Medicare supplements, also commonly referred to as Medigap coverage, help replace some of the essential coverage left off by Original Medicare. Otherwise, a considerable chunk of your medical and equipment expenses could come out of your pocket.
In this article, Michael Steele, IHS’s Principal Owner and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) provides the unique insight you won’t find elsewhere into the agency’s top carriers, based on three core criteria: their rates, the coverage they offer, and their specialties.
1. Mutual of Omaha
|Company||A.M. Best Rating||Years in Business||Notes|
|Mutual of Omaha||A+, Superior||100+||Mutual company (you own a small share), fiscally conservative, ideal for those with fewer claims, supplement prices tend to be stable|
About Mutual of Omaha
Most Gen X and Y people have probably never heard of “Wild Kingdom,” a TV show that’s still broadcast in a more modern form on Animal Planet.
During the 1960s, however, the original “Wild Kingdom,” starring Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler, was the first American program chronicling nature in its awesomeness and beauty. Mutual of Omaha endorsed the show, so most Boomers at or nearing retirement are familiar with the company.
One of the aspects we like most about Mutual of Omaha is that they’re structured as a mutual company (hence, their name), versus a stock company. They have no shares of stock that trade on an exchange or over-the-counter markets, nor are their officers and directors under intense pressure from a Board to maximize profits at all costs, as are stock companies.
Instead, when you purchase a policy from a mutual company, you effectively own a tiny share in the company. As such, mutual companies are generally operated more conservatively, with greater emphasis on long-term financial stability over short-term profit and revenue maximization.
Why We Like Mutual of Omaha’s Medicare Supplements
In addition to their unique position as a mutual company, Michael Steele explains that “Mutual of Omaha has consistently been at the forefront of innovation and efficiency in the Medicare supplement world.”
“No other company I’ve brokered for has been run more effectively,” explains Michael. “From claims processing to customer and agent service, the company handles business with efficiency, and just flat out gets the job done.”
He adds: “Policies are issued quickly, and ID cards are promptly mailed to policyholders with minimal error. Their online tools are user-friendly for clients and agents alike. And the analytical tools they provide to brokers make handling hundreds or thousands of renewals per year much, much easier, and more streamlined than many other carriers.”
Mutual of Omaha’s Medicare Supplement Pricing
As far as Medicare supplement rates are concerned, Mutual of Omaha consistently maintains top-tier status on new business rates across the state and country, year in and year out.
“They’re able to do this by periodically rolling out new blocks of business with minimal claims experience every few years,” explains Michael. “As a result, we annually shop our client’s coverage and make recommendations to move into newer Omaha blocks of business when these opportunities present themselves.”
Mutual of Omaha’s underwriting tends to be more stringent than competitors in the marketplace, which in Michael’s view, is a positive. “Carriers that manage their claims exposure are much better equipped to maintain pricing stability in this market versus peers who do not underwrite their products as effectively,” he explains.
Price stability is a critical determination when choosing a Medigap policy, and IHS clients need to be cognizant of the fact that supplemental plan premiums increase incrementally over time.
“Therefore, it’s always wise to select highly-rated insurers that have large blocks of business on the books, as these carriers can typically absorb large claims much more easily than smaller competitors,” he adds.
“This is another reason to select Mutual of Omaha over smaller unknown carriers, many of which have little-to-no track record of proven Medicare Supplement underwriting experience.”
2. Aetna / Continental Life
|Company||A.M. Best Rating||Years in Business||Specialty|
|Aetna / Continental Life||A, Excellent||35+||#3 healthcare company by volume (22+ million policyholders), large presence in nearly all regions, lenient for type II diabetics who take oral medication|
About Aetna / Continental Life
Just about everyone in the country has heard the name Aetna, a health insurance company. Several years ago, when Obama Care (The Affordable Care Act) had been fully implemented, Aetna decided to diversify out of the small group and individual health insurance for those under the age of 65, and into the Medicare space.
Their largest and most well-known, acquisition was that of Continental Life (CL) and American Continental (AC), based out of Franklin, TN, who had written Medicare supplement policies in nearly every state in the nation for more than three decades.
Since their purchase, Aetna has grown Continental Life and American Continental into one of the top supplement carriers in the nation, with an extensive presence in nearly every geographical region.
What’s more, Aetna also offers Medicare Advantage products in just about every area of the country, and their products are similarly competitive in this space.
Why We Like Aetna / Continental Life’s Medicare Supplements
Aetna, like most insurance carriers, is a stock company, which holds the number three spot in the country among healthcare companies, by volume, with more than 22 million policyholders.
“Frankly, Aetna’s Medicare Advantage processes and operations are not as capable and have a long way to go,” says Michael, “although their supplement department is operated nearly as efficiently as Mutual of Omaha.”
Aetna’s underwriting guidelines are similar to Omaha’s, with one distinct difference: Aetna is typically more lenient when it comes to people with type II diabetes who take oral medication.
“For this reason, we look to Aetna in diabetes cases, along with similar other ailments,” Michael explains. “One of our agents will go through a series of health questions with the client over the phone to determine eligibility for coverage.”
Aetna / Continental Life’s Medicare Supplement Pricing
According to Michael, Aetna’s rate stability “has been impressively positive over the last decade or so, due in part to the buyouts, acquisitions, and Aetna’s adept ability to grow in the Medicare supplement marketplace.”
