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Medicare Supplements

My AARP/United Health Care Plan F Premium went up by a whopping 10%.

This plan is listed as a "Community Rated" plan, which I understand to mean that the premium's rate is the same  regardles of age attained. 

 

The plan has provided good coverage, with not problems with any claim, but I am uncertain of how well informed the customer service agents are.  One agent who was nice enough, told me that the increase had come about because I am a year older.  This contradicts the information about this plan that appears on a Medicare page listing Companies offering Medigap plans, where AARP/United Health Care appears listed.  (Medicare.gov, navigate from Home to View All Medigap Policies-Medigap Policy Details-Companies Offering Medigap Policy).

 

Then she transferred me to a different department.   

 

The second agent, not as nice, told me that the change in rate happened becasue my state no longer received a "multiple member" discount.  Then she went on to provide some sophistry about the rate increase.  She told me that it was not really an increase, but the elimination of a discount, so my rate had really not increased.  Additionally she said that the increase "that was not an increase" was due to the recent hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters in the past year.  

 

I would like some clarity on this.  

 

Had I been advised in a timely manner of the premium increase, I might have shopped for other plans during the Open Enrollment period. They claim to have sent me a letter last October, but I never received such a letter.   I will be shopping around still, just in case I find a better deal. 

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To the OP (GloriaM):

 

"Had I been advised in a timely manner of the premium increase, I might have shopped for other plans during the Open Enrollment period. They claim to have sent me a letter last October, but I never received such a letter. I will be shopping around still, just in case I find a better deal."

 

Just a comment on switching medigap policies after the open enrollment period (there is no annual guaranteed acceptance/open enrollment period for medicare supplements).  Unless you fall into one of the special categories (the company goes bankrupt, forcing you to get a different policy) "you may have to got to underwriting".  Do you know how many companies have gone bankrupt? - none to the best of my knowledge.  In reality, I know of no medicare supplement isurance company that will allow you to jump ship after the guaranteed acceptance period without underwriting.  As most of us over the age of 65 have some medical issue, chances are underwriting will bump you up into a high risk category increasing your premiums way above what you would pay by just staying put.

 

If anybody has any specific examples where this is NOT the case, please come forth.  But I think that medicare supplement insurance is a one-time thing and once you've selected a company, you're pretty much stuck with them for life.

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@sktn77a  UHC has made it a practice to allow a covered participant to move from one letter plan to another without medical underwriting. This is a procedural offering, not contractual. A few months ago they began phasing this practice out on a state by state basis.

 

Some states have birthday rules, some have anniversary rules, and a few states are guaranteed issue all the time. As a general rule one should buy a plan with the intent of keeping it but there are some situations where it MAY be possible to change plans with or without underwriting.

 

Carriers are prohibited from singling you out for a rate increase (high risk category to use your terminology) based on your claims or changes in your medical history. 


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I am assuming that changing plans would also involve changing carriers.

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@sktn77a  why do you assume a plan change requires a carrier change?


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Because we usually change plans because a CARRIER has jacked up their rates.  If the alternatives plans from any given carrier have gone up by the same percentage (not unreasonable, within limits) then you'll need to change carriers.  UHC/AARP is the only carrier I'm aware of that has let you switch plans in the past without underwriting (do they still do that").  I'm guessing that's they are the only provider, in my state, of "No-Age/Community-Rated" plans (albeit at very high rates).

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@sktn77a a few carriers in the past offered the ability to change plans without underwriting. To my knowledge UHC is the only one still doing it, but not in every state. They are beginning to phase out that non-contractual option in some states. Would not be surprised if it disappears everywhere in the not too distant future.

 

If UHC is the only carrier in your state using community rating then I would guess USAA is not currently offering coverage there. UHC is not community rated here, but USAA is.

 

I am not aware of any states that ban community rating. My state does not have any attained age policies. Most, including UHC, are entry age. USAA is the only community rated plan and their rates are stupid high.

 

There is a reason why most carriers do not offer community rated plans. Over the long haul attained age or entry age rating produces more stable blocks of business.


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Interesting.  USAA does offer supplement plans in NC but not Community Rated, only Attained Age.

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@GloriaM223166

 

Yes your AARP Medigap plan F insured by UHC is Community Rated and for the long term that is the lowest rating method compared to Issue-age or Attained age.  - but that is not all that affects the premiums.  

