Medigap Rate Going Up Mid-Year – Don’t Get Mad, Get Even!

Did your Medigap rate go up in the middle of year? Don’t get mad – get even. Contrary to popular misconception, you can change Medigap plans at any time – not just at the end of the year. So there is no reason to pay “extra” premium since coverage is the same with all of the plans.

So, if your Medigap rates go up – and they will – the first thing you should do is see what other options are available for your age and zip code. It is likely that you can reduce your costs for equal coverage. In most states, there are 50 or so companies that do Medigap plans and each of them may be competitively priced in different areas, at different ages or for different standardized plans.

Many people make choosing a Medigap plan out to be a “lifetime” decision. While it is certainly ideal to choose a plan that is continually the most competitively priced and most financially stable, the reality is that insurance rates go up – Medigap rates go up, just like your homeowners or auto insurance rates. If you do not “shop” it to make sure you have the best deal, put simply, you won’t have the best deal.

So, when your rate goes up, what should you do?

  1. First, pay close to attention to how much it is going up and when. This information will be important to know in “shopping” other rates. Also, make sure you know which plan you have (i.e. G, F, N). Since plans are standardized, you can compare “like” plans.
  2. Second, we recommend that you contact an independent brokerage so that you can compare multiple companies in a centralized, unbiased place. While you can certainly call all of the 50 or so companies individually to get their rates, it does not cost you anything to use an independent broker. In fact, the knowledge that they hold can be invaluable, save you hundreds of dollars and is free to you.
  3. Compare plans with an independent broker. This can typically be done online if you are familiar with using a computer. Be careful about sites that display the rates online. There are two problems with this – it is very difficult to keep (and therefore very unlikely) these rates up to date as rates are always changing. Second, some companies do not allow their rates to be published online, so it is likely that you are receiving partial information. Most agencies will send you this information by email without requesting personal information.
  4. Once you have the information, you can compare “like” plans and make an informed, educated decision. The two factors to look at are rates and ratings. It is best to be with a higher rated company, all other things being equal, but the premium is the most important thing to consider.

If you have any questions about this process or would like to get a Medicare Supplement comparison for yourself (even if your rate didn’t just go up), it is likely that you can save money. You can reach us at 877.506.3378 or online at Medigap-Quote.com.

2013 Medigap Rates – How to Get the Best Rate

Medigap rates are easily accessible online in today’s era of modern technology. In year’s past, you would have to contact multiple insurance companies to get rates for their various plans. This could take days of work with little to no way to compare the plans directly against one another. Nowadays, getting rates is a 5-minute process.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that Medigap plans are Federally-standardized. That is, each company is required to provide the exact same coverage for “like” plans. A Plan F is a Plan F, no matter what company you get it from. Also, you must understand upfront that the plans do not necessarily change rates with the calendar year. In other words, there are not 2012 vs. 2013 rates in all cases. Some companies do manage their rates that way (i.e. with the calendar year) but the great majority do not. Since there is not an annual enrollment period for Medigap plans (common misconception) and you can change plans at any time, rates can also change at any time. When your rate changes, it is a good idea to re-evaluate to make sure you are getting the best “deal” since coverage is the same.

Now, once you understand those things – that coverage is standardized and that rates can change at any time – let’s talk about how to go about getting the best possible rate. As mentioned above, you can certainly call each insurance company that does plans in your state to get rates from them. However, this is not the best use of time and certainly not the easiest way to do it. A brokerage is able to help you compare multiple plan options in a centralized place and give you unbiased recommendations based on their clients’ experiences. Some, including Medigap-Quote.com, are able to do this all via email. This is all, of course, at no cost to you – in fact, you are paying for it as part of your premiums anyway, whether you realize it or not.

We would recommend doing a comparison of the available Medigap plans on an annual basis. This gives you the ability to insure that you are not paying too much for one of the standardized plans. Changing plans is very easy to do if you find that you can save money by doing so.

If you want a chart showing quotes for your age and zip code or if you have questions about this information, please call us at 877.506.3378 or request quotes at http://medigap-quote.com/get-quotes.

