Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Plans 2017

Georgia Blue Cross Medicare supplement plans from Anthem. What’s new for 2018? SILVER SNEAKERS. How do their Medigap rates look? If you are turning 65 is a Medicare supplement plan right for you? Should you switch from my current supplement plan to Blue Cross? Do I have to wait until open enrollment or can I change plans now? How difficult is it to swap my current Medicare supplement plan for one with BCBSGA/Anthem?

Anthem Blue Cross introduced new Medicare supplement rates for 2018. Some rates went up. Others went down. Anthem is offering Medigap plans A, F, G and N. You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to purchase a Medicare supplement plan.

Should you switch plans or keep what you have? Questions? Just give us a call. You will never hear Press 1 for English.


2017 Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Surprises

Bob Dylan said “The times are a-changin'” and that is true for the Georgia Blue Medigap plans. Here are some of the things you can expect.

  • Silver Sneakers now available on all BCBSGA Medicare supplement plans
  • There are NO networks. Use any provider in the state or nationwide
  • NO medical underwriting if applying within your initial enrollment period
  • Medicare supplement plan G has returned
  • Rate discounts may apply if other household members are insured by Blue
  • New rate guarantee

How does this differ from the “old” Blue Cross plans? What is unique about BCBS supplement plans vs. what I can get from other carriers? What do I need to know that you aren’t telling me?

New and Improved or Just a New Look?

Don’t you hate it when products come in a new package and the bold print says “NEW LOWER PRICE!“? Looking closer you find the price is lower but you are also getting less. Has Blue Cross reinvented the Medicare supplement plan or is it the same as before, and just like everyone else?

The take away.

  • Silver Sneakers has always been available on BCBSGA Medigap plans
  • All Medicare supplement plans allow you do use any doctor or hospital. There are NEVER any networks
  • Every Medigap carrier must issue a policy to anyone who applies during their initial enrollment period. No one can be turned down.
  • Blue offered plan G for many years, then dropped it (along with Hi F) in 2015
  • Household discounts are available from most supplement carriers
  • The initial rate guarantee is only new to Blue Cross. Almost every other carrier has been doing this for years.

As the song goes, “Everything old is new again”.


The Take Away

Should you buy a Medicare supplement plan from Blue or not? How about changing from the plan you have now?

As with all other decisions about Medicare, the answer is “it depends”.

No one can tell you which plan is best for you. Only you can decide on the path and coverage that fits your needs and budget.

Here is all you need to know about the 2018 Anthem Blue Cross Medicare supplement plans.

  • They have the same plans other carriers have, just fewer choices
  • All supplement plans with the same assigned letter are identical in every way except the premium.
  • Don’t believe me? Look it up in the 2017 Medicare and You handbook. Page 81 under Medigap Policies Are Standardized.
  • Any doctor that accepts Medicare will also take your Medigap plan, regardless of the issuing carrier. Blue Cross hasn’t cornered the market on doctors.
  • After your initial 12 months Blue Cross can change your rates at any time with 60 days notice
  • Your renewal premium may increase because of increases on all BCBSGA plans plus higher rates due to age change
  • Most other GA carriers have offered plan G for years. This is the first time in 2 years that Blue has made plan G available. Will they continue to offer it or will it go away again?
  • What happens when a plan is discontinued? Most of the time the rates increase at a higher rate than plans that are still offered

Enroll Direct Today

If you want to compare 2018 Blue Cross Medicare supplement plans and rates direct with Blue you can. Review BCBSGA Medigap plans and rates and apply direct. Here you will see Anthem Blue Cross plans A, F, G and N.

You can also see how Blue compares to other GA Medigap carriers. Follow this link to shop and compare GA Medigap plans side by side. At this site you will see about a half a dozen plans from roughly eight carriers. Far less than the 240+ different options available with a detailed report from Georgia Medicare Plans.

Feel free to call and discuss and questions you may have about Medicare. We will quote rates right over the phone and email a report showing all carriers that offer that plan in your area.


#AnthemBlueCrossGeorgiaMedicareSupplement  #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates #SilverSneakers

Anthem Blue Cross Hacked

Anthem Blue Cross recently made headlines but for all the wrong reasons. A “sophisticated” attack on their computer systems exposed millions of customer personal data to hackers. Current and former customers names, addresses, Social Security anthemnumbers, dates of birth and other personal information may be in the hands of the bad guys.

Most people think of identity theft as a source for opening fraudulent lines of credit in the consumers name, but this time it may be more ominous.

What Anthem isn’t saying about this breach that could hurt them more than it does you.


Anthem hack and fraud

No doubt the breach at Anthem is serious. Exactly when the attack occurred and what was stolen has not been completely revealed.

passwordMost hacks are discovered by accident and often it is long after the attack. It is not unusual for a company to state they have never been hacked but the real question is, how do they know?

