At the top of every Medicare agent’s frequently asked question list is: “Will my Medicare Supplement rate increase”? The short answer to this question, Yes. Sometimes we do see rates go down, but more often due to inflation or the way companies rate based on age increases, we see rates increase year over year. There are things you can do as an agent to better educate and help your clients navigate Medicare Supplement rates and potential rate increases.
- Check rates and run a Medicare Supplement review annually - Typically, if a carrier is going to take a rate increase, the client will be affected on the first year anniversary of their policy effective date, or on the expiration of their rate guarantee period. Some carriers, such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, are banded by age, so you know what age to expect a rate increase and how much. A CRM (client relationship manager) can be very helpful in keeping up with your client’s policy anniversary dates. As long as your client can pass underwriting, they can move onto a lower premium Medicare Supplement policy anytime of the year. This also gives you a chance to touch base with your clients, and ask about other coverages they might need, such as dental, ancillary or life insurance.
- Check household discounts – Household discounts are a very common discount among Medicare Supplement carriers, and can range anywhere from 5%-12%. Be sure to check the conditions for the discount, as each carrier is a little different. Some carriers require both members of the household to be on the plan, others simply require someone else over the age of 18 to be living in the house.
- Look into other the standardized plans – Over the last few years, Plan F has been the most popular plan among Medicare Supplement, however, Plan G is increasing in popularity. With the only difference in Plan F and Plan G being the Part B deductible, your client could possibly save $200-$300/year in premium. Other plans that involve a little more cost sharing such as Plan N can save a lot on premium, but do require the client to pay a co-pay for an office visit and the emergency room. Keep in mind that MACRA legislation will change what plans will be available in 2020.
- Look into a Medicare Advantage plan – If a Medicare Supplement premium is simply too expensive to work for your client, a Medicare Advantage plan can be a great option. Most of the time the Part D plan is included in the Medicare Advantage plan, which is convenient and additionally cost effective. Just make sure they are aware that with the lower (sometimes $0) premium comes the network of doctors they will need to stay within. Medicare Advantage does have certain times of the year clients may enroll (October 15th-December 7th), unless they qualify for a Special Election Period, and there is only one health question regarding end stage renal disease.
Here at The Brokerage, we offer free use of our Medicare Supplement quote engine to our contracted agents. We run monthly training on how to best use this tool to take advantage of all the information it provides you. The next training is on Wednesday, September 21st. You may register here for this training, or simply give us a call at 1-800-442-4915 and ask for the Medicare Division for a personal walkthrough of the quote engine.
-Emily Mathis, The Brokerage, Inc. Medicare Division