2013 Medicare Part D and Medigap Comparisons Now Available Online

The 2013 Medicare annual enrollment period is almost here. This is a vitally important time for everyone who is eligible for Medicare, as it is the only time that you can change certain types of Medicare plans, including Medicare Advantage (the privatized Medicare plans that approximately 30% of people on Medicare have) and Medicare Part D Rx plans.

Medicare Part D plans run on a calendar-year contract. Each year, Medicare approves the benefits, co-pay structures, premium, deductible, etc. of the plan for the following calendar year. On or around October 1, you will get an annual notice of plan changes from your current plan – this is an important document, as it shows how your plan is changing for next year including any changes to the coverage of your specific medications. Pay close attention to this.

Even if your plan is not changing significantly, which is unlikely given the current climate of health insurance changes, it is a good idea to re-evaluate the Part D plans on an annual basis. Medicare has greatly improved over the last couple of years with relaying this comparative plan information to people on Medicare. If you are computer-savvy, it is very easy to compare the Part D plans on Medicare.gov. This information was released today, October 1, on Medicare’s website. You can enter your medication/dosage information and get a customized comparison which will show you which Medicare Part D plans will give you the lowest overall annual drug costs over the course of 2013. Click here to: run the customized Part D comparison.

You can change Medigap plans (Medicare Supplements) at any time of the year; however, this is also the most advantageous time of year to compare and change (if necessary) your Medigap plan. To do this, the first step is comparing the available Medigap plans. To do this, request a Medigap quote comparison from Medigap-Quote.com. This will show the available Medigap plans for your age and zip code. The information comes to you by email (not all Medigap companies allow their current rates to be published online, so anything viewed online is incomplete). If you prefer to speak with someone by phone, call us at 877.506.3378.

Online Medigap Quotes – What You Can Get Online and How To Get It

Getting online Medigap quotes is increasingly easy to do. Many people choose this method for comparing and selecting plans, and it is, in most cases, the most advantageous way to “shop around” in an unbiased and low-hassle way. Many insurance companies in the Medicare Supplement marketplace do not allow their rates to be publicly-published online, so the way to see quotes for all of the options in your area is to receive them by email. There are companies out there that promise to offer the rates online; however, keep in mind that you will not be seeing all of the options as many companies have strict regulations against publication of their rates on public-facing computer systems.

So, what are the steps to getting a Medigap quote online? It’s pretty easy to do really. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. The first step is to understand what you are looking for and what the plans cover. There are 10 standardized Medigap plans. All companies are required to offer from this standardized list of plans, although they don’t have to offer all 10. So, comparing plans is relatively easy – an ‘F’ plan with one company is the same as an ‘F’ plan with another. Two important things to note that are common misconceptions and relate to understanding the plans:
    • There is NOT an annual enrollment period for Medigap. You can enroll in, change or disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan at any time.
    • Medicare Advantage plans are NOT Medicare Supplements. These plans cannot be compared to Medigap plans because they are completely different in how they work, what they cover, etc. (Difference Between Medigap and Medicare Advantage).
  2. After you have a basic understanding of the plans, how they work, etc. you should request the information from an independent brokerage. Whether it is us or someone else, we would strongly recommend using an independent broker. The advantage to doing this versus using a “captive” agent is that you can compare in an unbiased way and make a full comparison of all of the options. To request information, go to a brokerage website and enter accurate information. If the site is asking for information that you do not want to give, simply don’t give it. Keep looking. The only information needed to run and send a quote is date of birth, zip code, gender, and email. Request a quote comparison from us.
  3. Once you have the information, you can compare the plans that are available and make a wise choice from the plans that are offered. Always base your decision primarily on rates and secondarily on other factors such as the rating of the company.

If you have any questions about this information or if we can assist in any way, please contact us by email or call us at 877.506.3378. Alternatively, you can request information on our website at Medigap-Quote.com.

Medigap Plans FAQ: What Do the Different Standardized Plans Cover?

