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Five Tips For Buying Medicare Supplement Insurance
When you turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare, you’ll have another important decision to make.
You may want to choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. About one-third of Medicare enrollees choose an MA plan. In some states like California, they are readily available. However, in other states, there are few MA options.
One of the other more popular options is a Medicare Supplement plan. These are sometimes referred to as Medigap plans and we will use these two terms interchangeably. About 15 million Americans currently have a Medigap plan, which offers complete freedom to see any doctor who accepts Medicare.
We will focus on several important facts about Medigap insurance that can help you get the best coverage for the best cost. In fact, the information shared can help you save significant money. That’s always good.
But saving money today is not the only reason to read the tips shared here. They can also save you heartache in the future. That’s because when you choose a Medigap plan option now, it could be an irrevocable choice limiting your future.
TIP #1: Don’t overpay. Why Pay Twice For The Same Plan?
Prices for Medigap insurance vary significantly. Rates are generally established by county and it is common to find one company charging twice as much as another.
According to the 2020 Medicare Insurance Price Index from the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance, a 65-year-old Chicago woman could pay as little as $92 a month or as much as $234 a month for identical coverage. The Price Index reports the lowest and highest prices for Medigap Plan G for approximately 100 cities across the country.
No company always offered the lowest cost. And, no single company was consistently the most expensive according to the Price Index. In fact, in some cases, the company that had the lowest cost for men did not have the lowest cost for women. Frustrated? Not really, it just means asking the “right” questions.
TIP #2: Shop For Rate Stability
Insurers can and do raise rates. A policy that appears to be cheap today may be expensive tomorrow.
Some insurance companies are new to the Medigap business and may not have actual experience on which to base their rates. Others may offer lower premiums as a way to get more initial sales.
This sometimes causes above-average rate increases in future years. Therefore, you want to compare both current costs as well as price stability.
TIP #3: Discounts Can Add Up
Today, many Medigap insurers offer spousal and/or household discounts. Not everyone does. However, the discounts can vary from five to as much as 14 percent. The savings can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. And since you’ll probably live another 10 or 20 years, you’re talking real money – so don’t pass this up.
TIP #4: Take advantage of Savings and Points
Some insurers will give you a discount when you set up auto payments. Some will offer discounts when you pay annually. Some will let you charge the payments to a credit card. You can see where we are going.
Let’s say your monthly Medicare Supplement insurance premium is $300. Starting at age 65 and paying over 20 years that equates to $72,000 in premiums. If you are married, double that. A credit card that offers a two percent discount means you’ll save nearly $3,000. If your credit card awards airline points, you’ll have earned some nice credits.
Tip #5: The Easy Way To Comparison Shop
You sometimes hear the saying that if you act as your own lawyer or doctor, then you have a fool for a client. Choosing the right Medicare plan can be confusing.
There’s nothing wrong with calling one of the dozens of 800 numbers vying for your attention and business. But, often they can only represent one company or have a particular preference.
Therefore, it generally pays to compare your options and recommendations by looking for a local Medicare Insurance agent. Some will only focus on Medicare Supplement, but today many offer comprehensive options including Medicare Advantage.
It’s nice to have an unbiased agent in your back pocket when you have questions. A national directory of Medicare insurance agents lists approximately 1,000 specialists by ZIP Code. Access is available for free and, perhaps best of all, is completely private. You can see their information without having to enter any information.
An excellent resource for the latest information is the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance website. There you will find the 2020 Medicare Insurance Price Index and good access to the agent directory.
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