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If you or a loved one is approaching the age of 65, or will be qualified for Medicare Parts A and B soon for another reason, it's the ideal time to start shopping around for supplemental coverage.
You are probably already aware that your Medicare insurance pays for most of your costs - but not all. That's why Medicare Supplement plans are often known as "Medigap": they close the distance between the 80% that's covered and the 20% that isn't, so that you have fewer or no out-of-pocket costs.
Wednesday, January 20th
United Medicare Advisors specializes in Medicare and related supplemental plans, giving you unbiased information and access to many different insurance companies. In business since 2009, they have enrolled hundreds of thousands of Medicare Supplement policies across the country. They work with over 20 carriers, including some of the major names in the industry (such as Aetna, Mutual of Omaha, and Humana).
Helpful Medicare information
To start with, there's a lot of helpful information on the United Medicare Advisors website. Under the Learn About Medicare tab, you can find information on Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Parts A and B. They provide access to blogs covering health care news, retirement, and health wellness. They even provide detailed guides that you can download and read at your leisure that cover Medicare Part D, a beginner's guide to Medicare, and the future outlook for Medicare,
Simple online form
When it comes to finding plans and premiums with United Medicare Advisors, they provide a simple online form where you enter contact information such as your name, phone number, and email address. This same information is required by almost all Medicare Supplement Plan sites. At this point, you will be contacted by a United Medicare Advisors rep. Optionally, you can call them yourself at 1-855-535-3502.
Talk with an agent
It's important to note, some Medicare Supplement Plan sites we reviewed will provide a list of insurance companies and premium quotes after entering your information. However, this can be misleading. Those companies don't allow you to sign up for a plan online - you still have to talk with someone. In fact, for the most part you are required to speak with a living person before you sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan. Once you talk with their representative, and provide more details about your insurance needs, the actual quote you receive can be quite different than the one you were presented with online.
So, how does the United Medicare Advisors service stack up? In order to compare available plans across all the brokers and insurance companies we reviewed, we chose a profile of a recently-turned 65-year-old woman in Wisconsin, non-smoker, looking for Plan G. When we spoke with a United Medicare Advisors rep, they returned with a list of over 40 companies that serve that area, with about a dozen that they work with directly. To help narrow down those results, they prioritized the best insurers in our list for us. Our rep even recommended that we avoid one particular insurer, and said that another one charges a premium just for their name brand. Helpful advice!
Lowest premium quotes
From all the companies in our review, United Medicare Advisors gave us the lowest quotes we found. For our specific example, the insurance company with the lowest rate was Accendo, which is a CVS company affiliated with Aetna. The rep calculated a rate of $117.77 per month, which included all necessary riders to equal Plan G coverage. A second insurer, Southern Guarantee, was also more affordable than many quotes we received from other providers, at a monthly premium of $124.85.
Why go through a broker like United Medicare Advisors instead of buying your Medicare Supplement Plan directly from an insurance company? First, there's no guarantee that any insurance company will always have the most affordable plan for your needs. United Medicare Advisors gives you access to a vast range of companies. They constantly monitor premiums and plans so that you can get the provider and the plan that best fits your needs.
What about this company's service once the Medicare Supplement Plan has been issued? They will call you 30 days prior to your plan's renewal date to see if you're satisfied, or whether your needs have changed. Beyond that, you can call and ask them questions at any time. Approximately 98% of Medicare Supplement customers never change the plan they're on - the major exception is when people have a financial downturn and need something with lower monthly premiums (and less coverage). Our rep also said that United Medicare Advisors can often get answers for you quicker than if you called the insurance company directly. This is because they leverage their professional relationships on your behalf.
United Medicare Advisors has an excellent reputation. The company enjoys accreditation and an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau. Also, we found more than 20,000 5-star ratings from customers who appreciate their quality service and significant savings over other brokers. Clients said that the information they received was thorough and genuinely focused on their individual circumstances, not on pushing a particular service or plan. People also praised the friendly, helpful reps and describe their experiences as being quick, easy, and a perfect match for their insurance needs.
Active in 44 states
A couple of points to note. By submitting your information online, you're giving your consent for United Medicare Advisors and their subsidiaries to contact you. While this is fairly common in today's internet age, it's still something to note. Another fact is that United Medicare Advisors is active in 44 states, leaving out Alaska, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. If you live in one of those states, you should keep reading further in our reviews.
So, while United Medicare Advisors does not show you an online quote, they absolutely deliver the goods with the lowest priced Medicare Supplement Plans we found. This is because of their vast access to both the bigger names in the industry as well as smaller, reputable companies you might not have heard of before. For all these reasons, we give this company our highest rating.
