Most of us have had that moment in a department store or a supermarket where we stare at two seemingly identical products and try to figure out what one cost infinitely more than the other. They look the same, are made the same, and even have the same basic packaging, so why should you be expected to pay considerably more for one than the other. In most cases, it’s a question of brand name or advertising or some obscure business practice that most likely has no real affect on the finished product. Many seniors across the country have discovered that they’re reliving these shopping moments when it comes to Medigap policies (Medicare supplement insurance). However, in these cases, the reasons for identical products varying wildly in price is even less clear than it is in the supermarket.

It’s not surprising that Medigap costs would vary significantly from one area of the country to another. After all, this is common among most everything we purchase: food, housing, movie tickets, etc. However, many people don’t realize that they can find greatly varied prices on the same Medigap policies within their own city. When they discover this, they are often baffled, and they’re not the only ones:

“‘For 20 years Medigap rates have varied due to regional differences in pricing methodologies, state regulations, and the cost of health care. While we expect these differences in pricing among plans and across regions, we find that there is no justification for such wide price differences for exactly the same product in the same area. Consumers who research their options are likely to find opportunities for significant cost savings when purchasing Medigap insurance.’” (MarketWatch)

That same article suggests that Medigap rates vary as much as 1,316%. Yep, 1,316%. So, why are people paying more than they need to when it comes to Medicare supplement insurance? Well, there are a couple of answers. As we said, some people simply don’t realize that they can find different rates for the same coverage in their area. They end up jumping onboard with a provider they know of or have heard of from a friend or loved one. The second is that some people simply don’t take the time to fully research their options. They might know that there are different rates out there, but they don’t find out which plans are best for them or which providers offer the best rates. In short, some of us take more time comparing prices of cereal at the grocery store than we do comparing rates on our healthcare options.

Hey, we’re not judging. We know people are busy and we know questions regarding Medigap and Medicare coverage can seem convoluted and confusing. However, we are here to let seniors know that the process of finding the right Medigap policy at the right price isn’t as difficult as it might seem. There are a number of research tools available online, and even better, you can take just a little time to sit down and talk with an expert about all of your options. This will help you decide if standard Medicare coverage is enough or if you need to think about Medigap insurance. If you do need to consider Medigap, and expert can walk you through the multiple plans to help you find the one that gives you the healthcare coverage you need at a price that works with your financial situation.

As many have said before, just make sure you’re comparing apples to apples: “As you shop for a policy, be sure you’re comparing the same policy (for example, compare Plan A from one company with Plan A from another company).” (from Understanding Your Options)

Author's Bio: 

CBoomer is a Medicare supplement professional dedicated to helping people on Medicare access quality healthcare. Also, part of Medicare Supplement 360 which offers rate and Medicare Supplement Comparisons of Medicare supplement insurance. My belief is that all seniors and those with disabilities should have complete access to our healthcare system without restriction and without insurance companies standing between them and their doctors.