  • Medical inflation in your area adds to the premium cost too
  • The reducing discount which began when you began the policy could also play a part in it too
  • it may also have something to do with the number of people that are dropping Plan F for another plan - like Plan G or those new Medicare eligible seniors aren't buying Plan F with such vigor since it will stop being sold in 2020 - premium should be cheaper for Plan G or any of the many other plans since they aren't as lucrative with more out of pocket for the beneficiary.

You don't have to wait for the annual open enrollment to switch a Medigap plan - you can do it at any time but a word of caution - any new insurer could determine to underwrite you - that could result in denial of coverage, a heftier premium or they might not cover any pre existing for a specified period.  Follow the Medicare guidelines and cautions when trying to switch Medigap insurers.

 

Your states' Dept of Insurance has to approve all premium increases; they might be able to give a more definitive answer if it concerns community rating or medical inflation - I would assume any declining discount rate off the premiums would be covered generally in your policy.

 

The only thing that is certain with premium increases for Medigap plans is they will continue to go up just like the deductibles for Medicare Parts A and B as well as the premium for Medicare Part B.

 

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UHC plans are not community rated in all states. Your observation with regard to the OP is fine but not completely accurate since age rating (entry or attained) applies in some states.

 

Many consumers would be better off avoiding community rated plans if they are available.

 

UHC does not include "discounts" in every state. But you are correct that discounts are added back in over a 10 year period in states that have discounted initial rates. I believe some states may use something other than 10 years.

 

Plan G pricing is generally more favorable than F in most states but in some situations the premium savings (G vs F) is not enough to pick G. In those areas N or one of the other plans may be a better value.

 

One carrier that just recently started offering G is actually priced HIGHER than an F plan. This particular carrier employs a community rated basis.

 

The DOI does not actively participate in renewal rate increases in all states. Stating that renewals must be approved by the DOI as a blanket statement is not accurate.

 

Some carriers offer HH or family discounts based on any number of criteria. When the qualifying spouse dies, divorces or moves out of the home the discount is lost for future renewals.

 

 


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@somarco wrote:

UHC plans are not community rated in all states. Your observation with regard to the OP is fine but not completely accurate since age rating (entry or attained) applies in some states.

 

 


I sure thought that ALL Medigap plans bearing this emblem

 

 

were insured by this (group) policy, no matter their geographical location -  UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, Horsham, PA (UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company of New York, Islandia, NY for New York residents). Policy form No. GRP 79171 GPS-1 (G-36000-4). 

 

The AARP Insurance Trust

AARP established the AARP Insurance Plan, a trust, to hold the master group insurance policies. The AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan is insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, not by AARP or its affiliates. Please contact UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company if you have questions about your policy, including any limitations and exclusions.Premiums are collected from you by the Trust. These premiums are paid to the insurance company for your insurance coverage, a percentage is used to pay expenses, benefitting the insureds, and incurred by the Trust in connection with the insurance programs. At the direction of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, a portion of the premium is paid as a royalty to AARP and used for the general purposes of AARP. Income earned from the investment of premiums while on deposit with the Trust is paid to AARP and used for the general purposes of AARP.Participants are issued certificates of insurance by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company under the master group insurance policy. The benefits of participating in an insurance program carrying the AARP name are solely the right to receive the insurance coverage and ancillary services provided by the program.

 

https://www.aarpsupplementalhealth.com/content/dam/ole/MedSuppDocs/YourGuide/StateVariations/WR10001...

 

I thought that was the reason why a person had to be a member of AARP to buy this branded type of Medigap.  I thought I read somewhere that this is the reason why this benefit was negotiated by the (taxable) private arm of AARP - AARP Services, Inc.

 

Sorry, if I have implied the incorrect conclusion.

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In every situation I have seen, where a Trust / Master Contract is used to issue insurance certificates, when the Trust is dissolved the certificates are invalidated. Such loss of coverage does not automatically invoke a guarantee right to new coverage under current CMS rules but some carriers may be willing to offer a GI plan if your certificate is cancelled through no fault of your own.


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SOME Medigap plans are issued via a trust and master contract. Technically the covered participants are issued a certificate, not a policy. UHC and a handful of other carriers utilize the trust/master contract arrangement but still have to file policy language and rates with each state DOI.