Since 2005, Go Medigap has helped more than 35,000 seniors get the coverage they need to close the gap between what Medicare A and B covers and what it doesn't. This broker offers every available Medicare Supplement Plan, from A through N. They can connect you with coverage from 30+ different insurance providers, from big names like United Healthcare and Cigna to regional suppliers in your area.
All 50 states
The company is licensed in all 50 states. And, not only do they enjoy an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, but they also were the recipient of the BBB International Torch Award for Ethics - out of 18,000 other companies! That means that Go Medigap is a name you can rely on to give you a plan that's right for you.
To begin the process of finding a Medicare Supplement Plan with Go Medigap, you'll enter your zip code to ensure that they have providers in your area. Next, enter your first and last name, your gender and your birthdate. Then, you'll be asked for your email address and preferred contact phone number (which gives them - and their "business partners" - permission to call or text you). Finally, click the button to get your quote.
Quote system had a problem
Unfortunately, when we did so, we got a message saying that their "quote system had a problem", and that we'd have to call them to get their rates. Since you typically have to speak with a licensed representative in order to buy a plan anyway, you'd wind up calling them eventually - but it would have been nice to get a preview of what insurance companies and Medicare Supplement Plans would be possible.
Finding an agent
So, how did Go Medigap do with our standardized quote of a 65-year-old woman in Wisconsin, no tobacco use, looking for Plan G? The first representative we reached wasn't licensed in that state, so he had to pass us along to another agent (not a big deal, but worth noting that they said that they didn't have many agents licensed in WI).
As with most of the brokers we evaluated, Go Medigap came up with Aetna as our lowest-priced option (and the agent mentioned that United Healthcare would be our best second choice). But, their quote was significantly higher than their competitors at $162.85 per month (not including the $198 annual deductible). Go Medigap also has a $20 one-time policy fee for the application, to get any policy started.
The whole process took longer than with our first-place broker of Medicare Supplement Plans: we waited more for someone to take our call, we were transferred to a second agent, and that agent wasn't able to pull up our quote as quickly. We also felt more confused while working with her - we already knew a fair amount about the Aetna plan, and we had to ask questions to get the specifics we wanted (namely, the $198 deductible with no co-pays). Otherwise, we wouldn't have known it existed - or, at least, we didn't understand that it did based on what the agent was telling us.
One feature unique to Go Medigap is called Rate Watch: once you're enrolled with any Medicare Supplement Plan, they keep an eye on all of the companies' premiums and let you know if you're going to have a rate increase. After all, just like auto insurance, the company that has the lowest premiums now might not be your best option in a year, and it's nice that someone else can be tracking that for you.
Thousands of satisfied customers
At the end of the day, Go Medigap is trustworthy. Looking at customer reviews on independently-verified sites, we found thousands of 5-star reviews with plenty of compliments for the helpful service received from friendly, well-informed reps and for the great plans and rates they were able to get. Those reviews, along with the stellar track record with the BBB, mean a lot. Just keep in mind, you may be paying a higher premium than with other companies in our review.
Aetna has been around for a LONG time: over 160 years, as a matter of fact. And, as the insurer most often quoted during our process of finding Medicare Supplement Plans, Aetna is an obvious company to consider for your coverage needs.
Convenient but clunky
Their online quote feature will definitely provide pricing information for plans in your area. Unlike many of the broker sites we evaluated, Aetna has no problem with telling you what you might pay. However, the interface was really clunky and didn't give any explanation of the plans or the riders. We encourage you to use the online quoting as a starting point, with the understanding that you'll still need to call in to get your Medicare Supplement Plan set up.
Smooth phone quotes
The phone call quoting process went much more smoothly. We were asked for our name, zip code, date of birth and if our Part A and B had already started.
How did it go when pricing out our comparison profile? The representative gave us a quote for Aetna's Base Plan at $125.62, with all riders for $154.03. That matched both the price we were given online and most of the Aetna quotes we got from external brokers. However, the agent didn't explain the $198 deductible (that we had learned about from the quotes obtained from those other sources). This was one of the few quotes we received that specifically mentioned a one-time application fee; Aetna charges $20 for that.
Great customer reps
The agent described several features of getting Medigap coverage through Aetna that make them a strong contender, whether you buy directly from them or through one of the referral services in our evaluation. First, rates are guaranteed for 12 months at a time: there are no increases in that year-long period. There is also a household discount available if a spouse is added as a member; the amount varies, but on average it's a savings of 7% for each subscriber. Finally, the rep offered information on vision, dental, critical illness supplemental coverage for expenses that might not be covered (like adapting a home after a stroke). These plans are not connected to Medicare eligibility: in other words, the younger you are, the lower the premium, and it can be started anytime.
