Advocacy groups like the Medicare Rights Center oppose restricting Medigap plans, saying it would simply shift more costs from the government to elderly and low-income people who can least afford it. “Some in government feel people in Medicare don’t have enough ‘skin in the game,’” says Ilene Stein, federal policy director for the center. In fact, she says, people on Medicare already pay 15 percent of their incomes for health care, well above the level paid by non-Medicare households. While the proposals would cap maximum annual spending per enrollee to $5,500 or $7,500, “that’s a lot of money for someone making $22,000,” the median household income for those on Medicare, she says.
Video: Medigap plans ARE created equal
California Medigap Policies Cover What Medicare Doesn’t
California seniors have many different Medigap options available to them. To see a wide range of health insurance policies to supplement your Medicare, contact the independent insurance agents at Benefit Packages. We have been helping Californians find the right medical insurance for since 1987. We will go through the options with you and help you choose the best Medicare supplement for your health situation. Whether you are interested in Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, or other health insurance policies, we can get you the information you need.
Financial Success: Medigap & Medicare Advantage Plans
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Medigap Supplemental Policies
When you are choosing a policy, consider your health status and family medical history. The differences among plans can be small and rather confusing, so you should do your homework and pick a plan that is best for you. We suggest you visit the Choosing a Medigap Policy website or stop by the Senior Center and pick up a printed copy. All Medigap policies with the same letter must cover the exact same benefits, so once you find the option that best suits your need, you should shop for the least expensive policy. You will get the best price if you sign up within six months after enrolling in Medicare Part B. During this open enrollment period, the insurer cannot refuse to sell you a policy or charge you more based on your health.
Government Wants Seniors with Medigap Policies to Pay More Out
The NAIC was required by the Accountable Care Act to recommend to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), specific cost-sharing opportunities that could reduce Medicare spending for unnecessary treatments. This recommendation was to be based on peer-reviewed studies or successful managed-care practices, noted the Kaiser Health News article. The NAIC Seniors’ Task Force and Health Insurance Committee, in fact, determined that this idea could have the reverse effect, raising Medicare costs over time.
Will health reform make it easier to buy Medigap plans?
It’s also worth mentioning that fact that your premiums may have gone up because you bought a plan with so-called “attained-age” premiums. They’re deliberately designed to start out low when you’re 65 and increase the older you get. People buy them because they’re cheap, not realizing that when they get to be your age, they’re going to be the most expensive. We recommend purchasing policies that are community rated, meaning that premiums are the same no matter what your age. They’ll be a little more expensive when you first buy them, but less expensive than an attained-age policy when you get older.
How to Choose a Medigap Supplemental Policy
Instead of getting original Medicare, plus a Medigap policy and a separate Part D drug plan, you could sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan that provides all-in-one coverage. These plans, which are sold by insurance companies, are generally available through HMOs and PPOs. To find and compare Advantage plans, visit medicare.gov/find-a-plan.
The Importance Of Medigap Plans
Keep in mind that a Medigap policies are sold by private insurance companies. They are looked upon as Medicare Supplement Insurance. Depending on the Medigap plan you choose, will determine how much you will pay for the policy and what the policy will cover. There are various benefits of Medigap policies such as medical costs, inpatient hospital care, blood that you might need and other additional benefits such as emergency care and preventative care.
Medicare Supplemental Plan
The second reason to enroll in a Medicare supplemental plan is that you can get more health coverage. A variety of therapies and at-home services are covered under some of the plans. Coverage for emergencies when traveling abroad is also an option. Medigap policies are not part of a managed care program, such as an HMO, PPO or Fee-for-Service plan. They are purchased through a Medicare approved private insurance companies.
Changing Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plans
If you happen to have an old Medigap policy that was purchased prior to 1992, you may remain on a non-standardized version of that plan. If you purchased Plans D or G before June 1, 2010, you may keep the older versions of them, even though current iterations of those plans have vastly different benefits. Additionally, the old Plan H, I, and J once offered, but are no longer sold, with Medigap prescription drug benefits. Should you choose to make the switch to a newer Medicare Supplement plan, however, please note that you will not be able to get the old plan and benefits back as they are no longer offered.
How to Choose a Medigap Supplemental Policy
You also need to be aware of the three pricing methods which will affect your costs. Medigap policies are usually sold as either “attained-age” policies which are premiums that start low but increase as you get older. “Issue-age” policies that increase prices due to inflation, not age. These policies may start out a little more expensive than attained-age policies but generally have few rate increases over time. And “community-rate” policies, where everyone in an area is charged the same premium regardless of age. Issue-age and community-rated policies will usually save you money in the long-run.
What is Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance
In order to sign up for Medicare Supplement coverage, you must already have Part A and Part B. These plans are offered by private insurance companies and come in 10 standardized policy types that are denoted by the letters A-N. The standardization of these plans means that no matter where you shop, the Medigap policy details remain consistent. For example, the benefits associated with Plan F are the same no matter where you buy it, though costs may differ across all carriers. Not every carrier of Medicare Supplement Insurance offers all 10 plan types, and three states in the U.S. have their own version of these plans: Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Putting a Donut Hole Back in Medicare: Proposals to Increase Medigap Costs Put Vulnerable Beneficiaries at Risk
 See Medicare Supplement Insurance First Dollar Coverage and Cost Shares Discussion Paper, National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Senior Issues Task Force, Medigap PPCA Subgroup, (October 2011), available at: http://www.naic.org/documents/committees_b_senior_issues_111101_medigap_first_dollar_coverage_discussion_paper.pdf. Also see, e.g., Leadership Council on Aging (LCAO) issue brief “Reforming Medigap Plans by Shifting Costs onto Beneficiaries: A Flawed Approach to Achieving Medicare Savings” (December 2012), available at: http://www.lcao.org/docs/LCAO-Medigap-Issue-Brief-12-12.pdf  Medigap Reform: Setting the Context, Kaiser Family Foundation, (September 2011), available at http://www.kff.org/medicare/8235.cfm. Medigap Reform: Potential Effects of Benefit Restrictions on Medicare Spending and Beneficiary Costs, Kaiser Family Foundation, (July 2007), available at http://www.kff.org/medicare/8208.cfm.  See, e.g., previous Weekly Alerts, including finding drug savings in Medicare (November 2011) http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/2012/11/15/deficit-reduction-and-medicare-save-money-without-harming-beneficiaries/ ; Prescription Drug Rebates (July 2011) http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/2011/07/21/debunking-medicare-myths-drug-rebates-for-dual-eligibles/ ; and additional options for achieving Medicare savings (June 2011) http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/2011/06/09/so-what-would-you-do-real-solutions-for-medicare-solvency-and-reducing-the-deficit/.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance
Another issue that should be kept in mind with Medigap policies, is that it is wiser to purchase a supplemental coverage within the first six months of being on Medicare Part B. This is when the insurers cannot deny the individual because of a preexistent health issue. Many insurance companies will tell the individual that they have better plans and better coverages. This is not true. The Medigap program is a national one and the coverage is the same no matter who one attains the policy from. The only difference may be the amount of the premium one is required to pay.