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Tips to Compare Medicare Supplement Plans : Start with Coverage

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Tags: Medicare, Medicare supplement plans, Medicare supplement rates

Looking at the rates below, which Medicare Supplement plan would you pick? 

Company

Monthly Rates *

Everence Association Insurance Company

$128.16

Stonebridge Life Insurance Company

$128.57

Loyal American Insurance Company

$132.82

Continental Life Insurance Company

$133.86

Oxford Life Insurance Company

$137.60

Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company

$137.61

UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company

$139.93

Health Net Life Insurance Company

$141.00

Blue Shield of California

$144.00

Humana Insurance Company

$152.53

*Rates represented are for a 67 year old, Female, Plan F, Non-Tobacco in the state of California. Source: CSG Actuarial Jan. 2015

The lowest cost?  Maybe.  But there is more to look at than rates when you compare Medicare supplement plans – whether you are looking for the first time or looking to switch plans to reduce costs. 

We’ve got 5 tips for comparing Medicare plans. Here is tip one.

Tip 1: Pick the right Medicare plan benefits.

The table shows rates for Plan F – the most popular and comprehensive Medicare supplement plan. If you want the peace of mind of knowing that you are fully covered – and willing to pay up-front for coverage then Plan F is for you.  But, there are other options and not all insurance companies offer all plans. Remember, Medicare supplement plans are standardaized and categorized by letter.  Each letter plan represents different benefits.  Start by picking how much coverage you want and what you are willing to pay out of your pocket as you use services. Don't start with rate - you can end up buying too much or too little coverage for your needs.

Plan G is a popular alternative.  The only difference between a Plan F and a Plan G is that you are responsible for the $147 per year Part B deductible. When you compare total premiums for the year for each plan (and add in the $147 deductible) in some states the Plan G can save you money.

A high-deductible Plan F might be a good choice if you don’t use many healthcare services but want to know you are fully covered if something serious happens and you are comfortable with paying before your health plan kicks ins.  You will pay the first $2,180 in Medicare-covered costs ($2015) before your Medicare supplement plan pays anything.  Then your coverage mirrors a regular Medicare Supplement Plan F.

Plan N is an option – but you will pay a co-pay each time you receive a Medicare covered health care service. You will be responsible for the Part B deductible ($147 in 2015).  Then there is a $20 copay for some office visits and up to $50 copayment for emergency room visits that don’t result in your admission to a hospital.  Tot compare plans you need to look at your total out-of-pocket costs – the monthly premium to the insurance company, co-pays for office visits and the Part B deductible.  Do the math and see what works best – generally if you frequently use the doctor this plan will not be a good match for you.

Plan C is a popular option too.  You’ll pay you Pat B deductible, Part B excess charges and 80% of your foreign travel. Again, do the math to see how this compares with other coverage options.  Quite often the price differential for this plan isn’t a lot and people select to go with the broader coverage of Plan f.  But looks at rates in your state before you make a decision.

(If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin Medicare supplement plans do not follow the same lettering system.)

Tip One: Begin your Medicare supplement search by understanding how much coverage you want to buy and how much you are willing to pay on your own as you use services. Not all companies offer all plans, so start by finding the right Medicare supplement plan to match your needs. In Tip Two we'll show you how to effectively compare rates between plans.

Selecting the right plan can save you money.  Selecting the wrong coverage can lead to surprises and unanticipated costs.  This list gives you a good description of what’s covered and what you’ll be responsible for in each plan.

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