There Are Many Medicare Options Are Available

Question: I am turning 65 in a few months. My parents always were happy with their AARP Medigap plan. I am just not sure I want to join AARP. They send so much “other” mail. What do you suggest?

Answer: Well congratulations on approaching Medicare age. I believe you will be pleased and maybe a little overwhelmed with the options available to you now that you will have Original Medicare.

Let me first clarify a couple of things. You will get Medicare Part A & B because you are 65 years old. The insurance your parents had was Medicare and a Medicare Supplement Plan (nicknamed Medigap). This type of insurance is secondary to Original Medicare and there are a number of different types of Medigap insurance policies available.

The Medigaps are divided into categories delineated by letters of the alphabet. The letters are A, B, C, D, F, (High Deductible F), G, K, L, M, & N. Each of the letters provide a different level of coverage. Plan F is the most comprehensive and probably one of the most popular plans. I have attached a link to the www.Medicare.gov website that provides you to the Medigap chart to get further information on the individual plans; medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/how-to-compare-medigap-policies.

You may also have heard that for those that age into Medicare after 1-1-2020 will not have Plans C & F available to them. The Plan C & F will be available to you because you are turning 65 and eligible for Medicare earlier than 1-1-20.

I have been doing this interesting job of helping people with their Medicare for more than 20 years, and in that time the company, AARP United Healthcare Options has had the lowest prices on their Medigap products compared with all the other companies that sell these plans. So for most, the “Go-To” company was AARP United Healthcare Options. Many people with this insurance say they “Have AARP” insurance, they actually don’t, they have a Medigap policy with United Healthcare Options that is partnering with AARP to provide the product and pricing.

So in looking at the pricing available up to this month, the best price for the different plans they sold were the AARP United Healthcare Options pricing. As of July 1, 2019, that is no longer true.

Univera has come into the market with a new offering and their price is very competitive. Univera is now offering Plan G for $184.70. That is $40 below the AARP UHC price of Plan F ($224). If you take the only difference between Plan G and Plan F is the Part B Deductible of $185 annually, it makes the Univera Plan G a better overall pricing structure.

That is Amazing. For the first time in my 20 years of doing this, there is a company (Univera) that is competitively priced, actually priced better than AARP United Healthcare Options.

Now I do not necessarily recommend racing right now to drop out of your current Medicare Supplement Plan (if you already have one) to move to this Univera Medigap policy. You certainly have the freedom to do that. You could save money on the premiums and your overall costs. It is an option of course.

With Medicare Supplement Plans the coverage is always complete across the country. You don’t have to think about any Network issues, other than the Original Medicare network. Medicare is the gatekeeper. If a provider takes Medicare (which almost all do across the whole country), the provider will take your Medicare Supplement Insurance regardless of where in the country the care takes place. We are used to thinking of Univera as a ‘local company’ providing local coverage, but with Medicare Supplement Plans the coverage is National.

The other difference between these coverage options is the AARP membership. In order to be enrolled in an AARP United Healthcare Options Medigap plan, you must be a member of AARP. If you elect the Univera coverage, there is no additional membership you need to join. For some that is a sticking point. Some may not agree with “AARP politics”. I do not agree or disagree, they just have had the best pricing structure for a long, long time. Now you can get a pleasant pricing structure without having to join AARP.

I am obviously excited about this new offering. I think that this new pricing structure offers individuals with Medicare another great option. For me, it is about offering good choices with good pricing structures. These new plan offerings from Univera increase your choices and your pricing options with Medicare. That is great news.

One last thing to remember; You will also need to figure out what you are doing for your Prescription Drug Coverage. The Medigap plans do not include Prescription Drug Coverage, so you will need to find a Stand Alone Plan for your medication as well, but that is another article.

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 720-9797 or e-mail her at janells@lutheran-jamestown.org.

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