For retirees shopping Medicare plans in the insurance space, coverage and flexibility significantly varies depending on whether you have an individual plan or group plan. Depending on the type of plan you have, you may need to research and switch plans annually to optimize coverage and have something that fits your needs.
Humana Associate Vice President of Group Medicare Eric St. Pierre joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the differences between individual and group Medicare plans and how to get the best coverage to meet your medical needs.
The advantages of a group approach to Medicare
Humana is one of the top five insurers in the nation and supports legacy employers offering group Medicare plans to their retirees.
St. Pierre discussed the difference between individual and group plans under the Medicare program. People in each market have different needs and considerations when it comes to shopping for Medicare plans.
Individual plans are for people who specifically do not have access to group coverage through their retirement plan. These people tend to be independent contractors.
Those in group plans tend to have greater buying power — they enjoy lower group rates and more flexible customization options. The group itself can regularly assess the plan to make sure it provides the best coverage for its members. Labor unions are typically involved in these group plans.
St. Pierre said he is a proponent of the group plans, as long as the group can continue to support the plan and continue to support retirees and families. He said one of the things he is most proud of is that average monthly costs for his company’s plans have only risen $3 in the last five years.
In addition to incurring greater costs and less flexibility, individual plans also tend to change more from year to year. St. Pierre advised those on individual plans to research their options on an annual basis to ensure they have the best coverage, as quality and options can change dramatically.
A healthy market for better care
Humana by no means has an exclusive on group Medicare plans, though the company is among the top three in the space. St. Pierre said competition in this marketplace is a good thing, as it brings in better results and improved packages.
All group Medicare plans and the companies that provide them are regulated by the federal government for quality assurance. St. Pierre stated that the plans are as good as traditional Medicare plans and in many cases much better, offering greater flexibility at a lower cost by leveraging group buying power.
St. Pierre said his best advice for people interested in group Medicare plans is to call his office at 860-841-7233. His job is to talk to people to help them make informed decisions.