 

Most states use the attained age rating basis for Medigap. Others use entry/issue age. Carriers are allowed to use community rating in most (all?) states if they wish. UHC does apply community rates in some states but not all.

 

Some carriers use a modified community rating. True community rating means everyone in the state pays the same rate for the same plan regardless of age or gender.

 

USAA applies true community rating in my state and possibly other states as well

 

In my state the UHC/AARP branded policies are entry age rated.

 

It is my understanding that UHC applies a significant first year discount if applying at age 65 or 66 in community rated states. The discount is added to the renewal on a graduated basis over the next 10 years. For sake of discussion let's say the discount is 30%. At each renewal for the next 10 years the covered participant receives a trend rate increase plus 3%. At the end of 10 years future renewals are trend only since the discount has been amortized by that point.

 

If someone wants the AARP branded plan from UHC they must initially be a "member" of AARP. Some say they can drop their AARP membership after the certificate is issued, others say the membership must be maintained. I have my own opinion but my opinion does not mean it is valid.


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Wasn't sure whether to reply or or start a new topic...

Anyway, I am 65 and planning on buying an AARP/UHC (Illinois) Medicare Supplement to start March 1, 2019 (still in my Guaranteed Issue period), with my eye on plan N...although G was "enticing." I had been comparing rates for awhile, and until recently AARP's N rate had been about $110/mo, while G was about $131/mo IIRC.

But last night I checked the AARP/UHC website, and N had gone up to $116, while G had actually *dropped* some to about $127. In fact, the rate page touted something along the line of "new lower cost for Plan G!" So now we're only talking about $132 difference G vs. N for the whole year, compared to the previous $252.

So I am rethinking things... But at the same time I have to wonder, is there some reason they are trying to build up their G business at present, with people who have just turned 65 (and maybe also F-to-G switching by those who can pass underwriting)? And then, once they have that mass, maybe start jacking up G rates *faster* than N? So, while I'm really tempted to pick G instead, I am wary...

 

Also, while I may be overthinking this, I wonder if another reason G rates may start rising in coming years (at least relative to N) is that new 65's who have a condition requiring many doctor visits (which incur $20 copays on N but not G), or want excess payments covered so that they can get 100% coverage at, say, a Mayo Clinic will want to take advantage of G...again putting upward pressure on G costs in the future through creation of a somewhat riskier pool than N's?

Because of a recent development, I am thinking there is a possibility I might be stuck in whatever plan I pick now -- i.e., I might fail future underwriting (although it's not a development that has me overly wary of N's Dr. visit copays or non-coverage of excess charges).

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Plan G has been available for probably 20 years, perhaps longer. Pretty sure when Medigap was standardized in 1992 the G plan was introduced . . . along with F, C and a few others.

 

Plan N added in 2010 when plans were Modernized.

 

Most carriers offered G for years. Otbers, like UHC, Humana and some BX plans did not include the G plan until 2018.

 

Carriers are not equally competitive from state to state or plan to plan. There are a few states, like CA and FL where UHC dominates.

 

Carriers that jumped on the "G bandwagon" last year came in with competitive rates while their "go to plan F" is often priced in the middle of the pack.

 

When F is no longer an option for new entrants (2020) plan G will become the new guaranteed issue plan in permitted situations.

 

For the last 8 years that N has been around the increases across all carriers has been lower vs other more popular plans. The exception is N plans first offered by the Omaha group.

 

Excess charges are rare but some specialty clinics like Mayo do not accept assignment and will bill xs charges.

 

HDF is a good option if looking at low stable rates.

 

 


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Thanks for the persepectives, somarco.  I'm surprised to learn G has been around that long.

 

So what do you think of the possibility that AARP/UHC's making their newish G offering more competitive with N might be a temporary strategy, until they can meet their current G enrollment goals (at least in Illinois)?  And then within a year or two might go back to a currently-more-typical $20+/month gap between the two?  Thanks.

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Carriers are not really predictable. UHC is large enough to do what they want. My guess, and it is only a guess, the G rates will be competitive for a while.

 

UHC, Omaha and BX write the bulk of their Medicare business from name recognition, not competitiveness. They know people will buy from them without regard to shopping rates.


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