Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

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choral54
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Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by choral54 »

I am in the process of enrolling in Medicare and have my Parts A & B. Should I only be looking at cost when looking at Medigap policies? This seems to be what my SHIIP office is implying. Is it O.K. to enroll in a company I have never heard of and what are the implications of this? My other thought is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan the first year and then switch over before the end of that first year. I am healthy and only go into a doctor's office once per year for a physical. I get a bone density scan occasionally to monitor osteopenia. Thanks for any thoughts! I have read the Medicare for Dummies book as recommended on bogleheads.
Silk McCue
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by Silk McCue »

My 87 year old mother has AARP branded United Health Care Supplement F. She has numerous providers and we simply don’t have issues of any kind with this well used plan.

Cheers
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Watty
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by Watty »

choral54 wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:20 pm Is it O.K. to enroll in a company I have never heard of and what are the implications of this?
When I was helping my wife get enrolled in Medicare I also saw some companies that I had never heard of.

One concern I had was that it is possible that they might stop offering Medigap policies in the future so then we would have to enroll in a different Medigap plan.

I looked into this I may not have understood the details so you would want to look into it but my recollection is that if your provider stops selling your Medigap plan then there is an open enrollment period where you can buy a different plan with not worry about medical underwriting or preexisting conditions. As I recall(which could be mistaken) the big question was just how much it would cost. What was not clear to me though is if your new Medigap plan might not be a lot more expensive.

We ended up getting her Medigap policy from a major company that is unlikely to stop selling Medigap plans.
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GerryL
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by GerryL »

When I decided on a plan, I checked each of the lowest cost companies' websites. (If they had one. If they didn't, I knocked them off the list.) I narrowed it down to 3 and called each. My goal was to see what it was like dealing with them, online and on the phone.
I was on F-HD for five years and just switched to G-HD with the same company. (In Oregon it is possible to switch to a lower level plan without underwriting.)
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bertilak
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by bertilak »

GerryL wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:15 pm In Oregon it is possible to switch to a lower level plan without underwriting.
It also depends on the company. I had Plan N with Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS). They would not let me switch from Plan N to Plan F without going through underwriting. Talking to Humana (where I had my Part D) I learned that I could A) switch my Plan F from BCBS to Humana as a simple clerical process and then B) switch Humana's Plan N to to Plan F, again a simple clerical process.

I say "simple" but there was a TON of paperwork and a very long time on the phone. Double trouble because I switched both mine and my wife's plans. Much of this was listening to mandated disclaimers and answering "yes" to acknowledge and/or agree to each one. The poor Humana rep had to read all of them (twice!) and some were quite long, the small print on the back of medical insurance forms with "initial here" all over.

I used to get nickeled and dimed with all the little things Plan N didn't cover. It was not so much the cost but the constant barrage of notices and tiny bills. First a six page "this is not a bill" then a few days a three page bill. Life is so much simpler with Plan F.
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PSM
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by PSM »

I went through a review for my wife’s G plan last year, and just applied for a G for myself.
Even though each company offers the same G plan, there is more to think about than the premium:
1) financial strength of the company. 2) history of rate increases. 3) customer service 4) size of
customer base. Etc.
After these reviews, we chose Mutual of Omaha (dba United World Life here in NC).
We have applied in our age 65 underwriting-free period, and hope to keep this policy.
Unlike most companies, you can price and apply for the policy at the Mutual of Omaha website.
With my wife’s first few claims, there have been no problems. The interaction between Medicare
and MofO is smooth.
Last edited by PSM on Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:30 am, edited 3 times in total.
tj
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by tj »

bertilak wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:16 am
GerryL wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:15 pm In Oregon it is possible to switch to a lower level plan without underwriting.
It also depends on the company. I had Plan N with Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS). They would not let me switch from Plan N to Plan F without going through underwriting. Talking to Humana (where I had my Part D) I learned that I could A) switch my Plan F from BCBS to Humana as a simple clerical process and then B) switch Humana's Plan N to to Plan F, again a simple clerical process.

