Sunday, July 23, 2000

Ohio Medicare supplement insurance prices high

Kentucky, Indiana pay less, study shows

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Seniors in most other states, including Kentucky and Indiana, pay less than Ohio residents do for Medicare supplemental insurance.

        But no matter what state you live in, prices for Med-sup plans vary widely even though federal law requires standardized benefits, according to a recent study by Weiss Ratings Inc., a Florida-based insurance industry tracking service.

        Prices for Med-sup plans have become a more important issue in the Tristate after three of five remaining Medicare HMOs recently announced plans to drop their local customers effective Jan. 1. Feeling burned by managed care instability, many of the nearly 27,000 people getting dropped are considering buying more traditional insurance plans to cover the co-payments and premiums that come with standard Medicare coverage.

        Many companies sell Med-sup plans. But since 1992, federal law has required all insurers to sell the plans in 10 standard forms, lettered A through J. The different letters reflect different packages of benefits.

        The Weiss Ratings report, issued last month, posted average annual prices for all states for three popular types of plans — A, F and J. Type J is the only one of the three that includes prescription drug coverage.

        For Plan A, Utah ranked No. 1 because seniors there pay an average of $581 for the coverage. Ohio ranked 32rd at $741; Kentucky 21st at $681; and Indiana 12th at $655. The most expensive was Florida at $1,050.

        For Plan F, Utah was lowest again at 1,064. Ohio was 27th at $1,241; Kentucky was 25th at $1,221 and Indiana was 20th at $1,194. The most expensive was Florida at $1,983

        For Plan J, the District of Columbia was cheapest at $1,993. Ohio ranked 27th at $2,993; Kentucky 36th at $3,402 and Indiana 23rd at $2,918. The most expensive was Alabama at $3,851

        However, the report also shows that variation from those average prices can be extreme.

        For several cities, including Cincinnati, Weiss Ratings posted the least and most expensive price quotes it obtained, which assumed the buyer was for a 65-year-old male. Prices can vary by gender and can go up with age.

        Prices for Plan A ranged from $402 to $1,303. Prices for Plan F ranged from $918 to $1,845. Prices for Plan J ranged from $2,269 to $4,596.


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