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Sunday, September 19th
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.
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.
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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