North Carolina seniors have been early beneficiaries of one of the lowest-cost Medicare supplement insurance policies available anywhere. When State Mutual Insurance Company received approval from a number of state insurance commissions late in 2010 for its new low cost product, North Carolina immediately updated its Senior Health Insurance Information website, (www.ncdoi.com/medisupp/citizen/search/asp) with the information. As a result, North Carolina seniors were the first to have information about this new low cost insurance.
“We had this product developed and submitted for approval in about half of the 50 states,” said Dee Yancey III, president and CEO of State Mutual Insurance Company. “While it’s approved in a number of other places, North Carolina went ahead before we had been able to start advertising it and put the information on its Senior Health Insurance Information website,” he said.
“People from North Carolina started contacting us before we even had the chance to develop advertising,” he said.
According to the State of North Carolina Insurance Commission website, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) answers questions and counsels Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers about Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage, Medicare prescription drug plans, long-term care insurance and other health insurance concerns. The counselors on its toll free line offers free and unbiased counseling on Medicare health care products. Consumers can call SHIIP at 1-800-443-9354 or (919) 807-6900.
The program was created in 1986 by the late North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long, and has become the link between senior citizens and information about their health insurance. Since the program’s creation, SHIIP has become a role model for other states. SHIIP has received two national awards for “innovative” and “exemplary” service.
State Mutual was founded in 1936 and is licensed in 41 states and the District of Columbia. This is not the company’s first consumer product, according to Yancey, but it is the first product that allows consumers to fill out their own applications online (http://statemutualinsurance.com/). By enabling seniors to apply online, the company has substantially reduced its costs and the price it subsequently charges to consumers.
“Consumers can also call the company (1-855-764-4000) for assistance in filling out applications,” he said.
A quick random comparison of Medicare supplement policies listed on the SHIIP website, shows that the State Mutual policy is generally the lowest-cost in most categories, and in some cases, costing less than half the price of the most expensive policies for the same coverage.