How much do Medicare supplements cost?

alisandeOctober 1, 2005

I'll qualify for Medicare in a few years (I think). I've been paying for my own private health insurance and have assumed that when Medicare kicks in I'll save some money. I know Medicare isn't exactly free, and one must have some sort of supplemental policy, but still, I thought the total would be less than the amount I pay now.

However, I was talking to someone the other day who is 70 years old and pays over $400 a month for his supplemental policy. Do they really cost that much??



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My personal opinion is that unless you have serious health problems, your monthly premiums will be much more that your paying the 20% that's due after Medicare pays. The doctor may charge $100 for the visit, but if Medicare APPROVES only $30, that's all he gets. Medicare pays 80%or $24 and you pay 20% or $6. For the average person's 20% part of doctor and Hospital bills to be over $400.00 then the entire medical cost for EACH month would have to be an APPROVED amount of $2000.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 1:26PM
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I pay $157. for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and I choose my won Dr., Hosp. etc. First had United Health Care through AARP, but premiums kept rising, and went it went to $217. I dropped out. I wouldn't be without it if I had to eat cold cereal three times a day, but that's just my opinion.
With Medicare, your Dr. must agree to accept it & many are no longer taking Medicare patients because their billing costs are so high.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 8:07PM
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Going on Medicare this Dec. which is hard to's $78.20 for part B & part A is free.

As for a supplement I'm currently looking into that. The Blue Cross plan I'm looking at is $69.00 & Secure Horizons is far less. Of course, one must take the part B in order to qualify for these plans.

I may be doing a COBRA to keep my current ins.(Fed emply) as it includes dental & eyecare & is only $ I think I can only do that for 6mo, but uncertain as I meet with these folks next week.

Hope the former helps you feel a little more at ease with what is coming for you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 1:51AM
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This is one thing that is going to keep changing. You have a good idea to start looking into what's available so that you will know what is best for you when the time comes. We just got the new booklet about Prescription coverage today. Some of the plans are less than 30.00 per month, and then there are those where the sky is the limit. I will be glad when they start sending lists of what drugs are covered.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 5:54PM
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You didn't mention the deductibles, part B is $110.00 annually. The Part A deductible is $912 and could happen more than once a year. You pay 100% of this if you don't have a supplement.
My husband has Mutual of Omaha, he pays about $1,400 annually.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 3:41PM
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I am 67 and my mutual of omaha supplement ins just increased to 204.00 is this average.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 3:15PM
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This is an old thread! I'm paying $135.88 for United Healthcare's supplement via AARP. The Part C coverage is exactly the same as I was getting from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, who charged considerably more.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 4:37PM
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gcm1944, shop around! These policies vary a lot, even for the same coverage, same location. Check the company affiliated with AARP, which I think is the one Alisande mentioned (but I'm not positive).

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 6:13PM
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My DH pays no monthly premium for his Medicare Advantage. I know this varies by state.
I don't see any reason to pay for a policy.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:29PM
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Medicare Advantage is entirely different. It is considered Medicare Part "C", like an HMO. He pays thru a deduction from his SS check, like you would with a Pert "B" coverage.

It is NOT the same as a Medicare supplement plan, not in the slightest. It is an opt-out for Medicare part B and supplemental coverage, but it is not available everywhere. You are limited to the doctors in your plan. In my area, for example, there is no Advantage plan even available.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:15PM
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I don't see any reason to pay for a policy.

As always, there's no free lunch. Others here probably know more about Medicare Advantage plans than I, but I know a few things. One is that they are marketed very heavily. They're advertised on TV, and some companies hold community meetings where they pitch these plans to the public. There must be a reason why the insurance companies want us to choose their Advantage plans. I suspect the "advantage" is theirs.

Advantage plans are HMOs and PPOs. They might not charge a monthly fee, but be prepared to get out your checkbook if you require medical care. Those co-pays can add up.

I've read that the government is unlikely to support Advantage plans indefinitely, BTW.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:19PM
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My DH payed nothing for his medicare Advantage plan either and was hospitalized 10 times last year including 2 separate vascular surgeries for blockages in his legs (lost 3 toes), heart problems, electrolyte imbalance and blood transfusions. All separate incidents, and all but one planned surgery, through the ER. Stays ranged from a few days to 3 weeks.

Looking at bills for thousands of $$ our payment was $300. per incident. There is also a limit for out of pocket payments in a single year. Ours was $3,400. You have to read the literature and all those seminars help too.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:48PM
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The premiums get deducted from your social security check, as are the Medicare B charges.

