Which Medigap Company You Should Choose
There are many companies that offer Medigap coverage. When considering which Medigap company to enroll with for your Medicare Supplement coverage, there are some things you need to take into consideration. We have provided this Medigap plan review page to help you know what to look for in the company behind your Medicare supplement coverage.
Medigap Coverage is Identical From Company to Company
Every Medigap Plan (Plans A through N) is standardized by federal legislation which governs how the plans cover you. This means that one company cannot change how they cover the gaps in Medicare. Choosing one company over another will not change how your gaps in Medicare are covered. As we have covered extensively in other articles on our website and videos, a lettered plan such as Plan G or Plan N has identical coverage from one company to another. Regardless of the company you choose, the coverage is the same for that letter.
Some companies may try to entice you with costly added benefits – like SilverSneakers or discounts on additional services. These additional “benefits” cost you more in the long run. As we mentioned in our article where we talk about buying your gym membership out of pocket, it is cheaper for you to buy a lower cost Medigap plan with identical coverage and pay for the membership out of pocket. Besides, just in the last 18 months, most companies have stopped offering Silver Sneakers. In most states, there is only one high-priced Medigap plan offering that extra, and there is no guarantee that they will continue, either.
Most gyms give a discount to Seniors. You can almost always find a gym membership for less than $25 a month, sometimes even less. Planet Fitness and others offer memberships for just $10 per month. Yet, the companies that offer an included gym membership are usually $25 to $45 more per month for otherwise identical coverage.
Customer Service Considerations
First of all, if you enroll with Integrity Senior Solutions, dealing with the insurance company is not something you will have to worry about. We take the stress out of dealing with problems related to your Medigap coverage. If there is ever an issue, you can call us directly.
If Medicare approves a claim, it cannot be denied by your Medicare supplement company. When your provider submits the bill for claim payment to Medicare, Medicare will pay its portion and then forward the claim directly to your insurance company. This process is referred to as “crossover” claims. It is all done electronically and seamlessly.
It is important to also note that there are a lot of complaints and bad Medigap plan reviews on the internet. In almost every single case, those complaints are referring to Medicare Advantage plans. “Advantage” plans are well known for their billing issues and claim denials. Many companies offer both Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans. Some of these companies include Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and UnitedHealthcare.
Complaints about these companies will be referring to their Medicare Advantage division. The companies do not have their Medigap and Advantage divisions working together. In most cases, those divisions are in totally different cities. The billing and claims processes are completely different, so they keep them separated.
I can tell you with 100% certainty after working in the Medigap arena for over 21 years that the claims handling by Medigap plans is almost flawless from our experience. In contrast, when we first tried the Medicare Advantage plans a few years ago, we had more claims in the first few months after those policies went into effect than we had in several years of working with Medigap only. It is one of the reasons we went back to concentrating on Medigap, despite the fact that Medicare Advantage pays the agent more than twice the commission. Giving our clients the best recommendations is paramount to our success. And it’s one of the reasons we chose the name Integrity Senior Solutions.
Replacement Cards and Billing Changes
The biggest reason you may feel the need to call a company directly is to get a replacement card or change your billing information. You don’t even have to call them in that situation, either. You can call us and we will handle your customer service needs so you don’t have to call the company. People sometimes tell us when we find that they have called directly that they didn’t want to bother us with a petty service issue. But that is what we are here for. We take care of even the small issues for you!
Your Agent is Paid By the Company to Help You
You have the option to go directly to the insurance company to enroll for coverage. Most companies offer direct enrollment. They are happy when you do that. You see, the agent is paid a commission for providing all of these valuable services to you. That commission is already figured into the premium you pay for coverage. So if the company can cut out the agent, they are happy. That is more profit for them.
Then when you need a replacement card or a claim somehow gets messed up, you only have one option – you call the company yourself. If it is a time of high call volume, you get to sit on hold and listen to music you don’t like so that you can talk to someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in looking out for you. When you enroll through us, you pay the exact same premium. But when an issue arises, you call us and we handle it from there. That is the value of using Integrity Senior Solutions as your independent agency.
Choice of Doctors, Specialists, and Hospitals
Unlike Medicare Advantage plans, there are no network restrictions. You can go to any doctor, specialist, hospital, or any other facility without worrying about whether they are in network. And you also need NO REFERRAL to go see a specialist! As long as your doctor accepts Medicare, your Medigap plan will pay the gaps according to the plan coverage you have.
Your doctor does not care who your Medigap provider is. They file the claim with Medicare and then it is out of their hands. They actually prefer the Medigap plans because it is less hassle for their office staff. As I mentioned, dealing with all the issues related to the Medicare Advantage plan claims is a major headache.
The BIG Factor – Financial Stability
The one area that needs the most attention when it comes to the Medigap plan review process is financial strength and rate stability. This is where you really need to be on your toes when it comes to choosing the best Medigap plan.
As we have covered extensively here and in other articles on our website, the plans are identical from company to company. What is not identical is the company offering the coverage. The premium varies from company to company mostly related to how much they are sending out each month in claims versus premium that is coming in. This is referred to as loss ratio. Loss ratio is one of the factors we consider and share with you when considering which company will work best for you. If a company is not making a profit with a high loss ratio, that is a telltale sign that a rate increase is imminent.
It is also important to check what the rate history of the company you are considering is. Sometimes that information is not easily available. Being active in the business for 21 years, we have seen companies play little tricks like opening a new company under a new name so they can bring lower rates. Then those who have had some health diagnosis and are not able to pass underwriting to move to the new company are stuck in an old plan where the rates are going to start going up exponentially. These are facts you will not get by calling the company directly to enroll. We have seen how some of these companies have badly treated their customers. We know who to avoid.
Lowest Rate is Not Always Best
Another issue is with new companies coming in with low rates. It happens almost every year. We get notified by the big insurance marketers that some new company is coming to certain states and their rates are going to blow everyone out of the water. And they do. They come in with low-ball rates. Then the less experienced agents who don’t know what is about to happen will enroll people into these cheap plans. They sell by price alone, and it is a pretty easy sell.
We are all about saving you as much as possible on your premiums. The problem arises 18-24 months down the road when that new company has written a good bit of business and then raises the rates up really high. We see it every year without fail. Cheaper is not always better. You have to find a balance.
As a general rule, we also like to stick with companies that are A-rated or better with A. M. Best rating company. We do have a few B+ carriers that we represent, but only those with whom we have seen keep rates steady and give good customer support. Sometimes our clients prefer going with the cheapest company regardless of their rating. That’s your choice and we can still help you with those. We prefer the more stable and higher rated companies when possible. We are always trying to look out for our clients first and foremost.
So What is the Best Medigap Company?
There is no definitive answer. I know. I know. You wanted a straight answer on it. Believe me, I’d love to give you one. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing which company will be best for you. But I will tell you what we recommend at Integrity Senior Solutions.
We do have a handful of companies we prefer to use when it is feasible. Our agency has worked with them long enough to know who has the best support and the best rate history. We want to recommend companies that take care of you, our client.
When we run your comparison, we like to look for one of the companies with a very long track record of taking care of their (and our) customers. We are not beholden to one company or group of companies. That is one of the beautiful things about working with an independent agency. We work for our clients. We are not employees of any insurance company.
You can find out which plans are offered in your area at what price by sending us a message through the contact form on this page or calling us at 1-888-228-6119. One of our licensed agents will provide you with a comparison of all the plans. We give you the information you need to make an informed, educated decision. I know that is what you want to do. Otherwise, you would not be reading this article and researching your options so thoroughly. We can help. Let us know how we can best serve you.