Next day coverage
This was also the first quote we received that offered to start our Plan G coverage the next day. It may have been possible with others, but Aetna came out and offered a next-day start if we wanted it.
Aetna has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but no accreditation. You'll also find hundreds of complaints there on the BBB listing - but with it being such a huge company with so many different types of insurance products, that's not a surprise. And, many of the complaints we read described problems with insurance brokers trying to push people to buy Aetna - which isn't Aetna's fault. We found that Aetna has a solid reputation across insurance agents, which is reassuring too.
While it's up to you to determine if you want to purchase your Medicare Supplement Plan directly from Aetna or through a broker that offers additional services, you can be assured that Aetna is likely to give you one of the lowest premiums. Aetna is a trustworthy provider of Medigap plans.
SelectQuote Senior is one of several brokers that refers prospective clients to various insurance companies for Medicare Supplement Plans. You'll get quotes for 20+ different providers through this service, depending on which companies are issuing policies where you live. Those companies may include Aetna, Cigna, Anthem and Humana; all insurers with whom they partner are at least A- rated. The business itself has an "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB, which means that in the company's 36 years in operation, they've done a good job of treating their clients fairly and honestly.
You'll need to answer a series of questions online in order to look at plans through SelectQuote. These questions include:
From there, you are asked for your zip code, state, first and last name, phone number and email address. Notice that there's a checkbox for you to indicate if you'd like a free copy of "Health Matters: A Guide to Your Medicare Options". It's automatically checked, so be sure to uncheck it if you'd rather not get the guide.
Many providers of Medicare Supplement Plans state in their fine print that you're consenting to receiving lots of calls, texts, or (e)mail when you give them your contact info. SelectQuote Senior only lists three partners that will have permission to contact you, and they specify that you can call their toll-free number directly (855-356-4854) if you'd like to speak with them before providing that kind of information.
Get a call in 15 minutes
Let's say you go ahead and enter your information. What happens next? If it's during regular business hours, you'll get a call within 15 minutes; otherwise, they'll reach out to you the next business day. You may also get some preliminary quotes if you scroll down; we were given options from AARP Medicare Advantage, Medigap, FirstQuoteMedicare, and several others. Unfortunately, clicking to see our rates just redirected us to those companies' sites - where we had to start the process of entering our information and getting quotes all over again.
Quick initial quote
We reached out via SelectQuote's toll-free number (855-318-0531) to get a more accurate idea of the rates for our selected profile: a woman from Wisconsin that just turned 65, no tobacco use, and who was looking for the equivalent of a Plan G. We only had to give the agent our name and zip code to get a quote: no personal details required. After eight minutes on hold (listening to an annoying pinging sound like radar on a submarine!), we were then connected to "an office in our area".
30 minutes later, a transfer to another agent
After apologizing for the inexplicably long wait, the representative took some basic details like name, state and birthdate. It also took quite a while for his computer to load any quotes, which may have been due to his working from home. We were then transferred to a second agent after another long hold because his computer wasn't loading quotes for anyone living in WI. At this point, we had already spent 30 minutes on the phone and hadn't even gotten close to a quote yet. The rep was very apologetic.
Never heard that before
...and then the call got dropped when the first agent passed us to the second one. Fortunately, the second rep called us back, and we were able to get a quote. She too gave us an initial Plan G quote from Aetna, but when we asked her if she was referring to the Aetna Base plus riders to make the Wisconsin coverage equivalent to the Plan G in other states, she said she had never heard that before - and had actually never sold a Plan G supplement in WI.
Got the quote... finally
Her research showed that the premium, including the necessary riders, would be $137.00 for that Aetna plan, and in her system it was called a Part G Equivalent. There was an additional rider to cover travel emergencies in foreign countries, and that would bring the total to $153.50 per month. Both of those have that same $198 annual deductible.
What happens after the coverage has been selected and the premiums have been paid? SelectQuote Senior will keep in touch on an annual basis, and may touch base throughout the year to see how things are going. They will also reach out to their clients if they get wind of any changes and see if a switch in providers or plans might be a good option to consider. We appreciate that kind of service; not every Medicare Supplement Plan broker offers it.
Almost an hour to get our quotes
While it might have just been a temporary technical issue on their end, it's worth noting that the entire process of getting a quote through SelectQuote Senior took the better part of an hour. We found comments from other customers who had the same experience with dropped calls and transfers that went nowhere - over six months prior to our calls to SelectQuote Senior.
Still some strong positives
You might be wondering, then, why this service still gets a relatively high ranking. We can't overlook the company's overall reputation for quality, shown by their BBB rating and thousands of 4-and 5-star ratings from happy clients on independently-verified sites. We appreciate the service they offer after the policy has been selected, and that all of the partner insurers they use have been vetted as reputable options.
