Medigap Plans, Medicare Advantage, and Part D

*This is Part 3 in a 3-part series designed for people going on Medicare or turning 65. Please
medigapcontact us if you have any questions about this information or fill out a quotes request if you want to get Medigap quotes.*

Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage and Part D are additional coverages that you should be considering if you are going on Medicare. Each of these has their own unique designs and advantages/disadvantages. This article is intended to introduce you to each and give you more information to consider about what is right for you.

First of all, let’s take a look at Medigap plans. Medigap plans are sold through private insurance companies, but they are Federally-standardized. What this means is that each company has to offer one of the standardized plan designs. The chart that shows these standardized plans can be seen here. As you can see, Plan F is the most comprehensive plan – it pays what Medicare Parts A & B do not cover at the doctor and hospital, so you should not have any out of pocket expenses. It is, of course, the most expensive. Other common lower-premium, less-coverage options include Plan G and Plan N. Plan G, in particular, is often a better value than Plan F (Read more about Why Plan G is often better than Plan F).

In addition to the coverage being standardized with Medigap plans, the claim payments and doctor acceptance are also standardized. That is, if a doctor/hospital takes Medicare, he or she will take the standardized Medigap plan that you have, regardless of which company sells you the plan. Additionally, claim payments are processed through the Medicare “crossover” system, so the plans, essentially, “follow” Medicare as a supplement and claims are all handled electronically. For these reasons, it is important to compare the Medigap plans on the basis primarily of cost and company rating. These are the two variables that can differ from one company to the next. You can get a Medigap quotes comparison for you area sent to you by email.

Medicare Advantage is entirely different from Medigap. Many people mistakenly lump them in together or call Medicare Advantage plans “Medicare Supplements”. This is not accurate, as Medicare Advantage plans do not supplement Medicare, but rather take its place in paying claims. These plans have networks, and most are either PPOs or HMOs. Often, premiums are lower than the premiums of Medigap plans, but the coverage is typically also lower. They, in most cases, work more like traditional employer/group type plans. There are some distinct drawbacks to this type of plan, in our experience, and we do not recommend them in most instances. Some of the particular downsides are the network restrictions (which are often based on your county or state) and future plan change issues. If you take a Medicare Advantage plan when first eligible for Medicare, you do have to qualify medically to switch to a Medigap plan at a later time.

Medicare Part D is a part of Medicare, but it is sold through private insurance companies. Part D covers prescription drugs. There are typically 20-40 plans in each county, so it is crucial to compare the plans based on how well they cover your current medications. Co-pays and plan premiums can vary greatly. You can do this on Medicare’s website at: Compare Part D plans.

It is important to sign up for Part D when first eligible unless you have creditable coverage. Medicare imposes a 1% per month penalty if you do not sign up for a Part D plan when you are first eligible (you are exempt from this penalty if you have creditable coverage through an employer-type plan). Premiums for Part D typically range from $15/month to $100/month so it is vital to choose a plan that covers your medications and is the appropriate coverage level for your current medication usage. You can change Part D plans during the annual enrollment period which runs October 15-December 7 each year.

This article explains some of the other coverages that go with Medicare, such as Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Part D. If you still have questions or want to discuss further, please feel free to contact us.

Medigap-Quote.com is one of the nation’s leading independent brokers of Medigap plans. We work with 30+ companies in 40+ states and work exclusively with this type of insurance. As a result, we can provide unbiased, experienced expertise to those going on Medicare and turning 65. Feel free to contact us or request Medigap quotes online.

Best Medigap Plans – What are the Best Medigap Plans in my Area?

The best Medigap plans are, quite simply, the least expensive ones. Sure, service and coverage are always a consideration, but with Medigap plans you can be assured that these factors are standardized. Let’s take a look at what is alike with all Medigap plans:

  1. First of all, Medigap plans all go by the standardized coverage chart (Medigap coverage chart). So all Medigap plans provide the same coverage for “like” plans. In other words, one Plan F is the same as another Plan F from a different company.
  2. Secondly, Medigap plans all pay claims through the Medicare “crossover” system. This system is designed to ensure that all companies are paying claims automatically as secondary to Medicare, without the insured having to file claims or being involved in the process.
  3. Next, all Medigap plans are required to be accepted by anywhere that takes Medicare as primary coverage. So if your doctor takes Medicare, they will, by extension, take any of the standardized Medigap plans.

So if all those things are the same, how do you know which plan in your area would be the best Medigap plan.Well, very simply, you can compare the plans based on premium and company rating. Those are the only two factors that differ from one company to another.

Premium is certainly the most important factor to compare. Since all of the above factors are the same, premium is the primary differentiating factor from one company to another. And, premiums can vary considerably. It is always essential to compare the plans, first and foremost, based on the premiums they charge. The premiums are based on your age and zip code, so they will vary from one person to another, depending on those two factors.

The second comparison factor that you should use when comparing Medigap plans is company rating. A.M. Best is the independent organization that rates insurance companies and that is who many people use to compare the plans. One thing to keep in mind is that these ratings are based on financial stability of the insurance company, and in no way, reflect customer service ratings, etc. That said, A.M. Best ratings can be a good indicator of a company’s financial track record and a good secondary comparison mechanism for Medigap plans.

If you would like to get a Medigap comparison or quotes, please call us at 877.506.3378 or visit us online at http://medigap-quote.com/get-quotes.

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.

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