How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

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buckeye7983
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How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

When signing up for Medigap supplemental insurance, many recommend using an insurance broker. By my understanding many/most/all insurance brokers are only affiliated with a few insurance companies, so they may not recommend the best option available.

How did you choose a Medigap insurance broker to make sure you enrolled in the best plan for you?

Do you think it is better to use a local broker or one of the national brokers? If national, what broker(s) would you recommend?

Thanks!
jebmke
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by jebmke »

I didn’t use an insurance broker. I did my own research, consulted with our local SHIP person and then dealt directly with the provider.
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nvboglehead
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by nvboglehead »

My broker for supplemental Medicare insurance specializes in medigap plans and is not nearby. I did my due diligence before I considered using them. The firm offered me several options in plan types and gave me quotes from the various insurance companies. You could contact a couple of brokers to make sure that you are getting all the options.

https://medicarenationwide.com

https://seniorsavingsnetwork.org

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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by bbb »

jebmke wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:29 am I didn’t use an insurance broker. I did my own research, consulted with our local SHIP person and then dealt directly with the provider.
This. I contacted several insurance brokers and not one mentioned the lowest cost choice. I got a list of all the insurance companies that offered plans in my state from my state insurance department and found the best choice for me.
dbr
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by dbr »

I also looked at the available vendors and decided on a company. It was the same company that administered my employer healthcare plan.

Lowest cost was far from a major criterion. Lowest cost might even be the worst deciding factor you could address unless your ability to finance your healthcare is basically up against a wall.

Many people I know obtain their supplementary coverage from their former employer. I was not confident the retiree insurance plan could be trusted and, indeed, they eventually terminated it. A friend uses the one plan dictated by their former employer, has no resources to do better, and gets by. A family member is a federal retiree and has elected to take FEHB, which is excellent. I know other people whose supplementary plan is Medicaid elderly waiver assistance.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by jebmke »

The good news is that the coverage is the same from one insurer to the next (unlike Part D where it is basically the wild, wild west). So it really comes down to a choice of price and service (administration). In general, any of the majors will probably provide the same level of administrative service. Different plans (same coverage) can be priced differently.

We were "lucky" inasmuch as Medicare Advantage is not offered in this area at all so I didn't face that first major branch of the decision tree -- MA vs. GAP.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by prudent »

I used boomerbenefits.com. They have a ton of youtube videos to help with understand supplement plans and MA plans so I absorbed many of those before calling. When I talked to one of their reps they were very patient and responsive in explaining options and answering questions. I also liked that they tell you they are willing to help with claims problems, appeals, finding an in-network provider if you need a particular service or equipment, etc. once you are enrolled. Maybe other places do that as well but I don't recall any of them talking about it.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by dbr »

I decided early on the MA was less likely to give me the medical care we wanted compared to Medigap. Having been on the plan for 12 years now, I have no complaints at all regarding our choices. As I said getting the cheapest possible plan was never a criterion.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by Big Dog »

I did my own research, met with a free SHIP counselor, contacted a couple of brokers and spoke with them, decided they offered nothing of value to me, and purchased direct. One thing we have in CA is that the rates of all approved Medigap insurers are shown on the state website. Perhaps your state offers something similar.

https://interactive.web.insurance.ca.go ... f?p=111:30
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by Watty »

I would highly recommend reading the book "Medicare for Dummies" despite the title, it really helped me a lot and you can skip over large sections of it that don't apply to you. Be sure you are looking at the most current edition if you get it used or from a library.

There are really three major decisions to make;

1) Traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage.

2) What Medicare supplement(Medigap) if you choose traditional.

3) What part D (prescription drug) plan. You need to do this each year since you can change them each year.

Once you have figured these out selecting a company for a Medigap plan is pretty easy since their payments are more or less automatic since if Medicare pays for something then the Medigap company automatically pays their part too.

At least for me the main things I looked for were;

1) How stable was the company? I did not want to have a Medigap plan with a company that might not be selling it 10 years from now.