If you can get past the technical glitches - and you have the patience for what might turn out to be a long phone call - we recommend that you take a look at what SelectQuote Senior can offer you with respect to Medicare Supplement Plans.
BlueCross Blue Shield (known as Anthem in some states, as well as BCBS) is one of the biggest names in insurance. They have a website specifically dedicated to Medicare Supplement Plans, so you don't have to worry about sorting through health insurance information that doesn't apply to you.
Information-filled, but confusing layout
If you're looking for an online quote, you may have a hard time spotting where to start. The BCBS site for Medigap coverage is full of information you may or may not need: terms to know, enrollment periods, and so on. To get a quote, look on the right side of the page where it says Enter Zip Code and Find Coverage.
Finding the online quotes
From there, it'll take you to another page that asks you to fill in your information to talk to a Medicare Health Benefit Advisor or to call them directly (855-536-6475). However, if you look carefully, you'll spot links that say Browse or Find a Plan that let you get an initial idea of pricing online before you reach out to BlueCross Blue Shield.
Help Me feature
On that page, you can either choose to View All Plans or select Help Me Find a Plan. If you already know which Medicare Supplement Plan interests you, choose the first option. If you need some guidance and are willing to answer a few questions, the second choice will walk you through which available plans are a good fit.
Since we were interested in getting a quote to fit our designated profile, the 65-year-old female in Wisconsin looking for Plan G coverage, we opted to view all plans. Be sure to click on the tab that says Medicare Supplement Plans, because the page defaults to Medicare Advantage Plans instead. There, you'll have to enter your gender, date of birth, the date your Part B coverage was effective, and your desired coverage start date. We didn't get an option to start coverage right away, unlike some of BCBS's rivals.
The results page is fairly easy to understand. It clarifies the basic plan and any extra riders you may want to consider. It also described a $2/month savings if paying automatically every month via bank withdrawal, or a savings of $48/year when paying in full annually. There is also a household discount of 5% if more than one household member is enrolled in a BCBS Medicare Supplement Plan. That discount is lower than many other insurers, who typically offer anywhere from 7% to 15% off, and sometimes that applies even if no one else is currently enrolled with you.
Middle of the road premiums
The price that the BlueCross Blue Shield site gave us was $137.66/month. That included all of the riders necessary to equal Plan G coverage in Wisconsin. That's neither the highest nor the lowest premium we found, which was surprising given that BCBS is one of the major players in the Medicare space.
Start your application online
One nice feature is that BCBS allows you to start your application for a Medicare Supplement Plan online. Every other Medicare Supplement Plan provider required a phone call, but BCBS allowed us to create an account and get the ball rolling. You'll need your Medicare card handy, along with any applicable supporting documents like a POA or guaranteed issue notice.
BBB ratings vary by state
It can be tricky finding a Better Business Bureau listing for BCBS, because Blue Cross Blue Shield has separate offices in each state. Getting an overall BBB rating for BCBS is next to impossible. For example, their rating in South Carolina is A+ with 7 customer complaints, while their rating in New York is D-. This tells us that their service and customer response can vary greatly by where you live. For states where BCBS is graded highly, you can expect them to respond to questions and complaints quickly. For states where they have a lower grade, perhaps not so much.
Highly regarded by the experts
On the other hand, we found quite a few experts on Medigap coverage that had positive things to say about BCBS. People tend to like knowing that their insurance comes from a big-name provider, and they offer coverage in enough places to make it likely you can get the plan you're looking for.
Overall good choice
On the whole, BlueCross Blue Shield is a good source of Medicare Supplement Plans. And, we really like the fact that you can start your enrollment process online: no need to wait for business hours on a weekday if you're ready to go. Still, we'd like to see their web interface cleaned up and simplified, and some effort made to clean up their BBB ratings.
GoHealth started as an insurance marketplace way back in 2001, though they've only been a part of the Medicare market since 2016. Despite its newer history, the company will proudly tell you that nearly 10% of all people nationwide who enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2019 used GoHealth to do so.
Positive customer reviews
The company is both accredited and "A+" rated by the BBB. We also found plenty of positive reviews from clients; though not specific to Medicare Supplement Plans, GoHealth's feedback from customers includes over 9,000 4- and 5-star ratings. In other words, you're not dealing with a fly-by-night service if you decide to work with this business!
Contact information needed
As with most sites offering Medicare Supplement Plans, GoHealth asks you to first verify your zip code to make sure there are plans in your area. From there, you'll enter your name, email address (optional), and phone number. That does give GoHealth permission to text you or to allow partner businesses to reach out to you on their behalf, so keep that in mind as you decide what information to provide.
