Fill out the Customized Quote to get rate comparisons on the Best Medicare Supplement Companies
- Aetna Health and Life Insurance Company
- United American Insurance Company
- The Order of United Commercial Travelers (UCT)
- Central States Indemnity of Omaha (CSI)
- KSKJ Life
- Combined Insurance Company of America
- The Greek Catholic Union
- Medical Mutual
- Manhattan Life
Companies can be priced very high or low depending on a variety of reasons when it concerns the monthly premium. They may be very competitive in one state or zip code, but not another, fantastic rates for certain ages, great for males but not females, or something like low rate for smokers.
Each company carefully targets their niche of who they want to attract and where they want to increase their business. They also target the plan designs to promote over the ones they don’t. As an example, you may have noticed that the same company offering the N plan at the lowest rate in your area is charging the highest premium for Plan F. It is clear which plan they want the consumer to lean towards.
How we chose the Best Medicare Supplement Companies
There are many more factors when determining which company is the “BEST” Medicare Supplement other than just the current premiums. The single most important thing to remember is that the best company for your friend or family member may not best company for you! Always remember this when you’re asking around for advice. An independent agent will be able to give you a much better recommendation based on your individual demographics and personal situation.
Before getting into factors to determine what company is best, I want to review some reasons why you should consult with a trained, licensed and censored agent instead of the recommendation from your friend, doctor or even your financial planner. If you are considering a Medicare Advantage Plan because the monthly premiums are attractive, make sure you understand the differences before you make that decision. If you would like some help, just give us a call at 614-402-5160.
• An independent insurance agent is a specialist in insurance, as an attorney is a specialist in the law.
• Your medical conditions probably differ from your friend’s medical conditions.
• A doctor does not do the billing, and often confuses a company’s Medicare Advantage plan (which has many more restrictions on care) with the same company’s Medicare Supplement. Remember that a Medicare Supplement can be used at any doctor’s office or facility as long as they accept straight Medicare. There are so many instances in which a doctor’s office tells a patient that they don’t accept that insurance….not true. They are confusing it with that company’s Medicare Advantage plan that they choose not to accept.
• Maybe you are a snowbird, or plan to be. Some states mandate better benefits, and you may partially or permanently move to another state that the coverage won’t be as good.
• Everyone’s budget is different. A small cost savings due to a plan design difference may be a good idea for one person, but costly in the long run to you.
• Some companies offer additional benefits at no cost that may be important to you, but not the other person. For example, Silver Sneakers could save you $400-500 per year for a health club membership.
• Even if you are in open enrollment for Medicare part B, or in a Guaranteed Issue period, your health conditions may impact the plan you chose today with the great possibility you will want to change in the future (typically because your rates have increased significantly.)
• How well a company pays its claims is virtually a non-issue with a Medicare Supplement. The bill from the provider is sent directly to Medicare, not the insurance company. Medicare determines how much the service is approved for. Then Medicare pays their portion and notifies the insurance company the amount they are responsible to pay. An insurance company DOES NOT determine what is owed. Whatever the amount Medicare mandates they owe, is what they have to pay.
What determines the rates in different geographic areas of the the county?
Each company that offers Medicare Supplements will have different rates and may offer different standardized plans designs depending on your zip code, gender, age, available household discounts and tobacco use. In additions there are three different types of pricing models; community rating, attained age and issue age.
One last factor that plays a major part in rates is when a company offers a Medicare Select plan. This means that you get all the benefits of which ever plan you choose, but you must use a hospital from that company’s Select Hospital Network. We highly advise avoiding that type of plan if at all possible. One of the biggest reasons Medicare recipients choose a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) instead of a Medicare Advantage Plan is CHOICE.
If you you decide on a “Select” plan you must understand that you cannot go to any hospital or nursing facility that accepts Medicare in the United States. You can only choose your doctors. Keep in mind that if you have an serious condition and you were told that the best available treatment is for example the Mayo Clinic, you won’t be able to go there.
Figuring out what company is the best Medicare Supplement company for you
First you need to understand the standardized Medicare Supplements that were originally standardized in 1992. This means that if you are looking at plan F with CSI of Omaha or any other company, the benefits will be identical to any other company’s plan F. Same goes for all the other standardized plans which include A, B, C, D, F, HDF, G, K, L, M and N. This was done to protect the consumer, specifically seniors, to be able to make an apples to apples comparison. All states are required to only offer the standardized plans with the exception of Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Over the years, the years the federal government have changed the plan designs, eliminated plans like H, I, and J and added new ones, most recently K,L,M,and N. Any person who purchases a plan is allowed to keep it even after it has been eliminated for new buyers.