2) How will the prices likely increase as you get older? There are complex ways of setting the rates which may vary by company and state so you have to look for not only the cheapest plan, but one that will still have reasonable cost when you are 80 or 90 years old.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by DebiT »

dbr wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:35 am I decided early on the MA was less likely to give me the medical care we wanted compared to Medigap. Having been on the plan for 12 years now, I have no complaints at all regarding our choices. As I said getting the cheapest possible plan was never a criterion.
I’ll be doing this in just a few months. I’ve read all the books, but I still am confused as to what the difference is between the various MediGap provider plans. Do they all cover the same things? If so, then wouldn’t one pick by price? If they don’t, what are the differences?

I should also add that I’m in California, which apparently means that I can change MediGap plans once a year around my birthday with no underwriting.
Age 64, life turned upside down 3/2/19, thanking God for what I've learned from this group.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by jebmke »

DebiT wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:17 pm
dbr wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:35 am I decided early on the MA was less likely to give me the medical care we wanted compared to Medigap. Having been on the plan for 12 years now, I have no complaints at all regarding our choices. As I said getting the cheapest possible plan was never a criterion.
I’ll be doing this in just a few months. I’ve read all the books, but I still am confused as to what the difference is between the various MediGap provider plans. Do they all cover the same things? If so, then wouldn’t one pick by price? If they don’t, what are the differences?

I should also add that I’m in California, which apparently means that I can change MediGap plans once a year around my birthday with no underwriting.
Gap plans are the same coverage. G with Aetna will have same coverage as G with Cigna, etc.

Price and administration are the only real distinguishing features. Although, I would add that if there was risk that an insurer might pull out of your state, that should be considered.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by dbr »

DebiT wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:17 pm
dbr wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:35 am I decided early on the MA was less likely to give me the medical care we wanted compared to Medigap. Having been on the plan for 12 years now, I have no complaints at all regarding our choices. As I said getting the cheapest possible plan was never a criterion.
I’ll be doing this in just a few months. I’ve read all the books, but I still am confused as to what the difference is between the various MediGap provider plans. Do they all cover the same things? If so, then wouldn’t one pick by price? If they don’t, what are the differences?

I should also add that I’m in California, which apparently means that I can change MediGap plans once a year around my birthday with no underwriting.
I chose a provider that I was confident would offer competent administration based on previous experience.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

jebmke wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:29 am I didn’t use an insurance broker. I did my own research, consulted with our local SHIP person and then dealt directly with the provider.
Jebmke-

Thank you for your response. What resources did you find useful in your research?
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by cadreamer2015 »

I didn’t use an insurance broker. I did my own research, consulted with our local SHIP person and then dealt directly with the provider.
+1

Though our SHIP counselor wasn’t that sharp; she didn’t know you could appeal IRMAA for life changing events.

I found Medicare for Dummies helpful.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by jebmke »

buckeye7983 wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:26 pm
jebmke wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:29 am I didn’t use an insurance broker. I did my own research, consulted with our local SHIP person and then dealt directly with the provider.
Jebmke-

Thank you for your response. What resources did you find useful in your research?
I started with www.medicare.gov and also a copy of "Medicare and You" which you can download from that site or obtain in paper form.

My state insurance department also issues a document each year that provides approved rates for each of the insurers who are allowed to sell policies in the state (insurance is regulated by the state but coverage is defined by Federal policy).

I also had significant conversations with some friends who had been on Medicare for a while and could tell me how they approached it.

Once I developed my own idea, including a preliminary selection of plan type (I chose "G") and insurance company, I made an appointment with the SHIP coordinator and sat down and reviewed my logic etc.

To be honest, the trickiest part of the whole thing was trying to understand the Part D coverage which is separate from the Gap plan. There is no uniformity and the coverage is difficult to evaluate. In the end, I decided that Part D is a loser for me so I went with the cheapest plan I could find.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by jebmke »

cadreamer2015 wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:33 pm
I didn’t use an insurance broker. I did my own research, consulted with our local SHIP person and then dealt directly with the provider.
+1

Though our SHIP counselor wasn’t that sharp; she didn’t know you could appeal IRMAA for life changing events.

I found Medicare for Dummies helpful.
I suspect that there is a lot of variability among the SHIP counselors.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by ModifiedDuration »

A good place to start is the Federal Government’s publication Medicare and You:

https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10050 ... nd-you.pdf

As previously mentioned, Medicare For Dummies is an excellent book to help get up to speed. Another good book is Medicare Demystified.

