Have a Medicare Supplement Here is What You Need to Know
Most likely if you are Medicare aged (65 or older) you have received something in the mail talking about the “changes to Medicare supplements” and “the need for immediate action”. I want to clear the air as to what is happening and what you do and don’t need to do.
Medicare supplements are changing, as part of the MMA 2003 (Medicare Modernization Act of 2003). The current Medicare supplement that you may have is what is referred to as “standardized” plans. They were designed by Medicare and have been basically the same since 1992. Medicare has changed a lot in the past 18 years, but the supplements have remained virtually the same. The new design was approved in 2008 and all supplements applied for and issued with effective dates of 6/1/10 or later will be of the “modernized” design.
A question that I have been getting asked is is this part of the new health care reform law that was signed into law by President Obama. The short and long answer is no.
As a part of this modernization of the Medicare supplement plans, there are some plans that will not be offered for new sales after 6/1/2010 due to them being identical to other plans and there is no sense in two plans looking alike. Plans E, J, H, and I will not be sold after 6/1/10 since they will look just like other plans.
If you want to keep your current plan, you can choose this route, and in some circumstances it may be more beneficial for you to do that. Medicare supplements are “guarantee renewable” which means that YOU are the only person that can cancel it and once it was issued to you it can’t be changed in any way.
The two new plans that are being added to the lineup of Medicare supplements are plans M and N.
The new lineup will be A, B, C, D, F, High Deductible F, G, K, L, M, and N. In addition some of the plans will lose benefits. For example, plans D and G lose at-home-recovery since it is a benefit under Medicare it did not need to be covered as an “extra” item under Medicare supplements. Plan G’s benefit for excess charges will go to 100% from 80%. All plans gain Hospice as a core benefit. Not all carriers will offer all Medicare supplement plans.
So there are the facts. Now, what do you need to do?
- Be careful when talking to someone who says you need to act immediately.
- You can stay right where you are at, or you can change plans or carriers.
- If you invite an agent in to show you the new plans listen carefully and then take a day or two to think it over.
Making a decision to change plans or companies is a mathematical decision when taking into account the premiums paid vs. the benefits gained or lost. It is also a personal decision and should not wholly rely on the “plan that your neighbor or friend has”. Each individual is unique and has a unique situation. You should seek the advice of a competent insurance professional.