Advantage or Supplement: Which is better?

scales of balanceThere is one question I get from agents more often than any other during the course of a week. That question is usually posed to me something like this:

Which is better? Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement?

The answer that I give to agents is one that many don’t initially find satisfying, but ultimately helps them to better understand the sales process. The answer is that neither is better or worse than the other; that it all depends on the personality and purchasing priorities of the consumer.
Cost Certainty is King
The Medicare Supplement purchaser usually has two qualities in common – a desire for cost certainty and an affinity towards portability. Most of the consumers that I’ve worked with who have chosen Medicare Supplement as their plan have expressed a firm desire to have fixed monthly costs for their medical expenses. That’s their main priority – to know exactly what they are spending every single month with no fluctuation. To a lesser extent, the ability to seek care from any provider that accepts Medicare is also a factor. But make no mistake, the clear goal of the Medicare Supplement purchaser is to gain cost certainty at the expense of any potential savings.

Willing to Give to Get
The Medicare Advantage purchaser is willing to take on cost sharing for savings, because that’s their first priority – savings. If they feel savings are out there for them, they will deal with a network of providers to get it. Same for managing copays and coinsurance, too. The key for this type of purchaser is that they are looking for the lowest total out of pocket expenses over the course of the entire year. This also means they are willing to have significant differences in what they might spend each month, as long as it totals to lower than what they might spend on a Medicare Supplement plan. This is regardless of whether they are a high or low income retiree.
The key to using this information is to stop asking clients how much money they either make or have saved, then allowing that to route the product discussion. It has to do with a person’s individual priorities, which can often be different than what you think. Focus on the person – not the bank account – and you’ll be able to get a consumer into the type of plan that is best for them.


About Bill Kiray

Bill Kiray is the Assistant Vice President of Neishloss & Fleming. Bill coordinates and plans all outbound marketing initiatives, manages top distributor and carrier relationship, and provides high level product and market knowledge to agents.

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