Talking to a SHIP counselor in your area might by useful.

Then, you might be ready to talk to one of the Medigap insurance brokers that people here have had good experience with, such as Medicare Nationwide or Boomer Benefits. Both of these brokers represent a ton of insurance companies.

Most Boglehead-types seem to end up with Plan G, Plan G-high deductible, or Plan N.

Personally, I went with Plan G- high deductible, working with one of the owners of Medicare Nationwide, Jackson Edwards, to sign-up and have been very pleased with the process and my decision.
Last edited by ModifiedDuration on Tue Jan 11, 2022 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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buckeye7983
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

Once a Medigap "letter" category has been chosen (for example "G"), it seems like main selection criteria include price, AM Best rating, how long company has offered policies in state, quality of service/communication, and history of rate increases.

Are there other important factors? Are there good resources for comparing quality of service/communication and history of rate increases?
ModifiedDuration
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by ModifiedDuration »

buckeye7983 wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:57 pm Once a Medigap "letter" category has been chosen (for example "G"), it seems like main selection criteria include price, AM Best rating, how long company has offered policies in state, quality of service/communication, and history of rate increases.

Are there other important factors? Are there good resources for comparing quality of service/communication and history of rate increases?
Quality of service/ communication is really not that important with Medigap policies.

This is not like dealing with regular health insurance. With Medigap coverage, there is nothing for the insurance company to approve. If a charge is Medicare-approved, the charge goes through your Medigap policy. No ifs, ands, or buts.

The whole process is seamless. A healthcare provider sends a bill to Medicare, Medicare processes and pays, then Medicare sends it to your Medigap insurance company, your Medigap insurance company processes the charge, and finally, you get a bill, if applicable, from the provider. The whole process can take months.

If you work with a Medigap broker and actually do have a problem with the Medigap insurance company, you can reach out to your broker for assistance.

(Besides premium bills and statements regarding medical bills processed, I have had no direct interactions with my Medigap insurance company since applying, other than getting periodic phone calls from them asking if I have any questions or anything they can help me with.)

As far as getting historical price increase information, your SHIP counselor might be able to help. Also, if you work with an insurance broker, they should be able to provide this information. In addition, you might be able to get this information online from your state’s Insurance Department.

By the way, I would advise you to stay away from Mutual of Omaha (or any affiliated companies). They have been known to play games that result in large premium increases to existing Medigap policyholders.
Last edited by ModifiedDuration on Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:21 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by ModifiedDuration »

Regarding price increase history, if you really want to be fancy, you could sign-up for the Silver Package at CSG Actuarial for the same Medicare Supplement software system that insurance agents use for $30 for one state for a month:

https://www.csgactuarial.com/software/m ... r/pricing/
Last edited by ModifiedDuration on Tue Jan 11, 2022 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by GerryL »

bbb wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:09 am
jebmke wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:29 am I didn’t use an insurance broker. I did my own research, consulted with our local SHIP person and then dealt directly with the provider.
This. I contacted several insurance brokers and not one mentioned the lowest cost choice. I got a list of all the insurance companies that offered plans in my state from my state insurance department and found the best choice for me.
Ditto. I never thought of using a broker because I didn't know such a service was available. (And since I was aiming towards a high-deductible plan, I probably would have had trouble finding one who wouldn't try to talk me out of it.)

I used the state list. Narrowed it down based on price.
Checked their websites. If no website, they were crossed off the list. (This was in 2014)
Evaluated ease of use of the website and presentation of information. Shortened the list.
Called each company to see how they responded on the phone.
Of those that passed my test, went with the lowest cost.

I was lucky that when I called my state SHIP office I was able to arrange to talk with someone who happened to have the same HD plan from the same company. Both she and her husband had been with the plan for many years and -- privately, not as a SHIP volunteer -- was willing to recommend them.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by cashmoney »

buckeye7983 wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:27 am When signing up for Medigap supplemental insurance, many recommend using an insurance broker. By my understanding many/most/all insurance brokers are only affiliated with a few insurance companies, so they may not recommend the best option available.

