Is Your Plan Right for You? How to Evaluate Your Medicare Supplement Insurance
If you enrolled in Medicare and opted for Medicare supplement insurance, it would be nice to assume you don’t need to go through that process again. But having the right coverage as you age isn’t always as simple as “set it and forget it.” Across the Medicare industry, plan features and costs can change. And your own budget and health care needs can change too. Making sure you have the right coverage can feel like aiming at a moving target.
Medicare supplement consumers have the option to choose a new Medicare supplement insurance plan at any time. But switching to a new plan often means you’ll be subject to underwriting, which can affect your coverage and costs. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you research your options to determine if a change is right for you.
Know this: All Medicare supplement plans have the same coverage
Many consumers don’t realize that every Medicare supplement plan type offers the same basic benefits, regardless of the provider. In other words, no matter which insurance company you get your particular Medicare supplement insurance plan from, the coverage is the same.
What does your current plan offer beyond the basic coverage?
Medicare supplement insurance providers distinguish themselves from one another in two general areas: 1) customer service and 2) the extra features and benefits they offer. So if you’ve found it difficult to get answers or satisfactory customer service from your Medicare supplement insurance provider, it might be time to switch. As far as extra features and benefits, consider if you need any of the following and, if you do, whether they’re offered by your current insurer:
- Hearing and hearing aid benefits
- Household discount
- Fitness and wellness programs, like Silver Sneakers and Mutually Well
Does your current plan meet your needs?
If your coverage offers what you need at a price that fits your budget, you may not need to make a change. But if your research reveals that your current plan will have changes in the coming year that could be out of sync with your needs, including coverage or cost, it may be time to consider shopping. But first ask your current provider if they’ll be adding any new features that can help benefit your overall health. In addition, your current provider may also offer complementary products to help cover other needs — like a prescription drug plan, dental coverage or vision coverage.
Can you afford the premium, deductible, copay and other costs?
When you’re looking for a Medicare supplement insurance plan that fits your budget, look beyond the monthly premium. You might prefer a high-deductible plan because it has a lower monthly premium. However, if you need to visit a doctor, you may have to pay a copay or pay any costs beyond certain coverage limits, and you’ll want to be aware of those costs. It’s also important to know if your age will be a factor in how your monthly premium rate is set and increased over time.
Understanding the costs and perks of plans from different providers helps you make an informed decision about whether to switch your Medicare supplement insurance coverage. If you’re thinking of switching, you can assess your needs to help find a new plan with the Medicare Advice Center, which offers recommendations about which Medicare supplement option might work best for you.