Seniors Seek to Reduce Healthcare Costs as Anthem Blue Cross Increases Premiums

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Anthem Blue Cross implemented an across-the-board increase in Californai Medicare supplement insurance plan premiums March 1, 2009, causing many California senior citizens to look for new ways to maximize healthcare dollars and minimize expenses.

I received a notification that my insurance was being increased again. I went on the Internet…and now I'm saving over $100 a month.

Anthem Blue Cross implemented an across-the-board increase in California Medicare supplement insurance plan premiums March 1, 2009, causing many senior citizens to look for new ways to maximize healthcare dollars and minimize expenses.

Even for seniors not affected by the Anthem Blue Cross rate increase, in the current economy it could be beneficial to shop around, since costs vary between plans and insurance companies. Those 65 and older can compare rates, plans and benefits from several prominent insurance companies by visiting http://www.MedicareSupplementPlans.com, a Web site specializing in Medicare supplement insurance, also known as Medigap insurance.

The alternatives may be to call the various insurance companies one by one or to probe the yellow pages for a local health insurance broker, who may or may not have expertise with Medicare supplement insurance plans.

According to Sharon Davis, 67, of Rancho Palos Verdes, "I received a notification that my insurance was being increased again. I went on the Internet…and now I'm saving over $100 a month."

Still, there is no way to entirely avoid rising insurance rates. AARP and AETNA both increased their California Medicare supplement insurance plan premiums on Jan. 1, 2009, and depending on the plan, rates can go up at regular intervals as seniors get older.

In light of those rate increases, coupled with the recession, and as IRAs and 401(k) retirement accounts continue to dwindle in value, seniors may have even more motivation to cut costs. Additionally, as federal bailout and stimulus monies are released, some economists warn of possible increasing inflation rates, a concern for many on fixed incomes.

That raises the question: "If I'm trying to save money, why purchase a Medicare supplement insurance plan?" There is a common misconception that Medicare pays 80 percent of a senior's healthcare costs. What Medicare actually pays is 80 percent of the amount it has approved for a particular health care service, not 80 percent of what the doctor actually charges. Medicare's "80 percent" might, for example, cover only 50 percent of the doctor's bill, often making a Medicare supplement insurance plan essential for senior citizens' financial well-being.

Larry Peschek, 78, of Thousand Oaks indicated that his insurance broker, a representative at http://www.MedicareSupplementPlans.com, "helped my wife and me get a Medigap policy that saved us money, but still had the same benefits."

Available insurance options and plans can often be bewildering to seniors, leaving them to wonder what the difference in costs and benefits are between various Medicare supplement insurance plans. The information is out there; it's just a mouse-click away.

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Alan Weinstock
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