There are several insurance companies offering Medicare supplement insurance plans across the U.S. – some are more well known than others.
For every Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield and United Healthcare there are a dozen other companies offering the same benefits and coverage. How are you to know which insurance company is best for you?
The first thing to know is that if your doctor or hospital accepts Medicare patients (and therefore Medicare assignment) then they will accept any traditional supplemental insurance policy that you purchase.
That is to say that the vast majority of Medigap plans sold do not have any network restrictions. In this way, there are no network differences between Aetna and the other dozen companies you may not yet heard of.
Too often, consumers buy name brand thinking that they are purchasing better insurance with a larger network. And that is understandable considering that many times, these same consumers are leaving a group or individual health insurance plan with one of the major carriers like Anthem, Aetna, Humana or United Healthcare.
The fact is networks are the same with almost all Medicare supplement insurance providers. Thus, you can usually save on your monthly premiums by purchasing a Medigap insurance plan from a niche carrier. You will be afforded the same access to health care professionals and facilities with either plan. And the niche supplemental carriers are usually less expensive on a monthly basis.
Medicare Select plans are the exception to the rule. These types of plans do operate on a network and you will be charged more if you see a health care professional out of network. Select insurance coverage is not the norm in the industry. Only a few carriers (Mutual of Omaha for example) offer this as an option, but it is rarely purchased by consumers.
In fact, those who wish to operate in a network are more likely to purchase a Medicare Advantage plan. The drawback to both Select and Advantage coverage is larger out of pocket expenses when you need to see a specialist or use a facility out of network. For this reason, most consumers will purchase a traditional supplement from a low cost carrier.
Another primary concern for those who purchase Medigap insurance is the company’s claims handling ability. It goes without saying that you would not want to purchase a plan with a company that has a bad reputations in this area.
Fortunately, Medicare is a highly regulated social program. There is very little gray area when it comes to claims and billing. It has been our experience that very few, if any, companies can or will cause claims difficulty for the insured. We work with over a dozen Medicare supplement insurance providers and there are very few complaints with billing and claims payments.
Any company earning a bad claims payment reputation would certainly fall out of favor with insurance agents and their clients. With so many low cost providers available, agents would not risk losing clients knowing that the chosen carrier would cause future problems. And, of course, the government run CMS would likely act if a carrier was a frequent rules and regulations violator.
This is an area where some companies separate themselves from others. However, all supplemental insurance providers will raise your rates every year. It does not matter if you purchase an attained age, issue age, or community age rated policy. All plans experience rate increases each year.
Even the companies with more favorable rate increases will be undercut when new carriers enter their market. While it is important to choose a company with a reliable rate history, it’s hard to predict future premium increases. It is important to work with an independent agent who can guide you toward more affordable Medicare supplement insurance when it becomes available in your state of residence.
When you purchase Medigap insurance, you are very rarely choosing one network over another. If your doctor accepts Medicare, they will accept any traditional supplemental coverage in which you have enrolled. The only exception to this rule is a Select Plan although very few consumers choose this type of coverage.
You can save on your monthly premiums by choosing a niche provider over some of the more well known carriers. Typically, the national insurance companies do not price their plans as competitively as others. And when you work with an independent agent, you can usually change to a lower cost plan in the future should you remain in moderately good health.
At Hyers and Associates, we provide Medicare supplement insurance quotes, coverage and enrollment assistance in several states. Contact us today to view the most affordable Medicare supplement plans in your area.
Category: Medicare Supplements