When you are approaching your 65th birthday, it seems like the junk mail will never end. You can choose to read through all the Medicare plan advertising pieces, or ignore them. You can ask your friends what plan they have, you can research online, but the final decision is still yours to make. Here is what I think you should keep in mind.
Plan level benefits are standardized by Medicare. F plans offer the most complete coverage. With Medicare parts A and B, plus a supplemental F plan, you have full coverage of all Medicare approved expenses. But this might be over insurance for some people in which case, a G plan or N plan might be better. In exchange for a lower premium, you give up coverage of some expenses, but those costs are fixed and predictable.
Once enrolled, you can always change your Medicare supplement if you can pass medical underwriting. In other words, your health history will be screened, and you could be denied. Each year on your birthday though, you have 30 days to change your plan to a similar plan, or a plan with fewer benefits. Because of this, we advise that you start with the most coverage you can afford, and downgrade later if the premiums get too high.
Once you choose your level of coverage, you need to pick which insurer to enroll with. I suggest considering the following 4 factors in choosing your Medicare supplement insurer.
How long have they done business in California? You want them to have a solid history in our state.
Are there rates reasonable? They may not be the lowest, but should be lower than the average.
How stable are their rates, year to year? Large increases in the past might suggest future rate hikes.
And finally, how good is their customer and broker support? Your broker or agent should be able to get them on the phone easily to resolve billing, enrollment and benefit issues. This varies widely from one insurer to another and can also change year to year. And you should also be able to call your insurer and get timely answers.
Remember, you don’t have to be concerned about whether your doctor is in network or not. Any provider in the country that accepts Medicare assignment must also accept your Medicare supplement. In most cases, they will bill Medicare directly, then Medicare coordinates the benefits with your supplement. No HMO or PPO provider networks to worry about.
Randy Foulds of Foulds & Feldmann Insurance Agency is a health plan specialist in La Quinta. license #0G69218. You can reach him at 760-777-9400.