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 about 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 you may have is referred to as a “standardized” plan. They were designed by Medicare and have been the same since 1992. Medicare has changed significantly in the past 18 years, but the supplements have remained virtually the same. The new design was approved in 2008, and all accessories applied for and issued with effective dates of 6/1/10 or later will be the “modernized” design.

Does Obamacare affect Medicare?

A question that I have been getting asked is whether this is 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, some plans will not be offered for new sales after 6/1/2010 due to them being identical to other projects, and there is no sense in the two plans looking alike. Plans E, J, H, and I will not be sold after 6/1/10 since they will look like other plans.

If you want to keep your current plan, you can choose this route; in some circumstances, it may be more beneficial for you to do that. Medicare supplements are “guaranteed 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.

M and N are two new plans being added to the lineup of Medicare supplements.

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 gift 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 or change plans or carriers.
  • If you invite an agent to show you the new plans listen carefully and then take a day or two to think it over.

Deciding to change plans or companies is a mathematical decision when considering 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, and you should seek the advice of Brian Gruss.