Wait for a call
Once you submit your information, it gets passed along to one of the licensed insurance agents in GoHealth's network and you wait for a phone call. Otherwise, you can call GoHealth's toll-free number (855-792-0088) Monday through Friday from 8AM to 9PM Eastern.
More information would be nice
We would have liked to see more preliminary information on the GoHealth website. For example, it would be nice to see some sample quotes, a list of some of the insurance providers they offer, and so on. Our highest-ranked brokers and companies are a little more transparent, so that if a prospective client wants more details before getting in contact, it's right there.
Street address needed
We had to provide a street address in order to get a quote when we called the toll-free number. There was also a prerecorded message where we had to press 1 to consent or 2 to decline GoHealth using information we provided to contact us. From there, we were transferred to a licensed agent in our state.
How did this service do with our quote profile: a newly 65-year-old, non-smoking female in Wisconsin looking for Plan G? The agent started by asking if we were in a rural area because our "options were limited" (for what it's worth, we were not quoting a rural zip code, but rather one in a suburb close to two major metro areas).
At least he was honest
The first Medicare Supplement Plan he pulled up had a monthly premium of over $700 through BlueCross BlueShield! Then he asked if we had received any quotes from another broker or insurance company. We gave him the general Aetna quote that seemed to be easily coming up with other providers - and he said we'd probably be better off going that route with another broker. GoHealth does not carry Aetna plans, only the following companies: WellCare, United Healthcare, Humana, Anthem, BCBS, Cigna, Healthspring, and CarePlus.
More digging gave better results
Initially, our rep thought that GoHealth had no Medicare Plan G's with low deductible/high premiums similar to the Aetna comparison plan. Eventually, he turned up a Medicare Supplement Plan with Humana for just over $130/month: the Part A Deductible was over $1,000, and Part B was $198 for the year. That's comparable to the Aetna quotes we received.
Friendly but frustrated
But, the whole process was very slow: it took almost 30 minutes to find information that other brokers returned in less than 15. Our representative was friendly and helpful, and seemed just as confused as we were as to why there weren't more options in our area.
Need more choices
GoHealth has a good reputation for quality, and many clients have had a solid experience getting their Medicare Supplement Plans through this service. However, with fewer insurance companies included in their available options (less than 10, compared with 20+ companies offered by competitors), that could leave more customers with higher premiums and not as many choices when aiming for that "just right" combination of premiums and deductibles.
As one of several insurance providers in our review, Humana offers Medicare Supplement Plans through their own service. Naturally, that means that their coverage is all you'll get if you look for quotes on their site. Fortunately, they have numerous options to choose from.
Easy to see plans
The Humana site made it simple to see which Medicare Supplement Plans were available in our area, for our sample individual (a 65-year-old woman in Wisconsin). We could see at a glance every option - for "her", there were seven - including any applicable deductibles, whether or not dental and vision were added, and so on. There was also a handy "Add to Compare" button to help us keep track of which plans suited us best.
We chose Humana's Basic plan, to stay equal with other quotes offering Plan G-type coverage in WI. We were then asked to provide the typical details like age, date of birth, etc. It then said, "Part A" and "Part B" month and year; there was no explanation, but we figured out it was asking when those components of Medicare had begun. We then had to specify a desired start date for coverage; our only options were the following three months. There was also a disclaimer that said the quote was just an estimate, "based on a nonsmoking female who is 65 years old". We had never specified smoking or nonsmoking, so be aware that your actual premium will vary if you use tobacco.
Sorting through the options
It can get a little confusing from there: because even though you select a single plan for a quote, your results page will show you ALL available plans and their estimated premiums. On our sample client's results, the plan that was most comparable with what we quoted across insurers was the Humana Med Supp Basic Plan. This included the $198 annual deductible for the equivalent of Plan G coverage. The monthly premium was $153.86, which included an "online only" discount of $9.82/month. Yes, that means if you call for a quote, you might have a surcharge of nearly $10/month just for getting your policy through an agent.
At that stage of the quote, you can also click on a rate chart: if you're not eligible for a "preferred rate" (because you're a tobacco user), you'll be able to see a more accurate premium there. For our 65-year-old female, that monthly premium would jump to $243.67, just for reference.
The good news? You can complete your entire enrollment online. As they say on the following page, "online enrollment is official" and you'll get a packet within 7-10 business days of completing the application. That's a perk for anyone who doesn't want to deal with an agent and just wants to get it taken care of - especially outside of traditional business hours.
Expensive, but reliable
Humana comes across as an expensive-but-reliable option for Medicare Supplement Plans. They've been in business for 60 years, and they enjoy accreditation and an A+ rating with the BBB.
