Original Medicare is the foundation of your coverage: You must have Part A and B of original medicare inorder to enroll in either a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage Plan.
The best time to buy a Medicare Supplement policy: is during the six month period in which you are new to Medicare Part B. During this 6 month period, the insurance company is not allowed to use medical underwriting to decide whether to accept your application or how much to charge you for your Medicare Supplement policy.
Supplement Plans are all created equal: Medicare Supplement plans are federally regulated and therefore identical from company to company. Plan F with Company #1 will have the exact same benefits as Plan F with Company #2. Prices will vary between carriers, however. You should shop the market to find the best price for your demographic.
Medicare Supplement Premiums: Rates for Medicare Supplement Plans are based on age, gender, location, tobacco use, health status (if you are outside of the six month open enrollment period), and the plan type you select. It pays to shop around for your best rates!
Rate increase history… Check before you buy: Typically, rates for Medicare Supplement policies go up each year. However, some companies have historically higher rate increases than others. It is important to research the companies you are interested in and become knowledgeable about their rate increase history.
Do you work for me or the insurance company? Most insurance agents represent one insurance company. They will only show you rates for one company – the company they work for. An insurance broker represents the client instead of the insurance company. Insurance brokers are contracted with several different insurance companies which allows them to help you compare rates from several different companies.
Open Enrollment: Medicare Open Enrollment happens every year form October 15th- December 7th. This is the only time of year you can switch Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans. It is important to reevaluate your coverage each year to make sure you are still getting the best rates and benefits.
Make sure you have RX coverage: You may have to pay a late enrollment penalty of 1% for each month you could have had prescription drug coverage but did not. This is a permanent penalty which will be added to your premium if you ever do take out prescription drug coverage. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription coverage which satisfies the drug coverage requirement.
Networks are important for Medicare Advantage: Each Medicare Advantage company has its own network of doctors and hospitals. Be sure to check that your current doctors and hospitals are in-network for the plan you are choosing. Depending on the plan you choose, you may also be required to get a referral before seeing a specialist.
Underwriting for Medicare Advantage: Medicare Advantage plans require very little medical underwriting. Typically, End Stage Renal Disease is the only condition which will prohibit you from qualifying for a Medicare Advantage plan.