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Medicare offers individuals numerous options, including 11 different choices for Medicare Supplement insurance. With a little time and effort, getting better coverage and saving significant money is possible according to a leading Medicare insurance expert.
“It’s possible to save $50,000 simply by spending one hour,” declares Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI). The national organization hosts the nation’s leading online directory enabling consumers to find and connect with local Medicare Supplement insurance agents.
“When it comes to Medicare Supplement or Medigap each insurance company sets it’s own prices and they can vary, sometimes significantly,” Slome shares. According to the Association’s 2017 Price Index, the national average spread between the low and high price charged a 65-year old individual was 121 percent.
“Medicare Supplement insurance prices can vary down to the Zip Code,” Slome notes. “In Phoenix, the lowest available Medigap Plan F for a 65-year old costs $148 a month; the highest costs $380 monthly, a $2,784 yearly difference,” Slome points out. “Life expectancy for a 65-year-old is now 84, so making the right choice has the potential to save over $52,000.”
One of the smartest moves Slome recommends is spending an hour with at least one Medicare insurance professional. “Some agents only represent or sell policies from one company while others offer coverage from multiple carriers,” he explains. “It’s vital to ask how many insurers an agent is appointed with.” The term appointed is insurance industry jargon meaning an agent can sell policies from that particular company.
The vast majority of individuals selecting Medigap insurance coverage purchase Plan F, one of the available options. “Plan F is the Cadillac plan and many people like the fact that they’ll never receive a bill from any doctor who accepts Medicare,” cites Elie Harriett of Mansfield, Ohio, one of the Medigap agents listed on the Association’s online directory.
“For someone who rarely goes to a doctor, Plan G may be a better option,” Harriett explains. The current cost for a 65-year old male (non-smoking) purchasing Plan F in her area is $148-a-month. Plan G coverage costs $112 monthly. “The yearly savings is $432 and the only difference is having to pay the Medicare Part B deductible.” For 2017, the deductible is $183, up from $166 the prior year.
“Plan N can be a good option especially if you live in one of eight states that have excess charge limits,” explains Steve Thurmond of Nashville, TN. Medigap Plan N generally covers all the same benefits of Plan F with the exception of the Medicare Part B deductible and possible excess charges by physicians. Medicare caps these charges.
Medicare Supplement Plan F costs from one leading carrier are $127-per-month for a Tennessee male age 65. Costs for Plan N coverage offered by the same insurance company are $86, a $492 annual savings. “Most doctors who accept Medicare patients also agree to accept Medicare’s acceptable charges,” Thurmond says. “But some physicians will charge more with the patient liable for applicable ‘excess’ charges. Consumers can incur a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and a charge fort some emergency room visits.”
Medicare limits excess charges to 15 percent over the allowable reimbursement amount. “Someone choosing Plan N must take responsibility for asking a few questions but many people with individual or employer health insurance plans already do this,” he adds. Eight states currently do not allow Part B excess charges. They are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
A version of Plan F, called Medicare Select Plan F, is ideal for those who don’t travel outside of their local area. “Select Plan F has all the benefits of regular Plan F except one must use an approved hospital,” explains Matthew Frankic of Evansville, IN. “If there’s one or more approved hospitals in your area that you favor, Select Plan F can be a good option.” A 65-year old male in Frankic’s area will pay $145-per-month for traditional Plan F versus $116 for Select Plan F. “If you buy a Medigap Select policy, you have the right to change your mind within 12 months and switch to a standard plan,” he adds.
To find local Medicare Supplement agents who can help evaluate options and compare costs access the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance’s online directory. The Zip-Code directory is free and no information is required to view the listing of agents.