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Tuesday, 18 June 2019
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

The Best Places to Live for Medicare Coverage

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 12 June 2019 12:53

When determining which states are the best places to live for Medicare coverage, you have to factor in a few variables. Some of the things to consider are average plan cost, availability of plans, and state-specific rules regarding open enrollment. We’ve factored all of these in when deciding which states we think are the best places to live for Medicare coverage.

State-Specific Rules

Although Medicare is regulated by the national government, each state is allowed to set specific rules for its beneficiaries. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are great examples of this. Instead of the standardized Medigap plans, they all have their own form of Medigap plans that do not follow the standard model.

Another difference is that some states allow extra Medigap Open Enrollment periods, which means that you’ll have opportunities to change your Medigap plan without underwriting in the future.

For example, California and Oregon both have the Birthday Rule. This rule allows any Medigap enrollee to change to a different Medigap plan of equal or lesser coverage during a specific window of time surrounding their birthday month each year.

Missouri has a similar rule that allows its Medigap enrollees to change carriers during the time surrounding their plan’s anniversary date. The difference between this rule and the birthday rule is that Missourians must keep the same level of plan when switching during this open enrollment.

Connecticut, Maine, New York, Vermont, and Washington all have year-round open enrollment. Maine and Washington have a few stipulations, whereas the other three do not.

Average Medigap Cost

Medigap plan premiums are based on many things and can be different for everyone. Factors such as age, location, and tobacco usage can all influence your Medigap plan quotes. Variables that can cause some states to have higher premiums than others could be population size, percentage of the population that are seniors, and the number of plans available.

We found the top ten least and most expensive Medigap states based on research done by both Business Insider and HowMuch.net.

According to them, the top ten most expensive Medigap states (in order from most expensive to least expensive) are Massachusetts, Nevada, Louisiana, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Texas, Alaska, Florida, and California. The top ten least expensive (in the same order) are North Dakota, Virginia, Montana, Idaho, Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon, New Mexico, and Hawaii.

Living in a state with lower Medigap premiums could save you a bundle over the years.

Plan Availability per State

Medigap plans, Part C Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D plans are all sold by private insurance carriers. Therefore, each state offers different plans because not all insurance carriers operate in every state. Some states have an abundance of options available, while other states have very few options.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), Florida, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Washington, and Illinois, all have 100 or more Medicare Advantage plans available. However, Hawaii, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Rhode Island, Delaware, Vermont, Washington D.C., and Wyoming, all have 20 or less Medicare Advantage plans available.

There is one state that has no Medicare Advantage plans available, and that is Alaska. Not only do they not have any Medicare Advantage options, but they are also one of the most expensive states for Medigap.

As far as Part D plans, every state has at least 20 options. The states with 30 or more Part D options are California, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Our Top 5 Picks

Based on this information, we have chosen five states that we believe are some of the best places to live for Medicare coverage. In no specific order, our top five states are Oregon, Missouri, Washington, Maine, and New York.

All five have extra Medigap open enrollment periods, which is a big plus for many Medicare beneficiaries. Four out of the five states were chosen because they are among the least expensive Medigap states.

Although New York was ranked as the 12th most expensive Medigap state, it made our top five because of its year-round open enrollment and the fact that it has 173 available Medicare Advantage plans.

Every state in the country has its own set of pros and cons when it comes to Medicare coverage. It’s up to you to figure out which factor is the most important to you.

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