There are multiple insurance plans on the market, and if consumers spend their time doing some basic research, the results can be head-spinning. With so much to choose from and varying costs to understand, it can be difficult to determine which are valuable and which are not.
While the traditional insurance types, like, health and , are familiar to millions, there are many others that are lesser known. But lesser known doesn't necessarily mean lesser quality. It just may take a bit more time and patience to find the best policy. This is true for multiple insurance types but especially for those for seniors and older adults, like and .
Medicare supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, can help fill the coverage gaps left by Medicare and regular health insurance policies. To find the best one for your needs, you'll want to shop around and compare multiple plans. Accordingly, it helps to know how best to compare your Medicare supplemental plan options.
How to compare Medicare supplemental plans
Here are three important steps to take when comparing Medicare supplemental plans.
Understand your needs
Before doing anything, understand what you need a Medicare supplemental plan for. Understand your needs now and review your budget so you know what you can afford and how a supplemental plan can help you make ends meet.
But take a forward-thinking approach, too. Think about your future health requirements as well. Ideally, you'll be able to secure a plan that can protect you now but is also flexible enough to help you in the future. By understanding your needs, you'll be able to determine the plan you'll need and thus know which ones to compare.
Ask about prices
According to Medicare.gov, the benefits of each lettered supplemental plan are identical. But the price points will vary. So don't be afraid to ask about costs.
"Price is the only difference between policies with the same letter sold by different companies," the government website notes. "Costs can vary widely between companies, so contact more than one company that sells Medigap policies in your state to get an estimate."
The government also recommends reaching out to both your state insurance department (to see if there are any complaints against the companies you're considering) and your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). The latter may be able to provide you with a "Medigap rate comparison shopping guide" for the state you're looking to secure a plan in.
Use your resources
Friends and relatives can be great resources when comparing Medicare supplemental plans. They can answer many of the questions you may have and can help point you in the right direction. But the official channels are also beneficial. The government's chart comparing Medigap plan benefits can provide you with critical information, all in one location.
And, don't hesitate to contact the companies directly. While cost is top of mind, the service and care you get from each provider is important, and you may ultimately feel that paying a bit more with one provider is worth it if you feel more comfortable with their services.
The bottom line
Like any insurance type, Medicare supplemental requires applicants to do their research and understand their options. One way to do this is to effectively compare your supplemental options. First start by understanding what you need the plan to do now, and what you may need it to help with long term. Then start asking about prices from the companies in question, as most of the fundamental coverage options are standard. Finally, consider using all of your resources, ranging from family members and friends to the helpful government information you can easily track down online.
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