Guide to Choosing and Changing Your Medicare Supplemental Insurance

St. Louis Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Welcome to your guide to choosing and changing Medicare supplemental insurance plans.  We’re located in St. Louis, MO, just outside of St. Charles and licensed in 48 states.  Regardless of where you live, this guide will help you!

If you landed here it’s because you’re likely looking for information to learn how to choose the best Medicare supplemental insurance plan that is competitive in your area.

We understand your pain, the only thing in abundance during your hunt for Medicare supplemental insurance is a bunch of direct mail and sales pitches.  Rarely can you find somebody willing to take the time to educate you on the critical decision factors you should consider before enrolling in a Medicare Supplement.

I’m going to share some simple concepts you should know about choosing Medicare supplemental insurance as well as address some common questions.

This guide includes:

  • Upcoming Medicare Changes
  • What is Medicare supplemental insurance?
  • A Rated Medicare Supplement insurance plans.
  • What are the best Medicare Supplement insurance plans in St. Louis?
  • How much does Medicare supplemental insurance cost?
  • Most common Medicare Supplement plans and the differences.
  • How to predict when Medicare Supplement plans will have rate increases.
  • Switching Medicare Supplement plans outside of the Annual Election Period.

Let’s get started.

Proposed 2018 Medicare Changes: What You Should Know

We will update you soon on the 2018 Medicare changes as soon as the 2018 Medicare and You handbook becomes available.

Stay tuned!

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What is Medicare Supplemental Insurance?

Original Medicare covers 80% after deductibles have been met which creates the need to have Medicare supplemental insurance to fill the remaining coverage gap.

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are provided by private insurance companies that coordinate with benefits provided by Original Medicare.  This is the most common way most people eligible for Medicare satisfy their supplemental health insurance needs.

Medicare Supplement plans fill the gap which Original Medicare doesn’t cover, including deductibles.  Below are some of the common questions clients ask us about Medicare Supplement plans.

The key in choosing the best Medicare Supplement plan in the St. Louis area is understanding the plan differences.

What are the Most Common Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans?

Medicare Supplement plans are standardized and identified by letters A through N.

Three Most Common Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans

Medicare Supplement Plan F

Why choose Medicare Supplement Plan F?

Plan F is the most comprehensive Medicare supplemental insurance plan available.  This plan is fully loaded and a great option for those who want coverage to satisfy the 20% liability of Original Medicare.  Plan F benefits include the following.

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs
  • Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment
  • Medicare Part A deductibles
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment
  • Medicare Part B deductible
  • Medicare Part B excess charges
  • First three pints of blood
  • Skilled nursing facility (SNF) care coinsurance
  • Foreign travel emergency coverage (up to plan limits)

Medicare Supplement Plan G

Plan G is an excellent choice for Medicare supplemental coverage and is very similar to plan F mentioned above.  The biggest difference between a Plan F and Plan G is that Plan G Medicare supplements do not cover your Part B Medicare deductible, which is only $183.

Why choose Plan G over Plan F?

The reason why people commonly choose a plan G is that the monthly premiums savings between a Plan F and Plan G is greater than paying the annual Part B deductible.

For example, if you are 65 and live in St. Charles or St. Peters, a Plan F Medicare Supplement will cost you roughly $170 per month with Transamerica while a Plan G would cost you $130.

Would you agree it’s worth paying the $183 Part B deductible in order to save $300 on your Medicare supplemental premiums?

Medicare Supplement Plan N

Plan N is another great choice for Medicare supplemental insurance plans.  Plan N covers all the same benefits as Plan F except the following:

  • Medicare Part B Deductible
  • Medicare Part B excess charges
  • Up to $20 charge for office visits
  • Up to $50 charge for emergency room visits that don’t result in an overnight stay

Why choose Plan N over Plan G?

The reason some people choose a plan N is because they will try and forecast our their doctor visits for the year to determine if it makes sense to choose a lower premium plan.

Let’s use the example listed above for a 65 year old living in St. Charles, MO.  You can get a plan F for $170 from Transamerica or you can get a Plan N for $113 from Pekin Life Insurance Company.

Put yourself in this hypothetical client’s shoes.  Would you be willing to potentially have the costs associated with a Plan N if you knew it might save you nearly $700 per year in Medicare Supplement premium costs?

As you can see, the differences in Medicare Supplement plans are negligible and based on your current health history, you can choose the best Medicare Supplement plan that fits your lifestyle.  You just have to take the time to understand the moving parts and whether or not they will financially impact you.

Best Medicare Supplement St. Charles and St. Louis Offers

This is one of the most common questions we hear when talking to individuals and families about their Medicare supplement.   St. Charles and St. Louis have very competitive options, which makes our job as Medicare brokers easy.

The best answer to this question is to remember that all Medicare Supplement plans are standardized.

What does it mean that all Medicare Supplement plans are standardized?

Regardless of the company, all plans must offer the same benefits.  For example, a Medicare Plan F with Transamerica by law must offer the same benefits as a Plan F from AARP Medicare supplemental insurance.  The only difference is the price you pay each month.