Aetna’s underwriting guidelines, coupled with their effective branding and marketing, have catapulted them to leadership status within the supplement marketplace. “I look for rate stability in the foreseeable future with industry leaders like Aetna and Mutual of Omaha,” Michael says.
3. Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Texas
|Company||A.M. Best Rating||Years in Business||Specialty|
|BCBS of Texas||N/A||90+||Liberal underwriting guidelines, no height/weight table, won’t decline based on many conditions (COPD, etc.)|
About BCBS of Texas
BCBS of Texas is a name just about everyone knows and trusts. Unfortunately, Michael explains that their Medicare supplement and individual medical lines have suffered as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation.
“The last two years have been a nightmare dealing with BCBS’ Medicare supplement,” Michael says. “In some cases, it can take more than 30 days for their underwriting department to issue new coverage. Their brokerage office is slow and poorly designed, with minimal ability to submit applications electronically,” he explains.
“For an agency like IHS, these factors really set us back in terms of processing time, and all of the frustrations that can go along with it.”
“Furthermore, whether you’re a client or a broker, every call is directed to a center in India, where most of the people who answer are not licensed insurance agents and have little-to-no experience with the US Medicare program,” he points out.
Why We Like BCBS of Texas’ Medicare Supplements
One area where BCBS of Texas shines, however, is when it comes to their more liberal underwriting guides, compared to other name brand carriers.
“For instance,” Michael explains, “BCBS no longer has a height/weight table, nor do they decline applicants based on several—sometimes serious—conditions, like COPD, and can often effectively handle these higher risk applicants with ease.”
BCBS of Texas’ Medicare Supplement Pricing
The reality is that BCBS of Texas’ small group insurance market is robust, and they have competitive rates.
“Their rate stability has been surprisingly effective given the number of cases they accept for insurance that would ordinarily be declined by most everyone else,” Michael says.
|Company||A.M. Best Rating||Years in Business||Specialty|
|Cigna Health||A, Excellent||200+||Very large organization, supplement plans in 38 states, guaranteed for life coverage|
About Cigna Health
Cigna is a name that just about everyone recognizes in the insurance industry, as they originally formed as the Insurance Company of North America (INA) in 1792 and today represent a Fortune 500 company.
Cigna Health (the branch that offers Medicare supplements), however, was founded much more recently in 1982. They’re headquartered in Bloomfield, CT.
Why We Like Cigna Health’s Medicare Supplements
Currently, Cigna Health offers Medicare supplement coverage in 38 states, where they have an extensive coverage network and give you the freedom to choose your doctors (nothing is out of network). Their policies are also guaranteed renewable for life, which means that you can’t be canceled other than non-payment of premium or material misrepresentation in your insurance application.
Cigna Health’s supplements also include access to additional no-cost benefits, such as their Healthy Rewards program, which provides discounts on everyday items that can help you live a healthy lifestyle—everything from fitness memberships, to eyeglasses and hearing aids.
Many of Cigna Health’s clients also seem to appreciate their health information line, which is staffed 24/7 by US-based registered nurses to help answer your questions, whether you were just diagnosed with a health condition and need more information, or if you can’t decide whether or not you should go to an urgent care center.
“Here at IHS Insurance Group, we’ve learned that Cigna Health has earned a reputation for outstanding US-based customer service,” Michael says, “and they make the application and quoting process super easy.”
Cigna Health’s Medicare Supplement Pricing
Based on the fact that they offer guaranteed-renewal supplement coverage, Cigna Health’s rates tend to be higher than some other providers.
However, Cigna Health also offers a significant household premium discount when two or more members enroll in a Cigna Medicare supplement policy, which could help make your rate more competitive.
IHS Insurance Group’s Texas Medicare Supplement Comparison
Here, we’ll pull together all of our details above into one handy table for quick and easy reference.
|Company||A.M. Best Financial Rating||Years in Business||Pricing||Specialty||Notes|
|Mutual of Omaha||A+, Superior||100+||Supplement prices tend to be stable||Ideal for those with fewer claims||Mutual company (you own a small share), fiscally conservative|
|Aetna / Continental Life||A, Excellent||35+||Positive pricing trends over the last decade||Aetna can be somewhat more lenient on type II diabetics who take oral medication||#3 healthcare company by volume (22+ million policyholders), large presence in nearly all regions|
|BCBS of Texas||N/A||90+||Robust, competitive rates||No height/weight table, can handle higher risk applicants (e.g., COPD, etc.)||Household name in the insurance industry, slow to issue new coverage and processing time can suffer as a result|
|Cigna Health||A, Excellent||35+||Tend to have higher rates than many competitors||Offer guaranteed-renewal-for-life coverage||Parent company has been in business 200+ years, several plan extras|
Bottom Line: Where to Turn When it Comes to Comparing Texas Medicare Supplement Plans?
The team at IHS Insurance Group works with some of the top Medicare supplement providers in Texas, as well as around the country. We have more than a decade of experience helping clients like you obtain the coverage you need at a price you can afford, so be sure to reach out with your questions!
Also, be sure to bookmark this page, and we’ll continue adding to the insurance carrier list, so you can remain as informed as possible.
In the meantime, if you’d like to instantly view up to 15 competitive carriers, review coverage details, and compare rates before speaking with one of our licensed agents, please click this link and be directed to our online quoting portal.
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