Just like most other insurances, the rates on your Medigap Policy (aka Medicare Supplement) will inevitably go up almost every year. If you are New to Medicare, you will usually see a bigger increase on your first-rate renewal. This is because the “New to Medicare” discount will be removed after your initial 12 months on the plan.
Medigap companies may increase your rates for a variety of reasons. As you get older, they can expect a potential increase in utilization. There is inflation of medical costs to account for. Not to mention, Medicare often increases its deductibles each year. This can result in an increase in risk for plans who cover these deductibles. The good news is that there are a few ways you can keep your rates in check! Below are our three most frequent tips we utilize with our clients to help them keep their Medigap costs down.
1. Re-quote Your Plan Every Few Years
Medigap Plans are a lot like car insurance. As your circumstances and demographics change, your rates can potentially be cheaper with another carrier for the same coverage. The difference could be anywhere from $5-40 a month. Many fear that if they do not qualify for a guaranteed issue period that they may lose their eligibility for Medigap by leaving their current plan and applying somewhere else. This is generally true; however, there are a few guaranteed issue exceptions created to help you with this.
Many plans now have what’s called the “Birthday Rule” for this exact reason. During your birthday month, you can choose to change your existing Medicare Supplement plan. You can choose a plan with the same or fewer benefits as your existing plan from any company that is sold in your state. You can/must apply for a Medicare Supplement plan no later than 30-days from your date of birth. What if you can’t wait until your birthday? There may be a few other guarantee issue exceptions that work for you. You can do a quick check for these exceptions with our quiz below.
Do you qualify for Guaranteed Enrollment?
Now, why do we recommend you re-quote your plan every few years? We notice that many Medigap companies have certain age brackets they are competing for. Some make all their prices competitive around 65 to 67 years old, while others may compete for everyone over 75. And, some are only good for those under 65. Plans can also be a lot cheaper in different counties. Brand reputation also speaks volumes. It’s reason we only work with the most reputable and sizable companies. Medigap plans are mandated to provide identical coverage by law, so it’s not going to hurt you to move from one reputable company to another if you find they are pricing the same product much cheaper. If you would like to get a free quote (or re-quote) to see your options, click the button below.
2. Increase your Cost Sharing
Each Medigap plan has different levels of cost sharing. This means that the better coverage the plan has, the less your share of cost would be. The price of the plan is related to the level of coverage, but not as closely as you may think. Also, the gap in prices of each plan tend to spread further apart from each other as you age. For example, when you’re 65 and New to Medicare, there might only be a $20 difference between Plan G and Plan N. Once you are 75 years old, the difference can be as much as $50-60 a month.
Many people sign up for the Plan F or G early on due to the level of coverage, but please note that these plans’ comprehensive coverage comes with the highest price tag. If the price for your supplement Plan F or G is getting difficult to maintain, then it may make sense to try something like Plan N.
The benefits for Plan N are almost identical to the Plan G benefits. In both cases, you would be responsible for the Part B deductible each year. The difference is that plan N includes small copays for doctors and emergency room visits. You would pay $20 for each doctor’s visit and $50 for each emergency room visit. After that, all of your Medicare covered benefits would be taken care of by the Medigap plan. This is a small difference compared to the Plan G, but can save you up to $600 a year in premium.
3. Household Discounts
Many companies want to get your business and the business of everyone you live with. Your household can often get a discount ranging from 5-12% applied to each policy just for being enrolled with the same company. In the past, this was meant to apply only to spouses, but now many companies have made this discount increasingly easier to qualify for.
Generally, as long as there is another Medicare beneficiary with the same Medigap company living with you, then you will both qualify for a household discount on each of your policies. With many seniors living together with other family members or in shared-living situations, this could be a very simple discount to take advantage of.
Simply, call the company you are insured with and ask if they offer such a discount and what proof may be needed to qualify. If you’d like, we can support you with this enquiry by joining on a 3-way call.
When applying for a Medigap policy or quoting for prices on your current plan, be sure to ask which companies offer a household discount in your area. This discount could be a huge help in selecting which company is offering the cheapest price.
Medicare Advantage Plans as an Alternative
Medicare Advantage plans can prove to be a much more affordable option. Many of them have a low or even $0 premium, as well as low to no copays for many of the Medicare covered services. The big difference is that most of the Medicare Advantage plans are HMO plans. This means that your Primary Care Physician will most often be your first step, then you will get referrals and authorizations from the insurance before you can see specialists and/or receive certain services. They also have an approved network of doctors in which you will be limited to; however, the trade-off will be a much lower monthly cost and you would pay for services as you use them in the form of copays and coinsurances. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but please keep in mind that it will be very different from how you used your Medigap plan.
For this reason, we do not recommend attempting to start one of these plans without using a broker/agent. Much of the leg work in successfully picking a plan that will work for you is in the initial research based on your specific needs. Selecting the right plan for you means a plan that includes many of your doctors within network as well as covers your prescriptions and other frequently used services. You may also need support with establishing care initially and solving billing issues/questions on some of the optional benefits. We have a dedicated customer service team and agents specially trained who work in the communities they service to help address these issues.
A Medicare Advantage plan is a lot more like being in an all-inclusive resort where you will have access to everything you need, but there may be certain rules or approved places where you can get what you need.
If you have questions about your specific situation or would like to speak to a licensed professional, contact us at 1-877-651-7526 TTY: 711 or email info@HRBCinsurance.com to get started.