Vaccinations that are Covered by Medicare

With flu season right around the corner, we should be thinking of the best ways to protect ourselves from illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia.  Did you know that Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) typically covers one flu shot per flu season and the pneumonia vaccination?  Also, there are other vaccinations that you could get free of charge, like the Hepatitis B, Shingles, and the Tdap Vaccinations.

Flu Vaccination:

In recent studies, between 71 – 85% of deaths associated with the flu have occurred in people over the age of 65.  This goes to show that the flu is a huge threat for people 65 and older, but getting vaccinated can help drop the risk of contracting the flu and maybe even save your life.  It is better to get vaccinated as soon as possible.  Early fall is best because it can take about two weeks after you have been vaccinated for the antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The flu vaccination is covered by your Medicare Part B, but always check with your doctor to make sure they accept the assignment. 

Pneumonia Vaccination: 

According to the CDC, adults 65 years and older are at the greatest risk of serious pneumococcal infections that could possibly lead to death.  There are two different pneumonia shots available in the United States which can protect you and your loved ones:  Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13) and Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23 or Pneumovax 23).  The good news is that both pneumococcal vaccines are covered by your Medicare Part B when they are administered at least 12 months apart.  Make sure to check with your doctor to see if they accept the assignment before you decide where to receive the vaccinations. 

Hepatitis B Vaccination: 

If you are suffering from a condition that has lowered your resistance to infection and you are at high or medium risk for contracting Hepatitis B, Medicare Part B will cover this vaccination.  Check with your doctor to see if you are eligible and ask them if they accept the assignment.  If they do, it is in your best interested to take advantage and get vaccinated right away. 

Shingles Vaccination: 

Even though Medicare Part A and Part B does NOT cover the shingles vaccination, it might be covered by your Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D).  Check with your Medicare prescription drug plan carrier to see if it is covered.  Getting vaccinated from shingles could protect you from months and maybe even years of pain and suffering. 

Tdap Vaccination:

Tdap stands for Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (whooping cough).  This vaccination isn’t covered by Medicare Part A or Part B, but it is typically covered by your Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D).  The CDC recommends that individuals get the vaccination if they have close contact with babies younger than 12 months and/or after you have experienced a severe cut or burn. 

Protecting yourself from these serious and possibly life threating diseases is always a plus! When it comes to taking steps to ensure you are a healthier you, I have a saying I like to use; “carpe diem”.  So today, make a positive step forward in protecting yourself from potential preventative illnesses and Seize the Day!  I hope after reading the MWG Senior Services blog, you call your doctor right away to schedule your vaccinations or check with your local pharmacist to see if they can administer the immunizations.  For more Medicare tips and education please visit our blog again soon!  MWG Senior Services is here to help you navigate the Medicare maze!  Please give us a call at 877-759-5760 or feel free to email us at seniorservices@morganwhite.com. 

Carpe Diem! 

Top 10 Medicare Supplement Companies

Do you ever wonder which Medicare Supplements are available in your area and how they work? First, it is important to know, you must have Medicare Part A and Part B to receive a Medicare Supplement.  All Medicare supplements are standardized and any plan is guaranteed renewable, even if you have health issues. The carrier cannot cancel your plan as long as you are paying the monthly premium.  Although every carrier offers the same plans, the rates are different based on age, gender, tobacco usage, location and sometimes health conditions.

Each carrier does implement rate increases each year for every plan. You will receive a letter from the carrier annually, 30 days prior to let you know you are receiving an increase. The average annual rate increase is roughly between 6-10%.

Each carrier has several different plans, such as A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N.  All plans offer the same benefits, but in some cases, additional benefits are offered.  You have the flexibility to choose which plan best meets your needs. 

MWG Senior Services selects the Top 10 Medicare Supplement companies based on their rating and their annual historical rate increases.   

Top 10 Medicare Supplement Companies:

1.            American Continental
2.            American Retirement
3.            Philadelphia American
4.            New Era
5.            Combined
6.            Mutual of Omaha
7.            Central States
8.            Aetna
9.            Gerber life
10.         American National

 

MWG Senior Services represents all of the Top 10 Medicare Supplement companies listed above and more. To see how their rates rank in your area, click here.  Please keep in mind that Medicare Supplements does NOT cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private- duty nursing.  However, Medicare Supplements will cover the 20% that original Medicare doesn’t cover.

Some Medicare Supplement policies also offer coverage for services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like medical care you may need when you travel outside of the U.S. Please keep in mind that Medicare Supplement plans are DIFFERENT from a Medicare Advantage plan. 