Unless one of their IT people stumble across suspicious activity, or clients complain about fraudulent activity, the company may not be aware of a problem.

I am not suggesting this is the case with Anthem, just making a general (but informed) comment.


How bad is it?

We don’t know, and possibly neither does Anthem. Much depends on how the breach was discovered and how often they  backup their web traffic.

Exactly how many people are affected wasn’t immediately clear. The database that was infiltrated contained records for 80 million peoplepersonal data file

The company is still investigating exactly how many records were actually stolen but, “at this point we believe it was tens of millions,” said Cindy Wakefield, an Anthem spokeswoman.

If the entire file was taken it would be “the largest health care breach to date,” said Vitor De Souza, a spokesman for Mandiant, the computer security company Anthem has hired to evaluate its systems. – USA Today

80 million records.

That’s a bunch.

How far back does the data go? Five years? Ten? Twenty?

Anthem isn’t saying.


What this means to you

Anthem has released a public statement about the situation and will be offering a credit monitoring service for their current (and presumably former) policyholders. What was stolen?

They don’t know (or aren’t saying) but it could include the following:

Hackers had gained access to the company’s computers and that their names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, addresses and employment data including income.

The logical path most consumers will take is wondering if someone will try to establish a line of credit with their information. Data monitoring services can certainly track that and there is a good chance you won’t find someone in Bangladesh buying a car in your name.

health care fraudThe more likely use of this data will come in the form of medical identity theft.

Hackers can use the Anthem data to print fake health insurance cards and Medicare cards. This kind of theft is more difficult to track and much more lucrative than applying for a Nieman-Marcus card in your name.

Credit cards have upper limits of anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Once the card is used the fraud is exposed and the card is shut down.

But a health insurance ID card or Medicare card has an unlimited line of credit that can’t be tracked by credit monitoring services.

It is easy enough for a thief to make a new Bob Vineyard Anthem Blue Cross card and pay a street person $20 to pretend they are me, walk into a clinic and get a prescription for drugs. Take the prescription to a pharmacy that is in on the scam, fill the order, then sell the drugs on the street.

Things like this happen every day.

But once Anthem gets wind of a bunch of fake Bob’s getting fake medical care to buy real drugs all Anthem has to do is cancel that card and issue a new one with a new ID number.

But if the crook makes a fake Medicare card the theft is more difficult to detect. Even worse, since your Medicare number is also your Social Security number don’t expect Medicare to cancel the card. If you are on Medicare and have a supplement plan through Anthem claims filed with Medicare automatically are filed with Anthem once Medicare approves the claim.

If you have an Anthem Advantage plan the fraudulent claims are filed with Anthem for processing.


What you can do to protect yourself

You can take advantage of credit monitoring services. You can also freeze your credit. These steps should prevent most routine identity theft situations.

For medical identity theft you need to be proactive. computer hacker

If you are a current or recent Anthem policyholder check your online claim reports on a weekly basis for the next few months. Report any suspicious claims to Anthem.

If you are on Medicare and have an Advantage plan with Anthem, log into your account to monitor and report fraudulent activity.

For your Medigap plan through Anthem log into on a regular basis and report suspicious activity to HHS

Georgia Medicare Plans has a contract with Anthem Blue Cross and can place Medigap clients with Blue. However our preference is to use more competitive carriers that save our clients hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. Many of these Medicare supplement carriers are low profile and generally not targets for hackers.

Shop and compare our Medigap rates instantly online.


#Anthem #hack #BlueCross #Medicare #Medigap #IdentityTheft #GAMedigapQuotes

Who Has the Best Medigap Plans in Georgia?

Which Georgia carrier has the best Medigap plans? Who has the lowest rates for GA Medicare supplement insurance? Will all doctors take my Medigap plan? Am I better off to buy direct from a well known carrier? low medigap rates


Best Medigap plans

With over 170 plans to pick from, it is almost impossible for you to find the best Medigap plan on your own.

There are 11 CMS approved plan designs from over 30 carriers. Georgia seniors wanting to shop and compare will find it difficult to see rates from more than 3 or 4 carriers and they will almost always consider plan F without examining the merits of other plans.

Getting Medigap rates from BCBSGA, Humana, Mutual of Omaha and United Healthcare (AARP) are relatively easy. But a careful shopper will not stop there unless they have buckets of money to throw away for the same coverage.


Barbara has A-fib

Last week I talked with Barbara. Very nice lady with a delightful sense of humor.  She was in the middle of baking a cake for her son who was home on leave and getting ready to be deployed overseas.

It was his favorite. A chocolate bundt cake.

I told her we could talk any time but she insisted on getting answers now. All she had to do for the next 40 minutes was watch her cake in the oven so now was as good a time as any.

Barbara bought a Mutual of Omaha plan F when she turned 65. She just had a birthday and Mutual of Omaha’s “gift” was a rate increase. Her new premium will be over $220 per month for a plan that started out 3 years ago less than $150.

