Well I have to say that I have heard this from a lot of people this week. AARP United HealthCare Options each year about this time, sends a letter to all their enrollees informing them of the proposed rate increase to begin January 1. This letter states that this increase has been submitted to the New York State Department of Finance Services, so it is the not the final word. The formal announcement of the actual price increase will come to you probably the end of October, beginning of November starting January 1st.
In New York State the pricing for Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap) are based on your County of Residence. This means that everyone within the county pays the same price.
Currently the most popular Medigap plans are those sold by AARP United HealthCare Options (UHC). UHC has for many years had the lowest rates, so most people chose this company. But you may remember that in our part of the country, we have other companies who are coming in at a lower monthly rate for this type of product. This has happened in just the last two years. Univera, BC/BS of WNY and Transamerica Financial all offer Medigap plans that currently cost less per month than the United Healthcare Plans. These companies may also increase rates for 2021, we don’t know that yet.
UHC’s proposed price increase will take place as of January of 2021. That is the good news. I also can tell you that is a pretty big increase (14.9%), bigger than we have seen in the past. Even with these proposed price increases, UHC premiums are still lower than most other Medicare Supplement Insurance companies. Although as I just mentioned there are at least three different companies offering lower premiums on some of their Medigap plans.
If you have a Medicare Supplement Plan and will be paying more in the future, you may want to consider switching to an alternative company or plan. When you buy a Medicare Supplement Plan your coverage from any company is exactly the same coverage. If you buy a Plan G from Humana, or Globe Life, or Univera or BC/BS, or UHC- you are buying the exact same coverage! I find it hard to justify paying more money for the exact same product. That statement is true no matter what Medigap Plan you are talking about. You choose the level of coverage you want (Letter Plan) and then buy it from the least expensive company.
The other important thing to remember is that in New York State the Medigap plans are always open enrollment, so you can change the plan (letter) you have and the company you buy it from any time you want. So if you are feeling like you are paying too much, evaluate the options and switch to a more appropriate level of coverage or a more comfortable premium for your coverage needs and budget.
I hope this helped to clarify the proposed premium increase letter you received from United HealthCare Options. This proposed premium increase is not a sure thing, yet, but UHC is notifying you about what may happen.
I understand that this proposed premium increase will peck away at your monthly budget. I understand your frustration. That is why I think it is worth at least looking into and considering other Medigap Plans and Insurance companies to see what they are offering. I am all about paying less when a lower price is available.
Senior Life Matters is a community based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions and concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call us at 716-720-9797 or e-mail at SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.