Medigap plans are standardized – each company has to offer the same coverage plans that come from the standardized plans chart. See: Standardized plans coverage chart. All of the plans have some basic tenets and characteristics that apply to all plans from all companies. Below, we’ve listed a few of those, essential to a basic understanding of the similarities before endeavoring to understand the differences:

  • First and foremost, all of the plans can be used at anywhere that takes Medicare nationwide. Medigap plans are non-network plans.
  • All plans work with Medicare – they do not replace Medicare (i.e. Medicare Advantage). And, claims are all paid, regardless of the plan or company, through the Medicare “Crossover” system (automated).
  • There are four total benefits that all Medigap plans contain some form of coverage for (most plans account for full coverage of all of these benefits – see chart for full details). Those four benefits are: Medicare Part A coinsurance hospital benefits, Hospice care coinsurance, Blood, and Preventive Care coinsurance

So, now that we understand what all of the Medigap plans have in common – how are they different?

First of all, let’s divide the plans into three groups:

The Common Plans

It makes sense to start with the top level of coverage, Plan F. Up until 2010, there was a plan called Plan J, which was the top level of Medigap coverage. In 2010, Medicare enveloped some of the benefits that differentiated ‘J’ and ‘F’. So, ‘J’ was eliminated and ‘F’ stood pat as the most comprehensive plan. Some ‘J’ policyholders still exist but the plan can no longer be sold to new applicants. Plan F pays everything that Medicare A & B do not cover so that you have no out of pocket costs at the doctor/hospital – no co-pays, deductibles or coinsurance.

One level down from that is Plan G. Plan G is the same as ‘F’ in every way except that it does not cover the Part B deductible. For 2012, that deductible is $140/year. Plan N is considered the next most commonly held plan and is a lower-cost alternative to ‘F’ and ‘G’. Plan N does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible (just like ‘G’). Also, it has a co-pay structure – $20 at the doctor’s office and $50 at the ER. Additionally, it does not cover the Medicare Part B excess charges.

The Similar Plans

By similar, I mean that these plans are similar to the plans that are mentioned above. In this category, I would put Plans C, D, and M. These plans are not offered by nearly as many companies as the three plans listed above, and thus, are not nearly as popular. Plan C is very similar to Plan F – the only difference is that it doesn’t cover the Part B Excess charges. Plan D is very similar to Plan G for the same reason – it does not cover the Part B excess charges (in addition to not cover the Medicare Part B deductible). Lastly, Plan M is similar to Plan N. It is a tradeoff – on ‘N’, you have the co-pay structure mentioned above, but on ‘M’, you don’t have the co-pays. In their place, you have coverage of only 50% of the Medicare Part A (hospital) deductible.

The Leftover Plans

Of the 10 total plans, that leaves 4 other plans that have not been discussed. The plans have, between the four of them, less than 10% market share, so they are not very commonly offered and not very often used. These plans are: A, B, K and L. These benefits on these plans speak for themselves on the Medigap coverage chart. And, even if you decide one of these plans is for you, you are relatively hard pressed to find any companies that offer it or any competitive pricing.

Do you have questions about what the plans cover? Or, questions about how they work? Medigap-Quote.com is a leading, independent brokerage that can help you compare all of the plans for your age and zip code in an unbiased way, without having to meet with anyone or talk to an agent. If you have questions or do wish to speak with someone, please call us at 877.506.3378. Or, you can visit us online at: Medigap-Quote.com.

Frequently Asked Question: Does Medicare Cover X-Rays?

Let’s face it – Medicare can be confusing. There are many frequently asked questions that people on Medicare often ask. One of these such questions is whether Medicare covers x-rays and other diagnostic procedures/tests. So, does Medicare cover x-rays? The short answer is, yes, Medicare does cover diagnostic tests and x-rays. Generally speaking, Medicare covers these at 80%. If you have a Medicare supplement plan (a Medigap – NOT a Medicare Advantage – which are not Medicare Supplements) picks up the other 20%.

X-rays are covered under Medicare Part B. Part B covers many outpatient services/procedures, including doctor’s services, ambulance services, outpatient therapy services, some chiropractic care, and home health services, in addition to x-rays and other diagnostic services.

Medicare will only pay for these Part B-covered services if they are medically necessary and performed by a provider that accepts Medicare patients.

