Fill out the form or call (614) 402-5160 to compare rates for the Best Medicare Supplement Companies
The federal Medicare program started on June 30, 1965. Medicare was Harry Truman’s original concept, but it was Linden Johnson who signed it into law. In 1980, the first Medicare Supplements (Medigap) plans were offered to fill the gaps in coverage that Medicare didn’t cover. Since that time, plans and laws have changed and evolved, but the purpose remains the same. Medicare doesn’t cover everything, so people buy supplemental coverage to pay for out of pocket costs not covered by Medicare.
Facts You Need To Know About ALL Medicare Supplements Before Choosing a Medicare Supplement
Medicare Supplements are standardized
In 1982 Medicare decided to “Standardize” Medicare Supplement plans for all companies and states other than Minnesota, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. This took the confusion out of comparing plans company to company and simplified the process of purchasing the best Medicare Supplement for each individual. Standardization “leveled the playing field” and helps seniors make a more informed decision and understand what they are signing up for.
When you look at a plan G with one company, you can be assured that the benefits are exactly the same when you compare the cost of a G plan with another company. The biggest difference between one company and another is the cost, but we can help you understand other factors like past rate increases, AM Best ratings and other company trends.
Several Medicare standardized plans have been eliminated for new buyers over the years and replaced with others. After the original plans were designed in 1982, plans have been eliminated for new buyers and others were added. The same just occurred again in January of 2020.
The plans you can choose from now are A, B,C, F, G, High Deductible F (HDF) or High Deductible (HDG), K, L, M and N. Not all companies offer all the plans. Each company can choose which plans they want to offer based on the requirements of that state. Medicare Supplements companies will have different rates and may offer different standardized plans designs depending on your zip code, gender, age, available household discounts and tobacco use.
Plan C, F and High Deductible F (HDF) are only available for new buyers if you had Medicare part B and/or part A before January 2020. Medicare beneficiaries that have a C or F or HDF plan now, can keep their coverage. If you want to change companies, you can change and purchase the C, F or HDF plan with a different company as long as they offer that plan.
Current Medicare Supplements DO NOT cover prescription medications. You should get a Medicare Part D plan separately. In general, you need do this when you first become eligible for Medicare, during one of Medicare’s annual election periods, or when you have a life event that qualifies for a Special Election Period (SEP). These plans are sold by companies who have a contract with Medicare to provide RX benefits, and are an additional cost over and above Medicare Part B and your Medicare Supplement premiums.
Different types of Pricing
Companies can offer Medicare Supplement plans based on different ways to calculate rates. The majority of companies “Attained Age”. It’s really not much of a choice for the consumer. Depending on where you live usually determines what system most companies offer.
ALL Medicare Supplements can increase to an unknown amount no matter which pricing system the company uses. If they need to collect more premiums due to inflation, high medical claims or an unforeseen economic impact, your rates are subject to increase. Your rates will NEVER go up due to your own personal medical claims, but they will increase based on everyone with the same plan and company in a specific area.
- Attained Age – Rates are based on your age when you purchase the policy. Your rates will increase by a predetermined amount every year on your annual renewal date. Most of the time rates remain the same for ages 65, 66, and 67. An average annual age rate increase is about 2% to 4%. Your rates will increase each year according to the schedule.
- Community Rated – Rates are the same for all ages in the same geographic are like the same zip code or state. Tobacco users and Male vs Female can still have an impact on the rates. Very few companies offer this type of rate.
- Issue Age – The rate will remain the same based on the age when it was first issued. This means that you can’t be charged more because you become a year older. It DOES NOT MEAN your rates will stay the same. Your rates will still go up when there is an adjustment due to inflation or high claims. There are only a handful of companies use this rating system and it doesn’t protect you from increases as most people assume.
You must have both part Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Part A is awarded to you at no additional cost if you paid into Medicare. Most automatically get part A by paying taxes through your personal earnings or your spouse’s earned income over the years. In order to have Medicare Part B, you need to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premiums. The Medicare Part B premium is determined by Medicare each year and may cost you more if your prior year earnings were over the standard limit. Contact Social Security to determine how much you will pay for Medicare part B.
You can buy a Medicare Supplement any time of the year, but if you’re not in a Medicare Supplement enrollment period, you’ll have to pass the health questions set by each individual company. Companies determine who they will and will not accept based on their specific underwriting guidelines. Each company set their own guidelines and they will differ company to company. If you have health conditions, it’s all about find the companies that will approve you.
