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During the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), which brings Medicare to the forefront of thought for individuals of Medicare age, it is important to consider any changes that may occur to your Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) or Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) from year to year. The plan that may have been the best fit for you last year may no longer be the best option.
On the other hand, Medicare Supplement policies, sometimes called Medigap, offer consistent benefits year after year, with the only potential change being the premium. You do not have to review or renew your Medicare Supplement plan during the AEP. But, you might want to make sure you are still getting the best deal.
There are various factors that can contribute to an increase in Medicare Supplement policy rates, including age, inflation and medical cost growth, policy changes that introduce new or increased benefits, demographic changes, and insurance companies' financial performance and claims experience. It is important to note that while some factors may lead to rate increases, others may help stabilize or even decrease rates.
If you do experience a rate increase, you have the option to change your plan at any time, as long as you can pass health underwriting.
Before discussing the process of changing your Medicare Supplement plan, let's talk about Medicare Plan Standardization.
Medicare Supplement Plan Standardization.
Medicare Plan Standardization aims to simplify Medicare Supplement Insurance plans offered by private insurance companies nationwide. There are ten standard Medigap plans (Plan A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N) that provide the same benefits across insurance companies, regardless of location or the company offering the plan. This standardization helps beneficiaries compare plans and providers more easily, leading to more competitive pricing.
All Medigap policies are standardized. This means, they offer the same basic benefits no matter where you live or which insurance company you buy the policy from. There are 10 different types of Medigap plans offered in most states, which are named by letters: A-D, F, G, and K-N. Price is the only difference between plans with the same letter that are sold by different insurance companies.
While Congress implemented standardization in 1990, some states have additional regulations for their insurers. These states have their own standardization rules but still operate under the same ten basic plans as other states.
It is important to note that while standardized plans offer the same benefits, the pricing may vary among insurance companies. Therefore, it is crucial to search for a plan with competitive pricing that suits your individual needs.
Medicare Supplement Rates Vary.
All Medicare Supplement plans are standardized, meaning that the coverage provided by a Plan G from one insurance company is identical to the coverage provided by Plan G from another company. The only difference between plans is the price.
For example, let's consider the monthly premium for Medicare Supplement Plan G in Bethlehem, PA, with a ZIP code of 10815. (Same coverage, different price)
Rates based on a 65 year old female with a household discount on November 17th 2023.
Time to Switch your Medicare Supplement Plan.
Now that we have established that plans labeled with the same letter offer identical benefits, it may be time to search for the best rate. However, it's crucial to consider other factors such as the insurance company's rate increase history, customer service, health qualification, and overall financial stability. While finding the lowest price online may seem like an easy solution, it's important to be cautious and do your research before making a decision.
Working with a licensed insurance agent who specializes in Medicare can help you navigate the complexities of finding the best plan for your individual needs. Not only can this save you time and money, but it can also give you the peace of mind you deserve.
When Can I enroll in a Medicare Supplement?
The best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period begins when you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B and lasts for six months. During this time, you have guaranteed issue rights, which means insurance companies cannot deny you coverage or charge you higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions.
You can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan at any time of the year but you may be subject to medical underwriting.
It's important to note that if you miss your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you may still be able to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan, but you may be subject to medical underwriting. This means that insurance companies can consider your health status and may charge you higher premiums or deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Additionally, there are special circumstances that may give you a guaranteed issue right to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan outside of the Medigap Open Enrollment Period. These circumstances include situations such as losing your current coverage, moving outside of your plan's service area, or the insurance company no longer offering coverage in your area.
In conclusion, it's always a good idea to research and compare different Medicare Supplement Plan options to find the one that best suits your needs and budget. Working with a licensed insurance agent who specializes in Medicare can be helpful in navigating the process and ensuring you make an informed decision.