If you’re one of over 1.7 million North Carolina Medicare beneficiaries, you have a lot of choices to help you enhance your medical benefits. Over three dozen health insurance companies market Medigap within the state.
Comparing Companies that offer Medicare Supplements in North Carolina
Once you decide which plan will work for you, you can shop around for North Carolina insurance companies. These standardized plans will offer exactly the same essential medical coverage if you buy an Aetna, Omaha, New Era, or Thrivent, Medicare supplement or from any other company. To make the best choice, you can compare each company’s premiums, financial strength, and history of providing great customer service.
This lists highlights for some of the most price competitive North Carolina Medicare insurance companies:
- Everest: An A+ rated company by AM Best, Everest Medicare supplement might help you save money because you can qualify with another adult over 40 in the home, and that adult doesn’t even need to have coverage with Everest. Look for competitive premiums in North Carolina for Medicare Supplement Plans F, G and N.
- GPM: GPM Life earned an A-, Excellent, rating from A.M. Best. The company gained fame during the 1930s for offering life insurance with no war exclusion and prides itself on its competitive rates and great service.
- Greek Catholic: Most recently a B++ AM Best rating, this fraternal organization has been protecting members since the late 1800s. GCU offers phone applications and a seven-percent household discount.
- Manhattan Life: Manhattan Life and its affiliated insurance companies have an A.M. Best rating of B+, or good. The company offers Plan G and N.
- New Era: New Era Medicare supplement owners have been satisfied with the company’s competitive premiums and customer service. The company sometimes also markets Medicare supplements as Philadelphia Life. New Era has a financial rating of B+.
- Thrivent: An A+ rated company by AM Best, Thrivent has prided itself for keeping any rate increases very modest. They offer Medigap Plan F and G.
Companies may also offer household discounts and membership perks that could help you save money. The rules for household discounts vary, but most insurers offer discounts of five to seven percent if another adult in the home also has insurance with the same company. Some membership discounts could include networks that can help you save money on health-related services that aren’t covered by Medicare, such as general vision and dental care.
North Carolina uses the same standard Medicare supplement plans that 46 other states use. Your first task should be to narrow down the Medigap supplement plan that will offer you the best balance of coverage and price. While you can choose from several plans, the majority of people find that one of these three plans offers them a good solution:
- Plan F: In the past, more people chose Plan F than any of the other supplements. This supplement will provide you with every benefit that Medicare allows a supplement to provide. This includes urgent care overseas and coverage for excess charges.
- High-deductible version of Plan F: With this plan, you must pay an annual deductible before your insurance will start to help you pay your bills. Once you meet the deductible each year, the plan will work just like Plan F.
- Plan G: The only difference between Plan F and G is that Plan G won’t pay for the yearly Part B deductible. Many supplement buyers find that they still benefit from the lower premiums most companies offer them for Plan G.
- Plan N: This cheaper Medigap plan requires Medicare recipients to share some of the costs in the form of modest copays for some ER and doctor visits. It also won’t pay excess charges, or bills that are higher than Medicare-allowed amounts.
It might help to compare some sample prices for these three plans. These rates are just samples that were pulled for a specific time and date, and they probably won’t reflect your actual cost. They should help you understand the premium difference between different Medigap plans.
These sample monthly rates were for a North Carolina man who doesn’t smoke and is just turning 65:
- Plan F: $134.18
- High-Deductible Plan F: $42.80
- Plan G: $105.97
- Plan N: $83.74
North Carolina Guaranteed Enrollment for Medigap otherwise known a Medicare Supplements
You are always free to apply for Medigap plans, but some national and state laws govern when you get a Guaranteed Enrollment period. During these periods, insurance companies can’t deny your coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions. If you’re relatively healthy, you should get accepted even if you don’t have a Guaranteed Enrollment Period. Still, you should never cancel any existing health insurance until you’re certain that you have a new policy issued.
While 82 percent of North Carolina beneficiaries qualify for Medicare because they have already turned 65, the other 18 percent haven’t yet turned 65 and only qualify for Medicare benefits because of a disability. Guaranteed Enrollment Periods differ for people who are over 65 than for younger recipients.
According to the NC Department of Insurance, these are the Guaranteed Enrollment rules for these two groups of Medicare recipients:
- Over 65: Newly enrolled Medicare recipients with Part A and B can enroll in any Medicare supplement plan in the state without a waiting period or health underwriting. This period lasts for six months from the date of Medicare enrollment. In addition, beneficiaries may get an additional 68-day period to apply without answering medical questions if other health coverage terminated through no fault of the beneficiary.
- Under 65: Insurers have to accept young, disabled North Carolina Medicare beneficiaries for Plan A, C, and F. If the applicant doesn’t have credible coverage, the insurers may impose a six-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions. That makes Medicare Advantage more attractive to many of these Medicare recipients because they won’t have a waiting period. Once disabled people turn 65, they qualify for the same Guaranteed Enrollment Period as everybody else does.
Along with your Medicare supplement, you’ll also need to enroll in Medicare Part D to help you pay for prescriptions. You might buy Plan D from the company that you purchased your North Carolina Medicare supplement from, but that’s not a requirement. Being able to shop separately for your medical coverage and prescription coverage allows you to make the best choice for both of these plans.