If you have any questions, please call MWG Senior Services at (877) 759-5760 or email us at seniorservices@morganwhite.com.  Our knowledgeable and experienced representatives are ready to help guide you through the Medicare maze.

When can I buy a Medigap policy?

Are you turning 65 soon?  You might find out that looking through Medicare options is like trying to put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.  Fortunately, in this and upcoming blogs, we have selected some frequently asked questions to talk about in more detail.  

We hear this question all the time; “When can I buy a Medigap policy?”  The good news is you can buy Medigap (Medicare Supplement) at any time throughout the year and you don’t have to wait until October 15 – December 7.  The stipulation is, you might have to go through underwriting to qualify for a different Medigap policy. 

In this blog, we will outline:

(1) When you can purchase a Medigap policy without having to go through underwriting.

(2) What is underwriting?

(3) When you can change your Medigap policy if you aren’t happy with it. 

If you purchase your Medigap policy when you are first eligible for Medicare, you can purchase any policy sold in your state without having to go through underwriting.  This means if you have any health problems, you can purchase a Medigap policy at the same rate as a healthy person, if you purchase it within your open enrollment period.  Each person’s open enrollment period will start the first day their Medicare Part B is effective and it will last for 6 months. 

If you decide to change your Medigap policy outside of your open enrollment period, typically you will go through underwriting.  This means, if you have some health problems, the insurance companies could either deny coverage or charge you more due to certain health conditions.  Keep in mind, even though Medigap policies are standardized, the health questions are not.  So, just because you may not qualify for one carrier doesn’t mean that you will be turned down for another carrier.  Check with our advisors to see if there is an option that fits your needs. 

If you are about to lose your group health coverage, you might be eligible for Guaranteed Issue, which is another way you can purchase a Medigap policy without having to go through underwriting.  There are many different qualifications for a Guaranteed Issue period.  Please click here to learn more about your Medicare rights.

To compare prices of different Medigap policies and carriers available in your state, click here.

Now that you know you don’t have to wait until October 15 – December 7 to make changes to your Medigap policy, and you know a little more about changing your Medigap (Medicare Supplement), please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (877) 759-5760 or send us an email at seniorservices@morganwhite.com with any questions you may have pertaining to your specific situation.  Be sure to mention you heard about us through our blog!  Have a great day! 

Source:  Medicare.gov

Turning 65?

Are you turning 65 soon? Are you looking for some answers on what you need to do first to take full advantage of your Medicare options?   We have outlined some simple steps to help you navigate the Medicare maze.  Let’s take a look at what path you might want to take.  Please remember, if you have any questions at all we are just a phone call away. 

We hear this question a lot, “How early should I start looking at my Medicare options?”  We always tell our clients that it is never too early to start educating yourself about Medicare.  You will be bombarded with calls and mail about 6 months before your 65th birthday, which can be pretty overwhelming.  We would recommend finding a knowledgeable advisor at least 4-6 months in advance so you can get the conversation started.  If you are looking for someone to help you navigate the Medicare maze, give us a call at (877) 759-5760 or email us at seniorservices@morganwhite.com.  We would love to help with any questions that you might have. 

Once you are eligible for Medicare, you will need to sign up and drop your Marketplace Health Insurance so that it stops when your Medicare coverage starts.  Most of the time, it is more beneficial for you to sign up for Medicare during the first 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period.  Doing so could help you avoid late penalties.  Keep in mind, you will not be eligible for premium tax credits or other savings for your Marketplace plan once your Medicare Part A coverage starts.  If you received tax credits to subsidize your Marketplace plan premium, and/or you received these tax credits after your Medicare Part A coverage started, you might have to repay the credits or savings you received when you file your taxes.  

Enroll in Part A of Medicare.  If a person isn’t automatically enrolled in Medicare they can sign up for Part A once their Initial Enrollment Period begins.  This starts 3 months back from the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.

Decide whether you would like to sign up or delay Part B.  If you do not have creditable coverage through your employer, you would need to enroll in Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period.  If you have creditable coverage through your employer, you can delay Part B.  If your coverage is not considered creditable or you do not have any other coverage, if you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B.  If you have retiree coverage, you will likely need to be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to receive full benefits. 

Compare your Medigap options available in your area.  To compare prices of over 19 different Medicare Supplements located in your area, click here.   You will be able to view rates specific to you! 