How did you choose a Medigap insurance broker to make sure you enrolled in the best plan for you?

Do you think it is better to use a local broker or one of the national brokers? If national, what broker(s) would you recommend?

Thanks!

No reason to use a national agency .For one they are much more likely to have new inexperienced agents who very likely wont be working there the next year and even if they are you usually don't ever reconnect with the agent who wrote the application.This means you lose the leverage of having an agent who is being paid renewal commissions and has a service level commitment with the carrier that establishes a strong incentive for agent to resolve issues for policy holders.Second if you are considering Medicare Advantage having an agent with local knowledge of plan networks ( past changes and pending changes) is very important and unlike Medigap plans which are standardized some MA plans benefits can look good on paper but have a terrible reputation in the community that a national agent would not be aware of.BTW some of the "national agencies " are really lead generation operations that just sell leads to agents around the country.

If you decide to use a local agent find one who has been in business at least three years because they are more likely to continue in the business long term and find one who sells both medicare advantage and medigap.Many agents out there don't want to sell Medicare Advantage because of all the continuing annual certifications /trainings required and also because of all the additional marketing restrictions on agents who market MA and part D.These medigap only agents often will hate on Medicare Advantage plans so you won't get an unbias opinion from them.Also if they are not certified to sell MA they are not going to be certified to sell Part D neither.They can help you enroll in part D plan but they won't actually be your agent of record who has a service level commitment and authority to speak with insurance carrier to help resolve issues.

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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

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Put on my headset
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by DebiT »

cashmoney wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 7:48 pm
Also if they are not certified to sell MA they are not going to be certified to sell Part D neither.They can help you enroll in part D plan but they won't actually be your agent of record who has a service level commitment and authority to speak with insurance carrier to help resolve issues.

disclaimer licensed insurance agent
Thank you, this is super helpful
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siracha
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by siracha »

Hi- I actually work for a major health insurance company that sells all products for consumer over 65. I would recommend finding a broker in your area that sells all major plans. This is very common in today' marketplace. I also would not totally exclude Medicare Advantage. Depending on your situation (health status, age, medications, etc.) you may be able to save quite a bit of money choosing a Medicare Advantage option. Good Luck.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by cashmoney »

jebmke wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:25 pm
DebiT wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:17 pm
dbr wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:35 am I decided early on the MA was less likely to give me the medical care we wanted compared to Medigap. Having been on the plan for 12 years now, I have no complaints at all regarding our choices. As I said getting the cheapest possible plan was never a criterion.
I’ll be doing this in just a few months. I’ve read all the books, but I still am confused as to what the difference is between the various MediGap provider plans. Do they all cover the same things? If so, then wouldn’t one pick by price? If they don’t, what are the differences?

I should also add that I’m in California, which apparently means that I can change MediGap plans once a year around my birthday with no underwriting.
Gap plans are the same coverage. G with Aetna will have same coverage as G with Cigna, etc.

Price and administration are the only real distinguishing features. Although, I would add that if there was risk that an insurer might pull out of your state, that should be considered.

Current premium rate is the biggest single differentiator but premium rate history and rate stability is sometimes even more important.It is best to choose a carrier who has a history of small consistent premium increases on the same book of business for a long term.Some med supp carriers will play a type of shell game where they start with very low rates and once the rates for that book of business become experienced there are big rate increases so in order to sell more policies they will they close that book of business to be able to open a new book of business were they can once again get approved by state DOI to offer low rates to new policyholders since there is no claims experience..Sometimes they will open book under the same name and sometimes under a different name.Mutual of Omaha is known for doing this sometimes keeping the Mutual of Omaha name for the new book of business and sometimes opening new book under the United World or United of Omaha name.Problem is existing policy holders have to go through underwriting to qualify for the lower rates of new book of business.In Ca. this wouldn't matter so much but in many states it would.

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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by Eagle33 »

An important item concerning evaluating Medigap plan pricing. The lowest long term cost may not be the lowest price to start. Especially important in the many states that don't let you change without underwriting.

