The answer to this issue depends on what each person is looking for. Different states provide various types of supplemental Medicare insurance plans. The benefits tend to be standardized across the types of policies. This means that a certain plan offers the same benefits regardless of the carrier. The only difference will be how the company sets the cost of the policy.
It's important to note that supplemental Medicare insurance companies set their monthly premiums differently. For instance, if you buy Plan A from one company, you'll see that the rates differ, but the benefits will remain the same.
How do Insurers Set the Costs for Medigap
The main reason why premium rates vary from one company to the next is because insurance providers are allowed to set the prices for their own Medigap plans. A company can price its rates in three ways:
- Community-rated - with this option, the premium will cost the same no matter how old one is. The rates can increase because of inflation and other factors, but not age.
- Attained-age-rated – with this plan, the rates of the premiums are based on the age an individual had when they joined the plan. These kinds of policies are not very expensive especially if you are young. However, the premium rates will increase with age, and they can be changed by factors such as inflation, among others.
- Issue-age-rated – this type of policy is also known as entry-age-rated. The premium is determined by a person's age at the time when they purchase the policy. You'll be charged the same amount as your age mates. So, the earlier you sign up, the better. Rates can still fluctuate depending on other factors but not your age.
Ensure that you compare the plans and always ask the insurer how their prices are set. This question is essential as it can affect the amounts you pay at the time of enrollment and in the future. Medigap will not cover your Part A or B Medicare premiums. Most people will not pay for Medicare Part A if they have worked for more than ten years while paying Medicare levies.
Certain Factors that Affect the Policy Costs
The biggest factor that affects the rates of a Medicare supplements policy, and whether the insurer will accept you, is the time you enroll. It's always advisable to register for your plan at the right time (during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period), which starts immediately, or the 1st day of the month, after you turn 65 and have Medicare Part B. During the Open Enrollment Period, you'll have the guaranteed issue rights. This means that you are allowed to join any Medigap policy regardless of disabilities or any other pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies will not fail to cover you in case you have health problems or even choose to charge you highly rated premiums.
Once this period lapse, it's a bit tricky to switch or join a Medigap plan. Insurers can charge you more, require medical underwriting, or choose not to allow you to take a plan if you have health issues. It's always better to join a plan during the open enrollment period because the costs are lower and you have more choices.
If you would like to switch to another plan, especially because of poor health, talk to one or our licensed agents and see if they can help. You may get guaranteed issue rights depending on the reason you have for the switch as well as the situation.
Keep in mind that the insurance plans can be affected by the rising costs of health and inflation. This means that the price can go up yearly regardless of the pricing method used. Individual companies can increase the price rapidly compared to others.
The premium rates can also be determined by where you live and your age. However, insurance providers may offer the following discounts depending on your circumstances:
- Discounts to married couples who have two policies, non-smokers, individuals who choose to make payments on a yearly basis, and those who pay via electronic funds transfer.
- Policies that require you to use certain network providers so as to get low premium charges.
What Questions Should you ask as you Compare the Costs
There are many private companies that sell Medigap policies. Ensure that you do some digging and make the necessary calls once you are ready to pay. The comparison should be made depending on the type of policy. If it's Medicare Supplement Plan C, you need to compare the costs of the plan from every company you contact.
Below are some queries you can ask your insurer as you compare costs:
- How will the company price their Medigap policy?
- In case the policy is attained age rated, how will the rates increase because of age?
- How much is supplemental insurance for Medicare and how have the prices increased in the last few years as a result of inflation and other factors?
Should you Focus More on the Benefits or Costs
You shouldn't just concentrate on the expenses alone when making this important decision. A less expensive plan may not be offering the expected 'gap' coverage. If you know that you aren't capable of making this comparison, consider contacting us. You may also get an experienced agent to help with the comparison. We will assist you to reach an informed decision and also help you with the budgeting.