It is NOT free. Medicare A, hospitalization with limits, is included. Part B or Part C(Advantage) is deducted from the SS payments.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Here's a link for more info.

Here is a link that might be useful: Medigap policies

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 1:45PM
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Yes, I am aware all recipents pay the same amount out of Social Security checks. I was addressing the question of supplement plans, ones that add to Medicare. His Advantage plan is not an HMO, it is a PPO with Blue Cross, as mentioned now the annual out of pocket limit is $3,600, if there are no expenses I've saved all the premium payments. If there expenses they are subject to the limit is $3,600. Hardly enough to break the bank. The medicare Advantage plan is free, as in no premiums.
The plan has a good subsidy from the government to the insurance company, not from the insured. And yes, it may be suspended at some time in the future, but in the meantime I've saved lots of money in premiums.
If one doesn't like the plan, find the one you like, I'm just putting out the plan that I found to be the best for my DH.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 9:48PM
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"medicare Advantage plan is free." Again, that's the payment deducted from your SS payment, it is not free. You have opted out of regular Medicare A & B for an Advantage plan, for which you pay, same as would a person enrolled in Part B.

As for supplemental plans or Medigap, you have a good plan if it covers everything. For many people, an Advantage plan is a poor choice. It is very dependent on where you live.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:34PM
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My husband is a doctor and I've worked in medical billing for many years. Most doctors do not take Medicare Advantage because they pay the doctors practically nothing.

In hospital, you must find a specialist who will agree to take it. Not so easy. You cannot choose specialists the same way you could with regular Medicare.

The big, for-profit insurance companies make a lot of money from people who take these plans. Why do you think they offer it? They take your Medicare money and only pay a certain percentage toward your medical care.

In NY, it is almost impossible to find any decent doctor who accepts these plans. Buyer beware!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 12:44AM
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I found in California this to be the best plan plan for my DH, I am not on Medicare so I don't have personal experience but I did research before signing my DH up for it, never went to a meeting or sales pitch, just researched online. My close friend who has been on it, likes it, also had relatives on an HMO Advantage plan which I did not like. I do know insurance is state specific, plans in different states are very different. I know Plan B is paid for out of social security income, but I am not referring to that part, I am referring to "supplemental" insurance premiums outside basic medicare coverage, for the Medicare Advantage Anthem PPO plan there is no monthly premium. My DH or other friends I know have not had any problem securing their choice of doctor.
I know this plan is not desirable (or available) for others, each person has different wants and needs. Again, I'm just telling others my experience.

Here is a link that might be useful: anthem

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:24AM
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You mean Medicare Part B, not a "Plan B" which is a type of medigap policy. Again, with an Advantage plan, you opt out of Part B Medicare and replace it with the Advantage plan, which is also called Medicare Part C. So the Medicare Advantage plan is paid by the deduction from your SS payment.

If you have A Medicare Advantage program, you do not have a Medicare Part B plan.

I am not trying to belabor the point, but to make sure that people understand that Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, is not free, and it replaces your regular Medicare Part B coverage, paid for by a deduction from your SS check. If you are not getting a monthly SS payment, then you are billed for your Part B or Advantage payment.

Works for some, not for others.

Here is a link that might be useful: Medicare Part C

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 12:05PM
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I give up, I do understand the plan, I did misstate the word plan instead of the word part. I'm saying there are no monthly premiums for the plan. but it seems this is misunderstood. Fair enough... If one doesn't want it fine for you.
It is my understanding all medicare recipients are paying for part B, so I was discussing, explaining the additional premium paid by some for additional coverage are not paid by others.
I'm sure I am not explaining my point well, but just advise people to check out all their options for Medicare+.
It is difficult to discuss any of this on a national level since it varies much by state.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:51PM
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I have Medicare, Parts A & B. I also have health insurance as a retirement benefit. My private insurance is creditable for drugs (so I don't have to bother with the blizzard of drug plans that starts arriving in the fall) and also picks up most of what Medicare Part B does not.

Here is a link that might be useful: Understandable information

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Sishipup, do you really think we wouldn't have noticed if payments were withdrawn from our SS checks? DH didn't pay for his but I did pay for my Advantage plan last year because I chose the plan that includes Silver Sneakers. It cost me $59/mo and I was billed and paid for it quarterly with my credit card. Nothing was taken out of either of our SS payments.

I don't know why you insist on giving information on something not even offered in your area, when I have been using for a few years and know what we pay. Advantage plans differ in amounts and benefits from company to company and also year to year, but especially from one location to another.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 5:13PM
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Oh, forgot to mention that I know the standard medicare deduction is taken out of each of our SS payments(somewhere around $100/mo), but that is taken out no matter what extra health policy you do or do not get.

