Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Medicare Supplement Review
When it comes to health insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield just might be the most well-known company out there. According to their website, nearly 1 in 3 Americans has Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance.
Note: This article was originally published on July 9, 2019. It was updated on November 9, 2020 to include the new Medicare costs for 2021.
Blue Cross Blue Shield also has Medicare Supplement insurance, and many clients are interested in their plans since they’re such a well-known company!
Before we get into our full Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement review, we’d like to share that all Medicare Supplements are standardized by the government.
Each company must offer the plan benefits established by the government. For example, a Plan G sold by Blue Cross Blue Shield must have the same exact benefits as a Plan G sold by any other company.
In general, the two main differences between Medicare Supplements are the cost of the plan and the underwriting (or health questions).
What is Blue Cross Blue Shield?
In 1929, Blue Cross Blue Shield began through a partnership between a local hospital and its patients who were struggling financially.
Baylor University’s hospital administrators ended up starting a plan that allowed patients to prepay 50 cents per month for up to 21 days of hospitalization per year. This was called “The Baylor Plan,” and was ultimately the start of Blue Cross Blue Shield.
In 1933, the first “Blue Cross Baby” was born. The entire cost of the delivery and the mother’s 10-day hospitalization totaled $60. (Those were the days!)
In 1966, Blue Cross Blue Shield companies were the only insurers who had the claims processing capability and computing power to administer the new Medicare program. In the first year, BCBS processed the claims of nearly 5 million Medicare patients!
Today, Blue Cross Blue Shield has over 100 million members.
The Many Names of Blue Cross Blue Shield
Like most insurance companies, there are a host of subsidiaries and other companies that all fall under the parent company.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is unique in that it keeps its main name in most of its other companies. For example, in Illinois, the company is called “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.”
Most states follow this same structure – “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama” and “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas” – while others have a few extra words in them, like “Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Indiana” and “Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield” in Iowa. In Florida, the name is shorter – “Florida Blue.”
You can read all of the companies and licensees that fall under Blue Cross Blue Shield here: https://www.bcbs.com/bcbs-companies-and-licensees.
Since we’re in Illinois, we’ll be focusing solely on Blue and Cross Blue Shield of Illinois for the rest of this article.
How is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois rated?
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is rated A+ Superior by A.M. Best Company for overall financial strength and ability to meet ongoing obligations to policyholders. This is the second highest rating out of 16.
Unfortunately, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is rated “F” by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The reasons for the poor rating include failure to respond to 11 complaints filed against the business and 10 complaints files that were not resolved.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is not BBB accredited.
Medicare Supplement Plan Types Offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois currently offers the following Medicare Supplement plans in Illinois:
- Plan A
- Plan B
- Plan C
- Plan F
- Plan G
- High Deductible Plan F
- Plan K
- Plan L
- Plan N
You can read more about what is included in these plans here: Medicare Supplement Insurance in Illinois.
Plan F is no longer be available for new Medicare enrollees on or after January 1, 2020. However, if you were already on Medicare before January 1, 2020, you can still purchase a Plan F at any time.
How Does a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Medicare Supplement Work?
Since all Medicare Supplements are regulated by the government, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Medicare Supplement works the same as any other Medicare Supplement.
Once you understand how a Medicare Supplement works, you understand how they all work, which is nice!
All Medicare Supplements add to your existing Medicare Part A and B coverage, which is also referred to as Original Medicare. A Medicare Supplement will cover things like copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. In addition, many plans offer international travel coverage.
In exchange for those benefits, you pay a premium, which can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
Even though Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois offers 9 different Medicare Supplement plans, we only recommend about 3 of them due to the coverage they provide. These include Plan F, G, and N.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Plan F
Remember that a Plan F from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is the same as a Plan F from any other company.
Many individuals aging into Medicare love a Plan F because it covers the remaining Medicare-approved charges. Yep – all of them. You don’t have to deal with any copays, coinsurance, or deductibles when you have a Plan F.
A Plan F from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will cover your hospital and doctor coinsurance, up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility, your hospital and doctor deductible, excess charges from doctors who don’t accept Medicare, and even 80% of foreign travel emergency charges.
Medicare Supplement Plan F is the best coverage you can buy, which also explains why it has the highest premium.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Plan G
A Plan G from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will pay for everything a Plan F pays for except the deductible at the doctor. This is also called the Medicare Part B deductible (Part B is your medical insurance).
The Part B deductible isn’t much – it’s $203 in 2019.
If you do the math, you know that a Plan G offers $203 less in coverage than a Plan F. However, a Plan F almost always costs over $203 more than a Plan G.
Insurance companies – including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois – charge a premium for a Plan F, and many seniors don’t like that as it can feel like they are overpaying.
To be transparent, almost all of our clients here at Sams/Hockaday who have a Medicare Supplement choose a Plan G. Is it our favorite plan and offers great value for the excellent coverage you get.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Plan N
A Plan N offers the same coverage as a Plan G aside from three exceptions:
- You will have a copay of up to $20 every time you see the doctor
- You will have a copay of up to $50 every time you visit the ER – if you’re admitted to the hospital, that copay is waived
- If you see a doctor who does not accept Medicare (pretty rare) you may be charged an excess of up to 15% more than the Medicare-approved amount
Plan N offers some savings in premium, so some individuals take on the copays and possibility of excess charges in order to save money in premium when compared to a Plan G.
Most of our clients do not choose a Plan N, but it does seem to be gaining popularity versus years past.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Prices
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is a little bit different from almost all of the other Medicare Supplements offered in our area.
All Medicare Supplements are non-underwritten, meaning there are NO health questions – ever. Because of this, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is a really fantastic option for those who want a Medicare Supplement, but have a health condition that would prevent them from being accepted elsewhere.
In addition, as of May 1, 2019, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois now looks at tobacco vs. non-tobacco and male vs. female. So, if you use tobacco, you’ll be charged more, and the premium may also be a bit different depending on your gender.
While not having to pass health questions is a definite plus, the flip side of that is their plans are a little more expensive.
In sum, if you cannot pass health questions, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is an ideal option for you. However, if you can, it’s worth exploring the other companies in our area so that you have the most competitive price possible.
To give you an idea of what a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Medicare Supplements costs, here are some examples for a 65-year old female who does not use tobacco and lives in Decatur, IL. These quotes were recorded on August 1, 2019 and are subject to change.
- Plan F: $151.13/mo
- Plan G: $127.85/mo
- Plan N: $104.25/mo
What We Think of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Medicare Supplements
At Sams/Hockaday, we’ve been offering the best Medicare Supplement options in Illinois for decades. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is a strong option, especially for those who have a health condition that prevents them from being accepted with another company.
While other Medicare Supplement companies have more competitive rates here in Decatur, Illinois, they require medical underwriting. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is an excellent company with lots of history, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
To see what a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Medicare Supplement would cost you, you can request a free Medicare planner using the link below. If you prefer, you can also schedule an appointment online with one of our local agents.
You can also call our office at 217-423-8000. We will be glad to assist you in any way we can!
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