I say "simple" but there was a TON of paperwork and a very long time on the phone. Double trouble because I switched both mine and my wife's plans. Much of this was listening to mandated disclaimers and answering "yes" to acknowledge and/or agree to each one. The poor Humana rep had to read all of them (twice!) and some were quite long, the small print on the back of medical insurance forms with "initial here" all over.

I used to get nickeled and dimed with all the little things Plan N didn't cover. It was not so much the cost but the constant barrage of notices and tiny bills. First a six page "this is not a bill" then a few days a three page bill. Life is so much simpler with Plan F.
Plan F is not a lower level plan than Plan N.
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bertilak
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by bertilak »

tj wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:59 am
bertilak wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:16 am
GerryL wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:15 pm In Oregon it is possible to switch to a lower level plan without underwriting.
It also depends on the company. I had Plan N with Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS). They would not let me switch from Plan N to Plan F without going through underwriting. Talking to Humana (where I had my Part D) I learned that I could A) switch my Plan F from BCBS to Humana as a simple clerical process and then B) switch Humana's Plan N to to Plan F, again a simple clerical process.

I say "simple" but there was a TON of paperwork and a very long time on the phone. Double trouble because I switched both mine and my wife's plans. Much of this was listening to mandated disclaimers and answering "yes" to acknowledge and/or agree to each one. The poor Humana rep had to read all of them (twice!) and some were quite long, the small print on the back of medical insurance forms with "initial here" all over.

I used to get nickeled and dimed with all the little things Plan N didn't cover. It was not so much the cost but the constant barrage of notices and tiny bills. First a six page "this is not a bill" then a few days a three page bill. Life is so much simpler with Plan F.
Plan F is not a lower level plan than Plan N.
Good point.

I was focusing on the fact that different companies have different policies, above and beyond the standard Medicare requirements, specifically underwriting. I was surprised that Humana and BCS had different underwriting policies. I thought that aspect was defined by Medicare.
May neither drought nor rain nor blizzard disturb the joy juice in your gizzard. -- Squire Omar Barker (aka S.O.B.), the Cowboy Poet
diy60
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by diy60 »

choral54 wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:20 pm I am in the process of enrolling in Medicare and have my Parts A & B. Should I only be looking at cost when looking at Medigap policies? This seems to be what my SHIIP office is implying. Is it O.K. to enroll in a company I have never heard of and what are the implications of this? My other thought is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan the first year and then switch over before the end of that first year. I am healthy and only go into a doctor's office once per year for a physical. I get a bone density scan occasionally to monitor osteopenia. Thanks for any thoughts! I have read the Medicare for Dummies book as recommended on bogleheads.
I got a full list from my local SHIIP office, sorted by costs. I then picked 5 companies that I recognized from the lower 1/3 costs as well as rate increase history. I then went to each of those 5 or so websites, then called 3 that looked promising. I then eliminated any that I could not understand due to poor English. Still paying the same monthly premium for the last 3 years, so far so good. But looking back, I wasted an enormous amount time on this selection. The difference between the most optimal selection (you'll only know this when your dead) vs. picking something in the middle of the pack just isn't going to amount to a lot of dollars over your remaining lifetime.

Finally, if I knew I wanted Medigap I would not sign up for an MA plan, only to change later. Seems like a further waste of time.

Good luck.
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GerryL
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by GerryL »

bertilak wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:08 am
tj wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:59 am
bertilak wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:16 am
GerryL wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:15 pm In Oregon it is possible to switch to a lower level plan without underwriting.
It also depends on the company. I had Plan N with Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS). They would not let me switch from Plan N to Plan F without going through underwriting. Talking to Humana (where I had my Part D) I learned that I could A) switch my Plan F from BCBS to Humana as a simple clerical process and then B) switch Humana's Plan N to to Plan F, again a simple clerical process.