Customer complaints give us pause
On the other hand, Humana has hundreds of complaints filed on the BBB site, and doesn't have the most customer-friendly reputation. In fact, one of the brokers we spoke with while compiling these reviews said that he actively avoids matching customers with Humana because of their negative track record within the market.
Room to improve
Is Humana a good choice for your Medicare Supplement Plan? They're definitely not the least expensive, and it concerns us that they don't have a better reputation within the industry. However, their online quote process is fairly easy to use, and if you want to complete the entire application without having to talk with an agent, Humana could be worth using - to at least get your initial quote, and then decide from there.
Medicare-Plans is a service of QuoteWizard Insurance, which is a division of well-known financial company LendingTree. At the time of our review, QuoteWizard's profile with the Better Business Bureau was being updated, so there was no way to see a rating or any customer complaints (if any exist). LendingTree enjoys an "A+" rating and accreditation with the BBB, however.
Get the ball rolling
If you've already shopped for Medicare Supplement Plans, you know the drill when using the Medicare-Plans site: enter your zip code, birth date, gender, indicate if you're already enrolled in Medicare Part A and/or B, and then your name and email address. On the final page, you're asked for your street address and phone number - and then there's the disclaimer that you're consenting to texts, calls, emails, and postal mail from their "marketing and remarketing network, and up to eight insurance companies or their affiliates". Worthy to note.
Re-enter your information, all over again
Once you've run that gauntlet, you'll be taken to several quotes that fit your situation. In our case, we received five providers: Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, MedicareInfo, AARP Medicare Advantage from United Healthcare, eHealth Medicare, and MedicarePlan. Clicking on any of the links that say "See Your Rate" just redirects you to the providers' websites - where you'll have to enter your information all over again to actually SEE your rate. That feels like a big waste of time.
Long wait time
How about calling their toll-free number (855-965-4468)? It took longer than usual to be connected with an agent, even early on a weekday afternoon, and the rep who took our call sounded like she was working from a home office (which isn't a negative, just worth noting compared with other services we contacted). We appreciated that other than our first name and zip code, we didn't have to provide any other personal information to get a quote.
We had to help
Initially she said that nothing was coming up as a Plan G for the profile we indicated. We had to explain to the agent that it would probably not be called by that name in WI and that other brokers had given us a quote for Base plans with riders to effectively give the same exact coverage as a Plan G. On her end, it sounded like she had to go into individual insurers' websites to get an exact quote, which she did by starting with Aetna.
Competitive quote, but different from the website
In the end, she came up with a quote of $115.12 plus Part B Excess Charge, Foreign Travel, Home Health Care riders for a total of $136.95 and the annual deductible of $198. This was comparable to other Aetna quotes we got from other brokers. However, it's worth noting that none of the quote process we received over the phone lined up with the Medicare-Plans website results: we were shown lots of options online, but nothing for Aetna, and almost the exact opposite when talking with the agent.
It's all up to you
What about once you've selected your Medicare Supplement Plan? According to our agent, all servicing is handled directly with Aetna - or whichever insurance company you choose. She suggested that customers check in with Medicare-Plans in the future to do price comparisons as rates may change. If you like a "don't call me, I'll call you" arrangement, that might be ideal. But, if you want a broker that will give you support once you've enrolled, or that will keep track of rates and other changes on your behalf, you won't find that with this service.
When dealing with something as tricky as Medicare Supplement Plans, it's important to have a knowledgeable agent with a reputable company who can walk you through the process and quickly connect you with the right plan for your needs. Unfortunately, all of that didn't happen for us when getting a quote through Medicare-Plans. Plus, with a BBB listing in the process of being updated, this broker's reputation could go in either direction. Until we see a strong rating and improvements in their process, our lackluster experience with both the website and the quote over the phone keep this service from earning a higher rating.
Cigna has been around for over 30 years and is a recognized insurance provider for various coverage needs.
Expectations let down
As you browse the Cigna site, you'll see that they advertise additional programs and savings at no cost to you, if you become a member of their Medicare Supplement Plans. However, when we clicked on that link, hoping we'd find novel benefits like discounts on gym fees (to match the image of the woman doing yoga), everything described was what you'd expect from such coverage with any insurer. Not overly impressed so far. Later on, during the online quote process, we saw mention of a Health Rewards program and a Health Information Line, but they provided no further details on those benefits.
Couldn't move on
How about online quotes? When we clicked on the Get A Quote button and entered our zip code, at first the site didn't let us click on the "Next" button (we got the red circle with the line through it). After going to another site and returning a few times, we finally were able to move on. We entered our name, date of birth, gender, and the dates our Part A and B coverage began.