Medicare.gov has a page regarding Costs of Medigap policies
Each insurance company decides how it will set the price, or premium, for its Medigap policies. It’s important to ask how an insurance company prices its policies. The way they set the price affects how much you pay now and in the future.

Medigap policies can be priced or "rated" in 3 ways:
* Community-rated (also called “no age-rated”)
* Issue-age-rated (also called “entry age-rated”)
* Attained-age-rated
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buckeye7983
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

Eagle33 wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:15 pm An important item concerning evaluating Medigap plan pricing. The lowest long term cost may not be the lowest price to start. Especially important in the many states that don't let you change without underwriting.

Medicare.gov has a page regarding Costs of Medigap policies
Each insurance company decides how it will set the price, or premium, for its Medigap policies. It’s important to ask how an insurance company prices its policies. The way they set the price affects how much you pay now and in the future.

Medigap policies can be priced or "rated" in 3 ways:
* Community-rated (also called “no age-rated”)
* Issue-age-rated (also called “entry age-rated”)
* Attained-age-rated
Thanks to everyone for all the useful information. One thing I have learned in my research is that Community-rated is not necessarily what it seems.

Medicare.gov states:
How it’s priced

Generally the same monthly premium is charged to everyone who has the Medigap policy, regardless of age.

What this pricing may mean for you

Your premium isn’t based on your age. Premiums may go up because of inflation and other factors, but not because of your age.

Example
Mr. Smith is 65. He buys a Medigap policy and pays a $165 monthly premium.

Mrs. Perez is 72. She buys the same Medigap policy as Mr. Smith. She also pays a $165 monthly premium because, with this type of Medigap policy, everyone pays the same price regardless of age.
https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-ot ... p-policies

But that does not necessarily happen. For example, AARP-United Healthcare Medigap Plan G "has the same premium for everyone", but then gives discounts to younger plan subscribers (45% discount at age 65 which gradually declines to no discount at age 86 and over). Seems like a sneaky way to achieve the same result!
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by RetiredArtist »

DebiT wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:17 pm
dbr wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:35 am I decided early on the MA was less likely to give me the medical care we wanted compared to Medigap. Having been on the plan for 12 years now, I have no complaints at all regarding our choices. As I said getting the cheapest possible plan was never a criterion.
I’ll be doing this in just a few months. I’ve read all the books, but I still am confused as to what the difference is between the various MediGap provider plans. Do they all cover the same things? If so, then wouldn’t one pick by price? If they don’t, what are the differences?

I should also add that I’m in California, which apparently means that I can change MediGap plans once a year around my birthday with no underwriting.
All the Medigap Plan A's or G's (for example) provide the exact same coverage. Price varies by zip code. If I wanted to move 50 miles, Mutual of Omaha had the best price. Future price increases are likely to be higher with age rated policies than "community experience" ones. AARP United Healthcare policies start out with a discount, which decreases every year for 10 years, until one pays "full price".
I also live in California, & recently switched to Blue Cross Blue Shield. There was a 2 month lag time during which AARP continued to withdraw premiums from my bank account. I had assumed they could "turn off" scooping money out of my account as quickly as they turned it on, but I was wrong.
After phone calls & letters, AARP returned the money to my bank account.
Besides saving me money, my Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan has much better customer service/phone support.
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buckeye7983
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

RetiredArtist wrote:
Besides saving me money, my Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan has much better customer service/phone support.
Is there a website that provides reviews of the larger Medigap providers, including quality of customer service/phone support?
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GerryL
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by GerryL »

buckeye7983 wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:12 pm RetiredArtist wrote:
Besides saving me money, my Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan has much better customer service/phone support.
Is there a website that provides reviews of the larger Medigap providers, including quality of customer service/phone support?
Ha. If only.
At the time I was trying to make a decision -- 2014 -- there was no website for finding objective reviews or ratings. Interested to hear if that has changed. Maybe some states offer this.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by dbr »

Right there is no rating agency. I went with BCBS because we had already been with them -- the evil you know and all that, but seriously there have been no complaints. BCBS is also one of the administrators for the Federal Employees Health Benefits a family member has for Supplementary Insurance. No complaints there either.
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by InMyDreams »

buckeye7983 wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:27 am When signing up for Medigap supplemental insurance, many recommend using an insurance broker. By my understanding many/most/all insurance brokers are only affiliated with a few insurance companies, so they may not recommend the best option available.

