Government officials estimate 10,000 Americans are reaching the Medicare-eligible age of 65 every day, thanks to the rising tide of aging baby boomers. Anjel Jiron observes that growth every day.
“It's been beautiful. Business is booming,” said Jiron, who has been an insurance broker at Teague Financial Insurance Services in La Mesa, Calif., for a decade. “I've got my phones ringing off the hook for people who are aging into Medicare.”
Over the past several years, many seniors have gravitated toward Medicare Advantage, the HMO version of Medicare that often comes with extra bells and whistles, such as no premiums, eye and dental care, and gym memberships. However, traditional Medicare remains the de facto payer for more than two-thirds of seniors and disabled people, mostly because of the program's freedom to see any provider.
Jiron and other brokers across the country have found many people continue to choose traditional Medicare and pair that coverage with Medicare supplement insurance, commonly known as Medigap, as well as a prescription drug plan.
“As far as our clientele base, 90% of the time, we're selling Medigap,” Jiron said.
But changes loom for Medigap, which has been very profitable for health insurance companies. In addition to pending consolidation that will affect the market, a provision within the new Medicare physician payment law eliminates the most popular types of Medigap plans and therefore will lead to future Medigap enrollees paying more out of pocket for their medical care. The policy change is part of the broader trend of making patients think twice, or at least shop around, before they decide to go to the doctor or hospital.