Longer application process
The next page had a long list of "Does this apply to you?" questions. They're lengthy to read, but they help determine if there are any special circumstances that might affect your coverage.
During the quote process, we were told that Cigna offers discounts up to 7% if a spouse or other household member applies for a policy. That's about average, with some insurers offering as little as 5% and others giving discounts up to 14%.
Information kept private
Next, we were asked for our email address, but they assured us that it wouldn't be shared with any other party. We were also asked for a phone number, which came with the disclaimer that it would be used for licensed agents from Cigna to reach out to us. We appreciated that we could leave that part blank and still continue with the quote.
We got a quote described as Cigna's Basic Plan for $136.25/month, and it said there were optional riders available - but no description of those riders. When we clicked on "Learn More", the plan we were quoted was described as Plan F - but based on the information we entered, that coverage shouldn't have been available anymore.
Misses the mark
Despite Cigna having an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau and being in operation for nearly four decades, the company doesn't leave you feeling overly confident in their services when you get a quote for Medicare Supplement Plans online. Plus, looking at the base premium rate without riders for our mock customer profile, Cigna is definitely one of the higher-cost plans on the market. And, across multiple insurance brokers, none of them quoted Cigna or mentioned them as a preferred source of coverage. Overall, we feel there are better options for your Medicare Supplement Plan needs
Health IQ seeks to reward people who have a healthy lifestyle by getting them the lowest possible insurance rates. The company got its start in 2013 and began convincing insurance companies that health-conscious people have lower mortality rates. While their primary focus is general health insurance, you can get quotes for Medicare Supplement Plans through this broker as well.
Health Literacy Quiz
Getting a quote from Health IQ starts in the way you'd expect: enter your zip code to make sure they offer coverage in your area. From there, however, it goes a little differently: you'll be asked if you're willing to take a "health literacy quiz" to unlock special rate discounts (but they're only available in the following states: AL, AZ, CO, GA, IL, KY, LA, MI, MS, NE, NM, NV, OK, SC, SD, UT, WI, WV and WY). The questions in that section asked for our gender, birthdate, tobacco use (yes or no), and our Part B effective date.
Have to call the agent anyway
One aspect of using Health IQ that we really appreciated at first was the fact that after entering the information described above, we were taken directly to quotes for Medicare Plan F, Plan G and Plan N. We thought we had hit the jackpot with a site that would give us information directly and then we could choose whether or not to pursue the plans further. However, despite being told that we had provided enough information to get some base rates to compare, no quotes came up on the page. So, we were right back to square one with having to call their toll-free number (888-611-0712, Monday-Friday, 7am-7pm pst) to speak with a licensed agent.
This was the only broker we contacted who asked if we had Stage 5 liver disease before proceeding with our quote. We were also asked if we participated in any kind of regular physical activity. That seems to go along with that "health quiz" mentioned earlier.
Frustrating phone conversation
At first, our rep said that she didn't have and Medicare Plan G options in Wisconsin. We gave her the quotes we had received from several other brokers for Aetna, and she said that she only had High Deductible Plan F and G under Aetna. Then, digging in a little more, she quoted a monthly premium of $115 to $125 for the Aetna Basic (Plan G), but would need riders to match the quotes we had been given previously. The agent was new to the company and after 15 minutes asked to transfer us to a rep with more Aetna and Health IQ experience. During that transfer, our call got disconnected and we didn't get a call back.
Accreditation, but customer complaints
We were pleased to see that Health IQ holds accreditation and an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, especially since the company is newer within the industry. Because they haven't been around as long, this broker doesn't have as much customer feedback as their rivals. Most of what we found was positive, although the majority of the comments were about HealthIQ's general insurance products and not specific to Medicare Supplement Plans. Many people said that they started getting lots of unwanted phone calls after requesting information from Health IQ.
Our experience with Health IQ was aggravating at best. From a website that promised quotes and delivered nothing, to a phone call that was all over the place and still left us unsure whether we could get the coverage we needed, we just didn't feel very reassured that this company was going to take good care of us as we worked our way through the process of getting a Medicare Supplement Plan. For all these reasons, Health IQ is not one of our preferred providers of coverage.
HealthCare seems like it could be a good place to start a search for Medicare Supplement Plans. You start by entering your zip code, and the site will let you know if there are licensed insurance agents in your area that you can contact via their toll-free number (844-874-1250, Monday through Friday from 9am-6pm est). Or, you can continue with the questions that HealthCare asks, like whether or not you've already enrolled in Original Medicare (and if so, which parts), if you've got any additional coverage plans in place already, your date of birth, and your gender. Finally, you'll need to provide your name, street address, email address and phone number.
