on average, each state will have 30-40 companies offering Medigap plans. So, when you are comparing these diverse and divergent options, what information do you need to know? What company is the very best Medigap provider?

  • First of all, you should understand the standardization of plans. There are 10 standardized plans – see Medigap coverage chart – each plan covers a different number of the Medicare “gaps”. But most importantly, the benefits are the same from company to company. That is, a Plan F with one company is the exact same as a Plan F with another company.
  • Next, you should understand that not all companies offer all of the plans. Of the 10 plans, most companies only offer 2-4 of the plans for sell in each place. This is partly because many of the plans do not have a large market share or interest from consumers. The top three plans have approximately 70% of the market share of all plans sold.
  • The companies are rated by the independent insurance company rating source, AM Best. These ratings go from ‘A+’ through ‘F’. Any company that is rated ‘B+’ or higher is considered to be very good/stable. The ratings are more of an indication of the size (financial size) of the company than anything. AM Best does not rate customer service, etc. of the companies.
  • The rates can vary greatly from one company to another. Although the coverage is the same, and the claim payments, doctor acceptance, etc. is the same as well, the rates can be as much as 75% higher with one company as compared to another (for the same coverage!).

So, who, then, is the best Medigap provider? Well, that really depends in large part on the rates for your specific situation, as well your specific plan needs (Plan F – the most comprehensive plan – or Plan N – a lower level, lower premium plan?).

The bottom line is this – with Medigap plans, due to the standardization of coverage, plan acceptance and claim payments, there is not one company that is categorically better than another.

If you switch from one company to another, you will not notice any differences, other than the name on your card and the explanation of benefits you receive in the mail after a claim is paid. NOTE: Do not make the frequent mistake of thinking that you have a Medicare Supplement when you have a Medicare Advantage plan. Advantage plans replace Medicare – they do not supplement it. And, these plans are obviously not standardized at all.

If you have questions, contact us online or call 877.506.3378.

2012 Medigap Plans – Top 10 Things to Remember in the New Year

Medigap plans can be a very important part of any sound financial plan, if you are over 65. Choosing the right Medigap plan in 2012 is easy to do if you are savvy enough to compare plans in an unbiased way and make the wise choice.

Here are the top 10 things to remember about Medigap plans in the new year:

  1. Standardization. The plans are completely standardized. Coverage and claim payments are the same from one company to the next. Rates and company rating are the most important thing.
  2. Flexibility. With Medigap plans, you can go to any doctor or hospital nationwide that takes Medicare. There are no networks or restrictions on where you can go.
  3. There is no annual enrollment period for Medigap plans. You can compare and change plans at any time of year. The annual enrollment period only applies to Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.
  4. Medicare Advantage plans are NOT Medicare Supplements. Many people mistakenly lump these all together; however, Advantage plans do not “supplement” Medicare – they replace it.
  5. A brokerage can help you compare all of the available plans in an unbiased way. There are many ways to compare Medigap plans, but using an independent brokerage allows the best overall comparison.
  6. There are some discounts available for: paying by bank draft, applying with a spouse, and (in some cases) being healthy/non-smoker. If you are a cannabis smoker, then make sure to clean your system. Learn more about cannabis selling software at this article – https://www.greenbits.com/blog/dont-assemble-it-yourself-when-it-comes-to-seed-to-sale-software
  7. Medigap plans are guaranteed renewable. They never end unless you cancel them or do not pay.
  8. If you are in open enrollment or guaranteed issue, there are no underwriting requirements for Medigap plans.
  9. Medigap plan rates can vary greatly by age, zip code, gender, tobacco usage, etc.
  10. Plan F is the most comprehensive plan but it is not always (not usually) the most cost-effective. There are several lower-tier plans that provide almost-equal coverage at a significantly lower cost. Medigap Plan G is a great alternative to Plan F.

If you have any questions about Medigap plans or wish to compare the plans further, you can reach us at 877.506.3378 or contact us online at Medicare-Supplement.US.

2012 Medicare Part B Deductible Announced

Today Medicare announced the 2012 Medicare information, including the 2012 Part B deductible. All of the facts and figures about Medicare costs can be found on www.medicare.gov. The one that we are most interested in because it pertains most to Medicare Supplement plans is the 2012 Medicare Part B deductible. In a move that has to be considered surprising, that deductible has decreased (that’s right, decreased – not much in insurance decreases) to $140/year for 2012.

