Changes in Medicare Supplement Offerings in 2010 Could Affect Millions of Medicare Recipients

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GoMedigap, the nation's leading Medicare supplement insurance agency, wants Medicare recipients to be aware of some important changes coming in 2010 that can affect those who currently own or will be shopping for a Medicare supplement within the next year.

Changes in Medicare supplement plan offerings are coming in 2010 and they could affect millions of Medicare recipients

For various reasons we are advising our clients to avoid enrolling in plans E, H, I, & J, at this point. There are some factors involving future premium increases due to closed risk pools that could come back and bite them in 2-3 years - especially if they have medical conditions that would prevent them from getting coverage elsewhere

There are planned changes coming to the current standardized Medigap policy offerings in 2010 that will affect future options and policy premiums. These changes will impact all companies offering Medicare supplement insurance policies throughout the country.

As part of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) was asked to modernize review the current Medigap plan offerings to determine if changes should be made to the plan benefits to reflect changes which had occurred in the Medicare marketplace since the standardization of the product in 1990.

Once the review was completed the NAIC recommended several changes which have since been approved and are scheduled to go into effect on June 1, 2010. Some of these changes are listed below:

2 Plans Will Be Added

New Medicare supplement plan letters M & N will be introduced to provide some additional cost-sharing for Medicare recipients. These rates will introduce such features as copays, and small coinsurance exposure in exchange for slightly lower premiums than the traditional plans.

3 Benefits Will Be Changed or Eliminated

The commission came to the conclusion that one benefit could be improved to avoid complexity and another couple of benefits could be cut due to being historically underutilized and inconvenient to use.

  • The 'Excess Charges' Coverage will only be offered at 100% in plans that offer this benefit. This benefit covers the additional fees a physician can charge if he or she does not accept Medicare's rates (also known as 'Medicare Assignment')
  • 'Preventive Care Not Otherwise Covered' is eliminated due to underutilization
  • 'At Home Recovery' is eliminated due to underutilization

4 Current Plans Will No Longer Be Offered

The change in the 'Excess Charge' benefit and the elimination of the 'At Home Recovery' and 'Preventive Care not Otherwise Covered' benefits created some redundancies that allowed for the elimination of 4 plans - E, H, I, & J. If a Medicare recipient is currently using one of these plans they will be allowed to keep it. These plans just won't be sold after June 1, 2010.

"For various reasons we are advising our clients to avoid enrolling in plans E, H, I, & J, at this point. There are some factors involving future premium increases due to closed risk pools that could come back and bite them in 2-3 years - especially if they have medical conditions that would prevent them from getting coverage elsewhere," says Richard Cantu, president of GoMedigap. "We're recommending that our clients stick to plans like Medicare supplement plans F or G."

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Richard Cantu
GoMedigap
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