Part B is the optional part of Medicare. If you are still working when you turn 65, you are not automatically enrolled in Part B. So, you should make sure that you are enrolled in Part B if you are trying to find out if a procedure was, or will be, covered. To have the full, “original” Medicare coverage, you must have both parts of Medicare – Part A and Part B.

If you have questions about Medicare itself, or Medigap plans, which are designed to fill in the gaps in Medicare and pay what Medicare does not pay – please contact us at 877.506.3378 or on our website at Medigap-Quote.com.

The Three Step Process to Changing Medigap Plans

Changing Medigap plans is relatively easy to do. More importantly, it is essential to do – or at the least, to compare the options – on an ongoing basis every few years. Medigap plans are completely standardized by the Federal government – this means that all plans are the same, regardless of which company sells it to you. For example, a Plan F with one company is the exact same as a Plan F with another company. Often, though, rates can vary widely, as much as $100/month for the same coverage. So, comparing the options, and changing if necessary, is a vital part of your sound financial plan once on Medicare.

So, what is the process for changing plans, if you elect to do so? It is very easy to do:

  1. First and foremost, understand what you have, what the plans are and how to compare them. So many people that we speak with every day do not realize or understand what plan they have or how the plans work. The plans are standardized, as mentioned above, so that means YOUR Plan G is not any different from a different Plan G. Also, all plans pay the same way, can be used anywhere that takes Medicare and use the Medicare “Crossover” system to pay claims. Next, you should understand how to compare plans. Once you understand that the plans are standardized, understand that you can compare plans to see if there is equal coverage for a lower price.
  2. Compare the options from an unbiased source. Unbiased is the key word here. There are many sources out there for comparing/purchasing a Medigap plan. But it is important to use an independent agent, primarily for their expertise and ability to compare all plans in a centralized place. An agent that sells one company is, obviously, going to tout their company, but it is more advantageous for you to compare using an independent agent.
  3. Make the move – apply for a new plan for a future effective date, then once approved, cancel the old plan, effective the same date the new plan starts. Once you have compared the plans available in your zip code, based on monthly premiums and company reliability, you can simply choose a plan and apply. You will apply for a future effective date – usually, at least 2-3 weeks in advance. Then, once it is approved, you will cancel your “old” plan effective the same date that the new plan starts. This way there is no lapse or overlap in coverage.

Medigap-Quote.com and Secure Medicare Solutions help hundreds of people change to lower cost plans each year. Our job is to provide a full comparison of all the plans for your age and zip code, as well as providing information about which companies have been most reliable/stable over time. Once you have that information, we can work with you to help you decide on a plan and reduce your costs. If you would like to reduce your premium and have had your current plan over 12 months, you can easily do so. Contact us at 877.506.3378 or Medigap-Quote.com Quotes.

Medigap Changes – Making End of the Year Changes to Your Medigap Plan

The weather is turning a little cooler. School is starting. Football season is here. Campaign ads are bombarding us. Whatever sign you use to signal the end of the year, it is right around the corner. For people on Medicare, that means it is time to look at Medigap changes and re-evaluate your Medicare coverage. Now, as we have covered in previous articles, the end of year enrollment period does not actually pertain to Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans; however, it does pertain to Medicare Part D (Rx part of Medicare). So, since this is the time to re-evaluate those plans, it is also a useful time to consider all of your Medicare plans.

Medigap plans are completely standardized. That is, first and foremost, the thing that you need to understand about that type of coverage. This means that every company is required to offer the same coverage plans. For example, a Plan F (the most common and comprehensive plan) is the same with one company as it is with another. This makes comparing plans very easy to do. The main factor that you need to look at is price, as coverage, claim payments, doctor acceptance, etc. are the exact same.

Rates for Medigap plans can vary greatly – by as much as $100/month for the same coverage in some areas. There are no Medigap changes to coverage, but rates have been consistently increasing. So, particularly if your rate has gone up in the last year or two, it is very likely that you can save money for equal coverage. Also, new companies are constantly entering the Medigap marketplace. Just in the last 2-3 years, there have been 4-5 ‘A’ or higher rated companies that have expanded their offerings to include Medigap plans. These companies, in most cases, are positioned very competitively and at a lower premium price point than previous options.

