Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

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nc700
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Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

Post by nc700 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:25 pm

I'm turning 65 in November and am in the process of signing up for Medicare. I'm going to choose Plan G for my supplemental coverage (because Plan F is going away in 2020 and premiums may go up). I have to go through Towers Watson in selecting the provider in order to use funds from a previous employer. The Towers Watson rep is recommending United Healthcare based mainly on their lower premiums (They use the community-rated calculation for premiums). In the past I've had Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and was pretty happy with them. If I choose BCBS I would have to go with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina since that's where I live (They use the attained age premium calculation). Can anyone give me historical information on premium increases for these two companies? Maybe the premium amounts you've paid over the past 5 or 6 years, so that I could get a sense of what to expect in terms of increases. Also any comments on how happy or unhappy you've been with them would be helpful. Thanks

jebmke
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Re: Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

Post by jebmke » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:29 pm

I would check with your state insurance regulators. If anyone knows, they would.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

kaneohe
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Re: Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

Post by kaneohe » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:55 pm

Here is some info for UHC (prob. not in your community) : (note this is for plan F, not G) $135/mo to $187/mo, an increase of 38.5% or about
6.7%/yr. Of this increase 3% /yr is the decrease in the AARP UHC discount . I believe they gave an 18% initial "discount" which disappears at the 3%
rate/yr so the actual internal increase is about 3.7%/yr.

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celia
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Re: Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

Post by celia » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:38 pm

nc700 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:25 pm
The Towers Watson rep is recommending United Healthcare based mainly on their lower premiums (They use the community-rated calculation for premiums). In the past I've had Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and was pretty happy with them. If I choose BCBS I would have to go with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina since that's where I live (They use the attained age premium calculation).
You are "comparing" apples to oranges.
Calif. Dept. of Ins. website wrote: The rating methodology determines how premium rates may change over time. The three types of rating methodology are as follows:

Attained Age (AA): These policies use pricing methods which automatically increase the premium as you age. These policies are usually less expensive during the first year, but the premium will increase automatically as you enter new age brackets. These automatic increases may be combined with premium increases based on inflation and higher medical costs, resulting in exceptionally steep increases as you get older.

You may be "priced out" and find it costly to go elsewhere at an advanced age. California law requires a notice on each policy or certificate disclosing any automatic premium increases based on age.

Issue Age (IA): These policies use a pricing method based on your age when the policy is first issued. The premium may increase with inflation, but not because you enter an older age bracket. Policies using this method appear slightly more expensive initially, but premiums do not automatically increase and are more reasonable in an older age bracket.
Community-Rate (CR): These policies, also called No-Age Rated policies, charge everyone the same rate, regardless of their age.
http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumer ... dology.cfm

So, the Attained Age policy, by definition, has rates that will automatically increase each year based on your age AND on the cost of services increasing each year. The Community-Rated policy doesn't take age into account, so the premiums depend primarily on the cost of services (and the healthiness of people in your "community"). It probably starts out at a higher premium (because 65yo and 95yo are being lumped together), but although there are many more 65yo than 95yr, many 65yo MAY start out on a cheaper AA plan, then switch over to IA or CR when their premium goes too high.

You should also look to see if your state's Department of Insurance website has a comparison of supplemental plans. California's does!

If you are really asking about the difference between carriers, you can check out the anticipated ability to continue paying claims by signing up for a free account at AMBest.com.

nc700
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Re: Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

Post by nc700 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:34 am

Thanks for your response. Based on the way premiums are calculated it's hard to avoid the apples and oranges problem. Even though the United Healthcare premiums are "Community-Rate", they do offer lower premiums to younger people by giving about a 30% discount when you first sign up. Then each year that discount is lowered by 3% until it is gone (which takes about 12 years). I can graph this fairly easily and even account for an across the board increase of maybe 3 or 4 percent per year. But on the BCBS side I only know the starting premium. I can't find any data on what the age based increase would be. That's why I was trying to get some "real world" numbers here that I could plug into my graph. If anyone knows of a website that has historical data on premiums please let me know. Thanks.

bklyn96
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Re: Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

Post by bklyn96 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:41 pm

Not much data here but perhaps a bit helpful—in New York AARP/UHC Plan F was $261.00 per month in 2015. New York approved a 4% increase to $271.50 per month in 2016. You get a discount of $2.00 per month if you pay by EFT.

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fandango
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Re: Medicare Supplemental - BCBS vs United Healthcare

Post by fandango » Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:49 pm

Personal observation:

Been with BC/BS for 5 years. Never had a single problem with claims administration.

In fact, the only issue that I have ever had with Medicare was when the doctor's office mis-coded some procedures/visits. This was quickly corrected by Medicare and BC?BS once the received the corrected input.

My premium increases have been small and a little less than other providers.

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