Let us help you take the guessing game out of what to do to prepare for turning 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare!  We are more than happy to set up a free consultation with one of our Senior Market Advisors that are licensed Insurance agents ready to answer any questions you might have.  Give us a call at (877) 759-5760 or send us an email at seniorservices@morganwhite.com.  Be sure to mention that you heard about us through our blog.  Have a great day!

Source:  Medicare.gov

Helping Seniors Navigate the Medicare Maze!

More individuals than ever before are turning 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare.  By 2030, 80 million people in the United States will turn 65 years old.  If you are approaching 65, you are probably being inundated with calls and mail, which can make it difficult to figure out which path to take.  Finding an agent who can help you navigate the Medicare maze should be a priority. 

I am about to provide you with some valuable advice.  You may even want to save it for future reference.  

If you are coming off a group plan and transitioning to Original Medicare, there is a possibility you will be eligible for Guaranteed Issue Medicare Rights (Medigap protections).  If you would like more information, please click here.

Navigating the Medicare maze

Discussing Part A, B, C or D, Medigap, Medicare Supplements, initial enrollment period, or Original Medicare can be confusing.  At MWG Senior Services, helping seniors navigate the Medicare maze is our specialty.  So, let’s get started.

Original Medicare is health insurance coverage managed by the federal government.  The two main parts are Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance).  Part A covers care in a skilled nursing facility, inpatient hospital stays, hospice care, and some home health care.  A rather large number of US citizens will not be required to pay for their Part A monthly premium.

Premium-free qualifications for Part A at 65 years of age:

  1. If you or your spouse has worked 40 or more quarters paying Medicare taxes.
  2. If you receive retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
  3. If you are eligible to get Social Security or Railroad benefits, but haven’t filed for them yet.

If you OR your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.

Premium-free qualifications for Part A if you are UNDER 65 years of age:

  1. If you received Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months.
  2. If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and meet certain requirements.

Part A Premiums

According to Medicare.gov, if you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters (7 ½ years), the standard Part A premium is $413 in 2017. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $227.  But in most cases, if you choose to buy Part A, you must also purchase Medicare Part B (Medicare Insurance).  You will be required to pay monthly premiums for both.

Part B Premiums

Historically, Part B premiums have increased every year.  In 2017, the Part B premium is $134 (or higher depending on your income).  If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, you could have a decreased Part B premium. 

In Original Medicare, Part B will cover certain doctor services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. 

Two types of services Part B can cover:

  1. Medically necessary:  Services or supplies needed to diagnose or treat your medical condition which meet accepted standards of medical practice.
  2. Preventive:  Services which provide healthcare to prevent illness (like the flu), or detect it at an early stage when treatment is most likely to work best. You pay nothing for most preventive services if you get the services from a healthcare provider who accepts assignment.

What Original Medicare (Part A & Part B) doesn’t cover

It’s no secret that Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything, nor does it pay in full.  You could be stuck paying out-of-pocket for the portion not covered by Medicare, unless you have other insurance (Medicare Supplement or Medigap policy), or you’re in a Medicare health plan (like Medicare Advantage Plans).  With Original Medicare, you could be responsible for your deductible, coinsurance, or copay.  Purchasing a Medicare supplement or Medigap policy can help pay some of the healthcare costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.

Also, when you purchase a Medicare Supplement, such as a Medigap policy, it could cover up to 20%.  This could help you have less out-of-pocket expenses when your personal health isn’t at its best.  For instance, a Plan F Medicare Supplement would insure maximum coverage. 

You can purchase a Medicare Supplement at any time during the year, unlike Medicare Advantage plans (Part C).  All Medicare Supplements are standardized, so a Plan F with one carrier has the same coverage as a Plan F with any other carrier. 

Plan G is also very popular because the only difference between a Plan F and a Plan G is the Medicare Part B deductible cost.  With Plan F, you pay nothing, but with Plan G, you pay a one-time cost of $183 (current cost as of 2017) for Part B services.  This deductible typically changes and starts over on January 1st of each year. 

These plans are considered portable because you can use your insurance in any state in the US, as long as the doctor accepts Medicare.  Medicare Supplements typically don’t cover long-term care, vision, dental, hearing aids, eyeglasses, private-duty nursing, or Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).  You can purchase these as stand-alone policies if it fits your needs.

