How do you find the right Medicare Supplement Plan, when there are so many options out there? Here are some tips to help you better understand.
The Medicare Open-Enrollment starts October 15, please call for details in your area.
1. When you first become eligible for Medicare A and B … this is the first available time when you can enroll in a Medicare Plan. And during this time you will be flooded with every company mailer, advertising piece and brochure. They will start filling your mailbox about 4 months prior to you turning 65. These piles of fancy marketing material typically tries to push you into that companies most profitable Medicare plan, which is usually one of their Medicare HMO’s. Be sure to take your time, ask questions, look at different plan and policy options, so you end up with a policy that best fits your needs.
With all of this you will want to do a little homework or call an independent agent like myself. One who is not going to push one company on you, but rather show the different company rates and discuss the differences between a Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage and Part D Rx plans.
2. If you are exiting an “employer health insurance” policy … you have a 2-month open enrollment period which allows you to enroll into any Medicare plan available to you in your area. Again, be sure to check many of the popular companies and comprehensive plans.
3. The Medicare website is not necessarily the best place to check what Medicare Supplement companies and plans are available in your zip code. It typically will not provide current premiums and what plans the company is offering.
4. Compare the different company premiums … There may be quite a difference when comparing. Since all Medicare Supplement policies are Federally standardized, there is no reason to pay more for the same type of policy. Federally standardized means; all Medicare Supplement plans provide the same benefits. For example, Plan F, provides the exact same benefits and pays for the same services as any other Plan F nationwide. So when looking at benefits, company A’s Plan F, will be exactly the same as company B’s Plan F, or, company A’s Plan N is the same as company B’s Plan N.
Here is a basic Medicare Supplement coverage outline, showing which each Medigap plan covers:
5. If you currently have a Medicare Advantage HMO or PPO … and wish to move to a Medicare Supplement policy, you can try to move anytime of the year. Although there are a few things to keep in mind. If you dis-enroll or cancel your Medicare Advantage plan mid-year (outside of open enrollment) you will also be cancelling your Medicare Part D coverage and will not be eligible for a new plan until the next January 1. Also when applying for the new Medicare Supplement policy, you will need to answer the health and prescription questions on the enrollment form. The company will then review your application and base their decision on your current and past health status. The policy may be declined because of health status, or will be approved. Cancelling a Medicare Advantage plan mid-year can be a bit tricky, so call me and we can take a look at your options.
6. If your Medicare Advantage plan non-renews … (or if you move out of the service area … This is an easy one. You will have 2 months to enroll into any available Medicare Supplement, Medicare Part D Rx or Medicare Advantage plan. This is a small open-enrollment you can take advantage of and enroll (guaranteed) into any plan available in your county.
7. California Birthday Rule … This Medicare Supplement rule allows anyone who resides in California and who currently has a Medicare Supplement policy in force to switch companies to a plan with similar benefits or less. This is a guaranteed enrollment, you don’t need to answer any health or prescription questions on the new enrollment form. Every company has a little different interpretation of this rule, but generally; from your birthday and up to 30 days past, you can enroll in a new companies plan without medical underwriting. This is a great opportunity for you to save by switching companies.
8. Look for company discounts … some of the current discounts are; Spouse discount. This is when both enroll in the same company and plan, the discounts range from 5% up to 12% depending on the company. Monthly bank debit discount is another one. For those who like or don’t mind their monthly premiums being deducted automatically from a bank or savings account, several companies offer a $2 or $3 per month discount. Then there is the “New to Medicare” which both Anthem and also Blue Shield are offering. This is for anyone who is new to Medicare and enrolls in one of these two companies Medicare Supplement plans, they will receive a $15 (Blue Shield) or $20 (Anthem) monthly discount for the first 12 months they are on Medicare.
A few links:
- Medicare Supplement Rates
- Medicare Advantage PPO & HMO
- Medicare Part D Rx plan info
- Under-Age 65 Medicare Supplement
- Guarantee-Issue Guidelines
- Medicare Excess Charges
- Travel Insurance
Questions? Call or email anytime.