and insurers. The following chart illustrates the range in monthly premium for the three most popular plans:
While price is an important consideration, consumers should also consider an insurer's stability, benefits and service. Comparison shopping can result in considerable cost savings, but the process can also help consumers evaluate what is most important to them thereby ensuring that they get a policy with the benefits that suit them best, from a company that has the services they most want. For instance, some insurers, but not all, offer automated claims processing, 24-hour customer service, on-line Internet services, and toll-free phone numbers.
To compile the data for the premium comparison publication, the Department of Insurance surveyed Medicare Supplement insurers and instructed them to “quote” monthly premiums for various Medigap products for a healthy, non-smoking hypothetical applicant at age 65, 70, 75 and 80. Insurers were asked to provide quotes for seven different counties: Cochise Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma. Due to space constraints, the printed version of the publication includes quotes for the five counties with the greatest population of Medicare Beneficiaries (Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal and Yavapai). To see the full survey results for all seven counties, including Cochise and Yuma, consumers can visit the Publications page on the Department's web site at www.id.state.az.us.
The Medicare Supplement Premium Comparison should be used in conjunction with “Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide To Health Insurance For People With Medicare“ (published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) which provides a detailed description of the benefits under each of the 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plans. Whether a first time Medicare Supplement shopper or long time policy owner, it is important to know your options before you begin comparison shopping.
Another invaluable resource for Medigap shoppers is the Arizona State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). SHIP offers free counseling on Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance and related insurance products. Consumers can call toll free 1-800-432-4040, or email requests to [email protected].