This is a huge “win” for people who have made the wise choice to select Medigap Plan G, which doesn’t cover the Part B deductible but usually saves the insured $20-25/month on premiums. The two plans, F and G, are otherwise the exact same, the only difference being coverage of that Part B deductible. Many people choose ‘G’ for the rate stability, as it historically more rate-stable over time than Plan F.

In the past the premium savings have been greater than the Part B deductible, but not by as much as they will be now. Now, in most ages and zip codes, you can get a Plan G for approximately $300-350/year less than ‘F’. Take out the Part B deductible, which you have to pay on ‘G’, and you’re still saving a couple of hundred dollars a year. Plus, you’re getting a plan that typically increases 75% as much as ‘F’.

I believe most will be very surprised to learn of these changes to the Medicare Part B deductible for next year. It should make Plan G much more attractive, moving forward. Of course, many companies “push” Plan F (for obvious reasons). Some companies don’t even sell Plan G (i.e. AARP, most of the “Blues”). And because of that, many Medicare-eligible people don’t know about ‘G’ or just blindly take the advice that ‘F’ “covers everything”. That is true, but Plan G covers everything except the deductible and you will have a couple extra hundred bucks in your pocket!

If you have questions about how the plans work or want to get quotes based on your age and zip code, you can call us at 877.506.3378 or request a quote on our website Medicare-Supplement.US.

Medicare Supplements in the South

Medicare Supplement plans are nationally-standardized plans. What this means is that the coverage is the same in each state (with very few exceptions). So, comparing the plans is easy to do, regardless of which state you are in. Medicare Supplements in the Southern states are very competitively priced in almost all cases.

Texas Medigap plans, Louisiana Medigap, South Carolina Medigap, North Carolina Medigap plans and Georgia Medigap plans, in particular, are very competitively-priced and offer top-notch coverage to fill in the “gaps” in original Medicare Parts A & B.

In each state, there are a bevy of competitively-priced companies. While the price can vary greatly from one company to another, the thing that stays the same is the coverage that the plans offer. A Medigap Plan F is the most comprehensive plan – it covers everything that Medicare itself doesn’t cover so that you don’t have any out of pocket costs. This is the most common plan – many people like the convenience of not having to pay anything at the doctor or hospital.

However, Medigap Plan G can sometimes be a better value and make more financial sense. The only difference between F and G is that G does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible. This deductible, for 2011, is only $162/year. So if the premium savings is greater than that, then obviously Plan G makes more financial sense.

In some states, particularly in the Northeast and larger states (like Florida and California), Medigap plans can be very expensive, almost cost-prohibitive. Even though they cover the same things, the cost are considerably higher in some states.

Those that live in the southern states, including Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, should count themselves fortunate to be in a place where rates are not too high to afford. In the southern states, the vast majority of Medicare-eligible people select some type of plan in addition to Medicare. Very few people choose to have Medicare-only coverage.

Costs certainly vary based on your age and zip code. But to give you an idea, premiums for a Plan F in one of the southern states are typically around $100-120/month. In some other states, New York for example, this same plan would be $200+ a month. This is even something to consider if you are moving – either from the Northeast US to the South or from the South to the Northeast. It can make a big difference in your living expenses if you are on a fixed income.

Altogether, Medigap plans are certainly standardized Federally. However, rates can vary greatly from one state to another. The place that rates are most competitive are in the Southern states, generally speaking. To get Medicare supplement quotes by email, please contact us online.

Texas Medigap – What Companies are Competitively Priced

Texas Medigap plans are a great way to avoid the ever-increasing costs of Medicare. The most important thing to remember about Medigap insurance, nationwide, is that the plans are Federally-standardized. This just means that all of the companies must offer the exact same coverage plans. There can be no variations or “extra” benefits on one plan than there are on another from a different company. So, a Plan ‘F’ is a Plan ‘F’, no matter who sells it to you.

This is important to remember because rates can vary greatly from one company to another. It is always to your advantage to compare plans in an unbiased way to have an idea of which company is going to provide the best deal on your selected plan for your specific age and zip code.

When doing a rate comparison for Medigap plans in Texas, you should, whenever possible, consult with an independent agent or broker. Someone in this position can give you unbiased information and feedback on which plans are going to be best for your specific situation.

Currently, in Texas, there are many companies that sell Medicare Supplement plans. However, prices can vary dramatically. The companies that currently provide the most competitive rates are Mutual of Omaha, Forethought, New Era, Sentinel Security and Gerber. Other companies, which offer plans in TX and are highly rated companies, include AARP and American Continental (Genworth).

