SOURCE: American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance

Medicare Supplement Insurance Trade Association

May 12, 2016 10:18 ET

Ways to Get a Better Deal on Medicare Supplement Insurance Policies

Tips Can Help Save Money on Medigap Policies; Online National Directory of Medicare Supplement Agents Is Good Place to Find Information and Costs

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - May 12, 2016) - When it comes to Medicare insurance planning, few people understand how to effectively get the best health coverage for the lowest cost.

"Medicare planning can be more complex than people think," declares Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI). "There are important differences between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. There are ways to get better coverage and savings that can really add up over time."

To help Medicare-eligible seniors get a better deal on their Medigap policy, Slome offers the following tips.

1. Start With What's Best. People use the phrase Medicare Supplement to cover all forms of Medicare policies, including Medicare Advantage and even Part D Prescription drug benefits. But there are important differences and switching plans can be costly and perhaps impossible. The first step is to gain a complete understanding of the different options to determine the better solution for current healthcare needs while also anticipating future needs.

2. Comparison Shop. While Medicare Supplement insurance (also called Medigap) plans are standardized, rates can vary significantly. A 2016 study by the Association found rates for Medigap Plan F policies varied by as much as 68 percent for the same location. "In most places, we found a 20-to-40 percent spread between the lowest and the highest premium rates," Slome reports. "No single company always had the lowest cost and no company always had the highest costs so comparison shopping at the local level is important."

3. Weigh Out-Of-Pocket Costs. A zero cost Medicare Advantage plan may sound appealing but weigh any out-of-pocket costs. "One Medicare Advantage plan's premium is $0 per-month, but comes with a $6,700 out-of-pocket potential risk," Slome notes. "A Medigap Plan F plan with zero out-of-pocket risk would cost $235 a month, saving someone who anticipates medical costs over $3,000 yearly."

4. Can Self-Insuring Reduce Costs? Nearly two-thirds of seniors buying Medicare Supplement insurance currently choose Plan F coverage according to AAMSI. For someone in good health, a high-deductible Medigap Plan F may save several thousand dollars a year. Not worried about hospitalization? A Plan K can reduce costs and might be just what the doctor ordered.

5. Ask About The Pricing System. Some policies are "attained age" where prices increase every year as the policyholder ages and also track medical inflation. Some are "community rated" polices, which charge everyone in the community the same price regardless of age. The lowest-cost issue-age or community-rated policy is usually less costly than an attained-age policy over time.

6. After Guaranteed Issue Ends. When securing a Medigap plan within six months of signing up for Medicare Part B, an insurer cannot reject the applicant or charge more based on existing health conditions. After that, switching Medigap policies is possible but insurers can decline your application or charge more. An individual with even moderate health issues will benefit by working with a knowledgeable specialist familiar with the different insurance company underwriting requirements.

 7. Ask About Discounts Or Added Perks. Some Medigap insurers offer spousal or household discounts and some offer lower rates for women. They can provide some substantial cost savings. Some plans offer added features such as free gym membership.

And, finally, states have different regulations so it is important to find a professional knowledgeable about the regulations that pertain to where one resides.

Nation's Leading Find A Medicare Supplement Agent Online Directory

To find knowledgeable Medicare Supplement agents check out the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance's online directory of local Medigap agents hosted on the organization's website at www.medicaresupp.org or call 818-597-3205 to request information.

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