By Roz Rogoff
Too good to be trueUploaded: Nov 12, 2013
There's a saying that if something is too good to be true, it probably isn't. It's one of those warnings against falling for a con job, like a pyramid scam or Ponzi scheme. Well the latest "Too good to be true," is Humana's medigap insurance. The weird thing is, it IS true.
I changed my Medicare supplemental insurance last year from AARP to Humana. Humana offered more and cost less. The only drawback, if it could even be considered a drawback, was that Humana contracted with John Muir Physicians' Network and AARP contracted with Hill Physicians. Hill is very strong in San Ramon, but John Muir is stronger in Walnut Creek. So it made it a little hard to find a convenient specialist at first.
John Muir has been expanding into San Ramon and recently bought into San Ramon Valley Medical Center. I still had to drive to John Muir Medical Center
in Walnut Creek for an MRI this summer, but my hospital stay at San Ramon Valley Medical Center after my accident in January was covered by Humana. I was billed $200 for my co-payment, but this should be recovered in the legal settlement.
But none of that is too good to be true. What is, is next year's coverage. This year my insurance cost $62 a month for the Humana Gold Plan. I added Dental and Vision for another $26 a month for a total of $88 a month.
I received the 2014 Renewal Information book last week. I started reading through and thought "this is too good to be true." I called Humana to find out what the changes in the plan really meant. First I answered a bunch of questions from the robo phone.
Then I was switched to a real person. When she saw my 925 area code, she told me she used to live in Walnut Creek. We chatted about living in the East Bay and how much nicer the weather is here than in Arizona. Actually Arizona isn't so bad. The way she was talking I thought she moved to the Midwest Snow Belt. Anyway she was in Customer Support so she couldn't answer my questions and switched me to sales.
Each time I was switched I had to answer all of the questions over again -- name, phone number, address, birth date, etc. I need a program on my phone to re-answer all of the same questions over and over again. Anyone who could design an Ap for That could make a bundle.
The sales person I spoke to was really nice, but he didn't cover California. "I cover 20 states, but unfortunately California isn't one of them." So he switched me to someone in India. The Indian man was a little harder for me to understand, but he answered all of my questions well.
I wanted to know what was different about my old Human Gold Plus (HMO) plan and the new ones for next year. In the first place the 2014 plans cost less. Huh? There's one with $0 monthly fee. Double Huh? I wasn't interested in the "free" plan or the one for $19 a month. The "top of the line" at $49 has everything my $62 plan had this year, plus the $26 vision and dental coverage, FOR NOTHING. So the new plan next year will cost $39 a month LESS than what I paid this year for the same coverage.
I know, I'm suspicious about it too. How can they do that? I suspect they expect to get more enrollments now that they have been in this part of California for a year. More enrollments mean spreading the costs around. That's how insurance works, everyone pays but not everyone uses it equally; so those who don't need it pay for those who do.
Kaiser Permanente is also offering Medigap plans in San Ramon. I used to be on Kaiser 30 years ago when I worked at Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo. Kaiser was convenient to where I lived back then, but until recently the closest Kaiser here was in Pleasanton. Now there's one on Camino Ramon.
Kaiser has a great reputation, but I'm sticking with Humana for now. I'm very happy with it. And as I said in the Satisfaction Survey after my phone call, I will recommend it to my friends and readers. Some times things that seem too good to be true turn out to be true. Believe it.