Sifting through Medicare supplemental insurance options


If you are age 65 or older you are probably very used to being solicited this time of year by Medicare supplemental insurance companies. You see, while Medicare generally pays for 80% of your medical costs, you are responsible for the remaining 20% and thankfully insurance companies are an option to help with that remaining 20%. You have to pick your plan and company during open enrollment each year, and this period typically falls sometime from October to early December.

Having recently retired as the executive director of SourcePoint some out of state traveling was in order, but upon our return from our 21-day trip, I counted no fewer than 38 separate solicitations for Medicare supplemental insurance stuffed in my mailbox. I stopped counting after that, but my faithful letter carriers continues to more than earn their pay with those daily deliveries. This year is not unusual, but getting 38 all at once got my attention and reminded me what a huge and competitive industry Medicare supplemental insurance has become.

Each of the companies are fairly certain that their company is just the perfect one for my and your particular needs. And this is why selecting the right plan and company – the one that is really the best for you – can be so confusing and stressful. Within about a six-week period, you must make a financial decision and a healthcare decision for both your supplemental plan and for your Part D prescription plan, and then you must live with that decision for the next year. Of course, next year is when the rules you have learned this year will probably change again, and the whole process will start over. I have always thought that the fact that Medicare open enrollment always begins around Halloween was someone’s idea of a joke, although an appropriate one. It’s enough to scare the best of us.

Fortunately, SourcePoint ( has a solution and a service to address this need. Three insurance counselors and a group of trained volunteers are on staff year round to help local retirees learn and make decisions that are truly best for each person. They arm you with up to date information and help you avoid the many pitfalls that are waiting for you. The best thing is that none of SourcePoint counselors get paid based upon what plans you choose. Their sole interest is to help you pick the plan and company that is best for you.

I have worked in the field of gerontology and aging services for most of my adult life. You would think that I would be able to make these decisions on my own. Not on your life. My wife and I first attended a very informative workshop last spring, and then we sat down with a counselor for a one-on-one appointment to review each of our specific health and prescription drug needs and the type of plans and companies that best suited our needs and financial situation. I have always been so impressed by the professionalism, commitment to excellence, and passion for helping people demonstrated by our insurance counselors. However, as a Medicare newbie, I was blown away by how much information they have in their heads. So many important details, little helpful tidbits, plus all of the most current information gained from constant updates and training that they all receive.

The truth is that they deal with this stuff at least 40 hours a week year round and many more during open enrollment. It would be foolish for me to overlook such a wonderful local resource. The best part of this very personal and helpful experience is peace of mind. Who knows, I may have been able to pick a good plan for me, or I might have found a sales person who truly had my best interest at heart. It could happen, right?

But having spent the time with my SourcePoint friends has given me the peace of mind that my wife and I have both selected great plans at a reasonable cost designed to best address our specific needs. My wife and I, by the way, are two different people, and so we will have two different plans.

It is all about peace of mind, and if you live in Delaware County, you can benefit from the same caring assistance that we have received. This is a super busy time of year for the insurance counselors, so I encourage you to start early next year, attend some classes, and get familiar with the process before your mailbox starts to fill up in the fall.

By Bob Horrocks

Guest columnist

Retired Delaware resident Bob Horrocks is the former executive director of SourcePoint in Delaware.

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