How did you choose a Medigap insurance broker to make sure you enrolled in the best plan for you?

Do you think it is better to use a local broker or one of the national brokers? If national, what broker(s) would you recommend?

Thanks!
Things that have already mentioned, which focus on doing your on research, and using least-biased sources that you can find:
1) Medicare for Dummies, for your personal education
2) Local SHIP office, for least biased opinion (IMO!)
3) Contact chosen insurance directly to price and buy the selected plan.

I am biased against MA plans, but there are many BHers who like their MA plans.

I have a friend who went to a very recommended insurance agent - the agent was signing her up for a Medigap Plan B (B???) and no Medicare Part D at all. I suggested that she contact SHIP, and questioned the plan choices. Lowest cost Part D can be purchased in my area for $7/mon - seems like a reasonable cost to keep your foot in the door.
montanagirl
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by montanagirl »

I spoke with a broker I knew but didn't agree with his advice to stay on the cheap MA I used st 65 because I'd planned to switch to a Plan F.

Back then the Medicare book CMS sends out used to list medigap and with comparative pricing so I found a company that way.

Now CMS doesn't do that but I talk to people and find out who's being competitive and I managed to switch companies when the premium got too high. I learned that Mutual of Omaha was very reasonable and their service has been fine.

I respected the agent but sensed he really didn't respect me and thought I should just take the cheapest offering.
DetroitRick
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Location: SE Michigan

Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by DetroitRick »

I didn't. After meeting with one broker, speaking to another via phone, etc., I felt 100% comfortable in making the Medigap decision on my own. Frankly, after getting some misinformation, I preferred just filling in my own knowledge gaps rather than trying to vet the good brokers. Like every other profession on earth, Medicare brokers are a mix. I'm used to shopping insurance and had access to all the relevant price history via my state's insurance rate database anyway. So, this really wasn't a big deal for me. A bit time-consuming, but worth it.

I found Medigap to be relatively straight forward, other than the uncertainty of future rate increases (beyond those obvious age-related increases for attained age policies). As with all insurance, except that my medigap choice would be more "permanent" (in the sense that my current state, and possible prospective states, did not preclude medical underwriting after initial enrollment period).

If I would have gone with a broker, I would have looked for
1)lack of bias between medigap and Medicare Advantage - open to each depending on client circumstances
2)strong knowledge of local network quality to properly evaluate Medicare Advantage options
3)somebody who actively works with MOST of the major medigap issuers.
4)longevity in the field
Poster cashmoney has nailed it above, in their advice earlier in the thread on what to look for. Totally agree.
IntlRetiree
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by IntlRetiree »

Did not use an insurance broker for Medigap policy.
Went to medicare.gov > Health & Drug Plans > Find a Medicare Supplement Plan, entered by zip code then looked at each of the providers for High-F (this was in Jan 2018). Contacted each of the companies and selected the only one that offered a policy based on issue-age, which also had the cheapest premium. Premium hasn't changed yet :-)
IntlRetiree
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by IntlRetiree »

btw - you can find out about the insurance companies' loss ratios and profitability by state on the NAIC website:
https://content.naic.org/publications - browse the free publications
Topic Author
buckeye7983
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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:05 pm btw - you can find out about the insurance companies' loss ratios and profitability by state on the NAIC website:
https://content.naic.org/publications - browse the free publications
IntlRetiree-

Great info! Thanks!

Does anyone have knowledge or opinion on acceptable "Loss Incurred to Premiums Earned %"? For example, this number for UnitedHealthcare Ins. Co. is 70.4%.

Thanks!
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PVolker
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by PVolker »

Eagle33 wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:15 pm An important item concerning evaluating Medigap plan pricing. The lowest long term cost may not be the lowest price to start. Especially important in the many states that don't let you change without underwriting.

Medicare.gov has a page regarding Costs of Medigap policies
Each insurance company decides how it will set the price, or premium, for its Medigap policies. It’s important to ask how an insurance company prices its policies. The way they set the price affects how much you pay now and in the future.