Barbara wants something more affordable. After reading some of my articles she decided that her Medigap plan F probably wasn’t the best choice. She knows that all Medigap plans with the same letter are identical in every way, except the premium. Can she get plan F at a lower price?

I told her that is entirely possible but she will have to pass medical underwriting. If she is approved she can purchase Medicare supplement plan F for $150 per month. A better choice would be plan N for $103 per month …………….. less than half what Mutual of Omaha will charge her.

But there is a problem.

Last year Barbara was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, also known as A-fib.

We have a number of carriers to pick from. Each one has different underwriting rules. All of them would reject her due to irregular heart rhythm.

The Mutual of Omaha rate was good (not great, just good) when she originally bought the plan, but now it is quite expensive and getting more so. Changing to a Medicare Advantage plan will give her a lower premium, but she had an Advantage plan before and didn’t like the idea of changing plans and doctors every year.

If you are looking for the best Medigap plans in Georgia, we can help you choose wisely.


Finding the lowest rate

Most seniors will compare plan F, pick the lowest rate and move on.

That’s the worst thing you can do.

Finding the best Medigap plan is a process.

  • Which plan is best suited to your needs and budget
  • Which carriers increase rates by 10% or more on renewal?
  • Which carriers have dropped plans?
  • What happens to policyholders that buy plans that are discontinued?
  • What happens to policyholders that buy from carriers that withdraw from the market?
  • How difficult is it to change plans in the future?
  • Should you shop every year or stay put?
  • Buy direct from a carrier or through a captive agent?

These are just a few things to consider.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t talk to someone that bought their Medicare supplement plan without really understanding what they have. (The same is true, and even more so, with Medicare Advantage but that is another story entirely).

They buy a plan because of a celebrity endorsement, because “everyone knows this company”, because all my friends have this plan, or any number of reasons that seemed like a good decision at the time.


Simple rules for finding the best Medigap plan.

Medicare isn’t that hard, once you understand the process.

  • Don’t buy what your friends did (unless your friends are clients of mine)
  • You probably don’t want or need plan F
  • All medical providers that participate in Medicare will take ANY Medigap plan
  • You probably don’t need a “name brand” unless you like paying too much
  • So-called “family discounts” are normally used by carriers that charge too much
  • Silver Sneakers is a great program if you don’t mind paying an extra $50 per month or so to have “free” membership
  • If you want a Silver Sneakers plan, we have it
  • The carrier with the lowest Medigap rates will probably be one of the highest in 2 years


Buying from Georgia Medicare Plans

We have a simple philosophy. We never recommend any plan we wouldn’t buy for ourselves or our family. We have over 300 Medicare clients and I can count on one hand the number of times I have had to move a client because of a rate increase. Roughly 90% of my clients buy from the same carrier (someone you probably have never heard of) and most of them do not have plan F.

We save our clients more than $450 per year vs. the plan their friends suggested or one they bought without our help.

If you want the best Medigap plan, shop and compare. We are here to help.

medicareshopcompare2 (1)

Does the YMCA Silver Sneakers Plan Come With Medicare?



The YMCA near me has a Silver Sneakers plan. Is that automatically included in Medicare? Which Medicare supplement plans or Medicare Advantage offer Sneakers? Can I sign up direct with Silver Sneakers? silver sneakers


What is Silver Sneakers?

Silver Sneakers is a limited gym membership offered as an incentive when you buy a Medigap plan or Medicare Advantage through select marketers. Silver Sneakers is not part of original Medicare, nor is it “built in” to Medicare supplement plans.

With your Sneakers membership you are allowed to use the “basic” services of local gyms and fitness facilities.  You can receive guidance and assistance from personal trainers and participate in many outdoor activities.

Shop and compare rates. Instant online quote. Your information is never sold.

Medicare shop and compare


Which plans include Silver Sneakers?

As indicated, some of the Medigap and Medicare Advantage marketers include Sneakers in your coverage when you sign up through them. The list of participating marketers is constantly changing but here are a few:

  • Anthem/BCBSGA Medicare Supplement
  • Cigna Healthspring Medicare Advantage
  • Coventry Medicare Advantage
  • Humana Medicare Supplement
  • Kaiser Medicare Advantage
  • United Healthcare Medicare supplement through AARP

You can review the current list of marketers by using this link.

As best we can tell you cannot sign up direct with Silver Sneakers for a membership.


Which Medicare supplement plans include Sneakers?

Currently in Georgia there are only three marketers that include a Sneakers membership when you buy their Medigap coverage. That would be Anthem/Blue Cross, Humana and United Healthcare through AARP.

Bob Vineyard and Georgia Medicare Plans has two of the three available for our clients.

