We talk to a lot of seniors and find there are at least 5 Medicare myths that are common and should be addressed. If you fall prey to these Medicare myths you could end up paying more for your health care than you should. It doesn’t matter how these untruths originated. The reality of Medicare is this. Medicare insurance is the most consumer friendly health care coverage you will ever experience. But if you believe the myths and misrepresentations you can pay dearly.
- You can change your Medicare supplement (Medigap) insurance without answering health questions because of Obamacare/ Affordable care act.
Explanation: Unfortunately a lot of people have been misinformed about how Obamacare affects them as a Medicare Recipient. The insurances that work with Medicare eligible were not changed by Obamacare. Everything is exactly the same, in most situations people are required to answer health questions to change their Medicare supplement insurance.
- If I want to change my Medicare supplement insurance I need to check which doctors or hospitals except the plan.
Explanation: The confusing part about this myth is you only have to worry about which doctor or hospitals accept your plan if you have a Medicare Advantage plan ( Part C). If you have a Medicare Supplement plan( Medigap) it doesn’t matter what company you have your policy with. If you have original Medicare and a Medicare supplement you can see any doctor or go to any hospital that accepts original Medicare, it does not matter what company you have your supplement with. This is because a doctor or hospital doesn’t choose to accept or not accept a Medicare supplement policy. When you have original Medicare and a supplement and you go to the doctor, the doctor bills Medicare, Medicare is actually the one that bills your Medicare supplement company, and then Medicare and your supplement policy pay the doctor directly.
- When I’m choosing a Medicare supplement plan I want to make sure I have a brand name company that lots of people have heard of like Bluecross Blueshield, AARP, or Mutual of Omaha.
Explanation: This is a very common myth with Medicare supplement insurance. Medicare supplements are standardized by original Medicare, which means any company that offers Medicare Supplement insurance must provide the exact same benefits and protections as any other company. There are several fantastic Medicare supplement companies that a lot of people have never heard of, but that is because they aren’t wasting money on advertising. The big brand names have higher premiums and pass on higher premium increases to their policy holders because of the excessive amount of advertising they do. That advertising cost gets passed along to you as the consumer. The only difference between any Medicare supplement company is price. In most cases you can purchase a Medicare supplement from a company you may not have heard of that is reputable, financially stable, been in the market for decades, and pay much less for it with absolutely no difference in coverage.
- I’m very healthy and almost never go to the doctor, so I don’t need a Medicare supplement, a Medicare advantage plan is much more cost effective for me at this time.
Explanation: The above statement might be true in the short term, but most people have never had the negative long term effects of a Medicare advantage plan properly explained to them. It’s important to note when you have original Medicare and a Medicare supplement policy, you have complete control over your own health care, you can see any doctor or go to any hospital in the entire country that accepts Medicare and the Medicare supplement picks up most if not all of your out of pocket costs. Medicare advantage plans replace original Medicare and usually come with a Network of doctors and Managed care (HMO). This biggest complaint I hear from people that have developed health conditions on a Medicare advantage plan is not being able to dictate their own health care. When you have medical conditions, most people want to be able to see what doctors they want to see and receive the medical attention they want, they certainly don’t want to be at the mercy of their health insurance trying to save money. When you have an HMO Medicare advantage plan you are subject to getting approvals of your treatment, getting referrals to see specialist and high out of pocket costs. The biggest problem with Medicare advantage plans is once you have medical conditions and the plan starts to become a major problem for you, you almost certainly would not be able to switch back to a Medicare supplement because your health conditions would prevent you from qualifying. Medicare supplements in most states must be purchased while you’re healthy.
- My Medicare supplement premiums will never go up.
Every Medicare supplement company raises their premiums different, but almost all of them will increase their premiums at least once a year if not multiple times a year. Premium stability is found mostly with the more conservative type companies that don’t do any advertising. The big box names tend to have the highest premium increases. Price is not the only thing to consider, asking about a company’s premium stability is also very important when purchasing a Medicare Supplement.