Medigap policies can be priced or "rated" in 3 ways:
* Community-rated (also called “no age-rated”)
* Issue-age-rated (also called “entry age-rated”)
* Attained-age-rated
Thank you. It baffled me that this thread went on as long as it has without somebody tossing out this valuable bit of information.
Topic Author
buckeye7983
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

Alas! The only issue-age-rated Medigap Plan G policy in my area is from a company with about 15,000 lives covered. In comparison, UnitedHealthcare (for example) has over 1,000,000 lives under coverage. It seems there must be some risk in choosing a relatively small insurer. Is this a reasonable assumption?
ModifiedDuration
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by ModifiedDuration »

buckeye7983 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:50 pm Alas! The only issue-age-rated Medigap Plan G policy in my area is from a company with about 15,000 lives covered. In comparison, UnitedHealthcare (for example) has over 1,000,000 lives under coverage. It seems there must be some risk in choosing a relatively small insurer. Is this a reasonable assumption?
It’s really not as much of an issue as one might think, because if:

“Your Medigap insurance company goes bankrupt and you lose your coverage, or if your Medigap insurance policy coverage otherwise ends through no fault of your own”

then you have Guaranteed Issue Rights:

“In these situations, an insurance company:
Must sell you a Medigap policy
Must cover all your pre-existing health conditions
Can't charge you more for a Medigap policy because of past or present health problems”

You would be able to buy Plans G or G-HD in this circumstance, but not Plan N.

https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-ot ... sue-rights#
IntlRetiree
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by IntlRetiree »

buckeye7983 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:27 pm
IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:05 pm btw - you can find out about the insurance companies' loss ratios and profitability by state on the NAIC website:
https://content.naic.org/publications - browse the free publications
IntlRetiree-

Great info! Thanks!

Does anyone have knowledge or opinion on acceptable "Loss Incurred to Premiums Earned %"? For example, this number for UnitedHealthcare Ins. Co. is 70.4%.

Thanks!
I read somewhere that an acceptable MLR (Medical Loss Ratio) is 65% - 75%. Gov't/CMS tries to get companies to spend as much of the premiums as possible on actual medical costs. I don't know if this page applies to Supplement/Medigap plans. https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and- ... Loss-Ratio
Topic Author
buckeye7983
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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

ModifiedDuration wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:12 pm
buckeye7983 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:50 pm Alas! The only issue-age-rated Medigap Plan G policy in my area is from a company with about 15,000 lives covered. In comparison, UnitedHealthcare (for example) has over 1,000,000 lives under coverage. It seems there must be some risk in choosing a relatively small insurer. Is this a reasonable assumption?
It’s really not as much of an issue as one might think, because if:

“Your Medigap insurance company goes bankrupt and you lose your coverage, or if your Medigap insurance policy coverage otherwise ends through no fault of your own”

then you have Guaranteed Issue Rights:

“In these situations, an insurance company:
Must sell you a Medigap policy
Must cover all your pre-existing health conditions
Can't charge you more for a Medigap policy because of past or present health problems”

You would be able to buy Plans G or G-HD in this circumstance, but not Plan N.

https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-ot ... sue-rights#
Modified Duration-

Thanks for this info!

I wonder how stressful it would be going through an insurance company bankruptcy as a customer. Would providers not accept that insurance as payment and one would have to self-pay until able to sign up with new company? Does anyone have info/personal experience with this?
Topic Author
buckeye7983
Posts: 129
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by buckeye7983 »

IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:28 pm
buckeye7983 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:27 pm
IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:05 pm btw - you can find out about the insurance companies' loss ratios and profitability by state on the NAIC website:
https://content.naic.org/publications - browse the free publications
IntlRetiree-

Great info! Thanks!

Does anyone have knowledge or opinion on acceptable "Loss Incurred to Premiums Earned %"? For example, this number for UnitedHealthcare Ins. Co. is 70.4%.

Thanks!
I read somewhere that an acceptable MLR (Medical Loss Ratio) is 65% - 75%. Gov't/CMS tries to get companies to spend as much of the premiums as possible on actual medical costs. I don't know if this page applies to Supplement/Medigap plans. https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and- ... Loss-Ratio
Wow. MLR for ACA plans are required to be 80-85%. Most of the Medigap plans are in the 60-80% range (some are in the 50's!). Medigap must be much more profitable than ACA for insurance companies.