Medigap quotes allow you to compare all of the plan options, in a centralized place, and choose a plan that represents a monthly savings off of your current plan. There are several ways to obtain quotes for Medigap plans, but the easiest and most advantageous way to do this is online. Medigap brokers (Medigap-Quote.com is one) can provide a comparison of all plan options in a centralized place.

If you would like to get Medigap plan quotes, please contact us online at Medigap Quotes or call us at 877.506.3378.

Medigap Questions – I Have …. Can I Get a Medigap Plan?

Medigap plans are plans that are designed to fill in the gaps in Medicare A & B. These plans are sold through private insurance companies. When you first turn 65 or go on Medicare, you have a 6-month open enrollment period, during which you can sign up for a plan without any medical underwriting. In other words, you do not have to answer any health questions at all in order to get a plan. After that time period has passed, however, you do have to answer health questions at any time that you apply for a plan. Contrary to popular belief, Medigap plans do not have an annual enrollment period during which you change plans without underwriting. That only applies to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

So, dealing with Medigap plans, how do you know if you can change plans? First of all, it is important to understand that Medigap plans are standardized, so if you have a Plan G now, for example, another Plan G is going to provide the exact same coverage. You can easily compare that way to see if it makes sense to pursue another plan. You do, however, have to answer medical questions to make that change.

Different companies ask different medical questions. In general, companies are looking for the “big stuff” – i.e. heart attack, cancer, stroke, insulin-dependent diabetes, organ replacements, upcoming surgeries, etc. Most all companies ask about (and use as a disqualification) those things. Other things are also asked about on some companies applications. These range widely and any time you are considering a change, you should simply examine the health questions on a companies’ application to see if you would be able to pass underwriting. Most companies do also ask about any medication usage. It is important to note that this applies to most states – there are a few states that have special provisions prohibiting this underwriting at all or during certain times (i.e. your birthday month).

One more implication that must be discussed is that there are also time periods – called “guaranteed issue” – that you can get a plan without medical underwriting. Some of these time periods are losing employer coverage, dropping employer coverage, moving out of your plan’s service area, losing your Medicare Advantage plan, etc.

If you have any questions about Medigap or Medicare, in general, we are happy to help. Reach out to us via our website – Medigap-Quote.com – or call us at 877.506.3378.

Medigap Questions – When Is the Annual Enrollment Period?

The Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP, is the period near the end of the year during which you can sign up for a certain Medicare plans. This period was formerly held from October 15 through December 31. Currently, the enrollment period runs from October 15 through December 7 of 2012. Many people who have Medicare often ask when this period is. It is important to know for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug part of Medicare. This is the only time of year that you can change your Medicare Part D plan, cancel it or pick up a plan if you don’t have one. So, it is important to be aware of this period, ready for it, and make any desired changes when the period opens up.

However, this period does NOT apply to Medigap plans. Contrary to popular belief, Medigap plans do not have an annual enrollment period. You can enroll in, change, or disenroll from your Medicare Supplement plan at any time. There are no time restrictions on when you can do this. Now, there is an initial enrollment period, which runs for 6 months from the time that you are first eligible for Medicare. During this time period, you can sign up for any plan with no underwriting, health questions or pre-existing condition exclusions. After that period is over, however, you can change Medigap plans at any time but you have to qualify medically to do so.

It is important to understand the various implications around changing Medigap plans. There are a lot of options for Medigap coverage and coverage is completely standardized. That is, coverage is the same with all of the companies. One Plan F is the same as another. Because of that, the rate is the primary thing that you should look at when you are comparing the plans. Rates do change from time to time and can go up a good bit. Whenever your rate changes, that is a good time to re-evaluate and make sure you have the most desirable plan for you. If you are paying $150 for a Plan F, for example, and there is another Plan F for $120, you can easily change and save $360/year for the same coverage.

If you have any questions about how this works or anything else regarding Medicare, please call us at 877.506.3378 or request information at Medigap-Quote.com.

 

 

 

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