To compare prices of different Medicare Supplement plans and carriers located in your area, click here.MWGSSMedicareMazeVideo2

 

Part D (Prescription Drug Plans)
Prescription Drug Plans are important and you will need to make sure the plan you choose is considered creditableprescriptiondrug coverage.  If you don’t have creditable prescription drug coverage, you could pay a late enrollment penalty.  This means, you will be required to pay a higher monthly premium and that penalty continues each year.   We suggest, if you are currently not taking any drugs, you will still need a low-cost premium plan to prevent having to pay high or late enrollment penalties later in life.   Medicare multiplies 1% of the national base beneficiary premium by the number of full, uncovered months you didn’t have Part D or creditable coverage.  That amount is added to every monthly premium for the remainder of the service. This can be an issue for those on a strict budget, therefore, we want to help prevent you from being penalized.

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans administer Original Medicare (Part A & B).  Most Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage.  With Part C plans, you must have a primary care physician and you may have to be referred before you can see a specialist.  You must also choose a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), Private Fee-for-Service Plan, Special Needs Plan, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plan.  These plans are not typically considered portable because of the network stipulations and regulations.  

Initial Enrollment Period

If you are new to Medicare, turning 65, and ready to hop on the Medicare bandwagon, you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage or Part D (Prescription Drug Plan) during your Initial Enrollment Period.  Your Initial Enrollment Period begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.  

Open Enrollment Period

Medicare Supplement (Medigap policy) plans have a different time period that you can sign up with no health questions.  When you first enroll in Part B, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement with no medical underwriting starting 6 months before your Part B effective date until 6 months after your Part B effective date.

There are definitely different ways you can obtain creditable coverage and navigate the Medicare maze.  Everyone’s situation is different and there isn’t one option made to fit all.  We advise you to look at a several different avenues to see which option best fits your needs. I hope the information you take from our blog will leave you more knowledgeable and happy!  Life is too short to worry about which road to take when navigating the Medicare maze.  Give us a call at (877) 759-5760 or send us an email at seniorservices@morganwhite.com.  Be sure to mention that you heard about us through our blog.  Have a great day!

Source:  Medicare.gov

Guaranteed Issue Medicare Rights

KNOW YOUR MEDICARE RIGHTS WHEN COMING OFF A GROUP PLAN

Did you know you may qualify for a Guaranteed Issue Medicare Right if your employer coverage is considered creditable?  Each year there is a greater percentage of employed seniors that are eligible for Medicare and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics it grows each year. Though we don’t know what the future holds… from past experiences things are only getting more expensive so seniors are compensating and working longer and are on group coverage longer.

When retirement is right around the corner where do you go for answers? What are your options? Will you be able to obtain coverage if you have pre-existing health conditions? These are all some questions that you might be asking yourself.

When the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) went into effect in January 1, 2014 we learned it requires primary insurance to not ask health questions. In the past, we have learned that a lot of people think that Obamacare and Medicare Supplements work the same way. But they don’t… no worries because we are here to walk hand in hand with you through the Medicare maze. The good news is when you are coming off a creditable group plan on to Medicare, you qualify for a Guaranteed Issue Period as part of your Medigap protections.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN YOU QUALIFY FOR A GUARANTEED ISSUE MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT

There are many ways you could qualify for your Guaranteed Issue Medicare rights. Today, we are going to talk about how you can qualify after losing group coverage and when, where, and how to get adequate coverage by choosing a Medigap policy.

If you currently have original Medicare and you are coming off a group plan that has creditable coverage, you may have the right to buy Medigap Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L that are available in your state (to view rates in your area please click HERE). You will need to apply for a Medigap/Medicare Supplement policy no later than 63 calendar days after the latest of the following three dates:

  1. Date the coverage ends
  2. Date on the notice you get telling you that coverage is ending (if you get one)
  3. Date on a claim denial, if this is the only way you know that your coverage ended

Also, make sure to keep these items handy:

  • A copy of any letters, notices, emails, and/or claim denials that have your name on them as proof of your coverage being terminated
  • The postmarked envelope these papers come in as proof of when it was mailed.

We ask that you save these documents because you might need to send a copy of some of these papers with your Medicare application to prove you have a Guaranteed Issue Medicare right.

Figuring out what the best step to take when coming off group cover is tricky. Let us help you find the right plan for you. Give us a call today and we can help you sort through your options! Our number is (877) 759-5760.

For information on additional Guaranteed Issue Medicare Rights, please click the following link: http://www.medicareinsurancefinders.com/enrollment-periods/guaranteed-issue.html

Source: Medicare.gov

Guaranteed Issue Medicare Righs: Know your Medicare rights. Give us a call!