Founders Life and Health Blog
How to Pick a Medigap Plan (Look for these 3 things!)
If you are just getting started looking at Medicare and what's available to you in Medicare, you may or may not have seen this chart here, which outlines all of the Medicare supplement letter plans. There is a lot going on in this chart. I know. This generally outlines all 10 of the Medicare letter plans that are available and all of the varying benefits. Decoding this bad boy can seem a little bit overwhelming, but that is exactly what we're going to be talking about today.
Deciding How To Pick A Medigap Plan
Hi, there. My name is Jo Hutchison, and I am an independent health and Medicare advisor with Founders Life & Health, based here in beautiful St. Louis, Missouri. Today, we're going to be talking about how to pick the right Medicare Supplement Plan in three easy steps. And stick around to the end of the blog post because we are going to talk about three helpful hints to save you money and time.
Before we get started with that, if you need a little bit more understanding about the difference between a Medicare Supplement Plan and a Medicare Advantage Plan, I will put a link to a video that I did right here. Click on that and do a quick review of what we're talking about, the difference really between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement.
Which of these letter plans is going to work best for you?
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about step one. Step one is to figure out which of these letter plans is going to work best for you. And we can start off by making it a little bit simpler and eliminating two of the plans that are on here. If you're just now aging into Medicare, Plan F and Plan C are not going to be available to you. Those are only available to people that were eligible for Medicare before January 1st, 2020. So this is going to make it a little bit easier. We can go ahead and eliminate those off of the chart.
Next we're going to look at what's left here. And each of these plans, as you can see, offer varying degrees of benefits, all of these little empty white boxes mean that's where you don't get a benefit. So most of the time, people end up looking at either a Plan N or a Plan G because they offer the most bang for your buck as far as all of the benefits that are going to be included. Pulling out Plans N and Plan G, which are mostly the most popular and leaving the rest of these, you can see that, based on the benefits they provide versus the premium that you're going to pay every month, a lot of times it just doesn't make sense to go with some of these. So, like I said, most of the time people end up looking at either a Plan G or a Plan N.
If you've decided that you've narrowed it down to a Plan G and a Plan N, this might be where you want to get a Medicare advisor involved to help look at what your needs are and what might work better for you. Somebody that doesn't go to the doctor quite as much, might be more interested in a Plan N. Sometimes the premiums are going to be lower on a Plan N than they are with a Plan G.
And just like before, if you want a little bit more information, I did another video on the difference between a Plan N and a Plan G, and I will link that for you right here.
Pick a Carrier/Insurance Company
Now we have picked the letter plan that we want, it's time to move on to step two, which is to pick the carrier that you want to use. The carrier just means the insurance company. The really important thing to keep in mind with looking at carriers is that Medicare requires every carrier to have the exact same benefits for each letter plan. So a United Health Care Plan N is going to be the same as an Aetna Plan N, which is going to be the same as a Humana Plan N, and so on, and so on. So the benefits are not going to be different from carrier to carrier.
What is the big difference in all of these carriers?
It's really going to come down to price. They are all going to be priced differently. And the prices vary based on where you live and when you are enrolling in your Medicare Supplement Plan. If you are enrolling in your initial enrollment period, right when you're turning 65 or eligible for Medicare, then the price is going to be the lowest. As you age and you are susceptible to medical underwriting, the price is going to go up a little bit. They're going to rate you up based on what's going on with you health-wise.
And going back to location, a Medicare Supplement Plan is going to be priced differently based on where you are in the country and even sometimes within the same state. They're all based on prices by county. An Aetna Plan G in one county in Florida might be a different price than it is in a different county. Also, could be a totally different price than what it is in a different county in Mississippi. So again, that's where you're going to get your Medicare advisor involved, to price out those plans and see what's available in your area.
Pick a Prescription Plan
Okay. You've picked your plan letter. You have picked your carrier, and now we're ready to move on to step three. Step three is picking a prescription drug plan. Medicare Supplement Plans do not cover prescription drugs, and you will want to go ahead and add a prescription drug plan when you're signing up for your Medicare Supplement.
Even if you don't take any prescriptions at all right now, you are going to want to go ahead and get enrolled in a Medicare Part D Plan because, if you don't, and you miss your initial enrollment period, you will pay a penalty down the road. The penalty is 1% for every month that you delayed taking Part D of the average Part D Plan. So, like I said, even if you don't take any medications right now, go ahead and get enrolled in one. They are very inexpensive. I have had clients that have enrolled in plans as low as $4, $5, and $6 a month. So go ahead and get that taken care of so that you are not subject to that penalty down the road.
This is another place where you're going to want to get your Medicare advisor involved. Your advisor can record all the medications that you're currently on and plug it in, and they can figure out which carrier is going to provide the best coverage at the lowest cost to you annually. There's a lot of detailed information that goes into picking the prescription drug plan, but it's super important to get that right, right out of the gate. So make sure that you involve somebody that knows what they're doing.
3 Helpful Hints to Save You Time and Money
And now, three helpful hints to help you save time and money when enrolling in your Medicare Supplement.
Check out our YouTube channel for tons of helpful videos or click below for a video on this topic.
About the Author
Hello! I’m Jo Hutchison and I’m the owner of Founders Life & Health. I’m a proud baseball mom, lover of live music and all things potato.. My husband and I have two great boys and two lazy hound dogs. My boys play a LOT of baseball so when I’m not helping my clients we can almost always be found on a baseball field somewhere in the Midwest.