Medicare Supplement “Select” Plans
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 a condition and you were told that the best available treatment is for example the Mayo Clinic, you may not be able to go there.
12 Best Medicare Supplement Companies for 2020
These companies are not listed in any particular order and do not reflect any one company over another. We’ve considered cost, rate increase history, experience in the market, AM Best ratings and health underwriting guidelines to determine our current recommendations.
- Aetna companies – A rated with AM Best and 28 years in the market.
- Anthem – AM Best rated A and 54 years experience.
- Mutual of Omaha companies – A+ rated by AM Best and 54 years in the Supplement market.
- Transamerica – A rated by AM Best. Over 5 years experience
- United American – AM Best A+ rating and 54 years experience.
- Cigna – AM Best A rated. 4+ years experience.
- Capital Life – New to the Supplement market – B++rated with AM Best.
- Atlantic Coast Life – B++ rated by AM Best. 1 year experience.
- Manhattan Life and Western United Life
- Humana – AM Best A- rating. 16 + years market experience.
- Sentinel Security – B++ rated by AM Best. 10 years experience in the market.
- Heartland National Life – Not Rated by AM Best and 11 years in the market.
- Great Southern Life (Americo) – A rated by AM Best with under 2 years experience.
There are many more companies that offer Medicare Supplements. One of the following companies might make more sense for your specific situation depending on your health, where you live, your age and if you smoke:
Lumico, Prosperity Life, The Order of United Commercial Travelers (UCT), Central States Indemnity of Omaha (CSO), Medical Mutual, New Era and Philadelphia American, Central States Indemnity (CSI) Everest, Prosperity Life, KSKJ, Combined Insurance Company of America, The Greek Catholic Union, or Bankers Fidelity.
How To choose a Medicare Supplement
– Step By Step Process –
1. Look for a company that has at least two to three years under their belt in the Medicare Supplement market. A good loss ratio is about 65% to 75% both nationally and in your resident state.
2. Start comparing current rates for the plan your most interested in. The most common plans are G, F, and N. Expect higher rate increases for F plans because it 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 a company hasn’t had an increase recently isn’t a guarantee it won’t go up. It also isn’t an indicator that “it’s due” for one. Your rate will likely increase two to three percent every year. If you have an attained rate policy, your rates go up with age. In addition, the average claims rate increase is about three to five percent. Shop around when your policy is a few years old, or your rates increased by about 10%. Steer clear of companies that offer low rates and high loss ratios. Also, stay away from companies with multiple and substantial increases.
4. Most companies offer 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 fitness 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.
Companies may be competitive in one state or zip code, but not another. Their sweet spot could be fantastic rates for certain ages, great for males but not females or smokers vs non 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.
Make The Choice That’s Right For You!
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 note 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 which company is best, keep in mind a few 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 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.
Doctors don’t do the billing. They often confuse a company’s Medicare Advantage plan (which has many more restrictions on care) with the same company’s Medicare Supplement. Remember that Supplements 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 if you you have a Supplement. They might be confusing it with that company’s Medicare Advantage plan which is different than a Medicare Supplement policy.
Other Things to Consider When Choosing The Best Medicare Supplement
If you’re not a Medicare Supplement enrollment or a Guaranteed Issue period and not in perfect health, you need to find out if you will pass the underwriting guidelines. 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. Fill out the form or call us at (614) 402-5160 to talk about your health conditions.
- 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. Buying a cheaper plan may be a good idea for one person, but costly in the long run to you.
- A few 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 provider sends the bill 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.
- 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.
- The plan you have today, maybe the plan you have to keep forever. You likely will not be as healthy in the future as you are today and might not be able to pass the health questions to change again.
- 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 our independent agent when the premiums have increased significantly, or the cost exceeds your budget.
- Medicare Supplement Plan F 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. Most of the time, the F plan isn’t worth the extra money your spending to cover the Medicare Part B deductible. Plan F is only available if you had Medicare Part A prior to January 1, 2020 and normally costs a lot more than plan G. If you are turning 65 or already 65 but did not earn Part A before 2020, you are not eligible for plan F with any company.
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 the amount they should charge for the policy. A “Loss Ratio” is a great indicator on how well they have estimated the amount of premium they should have charged. Loss ratios reflect the amount of claims they paid vs premiums received. 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.
When 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.
Paying slightly higher premiums in the beginning can save a lot of money in the future. But there are exceptions. We can help you find the Best Medicare Supplement and Plan that the best for you!
Best Medicare Supplement Companies by state