Just like any other insurance, Medigap Insurance has pesky rate increases that no one likes. Customers always ask if their Medigap rate will go up, and the truthful answer is YES. Increases in Medigap premiums will occur almost every year. Any agent that tells you otherwise is unreliable.
The majority of Medigap policies have a rate increase once a year, usually on the anniversary of your policy. Instead, some carriers improve on your birthday month. You may even be experienced depending on your policy type.
Over the last few years, though, we've seen occasions where from one year to the next a Medigap rate stayed level. We have even seen a rare decrease in rates. Sadly, while these are great when they happen, they are not the norm. Rates usually go up over time, and that is due to inflation and other variables.
Just like everything else in America, Medicare supplement insurance policies like these are subject to inflation. The cost of healthcare is increasing, so to reflect that the insurance companies must adjust annually. Medicare itself also generally increases the deductibles from year to year and these things are covered by many Medigap plans. When that happens, your policy will cover larger deductibles, so it increases your monthly premium.
So what can you do over the years to keep those Medicare supplement rates rises in check?
Household Discounts are a perfect way to reduce the price of Medigap.
For your business, Medigap carriers compete, and one of the most popular ways is to offer a household discount. For certain carriers in certain states, the discounts will range from about 5% up to 12%. Typically, in the past, these discounts have been for partners who participate with the same insurer in Medigap plans. They both receive the discount because both partners have their policies with the same business.
However, we've seen a few carriers in recent years make the credentials a little simpler. Some will now, for example, give a discount to someone who lives with another adult individual. There is no need for that person to be covered by the same insurance carrier. Not all carriers need the parent, either to be your partner. Sometimes a roommate or other adult parent will suffice.
Check with your agent to see if you are eligible for any discounts that will lower your Medigap cost if you live with or are married to another person. This will result in you saving quite a bit.
For many years in America, the most famous seller was Plan F. Today, it is still very popular. This package has the most advantages of the lot, leaving you with no cost-sharing for deductibles or medical visits out of your pocket. It's also typically the most costly package offered by a Medigap carrier since it provides the most advantages.
Plan F, however, is also only open to Medicare applicants who have become eligible in 2019 or earlier.
We've seen a trend in recent years that more patients are looking at some of the other streamlined plans for Medigap. There are policies that with slightly fewer benefits, offer reduced premiums. In other words, you can earn a lower premium if you choose to share in a little bit of the medical costs. Plan G, for instance, has only one minor difference from Plan F but can save you $200-$300/year in premiums often.
Another strategy of Medigap that has become more common is Plan N. You will have your own Medicare Part B deductible on this package, and you will have copays for items such as emergency department visits and doctor visits. The premiums, however, can be hundreds of dollars lower annually, so for certain individuals, it's a fair trade-off.
The first thing to check is whether any other Medigap insurance carriers offer the same plan for less if you really like the advantages that your current policy provides. By plan letter, Medigap plans are standardized. So you can feel 100 percent confident that your benefits will remain exactly the same if you have a Plan F and switch to another carrier offering Plan F.
There are also no networks for Medigap plans, so changing your Medigap company in no way affects your access to your doctors. In the nation that participates in Medicare, you will still be able to see any provider. The only difference is that it will send the remainder of that bill to another Medigap insurance company after Medicare pays its primary share, to cover the remainder of any benefits owed on your behalf.
One thing to note about Medigap programs is that as Part D and Medicare Advantage plans do, they do not have an annual open enrollment season in the fall. You would have to pass medical underwriting to move from one Medigap plan to another and be accepted in most states for the new program. If health issues prohibit you from transitioning to a less costly Medigap program, and you can no longer afford your current policy, then Medicare Advantage is the last choice you might consider.
Some states have laws that encourage their residents without health support to make adjustments to their Medigap arrangements at certain times of the year.
This is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Under the Medicare Advantage plan, the coverage is somewhat different. Most of these plans have doctors' HMO or PPO networks. Before being able to see a specialist, some ask you to see a primary care doctor for a referral. You'll want to make sure that every strategy you consider is one in which your main doctors are involved. The trade-off with a more stringent network of physicians, however, is that many Advantage policies have lower rates than Medigap plans. A built-in Part D drug plan is also included in several.
In the past, there was only one health issue for Medicare Advantage plans that inquired for End-Stage Renal Failure (kidney disease). As of 2021, however, the health issue has been eliminated. This means that all Medicare recipients, including individuals with health problems that prohibit them from moving between Medigap programs, will now apply for a Medicare Advantage package. Anyone who has Medicare Parts A & B and lives in the service area of the network will enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 during the fall annual election cycle.
For many reasons, We highly suggest working on these policies with an insurance provider. To make sure the move will help you, you'll want to measure your future spending on Medicare Advantage plans. Let's say, for instance, your plan has a $40 copay from a clinic, and you see a specialist twice a month. You're going to be eating into the savings pretty soon, and it may not be worth changing.
Another explanation of why you should deal with an agent is because it just seems that Medicare Advantage programs incur further hiccups. If the plan refuses coverage for anything, you'll want to get someone by your side. You can be supported by an agent to solve problems like these.
Our customer support team has helped thousands of patients settle claims conflicts on Medicare Advantage plans over the years. Disputes have arisen about anything from drugs to physical therapy. Our understanding is that as opposed to Original Medicare and Medigap, these problems arise even more frequently in Medicare Advantage plans. To lead you through the appeals process, you'll be wise to have the extra support of an agent.
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