We are more of a purist when it comes to insurance. Generally, the carriers and marketers that use gimmicks such as add-on services or “family discounts” usually incorporate those things to make amends for the lack of value in their plans.

An age 67 female living in Macon Georgia would pay the following (2018) if they picked the popular plan F sold by the “Sneakers” marketers

  • Anthem/Blue Cross – $154
  • Humana – $167
  • United Healthcare (AARP) – $182

In contrast, the BEST current rate for plan F is $130.

Why pay an extra $300 per year (or more) for your Medigap coverage JUST to get a “free” Silver Sneakers membership?

Even more, we almost NEVER recommend plan F for our clients. Most will find plan G to be a much better value and can save an extra $300+ per year or more vs. plan F.

If you are looking for a solid Medigap plan that saves you money and delivers value, shop and compare our rates now. Buy your own gym membership with the savings.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices




#SilverSneakers #GeorgiaMedicarePlans #GAMedigapRates #LowestMedicareSupplementRate  #BestMedigapRate


Medicare Open Enrollment Rate News

Medicare open enrollment for 2014 is almost half way over. Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in affordable Medigap plans to fit almost every budget.  Medicare open enrollment rate news


Medicare Open Enrollment Medigap Rates

Who is raising rates for 2014 and how much? Which carrier recently dropped rates, but only for NEW policyholders? Which big name carrier recently pulled their Medicare supplement plans off the market and what does this mean for those left behind? How do you find the most affordable Medigap plans? Which supplement plans are available for diabetics? Why is a dog on this page?

 GA Medigap Quotes

Medigap Rates You Won’t See Anywhere Else

You can find Medicare supplement rates online almost anywhere, but if you want REAL SAVINGS, you have to know where to look.

Most Medigap carriers and agents will only show you Medicare supplement plan F. Why is that? If you don’t know the answer you are talking to the wrong person.

Most agents will show you rates from the number one Medigap carrier in Georgia (Blue Cross) and the number two carrier (Mutual of Omaha). Why?

They have some of the highest rates and that generates the biggest payday for the agent.

The agent that only shows you plan F, and only shows you Blue or Omaha, is thinking more about their wallet, not yours.

We are not afraid to show you lower rates, even when we earn a lower service fee. We will show you how to save real money by picking something OTHER THAN plan F.

We also share the secrets of saving money on your medications even though we earn $0 for those recommendations.

We have the LOWEST Medigap rates anywhere and know more ways to put more money in your pocket.

But here is the catch.

You have to ask.


Medicare Open Enrollment and Supplement Rates on the Rise

Two carriers recently announced rate increases for 2014. Normally we don’t have this information until late November or early December.

One carrier will be increasing rates 8% which in the big scheme of things, isn’t bad. Their typical increase in the past has been in the 13% range.

Now the bad news.

Their two most popular plans are no longer available.

More bad news.

If you own a policy from this carrier, even if you bought it last month, your rates are increasing 8%.

The other Medigap carrier is raising rates by 6% on their most popular plan. If you bought one of their plans in 2013 your first year rates will still hold until your policy anniversary.

There is still time to lock in the 2013 low rates but you need to apply BEFORE 11/15/2013

Shop and compare up to 40 plans in 60 seconds.

GA Medigap Quotes


Only one of these carriers allow their rates to be quoted online. Call or email if you need a personalized quote showing the four best plans that fit your budget. Be sure to include valid contact information (phone & email) as well as your DOB and zip code.

We recently showed one Georgia couple how to save over $1700 per year by swapping their Mutual of Omaha Medicare supplement plan F to a different plan. I can’t guarantee you that much savings, but we rarely disappoint. As they say on TV, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more.

Medicare Supplement Rates Drop?

Believe it or not, one carrier recently DROPPED their rates an average of 23% . . . but only for NEW policyholders.

Existing policyholders that bought in September, 2013 or earlier still pay the old, higher rates unless they re-applied.

This big name company swaps carriers about every 3 years and pulls this same stunt.

The recent rate and name change was so sudden that most quote engines (including ours) have not yet updated to include the new rates. But we have a private (offsite) quote engine with plans from over 30 carriers.

By the time you read this their rates MAY be loaded for review at Georgia Medigap Quotes. If not, you can always call or email for a personalized proposal.


Which Big Name Carrier Ducked Out of the Medigap Business?

AFLAC gave up the ghost in September. They are still around and offering cancer plans and such, but no more Medicare supplement plans.

This time around that ride lasted about 16 months but not before they raised rates for policyholders.

Their departure is not a qualifying event so you are not eligible for a guaranteed issue transition to a different carrier. But the good news is, we have several carriers that will issue policies if you are in overall good health. Many diabetics can pick up a new policy with a carrier that is expected to stay in the market for a long time.

If you own an AFLAC plan, shop and compare your rates or give us a call.


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So why is the dog on this page?

I thought he was cute.