Even knowing the companies themselves does not guarantee you can find the best rate available. Rates are based on your age and zip code, so in West Texas, one company may be better, and in a different part of the state, a completely different company may offer more competitive pricing.

The most common plan is Medigap plan F. This plan pays everything that Medicare itself doesn’t pay at the doctor and hospital. If you are in your open enrollment period (turning 65 or going on Medicare), or “guaranteed issue” period (losing employer coverage or Advantage plan coverage), it is advisable to look at what the plans cover to see which is the best fit for you. While Plan F is the most common plan, held by approximately 40% of people on Medicare Supplements, Plan G is often a better value. The only benefit difference between the two plans is the coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible, which is $162/year. Often, the premium savings offsets this deductible, making ‘G’ the better value.

To get Texas Medigap quotes, you can simply visit our Medigap quotes page at http://medicare-supplement.us/medicare-supplement-quotes.php. By requesting information, you will get a list of plans and companies available for your age and zip code that are the most competitively priced. This way, you can do an unbiased evaluation of which option is right for you.

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement – Why It Is A Good Choice

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement plans are one of the leaders, nationwide, as far as market share. There’s a good reason for that. These plans contain the two things that you should be looking for, when comparing Medicare Supplement insurance:

  1. Competitive pricing – Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplements are almost always among the most competitively priced in the market. They generally have very competitive rates on the Medigap Plan G and the Medigap Plan F, which are arguably the two most popular Medicare Supplements offered. Whenever checking prices, you will invariably see that Mutual of Omaha consistently ranks in the top 2-3 price-wise, in most areas of the country. This fact alone has led them to prominence as one of the top providers of Medigap insurance over the last 10 years.Not only are their rates competitive, but they have a robust independent agent network that makes their plans available to a large number of people in nearly all areas.

    When the modernized Medicare supplement plans came out in 2010, Mutual of Omaha further strengthened their position as a price-leader, by offering the Medigap Plan N for a great rate with limited medical underwriting.

  2. Company stability/reliability – In addition to competitive pricing, Mutual of Omaha also has a great position as a reputable company that has been in business for 100+ years. The company is ‘A+’ rated by AM Best, and although company ratings aren’t everything, they are a great indicator of financial strength, reserves on hand, and continued ability to meet financial obligations to its policyholders.Also, because Mutual of Omaha has gained a position as one of the top 2-3 players in the Medicare Supplement marketplace, they have a large number of insureds, which spreads their “risk” over a very large pool. This, ostensibly, makes them less susceptible to rate increases over time.

Mutual of Omaha is the choice for Medicare Supplement insurance for so many people for a reason – it is a well-priced leader in the Medigap marketplace, as well as being a stable, well-respected company with a great track record. There are certainly many choices for Medicare Supplement insurance, but Mutual of Omaha Medigap plans are always one you should consider.

Medigap Plan N – No Longer Guaranteed Issue, But Still a Smart Choice

Medigap Plan N has only been out for a little less than a year – it came out June 1, 2010. During a good part of the time since then, it was offered on a “guaranteed issue” basis by at least one insurer (Mutual of Omaha). Now, that company is no longer offering “guaranteed issue” Plan N; however, there is still limited underwriting which makes it a good choice for those who have some pre-existing conditions or health problems.

Even notwithstanding your health, Medicare Supplement Plan N can be a very good choice for your Medigap coverage. Premiums are usually 15-25% lower than Plan F premiums. The differences in the two plans are significant; however, they may not offset the premium savings that you cna gain with a Plan N.

Plan differences between the F and N plans are:

  • Coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible ($162/year)
  • The co-pays that Plan N has – $20 at the doctor’s office, $50 at the emergency room
  • Coverage of the Part B excess charges – this rarely happens but is when a doctor charges more than the Medicare-approved amount

Other than these three benefit differences, the two plans (F and N) are identical. With that in mind, you can easily do a comparison to see which one makes the most sense for you.

If you are in good health and/or are on a fixed income, you may find that Plan N just makes sense. The coverage is still good, and it still works just like any other Medigap plan. You can go to any doctor or hospital that takes Medicare, nationwide. There are no network restrictions. Additionally, benefits are Federally-standardized and do not change at all on an annual basis.

When it comes down to comparing plan options, the main thing to look at is which plan fits your unique health and financial needs. From there, it is easy to compare “apples to apples” and see which company offers the least expensive plan for the plan option that you are looking for. To get more information or Medigap Plan N quotes, please contact us on our website.