- May 25, 2020
Today we’re going to answer the question, “What is the best Medicare Supplemental Plan G?” Many of you have already decided that you're going to get a Plan G, so you want to find out which is the best plan. Unfortunately, we have to share a secret with you: there really is no “best” G Plan.
Certain types will work well for some people, while they won’t for others, meaning the most important thing you can do is educate yourself about the differences in the plans so you can decide which is the right one for you. That’s what this article is all about, so let’s get started!
How Are G Plans the Same?
Before we look at the differences in the various G plans, let’s first uncover the ways they are similar.
All G Plans have four identical factors, the first being coverage. There are six gaps in original Medicare, meaning there are six different things Medicare doesn’t pay for. If you decide to take a G plan, five of those six gaps are covered, no matter which plan you go with.
The only gap you're responsible for is called the Part B deductible. This year, the deductible is $230, meaning you're responsible for the first $230 and then after that, your plan will kick in and cover the rest.
Regardless of the G plan you choose (or which company you go with), that $230 will be your only out-of-pocket expense.
The second similarity between all G plans is the network. All G plans have the same exact network. Why? Simply because when you get a Supplemental plan, there is no network with the plan. This means you can go to any provider that takes Medicare, no matter which G plan you choose.
The third way G plans are similar is their customer service. What do we mean by this? If you have an issue going on and you need to call and talk to the carrier, you'll call the 800 number that's on the back of your card. Your call is sent to the call center, where you could speak with a well trained, very helpful customer service rep. Let’s say your issue is resolved and you hang up. Then 10 minutes later you realize you forgot to ask them one of your questions. You call the number back and once again reach the call center. This time the customer service rep is rude, ill-trained, and isn’t very helpful. This is how it goes with any plan G you pick. Every provider’s calls are sent to a call center, meaning the customer service you receive depends on the person who happens to pick up the call.
The fourth and final way G plans are similar is their claims experience. Ninety-nine percent of the time when you have a problem with your claim, a bill was filed with Medicare but Medicare denied the claim, so your Supplemental plan G also denied the claim. This means you ended up with a bill in the mail for the entire balance.
Now when this happens, more than likely it's a coding problem, meaning somebody in the doctor’s office, hospital, or billing department didn’t submit the claim with the right code. This is an easily correctable problem. You’ll simply call the provider and tell them the claim should have been covered and ask them to check if it was billed correctly. Typically, they’ll be able to quickly identify the problem and both Medicare and the Supplemental plan will now pay.
In short, claims problems happen in billing departments, not with a carrier, and they are easily fixed by calling up your provider and checking to make sure the billing department did their job. This means the process of fixing claims problems is the same no matter which G plan you choose.
How Are G Plans Different?
Now that we know the four similarities between the G plans, let's look at the differences. There are only two main differences between various G plans.
The first difference between G plans is the initial premium. Initial premiums (or initial rates) are always based on gender, tobacco use status, and where you live. Sometimes if your spouse is going on the same plan, the carrier will offer a multi-policy discount, meaning your initial rate might be affected by that factor as well. Different providers will offer different initial premium rates based on these various factors.
Stability of Premiums
The second difference is the stability of the premiums. In other words, what are your rates going to look like in three, five, or ten years down the road? And while no one knows for sure what the rates will look like in the future, you can track the stability of the companies and get some idea of the security of your rates.
Keep in mind, premiums will inevitably rise due to medical inflation, but some companies will be very modest in their increases, while others will not be. This means it’s important to look at the companies and try to determine which ones offer more stability.
Now there are two ways premiums increase. In most states, when you have a policy anniversary or a birthday, your monthly rate increases slightly. This might be a $40 or $50 increase per year, meaning your monthly rate might go up $4 or so. This is normal and unavoidable.
But the second increase is more avoidable and something you need to consider when buying a G plan. Here’s how it works: You are the policyholder and you (like every other policyholder) pays into a group. The insurance company pays money out through claims. So there’s money going in (thanks to the policy owners) and money going out (thanks to claims).
Now, you may experience a group rate increase if more money goes out than comes in, meaning claims exceeded the premiums. When this happens, the company can go over to the state insurance commissioner and petition for a rate increase to cover those groups. If the insurance commissioner approves this particular increase, you and everyone else in the group will experience a rate increase.
What determines if these increases happen? Quite simply, the health of the group.
Now, when you go into the group, you don't have any idea of the health status of the group. You don't know how much cancer is in there or how many knees and hips are going to be replaced. But even though you don’t know the group’s health status, you can make sure to sign up with a company that has a larger group. Why would you want to be in a larger group? The larger the group, the more policyholders there are, meaning the risk is more spread out so there is less chance of an increase. Typically, companies that have a smaller group have more drastic and more frequent rate increases.
In short, it’s important to do your research on the company you sign with to make sure they have a history of premium stability and are big enough to have a large group so there is less risk of rate increases.
So to answer our original question, “What is the best Medicare Supplemental Plan G?”, there really isn’t one best plan. Instead, you need to weigh the differences and determine which company offers stable rates and good initial premiums. This will help you determine which Plan G is the right one for you.
We understand how difficult making the right Medicare decisions can be. To take the next step, watch our full course here, or schedule a free one-on-one call with a certified Medicare School Guide who can answer your questions, compare plans options, and even help you enroll. Click here to get started.
MedicareSchool.com started in 2009 to provide an unbiased and education-focused service to individuals approaching Medicare enrollment. Since then, MedicareSchool.com has helped over 100,000 people find and enroll in the best Medicare plans that fit their budget.