I say "simple" but there was a TON of paperwork and a very long time on the phone. Double trouble because I switched both mine and my wife's plans. Much of this was listening to mandated disclaimers and answering "yes" to acknowledge and/or agree to each one. The poor Humana rep had to read all of them (twice!) and some were quite long, the small print on the back of medical insurance forms with "initial here" all over.

I used to get nickeled and dimed with all the little things Plan N didn't cover. It was not so much the cost but the constant barrage of notices and tiny bills. First a six page "this is not a bill" then a few days a three page bill. Life is so much simpler with Plan F.
Plan F is not a lower level plan than Plan N.
Good point.

I was focusing on the fact that different companies have different policies, above and beyond the standard Medicare requirements, specifically underwriting. I was surprised that Humana and BCS had different underwriting policies. I thought that aspect was defined by Medicare.
The ability to switch to a lower-level plan is not up to company policy in Oregon. It is mandated by the state. When I signed up for F-HD at the start, I understood that I would not be able to switch (up) to an F plan but that I would be eligible for a sideways switch to another company. Once G-HD became available, that was considered lower than F-HD, so the switch was simple.

When dealing with Medicare, some decisions are non-reversible. It is important to understand the ins and outs in your particular state when you first sign up. Understanding a company's underwriting process? Next to impossible.
Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by Wilderness Librarian »

PSM wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:29 am I went through a review for my wife’s G plan last year, and just applied for a G for myself.
Even though each company offers the same G plan, there is more to think about than the premium:
1) financial strength of the company. 2) history of rate increases. 3) customer service 4) size of
customer base. Etc.
After these reviews, we chose Mutual of Omaha (dba United World Life here in NC).
We have applied in our age 65 underwriting-free period, and hope to keep this policy.
Unlike most companies, you can price and apply for the policy at the Mutual of Omaha website.
With my wife’s first few claims, there have been no problems. The interaction between Medicare
and MofO is smooth.
I went through the Medigap selection process about 3 yrs. ago. Signed up with MofO even though they were a mid-priced company for these same reasons. Like Watty above I realized there would be some protection but uncertain on the details if company pulled out of my area. Therefore wanted to go with a major national company. I don't trust my state insurance commission to help much if something goes wrong.
miket29
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by miket29 »

My other thought is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan the first year and then switch over before the end of that first year. I am healthy and only go into a doctor's office once per year for a physical.
There are a lot of people that were perfectly healthy, until they weren't. I know someone who's cancer diagnosis was only found on a test at an annual physical. The open enrollment period for Medigap only lasts 6 months after you are first eligible for Medicare, after than insurers can require underwriting. The odds of anything happening to you in that first year are probably low, but low is not zero. So it depends on your risk tolerance.
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choral54
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by choral54 »

Thank you for all of your responses. I have found a company through the Iowa Retired Teachers website that has a good rate. It is Accendo, but I don't know if I should be leery because it has only been in existence for a year. I understand it is affiliated with Aetna. Any thoughts about this situation?
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GerryL
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by GerryL »

choral54 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:40 am Thank you for all of your responses. I have found a company through the Iowa Retired Teachers website that has a good rate. It is Accendo, but I don't know if I should be leery because it has only been in existence for a year. I understand it is affiliated with Aetna. Any thoughts about this situation?
The company I selected back in 2015 was fairly new at the time. Also, it was in the news as having problems on the other side of the business, that is, the ACA marketplace policies. I kept an eye on the news, but opted to go with them. Still with them and all is fine.

Make sure you understand what your options are in your state for switching Medigap companies so that you can be sure you have options if you are unhappy.
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choral54
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by choral54 »

Do I need to go through an agent to get a supplement plan?
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GerryL
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Re: Choosing a Supplement G Medicare Company

Post by GerryL »

choral54 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:54 pm Do I need to go through an agent to get a supplement plan?
No. You can call the company directly. Or even, maybe, fill out application on their website. I like calling and talking to a live person, just to get a feel for their definition of "customer service."
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