Medicare Supplement Plan F is is scheduled to be eliminated beginning in 2020. Plan F is the richest benefit design offered and provides first dollar coverage, meaning that there are no deductibles, co-pays or coinsurance. All benefits that are approved by Medicare are covered at 100%. The government believes that this costs Medicare too much money even though it’s the insurance company who picks up the tab. Regardless, if this is a plan that interests you, make sure you purchase it before the end of 2019.
It’s easiest to start with weeding out the companies that we would not recommend. The first thing we’ll start with is the length of time a company has been offering Medicare Supplements and how their rates compare with other companies who have been in the business for several years. Sometimes when it’s too good to be true, it is. If a company has only been in the Medicare Supplement market for less than 2 years, it’s best to stay away from super low rates compared to other companies.
From time to time, a company new to the market underestimates either intentionally or unintentionally, the amount they should charge for the policy. A statistic called a “Loss Ratio” is a great indicator on how well they have estimated the amount of premium collected to the amount of claims they paid. A company who has only been offering the product under year may have a fantastic ratio say 57%, but they have only been paying claims for a few months.
If you compare that to a company who has been offering the product for 7 years and has a loss ratio of 75%, at least they have a proven track record of pricing the product better and probably not imposing high premium increases in the future to cover the loss. The company may also be more selective in their underwriting guidelines which means that applicants have to pass more stringent health guidelines if they are not in a guaranteed issue or open enrollment period.
Step by step process to choose the best Medicare Supplement company
1. Look for a company that has at least two to three years under their belt in the Medicare Supplement market, and a loss ratio of around 65% to 75% both nationally and in the state that you live in.
2. From those companies, start comparing the current rates offered for the plan design that you are looking for, typically F, G or N. Expect higher rate increases in the F plan because it’s the plan that pays 100% of the approved claims that Medicare does not pay.
3. Next, look at the rate increase history over the past few years. Just because they have not had one recently is not a guarantee you won’t get one, nor is it an indicator that “it’s due”. Your rate will typically go up two to three percent every year just because you turn one year older, plus an average claims rate increase is about three to five percent. If you have had a company for over five years and it has increased more than about 10% per year, it’s probably time to shop around. Try to steer clear of a company that is offering a very low rate, but has a high loss ratio and several substantial increases.
4. Find out if the company is offering a “household”, “companion” or “co-habitation” discount. If you are looking for both, you and your spouse or the other person you live with, may be able to get an additional 5 to 7 percent discount by joining the same company. Some companies even give you a discount just because you live with another person.
5. Check out the extra benefits like a Silver Sneakers membership. If you don’t have to pay a gym membership that costs you $600 per year, and can get it at no cost, that translates into saving you another $50.00 per month. If the premium was going to be $150.00 per month for plan F, really all you’re only paying $100 because you’re saving $50.00 on the gym membership.
6. Now look at the rates of the companies you’re comfortable with. Maybe you prefer a highly recognizable company, or possibly a smaller company because you know that you can actually talk with a person that can resolve a problem. It’ a personal preference.
There is one more important factor to cover. If you are not in the Medicare part B open enrollment or a Guaranteed Issue period, and not in perfect health, you need to find out if you will pass the underwriting guidelines. This must be your FIRST STEP. Don’t waste your time looking at rates, increases or ratios until you have it narrowed down to the companies that would likely accept you, and the ones that won’t.
Once again, this should be an individualized decision. A few things to keep in mind before you make the final decision…..
• Your rates will go up due to your age, and/or the claims experience of the company. Once a company stops accepting new applicants into the demographic category that you are in, the rates will likely increase because there are no new, younger, healthier lives to create a surplus of reserves.
• You likely will not be as healthy in the future as you are today, and possibly may want a richer set of benefits.
• The plan you have today, maybe the plan you have to keep forever.
• This Best Medicare Plans will continually evolve as companies close a “book of business”, then open a new one under a subsidiary or sister company. Also, more companies will come into the market and others will leave.
• You will probably want to shop for a better premium every four to five years. Talk to your independent agent when the premiums have increased significantly, or the cost exceeds your budget.
A company that is priced fairly and competitively today, may turn out to be a better deal for the future compared to the lowest price company today. Fill out the Customized Quote to get current rates.