It's funny (sad?) that providing payment for patients is referred to as a "loss". :oops:

Thanks for the info IntlRetiree!
vested1
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Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by vested1 »

My wife and I are both required to use our (different) ex-employer's broker for Medicare supplemental insurance in order to qualify for their separate HRA programs which reimburse a total of $11,400 in medical/prescription costs each year. Both ex-employers provide the HRA for the spouse as well, but only if the spouse uses the broker of that ex-employer. In other words, both of us have to use both brokers for at least one supplemental to get the full amount of reimbursement from both HRA's. I am a year older than my wife exactly.

My former employer uses AON, and we both go through them for our Part D coverage. I use Wellcare and my wife uses Humana. Our individual prescriptions make these two choices the most economical for those prescriptions. My Part D premium went down in 2022 and my wife's went up. The majority of the total of both HRA's is used by one of my wife's prescriptions.

My wife's former employer uses Via Benefits, and we both go through them and are signed up with AARP United HealthCare Plan N on our individual policies. Both plan's premium went up in 2022, but mine increased a few dollars more because I'm a year older.

If I had a choice I would use Via Benefits as a broker. They are much easier to contact and they rarely make mistakes. The same can't be said for AON.
IntlRetiree
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 5:39 pm

Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by IntlRetiree »

buckeye7983 wrote: Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:38 am
IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:28 pm
buckeye7983 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:27 pm
IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:05 pm btw - you can find out about the insurance companies' loss ratios and profitability by state on the NAIC website:
https://content.naic.org/publications - browse the free publications
IntlRetiree-

Great info! Thanks!

Does anyone have knowledge or opinion on acceptable "Loss Incurred to Premiums Earned %"? For example, this number for UnitedHealthcare Ins. Co. is 70.4%.

Thanks!
I read somewhere that an acceptable MLR (Medical Loss Ratio) is 65% - 75%. Gov't/CMS tries to get companies to spend as much of the premiums as possible on actual medical costs. I don't know if this page applies to Supplement/Medigap plans. https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and- ... Loss-Ratio
Wow. MLR for ACA plans are required to be 80-85%. Most of the Medigap plans are in the 60-80% range (some are in the 50's!). Medigap must be much more profitable than ACA for insurance companies.

It's funny (sad?) that providing payment for patients is referred to as a "loss". :oops:

Thanks for the info IntlRetiree!
Big difference in what each provides - ACA providers have some control over the medical costs for a medicare recipient; Medigap providers don't.
tj
Posts: 5447
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:10 am

Re: How did you choose insurance broker for Medigap?

Post by tj »

IntlRetiree wrote: Sun Jan 16, 2022 10:21 am
buckeye7983 wrote: Sun Jan 16, 2022 8:38 am
IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:28 pm
buckeye7983 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:27 pm
IntlRetiree wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:05 pm btw - you can find out about the insurance companies' loss ratios and profitability by state on the NAIC website:
https://content.naic.org/publications - browse the free publications
IntlRetiree-

Great info! Thanks!

Does anyone have knowledge or opinion on acceptable "Loss Incurred to Premiums Earned %"? For example, this number for UnitedHealthcare Ins. Co. is 70.4%.

Thanks!
I read somewhere that an acceptable MLR (Medical Loss Ratio) is 65% - 75%. Gov't/CMS tries to get companies to spend as much of the premiums as possible on actual medical costs. I don't know if this page applies to Supplement/Medigap plans. https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and- ... Loss-Ratio
Wow. MLR for ACA plans are required to be 80-85%. Most of the Medigap plans are in the 60-80% range (some are in the 50's!). Medigap must be much more profitable than ACA for insurance companies.

It's funny (sad?) that providing payment for patients is referred to as a "loss". :oops:

Thanks for the info IntlRetiree!
Big difference in what each provides - ACA providers have some control over the medical costs for a medicare recipient; Medigap providers don't.
ACA doesn't cover Medicare recipients to my knowledge.
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