The Tragic Story of Choosing the Wrong Medicare Supplement
Once upon a time a couple turning 65 trusted their insurance agent to enroll them on a Medicare supplement. The agent signed them up on the one insurance company with which he was contracted to sell supplements. The company offered low premiums on its supplements, and it had a name that the couple recognized. So, the agent sold them each a Medicare supplement with that company.

But this is not the kind of once-upon-a-time story where the couple lives happily ever after. Although the supplements worked well when they saw their doctors—and paid well on medical tests they had run—six months after their supplements went into effect, the couple received their first rate increase. And it seemed like a hefty one—12%!

Although they were startled by such a rate increase—and so soon after buying the supplements—they said to each other, “Well, this must be the way it works with supplements. After all, aren’t all Medicare insurance companies the same?”

Yet, these increases kept coming—every six months. When added together, these increases averaged 20-25% per year! Was everyone experiencing this kind of rate increase?! And if this pattern of rate increases were to continue on their fixed income, how would they be able to afford their premiums in ten years?!

READ ALSO: Medicare Supplement Premiums Out of Control? What You Can Do About It

After three years, they decided that something needed to be done about their situation. They remembered the agent telling them when they signed up for these supplements: “This is a good company, so there is nothing to worry about. And, after all, you can change your supplements at any time.” So, they called their agent. They didn’t reach him, so they left a message.

Weeks later, after not hearing from him, they called the insurance company that carried their supplements. When they asked about their agent, they were told he was no longer contracted with that company.

So, where to turn? They talked to friends who referred them to an agent they used; and they called that agent. They explained their situation to their friends’ agent who, in turn, asked them some questions about their health.

In response they asked, “Why do you ask about our health?” “Because,” he explained, “after you move out of your introductory open enrollment period, you can only change to another supplement or to another supplement company if you are able to health qualify. The introductory open enrollment period for a supplement typically ends six months after your Medicare Part B goes into effect.”

They were shocked! But our agent told us we could change supplements at any time!” “Well,” responded their friends’ agent, “You can change anytime you can health qualify. So, let’s see if you can qualify.”

READ ALSO: Changing Your Medicare Supplement Can Save You Money: Here’s How

When he found out that the husband was diabetic with a history of heart issues, he shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I won’t be able to find a company, at this time, that will take you.” Upon learning that the wife had COPD and was taking three different blood pressure medications to try to control her high blood pressure, he gave the same response to her. “I am so sorry! I would love to help; I just can’t. The only option we currently have of reducing your premiums is to look at a Medicare Advantage Plan in the fall—between October 15 and December 7. As long as you don’t have End-Stage Renal Disease, your health won’t be an issue for enrolling on an Advantage Plan. Just keep in mind that Advantage Plans work very differently from supplements.”

The couple was shocked and disappointed. They loved how their supplement worked, especially the fact they could use any doctor [only 2% of seniors have reported difficulty finding a doctor who took Medicare] or hospital that works with Medicare—without having to get a referral. In addition, they have loved the financial protection their supplements had given them, as they had little or no out-of-pocket expense on their medical claims. [This, of course, depends on the kind of supplement one gets.]

The couple felt even worse when they learned from their friends’ agent that not all insurance companies have the kind of rate increases that their insurance company had doled out to them. Some companies only raise rates every twelve months, instead of the six-month increase they had been receiving from their company; and, of those, some have had a rate history of single digits (well under 10%), rather than the 20-25% increases they had experience on an annual basis. If only they had talked to this agent first!

There is a moral to this story: Not all supplement companies are created equal. Find a trusted insurance agent who is experienced with Medicare coverage and who is independent—preferably, one who represents many different insurance companies. If you do, you can inquire about the history of rate increases different insurance companies have had on their supplements. While no one can predict the future, a reliable, experienced, independent agent can give you wise guidance based on past performance. As a result, there is a greater likelihood that you will continue to enjoy the benefits of your supplement for years, while affording the premiums of that supplement.