Prepare to be contacted
Keep in mind that you're authorizing them to contact you - and that the fine print states you're also authorizing HealthCare's partner companies and any of their commercial partners to contact you as well. That list of partners is VERY long; many of the companies listed make sense (Cigna, eHealth Insurance, an so on), but the list of businesses that seem wholly unrelated to Medicare Supplement Plans is far too long for our comfort (Drips? Enginefish? Fresh Leads? Hello, infinite spam. No thank you).
Let's say you go ahead and pull the trigger by giving them your contact info. The next screen gives you a pop-up box where you'll be connected to a licensed agent (if it's during business hours, of course), or browse their specific quotes first. However, if you choose to see their quotes, you are redirected to a thank-you page that says you should look in your inbox for that information. Alternatively, the give you the option to compare plans from various Medicare Supplement Plan brokers, but these are just more companies you have to search through.
Referral service only
Here's where things started to get even more cloudy. Looking at the fine print, HealthCare says that they are not brokers or agents on the sale of insurance products - they're just a comparison service. And, they don't offer support after you've purchased a plan: in fact, when you call their toll-free number (844-223-2128), the first thing you'll hear is that if you have a question about an existing plan, you'll need to contact your insurer directly. That's in sharp contrast with most of the comparable broker services we evaluated, who offer support throughout your entire experience.
Friendly and knowledgeable agent
So, what happened when we called for a quote? We were connected with an extremely pleasant, knowledgeable agent who gave us the clearest explanation on our test case (65-year-old woman in Wisconsin, non-smoker), helping us understand that the other quotes we had been given (typically for Aetna) didn't include the extra riders necessary in Wisconsin and Minnesota to equal a Plan G in other states. He then pulled up a quote for Mutual of Omaha, which gives a household discount of 12% just for having someone else age 60+ in the household. Known as the Basic in the state of WI, the premium quoted was $141/month, which included the rider with the $198 deductible.
We should have been told
So far, so good. We loved everything about our experience with the agent: informative, personable, crystal clear explanation of Medicare Supplement Plans in WI. What's the problem? The representative we spoke with turned out to be the owner of his company... but that company was NOT HealthCare. In other words, HealthCare transferred us over to a third-party broker when we made the phone call to HealthCare's toll-free number, without being informed beforehand.
Flung into the abyss
This means that, essentially, HealthCare is a broker of brokers and doesn't provide any services of their own. That's an issue because their rating at the Better Business Bureau is a mediocre "B", with 18+ complaints filed at the time of our review. And, the broker with whom we were unwittingly connected didn't turn up on a BBB search either. So, when you contact HealthCare, you literally have no idea who you'll wind up getting your coverage from - which broker or insurance company is going to get your call, and whether or not they're a source of honest information.
Bad blind date
That's just too much uncertainty for our liking. Why get a quote that feels like a bad blind date when you can choose a broker with more transparency - or go directly to the Medicare Supplement Plan provider of your choice? HealthCare has too many questionable practices to earn a high rating from us, and we think you'll have a more reassuring experience with another company in our reviews.
Medicare Supplement Plans are given letter names, so it can be easy to wind up confused. Plus, plans and their coverage are always changing. For example, Plan F was considered the go-to package, but it was discontinued for anyone starting coverage after January 1, 2020. Its replacement at the time, Plan G, offered similar benefits - fully covering that extra 20% and more - but added an annual deductible to the equation.
Another factor to keep in mind is the "guaranteed issue period". For the six months following your 65th birthday, you can get a Medicare Supplement Plan with no requirements beyond paying your premiums. By law, you can't be excluded for any health conditions, although your premiums will be higher if you're a smoker. But, once that grace period concludes, insurers can require more detailed information about your health conditions such as diabetes or heart conditions, and you can expect your premiums and available plans to change accordingly.
When buying a Medicare Supplement Plan, you have two basic routes: buy directly from an insurance company or go through a broker. Going to an insurance company you already trust can be an appealing option. You'll typically find the best rates for that particular insurer. On the other hand, using a broker often gives you access to not just your favorite insurance company but many others. So, with one process you can get the best rates from a number of providers at the same time - including that rate you got when you contacted the insurance company directly.
Whether you decide to use a broker or to buy directly from an insurance company, it's wise to do your research beforehand. The last thing you want is for an eager rep to steer you towards a plan that doesn't fit your needs, so take the time to browse several providers' websites before getting in touch. However, because Medicare rules state that all plans have to be sold in person or on the phone, you'll eventually have to speak with someone to finalize your Medicare Supplement Plan.
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Medicare Supplement Plans available today. We hope our in-depth evaluations help you save time and money by giving you the information you need to choose the best provider and plan for your needs!
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