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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

How to get a better deal on a medigap policy

By Kimberly Lankford





What You need to know to prevent being taken advantage of


Premiums for my medigap policy have been increasing over the past few years. What can I do to lower the cost?

If you like the coverage offered by your current policy, see if other companies are offering a better deal for the same-letter plan. Under federal law, insurers who provide medigap coverage -- which helps pay out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services, including Part A and Part B -- may sell only standardized policies identified by letters A through N in most states. Each policy identified by the same letter must offer the same benefits. Usually, the only difference between same-letter policies is cost -- and the price range can be surprisingly large. A man who recently enrolled in Medicare may be charged $934 to $5,590 annually for the most popular, Plan F policy, according to PlanPrescriber.com, a plan-comparison tool.

Some insurers also offer high-deductible Plan F policies, which require you to pay $2,070 before coverage kicks in. Premiums for these policies range from about $600 to $960 per year.

Also look at Plan N, a newer plan that includes some cost-sharing. Plan N covers many of the same expenses as Plan F, including the full $1,156 Part A deductible for inpatient hospital services. But it doesn’t cover the $140 Part B deductible, and there is also a $20 co-payment for doctors’ office visits and a $50 co-payment for emergency-room visits. The average Plan N policy in PlanPrescriber’s database costs a man $1,470 a year, compared with $2,107 a year for Plan F.



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Or consider switching to a Medicare Advantage plan during open enrollment this fall. These all-in-one plans provide medical and prescription-drug coverage through private insurers, and you cannot be rejected or charged more because of your health. The premiums for Medicare Advantage plans are generally lower than if you buy medigap coverage plus a Medicare Part D prescription-drug plan, but you are usually limited to a network of doctors and hospitals. Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans runs from October 15 to December 7 for plans that take effect on January 1, 2013.

If you go with a medigap policy, pay attention to the pricing system. Some plans base their pricing on “issue age,” which means that their rates rise with medical inflation. Some are “attained age” policies, whose prices increase every year with the policyholder’s age and also track medical inflation. And some are “community rated” policies, which charge everyone in the community the same price regardless of age. The lowest-cost issue-age or community-rated policy is usually cheaper than an attained-age policy over time.

Unlike Part D prescription-drug and Medicare Advantage plans, there is no open-enrollment season for medigap policies. Insurers can’t reject you or charge more based on your health if you get a medigap plan within six months of signing up for Medicare Part B. After that, you may switch medigap policies at any time, but you could be rejected or charged more because of your health. Because some medigap policies cost much more than others, you could still save money on a new policy even if you have moderate health issues. Also, a few companies do offer policies without medical underwriting in some states, and some insurers let you switch into Plan N regardless of your health as long as your old plan was with the same company.

To compare prices for medigap policies in your area, go to http://www.planprescriber.com/ PlanPrescriber.com, or get a list of prices for medigap plans in your area from most state insurance departments (see the state regulator map for links). For a list of companies selling medigap policies in your area, see the medigap page at Medicare.gov. You can also get help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (go to Shiptalk.org to find your local program); for personalized help with medigap and Part D coverage, for $175, go to Allsup Medicare Advisor.

For more information about medigap plans, see "Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare" from the Centers from Medicare & Medicaid Services (click the link at the bottom of the Learn about Medigap Policies box on the Medigap Policy Search page).

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Kimberly Lankford is a Contributing Editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

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All contents copyright 2012 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Media Services. All rights reserved.