Linda WilliamsLinda Williams
10:08 12 Jul 23
I had a 5 star experience and would recommend him. Always returning my calls promptly, very helpful and informative, listened to what my needs was regarding my Medicare. I truly felt comfortable with John's help to navigate through the maze of Medicare
Cindy KulakCindy Kulak
14:51 18 Jun 23
John is very knowledgable, honest and ethical in helping clients evaluate Medicare options and get enrolled. He made the process extremely easy for myself and my husband.
Leeann MoosLeeann Moos
17:26 06 Apr 23
When I became eligible for Medicare, my phone was constantly under attack from Medicare options sales folk. Since I needed help understanding my options and life is too short to do business with annoying people a little research was in order. Thats how I found John. His other customers seem very pleased with his service and I decided to give him a try. I was NOT disappointed! He did an excellent job for me, is extremely personable and I could not be happier. Thank you John
Rose WrightRose Wright
16:07 05 Apr 23
I am so thankful for the help that Mr. John was able to assist me with medicare information. After being bombarded with letters and phone calls you just need someone who can walk you through the confusion. And after getting all the info and the best plan and benefits for what i needed. I am glad that He was there for me.Thank you so very much,Rose Wright
Steve HenselSteve Hensel
21:08 04 Apr 23
Claeys Group is great to work with. John is truly professional, knowledgeable and makes the entire process flow so much more smoothly than I expected. I would highly recommend him.
Deborah RounsavallDeborah Rounsavall
14:25 07 Mar 23
I changed from my person finance planning group to John for help. Others led me astray. John is very responsive and follows up promptly. Even helped me on the weekend at the end of year to get all my documents in on time so I didn't lose insurance coverage. Explains all the options in a manner that us rookies can understand it. I highly recommend John.
Setella ParksSetella Parks
13:12 07 Mar 23
John's knowledge is invaluable when it comes to navigating the murky water of Medicare plans. He answered all our questions in a manner we could understand and helped us compare benefits between plans, services, and providers readily available in our area. I am so happy we called on him to assist us! He handled EVERYTHING professionally and patiently and has followed up to make sure we are good. Highly recommend his 5 star service!
Sherry JonesSherry Jones
21:01 23 Feb 23
John was recommended by my sister-in-law, who spoke very highly of him. He wrote out the differences between policies and explained it step by step to me so I could understand which policy would be best for my needs. He was professional but also down to earth so I could be at ease. He did this at my bed side which was such a blessing for me. I highly recommend John for your Insurance needs.
19:40 20 Feb 23
We were recommended by friends to call John Claeys for our insurance. He came twice to gather information on what we were looking for and returned with information and details. We are delighted to have John Claeys as our agent and would recommend to our friends and anyone else to call John Claeys today.Tom and Debbie
Joyce SandvikJoyce Sandvik
20:32 30 Aug 22
John Claeys came to our house to talk about all aspects of Medicare. He wrote out some information on a notepad as he talked and answered our questions. He gave us the handwritten notes along with printouts of more information specific to my needs. My husband and I took o a few days to discuss the options. John took a list of my medications and researched all the available prescription insurance policies for me. He narrowed it down to the best policy (best prescription prices) for me. It was so easy and I felt confident I was getting exactly what I need when I turn 65. Every September, he will research prescription policies from my updated list of medications to find the best policy for my needs. Thanks to John Claeys for making this transition extremely easy and effortless.
Marilyn ScottMarilyn Scott
09:35 23 Jul 22
John enrolled my husband into Medicare 4 years ago. I knew then I wanted him to help me with my Medicare when it was my time to enroll. John helped me recently. He is very knowledgeable, humble and so patient. He made sure I had the best plan for me. He genuinely cares about his clients. He is the best insurance consultant! I highly recommend John for your Medicare needs!!
James MartinJames Martin
20:31 20 Jun 22
John did a great job of providing many options for my insurance. He is very thorough.
Judy MarkmanJudy Markman
17:02 20 Jun 22
John goes above and beyond to find the best insurance to fit your needs at an affordable price. I definitely recommend!
Dave LemingDave Leming
16:56 20 Jun 22
John was referred to my wife and I as we began to transition to use Medicare as our insurance options. He was very knowlegeable about all things related to government programs and supplemental options as well. I would strongly recommend his services to anyone requiring such support.
Ed HareEd Hare
14:16 08 Jun 22
John was recommended to us by a friend as we were turning 65 and having to make decisions on our medicare and advantage plan choices.John was thorough, informed, patient and engaged in helping us wade through all the minutia we were receiving to package the best set of programs for our future healthcare needs.We are happy and confident as healthcare needs arise having John at our side.Debi and Ed Hare
Julie SimpsonJulie Simpson
02:36 14 May 22
We selected an awesome advisor in John Claeys! John was dedicated to our needs in counseling our new Insurance choices with Medicare. He is sincere in getting his customers into the program that is best for their situation. John was sincere in explaining the process and we are happy to refer him to others! Steve and Julie Simpson
Sherry HilliardSherry Hilliard
16:55 18 Feb 22
John was extremely helpful when I had to select my Medicare supplemental policy. He is very knowledgeable in the various insurance products. I would recommend John to anyone needing insurance, and in fact, I have recommended him to several of my friends.
Margie SmithMargie Smith
01:08 16 Feb 22
Highly recommend Claeys Group Ins Service, John has assisted with my Medicare supplement and RX choices for past couple years. He is very knowledgeable of the various companies and policies available. Saved money and introduced me with a 5star company.
16:56 10 Feb 22
John came to my house and explained the process of signing up to Medicare in an understandable way. He gave me the steps to take and assisted in the planning. With his help, I got it done. Before he came, it all seemed overwhelming. He's so genuinely nice, and I felt like I had known him for a long time. I highly recommend him, and in fact, already have recommended him to friends and family.
Rebecca NelsonRebecca Nelson
21:00 04 Feb 22
John Claeys is a great individual to work with you on insurance needs. He searched out the best policy and an affordable one that I could handle. He researches every year to be sure I’m getting the most for my money! Highly recommend this group.
Dorys GardensDorys Gardens
12:20 23 Jan 22
John was so pleasant to work with. He explained everything clearly and did not pressure me to make a decision one way or the other. He shopped for the best customized drug plan which will be saving me money in the long run. I highly recommend letting him guide you through the medicare process.

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