So you’ve made the decision that you need supplemental insurance. That’s great! Recognizing that you have a need for additional care and budgeting for it in advance is a great way to set yourself up for success, especially as you age. That being said, buying the best Medigap plan to suit your needs isn’t as easy as it sounds. Due to the large quantity of options available to those comparing the Medigap plans, it can be easy to lose sight of what matters. If you’re new to the world of insurance, there’s no need to panic! There are some simple guidelines that will help you make the right choice when it counts. If you’ve just started your insurance hunt, or have been searching for a while, here are 4 things to avoid when opting for the right Medigap plan.
Don’t Look for Ratings
Though it might be tempting to start looking at plans based on ratings and benefits, the fact is that Medigap plans don’t utilize rating information because the plans have the same ratings across the board. Additionally, rules for the distribution are not uniform, meaning that the federal government sets protections. Further rules may be added from state to state, so the purchasing experience can vary from state to state, but the coverage provided is always the same (depending, of course, on which Medigap plan you select).
Pay Attention to Pricing
Arguably the most important of deciding which Medigap Plan best suits your needs is the pricing. While the Medigap fees will vary depending on inclusions, it’s also important that you scrutinize the numbers heavily when looking into the cost of supplemental coverage in general. Different premium pricing methods are advantageous to different groups. For example, if you are worried about cost increasing as you age you may want to look into community-based pricing models that won’t factor in age at all. If you are looking for something less expensive in the short term, an attained-age plan might be the way to go. However, buyers should be aware that due to steadily increasing costs, these plans are typically the most expensive over time. If a pricing model based on inflation sounds fair to you, an issue-age rated model would be your best bet.
Time Your Purchase Right
If you already have base insurance you will likely know that those younger than 65 are not eligible for Medicare. The same age restrictions apply to Medigap, with even less leniency given to individuals who have qualified for Medicare based on disability. On the opposite side of the age barrier, there is such a thing as waiting too long to apply for Medigap. Within 6 months of turning 65 individuals are offered a grace period or “guaranteed issue”. Essentially this means that regardless of previously held conditions or health issues, insurance providers are not allowed to refuse you or make you pay more for your insurance during this time. To put it plainly: you should be prepared to buy insurance from the day you turn sixty-five unless you’re prepared to go without it or pay significantly more.
Get What You Pay For
Medigap offers a wide range of plans for a reason, and largely that is to accommodate a variety of income levels. However, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for extensive coverage for specialized procedures or other regularly uninsured types of care, you might have to spend a little extra. Each plan has separate deductibles and value-adds that will be important to different people, so as long as you know what you want in order of priority, you can easily find a balance between coverage and cost.
Supplemental insurance might seem intimidating, but it exists for a very good reason. As long as you resist the urge to treat a Medigap plan the same way you would your basic Medicare plan, you’ll be well equipped to effectively analyze the information. The devil is always in the details, so ensure you keep a keen eye on pricing and timing. Aside from that, it’s important to make sure that you know what you need- and how much it will cost. With Medigap plans, you will truly get what you pay for. The more money you spend, the better the coverage you’ll receive, so it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with your health background before making any purchases. Medigap plans ultimately exist to give you extra care and coverage, so provided you do your reading and eliminate avoidable mistakes, you can easily find a plan that will make you happy.