Now that amount really does bother me, because it is the same amount no matter how much SS check is. DH's SS check is twice mine, but we pay the same amount. I know many must get way less and way more but that amount remains the same, so its a large percentage of my check but a piddly amount to some.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:29PM
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That's an interesting point, Breenthumb--one I hadn't thought of. Last year Medicare doubled my SS deduction because I sold a piece of property. The $200 I'm paying now represents a substantial percentage of my total SS payment. A friend whose SS payment is far more than mine had her deduction doubled as well, for a similar reason, but the $200 is a much smaller fraction of her total.

Incidentally, although I explained to Medicare that the property sale was a one-time deal, and my income would be far lower the following year (2011), they said they would wait two years before revisiting and possibly recalculating my case.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:47PM
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DH and I have both had Advantage plans since we were eligible for Medicare. Here's how it works in our state:

We still pay the Part B Medicare premium (about $100 per month) which is deducted from our SS checks. Then we each pay another $59 for Advantage, which is also deducted (we had a choice to pay it separately or have it deducted). We have co-pays for almost everything (except certain preventive procedures and a physical each year), with a cap of $3,400 each year. Some Advantage plans have dental and vision included. The benefits are often more than what is offered by Medicare Part B. A couple of years ago, we were thinking of moving 65 miles away and the very same Advantage plan would have cost us another $70 per month, each, just living in another county. Some years we have had a $0 co-pays. Then that company stopped offering Advantage plans. Our first year, we were in a plan with no cap and DH had unexpected surgeries, MRSA, and we had co-pays of well over $4,000. So, I learned to check out whether there was a cap and how high it was. We have always subscribed to plans where we could go to whatever doctor we chose (a very few refuse Medicare patients and one year, doctors refused the plan - that had $0 monthly premium and $0 co-pays - so I ended up enrolling, within 90 days of when the plan started, in a different plan that doctors would accept). It's very complicated as it takes several hours each year, online, of comparing plans for what we think will work best for us. Part D is even worse as DH takes over 10 meds.

But, overall, it's much, much better than any health insurance we had before reaching age 65 (we had to enroll in private plans for about 6 years before being eligible for Medicare).

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:46AM
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Here is a chart showing the higher premiums. It is true, you can be a past high income individual with no current higher premiums or the reverse, lower past income with current high income higher premiums.

Here is a link that might be useful: Medicare Premiums

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:34PM
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I pay $187 for my BCBS and it is worth every penny of it. I never fill out paper work or pay a dime for anything except the premiums, even the deductables are paid. I do pay for an ocassional shot like tetnus.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:10PM
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I felt the same way about my BCBS, Emma, and now I feel the same way about the United Healthcare coverage via AARP. Everything is exactly the same; the only difference is the AARP policy costs less. I wish I had known this a few years earlier and saved myself some money.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:19PM
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BCBS is who I know. They were the administrator of my husband's company's insurance and he was with that company for 37 years. I am 75 years old and don't need the hassles or worry that bring on a change.

My sister tried to get me and our Mom to change to a cheaper company and I told Mom, "don't change". I was right my Sis's company moved out of the area and she was struggling to find another company.

I don't know how to say this without it sounding wrong, but will say it anyway. I am not rich, but I don't have to worry about money. At this age my new goal is to enjoy our savings. I am going to disappoint my heir. LOL Here is an example of the things I do. My eyes are to bad for road travel so......... We have an old historic hotel downtown that has been renovated by Drury and I am going to spend two nights there just for the fun on it. Wanna join me for happy hour. LOL

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 9:09AM
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Emma, I would love to join you for happy hour! I admire your attitude; however, I'm following my mother-in-law's edict, "Don't go into principal." It seems like a good idea to me, since I have no idea how long my savings need to last. Ideally, neither my heirs nor I will be disappointed. :-)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 11:40AM
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alisande, I am fortunate that my husband stayed at the same company for 37 years and that he signed over his pension to me at a $100 loss on his pension. I have his pension and draw soc sec at his amount. AND thanks to the fed government I have an extra $1,000. income this month. LOL
About the principle, I have protected it by not investing it in the stock market. Once a month when I go in to pay off my CC bill, they look at my account and then ask me if I would like to speak to a money person. My reply is "no, I want it liquid, I am spending it". Usually I get a "good for you" comment.

I wish you were here, I want to ride amtrack to San Antonio and spend a few days at a Druny Inn on the river walk. But I hate to do it by myself. I think I am a bit of a coward.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 1:52PM
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