Dear Tom and Alan:
I’m about to reach that magic age of 65 in March and everyone tells me how my monthly health payment (over $2,000 per month!) is going to drop like a rock. Never thought I’d look so forward to being a senior!
Do you have the 2018 rates for the different companies?
I’m told I need a supplement and a drug plan.
Tom: We sure do have the rates.
The most important thing for you to do, if you haven’t already, is to sign up for Medicare A and B.
It’s a red, white and blue card you get from Social Security. Once you have your card, you can sign up for just about anything and it’s guaranteed they’ll accept you.
Al: For years, my default recommendation for those in your position has been to sign up for Medicare Supplement Plan F…if you can afford it.
The reason is with Medicare parts A & B plus Plan F, you will have essentially 100 percent medical coverage.
So let’s start with the different companies’ rates for Plan F at age 65, and then show some alternatives.
These rates are as of this writing, Jan. 19, and, as the disclaimers go, “subject to change without notice.” Also, these are the non-tobacco rates — so don’t start smoking!
Tom: Anthem Blue Cross is $156.62. Mutual of Omaha is $169.89. Cigna is $162.49. Health Net is $163. United Health Care (AARP) is $138.94 with a 4.6 percent increase on Feb. 1. Blue Shield is $157, but we recently received notice that their Plan F rates are increasing an average of 4.8 percent as of April 1.
Al: Two reasons why my “default” choice is changing: Congress has decided to remove Plan F as an option beginning 2020 and Blue Cross has just introduced “innovative Plan F,” which has all the benefits of regular Plan F, but now includes vision and hearing. And it is $10 cheaper than the company’s current Plan F.
Tom: Some companies, not Blue Cross, offer a “high-deductible Plan F” which is the same as regular Plan F but with a deductible of about $2,200 before benefits kick in.
The attraction of this plan is that it’s one-third of the price.
For example, Blue Shield’s Plan F at $157 and going up, costs so much more than their high-deductible Plan F which is $48 and not going up.
Al: Different companies offer Plans, like Plan C, G, N and others. The rates and benefits are all over the map.
Our reader will be inundated with mail leading up to his birthday because they all want his business.
Two things worth looking at are “Medicare and You” and “Choosing a Medigap Policy” both put out by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Tom: While shopping around, I discovered that Plan G through Mutual of Omaha is $1 cheaper than any other plan!
Guess we’ll have to talk about drug plans some other time.