If you’re trying to decide between Medicare Supplement plans, you might want to know how to select an insurance company. Does it matter which company you use?

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The following are the factors you should take into consideration when choosing from the Medicare Supplement plans available to you.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT INSURANCE PLANS?

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Medicare Supplement insurance plans can seem confusing at first glance. You want to know how best to cover your healthcare needs after retirement, but what’s the difference between all those plans?

There are 10 Medicare Supplement insurance plans as of 2018: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Keep in mind that Medigap Plan A is different from Original Medicare Part A, and the same goes for Medigap Plan B.

Medicare Supplement plans are separate plans from Original Medicare, which means you’ll pay a separate premium for them. They fill in some of the gaps that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.

Since each Medigap plan covers a different set of healthcare expenses, you can choose the one that aligns with your medical needs. For instance, Medigap Plans C, F, and G are considered highly comprehensive, while Medicare Supplement Insurance plans like A and B offer less coverage.

Each insurance company decides how much it will charge for each Medicare Supplement insurance plan. That means, you could pay more for the exact same benefits if you don’t shop around.

For instance, Insurance Company X might charge $500 per year for Medigap Plan N, while Insurance Company Y charges $488 for the same plan.

Your coverage stays the same regardless of the insurance company you choose. When comparing Medicare Supplement insurance plans, first look at the cost of each plan with each insurer.

WHAT INSURANCE COMPANIES OFFER A MEDIGAP PLAN IN YOUR AREA?

The other consideration lies in geographical location. Insurance Company X might offer Medigap Plan G in Arizona and California at one rate, but a much higher rate in Texas or Utah. You have to pay the premium the insurance company charges based on your zip code.

They also might not offer Plan G at all in your location. While they must offer Plan A and either Plan C or F, each insurance company decides which Medigap policies it wants to sell.

This is why, when searching for Medicare Supplement plans, you enter your zip code. If a plan isn’t available at a reasonable cost near you, consider exploring another Medigap plan that fits your budget.

But what if you move?

You might decide to relocate after retirement. Many retirees stay where they are, but those who move usually choose Florida as a destination. Other retirees select states in the Southwest or Southeast.

Medigap is a nationwide program. This means that Medicare Supplement insurance plans stay with you no matter where you go, but your premium might change upon moving.

Let’s say you pay $200 per month for Medigap Plan N in New York, but you move to New Mexico. There, your insurance company charges $186 per month for Medigap Plan N. In this case, you’ll save money. However, even if the premium increases, you’ll be responsible for the added costs. And unless you’re covered under guaranteed issue rights, you can’t switch to another plan without becoming subject to underwriting. This means your application could be denied or your premiums could increase depending on your health status.

HOW ARE MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT PLANS STANDARDIZED?

As we mentioned above, coverage levels for Medicare Supplement insurance plans remain the same no matter which insurance company you choose. This is called standardization. Every state offers every Medigap plan with the same level of coverage.

The only exceptions are three states: Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In these states, the standards are different from those in the rest of the United States.

Standardization makes comparing Medicare Supplement plans from multiple insurance companies much easier. Once you’ve decided on a plan that fits your needs, you don’t have to compare coverage — just premiums. For instance, if you have Medigap Plan F, your Original Medicare Part B deductible will be covered no matter which insurance company you select.

HOW SHOULD YOU CHOOSE AN INSURANCE COMPANY FOR YOUR MEDIGAP PLAN?

When you’re just beginning the search for Medicare Supplement insurance plans, start with the plans themselves. Compare coverage levels to determine what out-of-pocket expenses you don’t want to pay.

Once you’ve selected a Medigap Plan, compare insurance companies based on the premiums they charge. In some cases, there will be a wide difference in premium cost; in others, the premiums will be more aligned.

You can choose an insurance company based exclusively on price. When you’re living on a fixed income, you need your expenses to prove as predictable as possible, and you want to pay the least amount of money possible for healthcare insurance.

However, if you have more room in your budget, you could consider other options.

For instance, you might already have a relationship with an insurance company you trust. If it offers your preferred Medigap plan, you might want to apply to that company so you feel more secure.

Consider, as well, whether your significant other already has a Medigap plan. Many insurance companies reduce the premiums for both parties when they both go with the same insurer. It’s kind of like the bundle deals you can get with homeowners’ and car insurance.

You might want to research insurance companies to see what other consumers say about them. Factors like communication, ease of filing claims, and more might deserve your attention.

CONCLUSION

It’s easier than ever to choose from the 10 Medicare Supplement plans and apply for the one you prefer. Use Ensurem’s handy Medigap Quoter to get immediate quotes based on your location and tobacco use.

You can check off the Medigap plan options you’re interested in and compare premiums from different carriers. For instance, maybe you’re not sure whether you want Medigap Plan F or Plan G. You can compare premiums between those two plan types to see how much you could save with either one.

The Quoter also allows you to decide whether you want to see SELECT plans and how you want the results displayed. It makes comparing your options much easier because you can see the numbers in black and white.

Understanding Medicare Supplement insurance and its potential impact on your healthcare is an important part of getting ready for retirement. Educating yourself about your options early will make the process easier and less stressful.