This should give you the confidence that regardless of the type of Plan F, Plan G or Plan N you choose, all the benefits and available doctors will be the same.  Below is a list of the A rated Medicare supplemental insurance plans in St. Louis:

  • AARP United Health Care
  • American Continental Insurance Company (Aetna)
  • Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company
  • Combined Insurance Company of America
  • Essence Healthcare
  • Humana Insurance Company
  • Medico Insurance Company
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Oxford Life Insurance Company
  • Pekin Life Insurance Company
  • Transamerica Life Insurance Company
  • United American Insurance Company

In case you were wondering, Plan F prices for a 65-year old individual in St. Louis range from $158 all the way up to $358.  It should be noted that all plans should be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure you are properly educated on the best plan for you.

How to choose Medicare Supplement plans when monthly premiums are drastically different?

Great question.

You definitely can take some steps when shopping for a Medicare Supplement that will help you avoid getting a surprise rate increase the following year.

The best way to determine which Medicare plan to go with is by analyzing two additional key factors now that you have made your decision on the plan type you want to go with.

Medicare Supplement Rate Increase History

After you have chosen your plan, the second step is reviewing historical premium increase trends.  Since you now know the plans are standardized, you know the benefits aren’t up for debate.  It’s now all about price.

You should look at the last 3, 5 or 10 years of data and see how much premiums have increase year over year.  If the agent you are working with isn’t explaining this to you, then you should seek out a second opinion as this information is readily available.

Insurance Company Loss Ratios

The third step in choosing your Medicare supplemental insurance plan is by reviewing the insurance company loss ratios.  This is important as it will help you understand which plans are likely to experience a higher than average rate increase.

For example, AARP Medicare supplemental insurance plans in St. Louis have average a 2.1% rate increase over the last 6 years and historically maintain an 80% loss ratio which is considered acceptable.

This means their risk pool isn’t completely filled with unhealthy members, which keeps their claims within acceptable ranges.

The better a company can control their risk pool (annual claims), the more money they can keep in their reserves and the more stable they will keep your premiums year over year.

Switching Your Medicare Supplement:  Two Choices

One of the common misconceptions about Medicare Supplements is that you can only switch your plan during the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP).  This time frame occurs every year from October 15th-December 7th.

This is not true.

Medicare Supplement enrollments are not tied to Medicare’s annual election period.  The only plans that are mandated to be changed (if you choose to change) during the Annual Election Period are Medicare Advantage Plans (MA-PD) and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

Medicare Supplements are not under those same rules and can be changed throughout the year.

Below are the two common scenarios that impact your ability to switch your Medicare Supplement plan.

Option 1: Change my Medicare Supplemental Insurance without Health Questions

Missouri is one of the few states that allows you to change your Medicare supplement plan with out additional underwriting, but only during a select time through out the year.

If you are within 30 days before or after your current Medicare Supplement anniversary period you can switch your plan without having to go through any underwriting questions.  This is a unique rule to the state of MO.  This means that regardless of your health, if your premiums increase on your Medicare Supplement plan and you are a resident of the state of MO, you can switch to a lower cost plan with the same benefits without being penalized for pre-existing conditions.  MO is one of the only states that offers this benefit to Medicare Supplement policy holders.

For example, if your Plan F policy anniversary date is October 1st, that means you can switch your Medicare supplement to another Plan F from September 1st through November 1st regardless of your health.

California and Oregon have similar rules commonly referred to as the birthday rule vs. the anniversary period.

Option 2: Switch Your Medicare Supplemental insurance anytime (health questions required)

The other scenario for switching your Medicare Supplement plan is when you’re outside of your anniversary period.  You can still switch, but you will have to complete the health questions again.

Most people who live in St. Louis make it a habit to review their Medicare supplemental insurance every year around their anniversary period to make sure they are in the most cost effective and financially stable option.

If you do this year over year, you can be sure you will not over spend on your Medicare supplemental insurance plan.

Conclusion

Choosing and changing your Medicare supplemental insurance plan can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these four steps:

  • Choose a Medicare Supplement plan A-N based on what fits you best.  Remember, the most common Medicare Supplement plans are Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N.
  • Review the annual rate increase history. (If you’re agent can’t pull this information for you, then you need to find a new agent)
  • Review the insurance company loss ratios to be proactive in choosing a plan that will offer you price stability year over year. (remember the agent rule above,  this is common information available to licensed agents)
  • Annually review your plan within the 60-day window of your anniversary period to take advantage of the guaranteed issue period should you need to make a change.

If you take the time to analyze your options, you’ll feel much better about the decision you make.  Any independent agent can access this information, so you need to press them to show you the data behind the company they are proposing.

It’s the only way you’ll truly know you are choosing the best Medicare Supplemental insurance plan for you.

If you would like to discuss your Medicare supplemental insurance plans, please call me at 888-211-5685 or email drew@policyzip.com.  I look forward to helping you navigate your options and make an educated and confident decision for your Medicare Supplement.

PolicyZip is located in St. Louis, MO and serves the greater area with licensed agents available to meet face-to-face.  We are a life insurance and Medicare Insurance Agency.  St. Charles, Jefferson, Pike, and St. Louis counties are among the core areas we serve.  For those looking for Medicare supplemental insurance online or in any state, we have a call center staffed with nationally licensed agents qualified to educate you on your options.  One of the best reasons to work with PolicyZip is that we make shopping for your medicare supplemental insurance easy.