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GardenSMART :: Tips for Consumers Seeking Medicare Supplement Insurance

Tips for Consumers Seeking Medicare Supplement Insurance

By Jesse Slome, American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance

Every day, tens of thousands of Americans face a decision and a dilemma.  They are turning 65 and need to decide what form of Medicare insurance is best for their situation and their pocketbook.

Some 14 million Americans currently own a Medicare Supplement insurance policy that supplements their original Medicare benefits. For those who are new to Medicare, the following tips from the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (https://www.medicaresupp.org) may be helpful.

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You Have Medicare Insurance Choices To Make

As one approaches his or her 65th birthday, the volume of mail filling your mailbox begins to grow. And, you start to take notice of the enormous number of ads on television extolling one Medicare insurance option as the best for seniors. It's enough to confuse anyone, let alone the millions who are just becoming eligible for Medicare.

When one becomes eligible for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), you have options. They include choosing a Medicare Advantage plan that covers your Medicare hospital and medical benefits. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer additional benefits, such as routine dental care, eye care and often even some transportation to and from medical appointments.

Medicare Advantage plans will, of course, have their limits. Coverage requires you use plan providers. That could be great. Or, it could be limiting.

For that reason, many people today choose a Medicare Supplement insurance plan. You'll see them often called Medigap or Medigap insurance plans. The key benefit for consumers is that once you are insured, you can see any doctor, specialist or utilize any medical facility that accepts Medicare. Anyone, anywhere is the simplest way to explain it.

Medicare Supplement Insurance Is Standardized, Pricing Isn't

Medicare Supplement insurance plans are standardized in most states. Simply, that means that plans of the same letter (example Plan F) offered by different companies must all cover the same basic benefits.

That is where the standardization ends. Pricing for the same plan may differ from one insurance company to another company. In fact the association conducts annual pricing reviews and has found significant differences. It is not uncommon to find one insurer literally charging twice as much as another insurer for identical coverage based on the same zip code. And, no single company is always the least expensive and no single company is always the most expensive.

For that reason, it is advisable to price compare as well as to seek information regarding the company's history for rate increases. To help consumers, the Association offers a free, completely anonymous online directory enabling you to find local Medicare Insurance agents in your area.  Go to https://medicaresupp.org/agents/ to access.

To get the most from any insurance agent, here are several questions to ask.

  1. Are you licensed to offer both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement insurance plans? That way you'll know they can competently explain the pros and limitations of each.
  2. How many Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance companies are you appointed with? Appointed is industry jargon, which means the agent can sell and earn a commission (built into the cost) from the insurance company. Some will be appointed with just one insurance company. Others are called 'brokers' and are typically appointed with multiple insurance companies.
  3. What is the past three-year rate increase history for the company?
  4. Am I eligible for any discounts? This could be an especially valuable question to ask if you and your spouse are different ages (meaning the discount could kick in when the younger spouse turns Medicare age).

Contributor bio: Jesse Slome is executive director of the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (www.medicaresupp.org) as well as the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (www.aaltci.org). Established in 1998, the national organizations are headquartered in Westlake Village, CA.

 


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