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

Tax on Medicare Supplement Plan F? What is IRMAA?

Tax on Medicare Supplement Plan F?

If you’ve listened to the news at all lately, I’m sure you’ve heard some talk about future changes in Medicare. There are many proposals out there that seek to help Medicare beneficiaries in keeping costs down. However, some say that there are also proposals being made that would work against these seniors.

One in particular would impose an extra 15% tax on those who have selected a Medicare Supplement Plan F or C. These plans cover all deductibles and co-payments for doctor and hospital visits. The basis of this proposal is that people that choose these plans are not contributing towards health costs as much as those who aren’t on a Plan F or C.

To me, it sounds similar to the concept of the “Cadillac Tax” that is scheduled to take effect in 2018 for certain plans under the Affordable Care Act.

What in the world is IRMAA?

Do you make over $85,000 (single)/$170,000 (married) per year? Did you know that if you’re considered a high income earner you could be assessed an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA)? This can be a shocking realization once discovered. The initial determination for an IRMAA will be based on the tax return from two year’s prior (so for this year, it would be based on their 2103 tax return).

If you have experienced a life-changing event such as divorce, death of spouse, work reduction or stoppage, etc., there is a form you can fill out to let Social Security know about this life-changing event (documented evidence required). Social Security will perform a review to see if you initial determination for the IRMAA needs to be adjusted. There are certain time frames this appeal must fall into and that is outlined in the initial letter from Social Security.

Medicare Supplement Quotes

If you are interested in a quote on a plan other than a Medicare Supplement Plan F, please click HERE.  We recommend looking into a Medicare Supplement Plan G.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to call us at 1-800-800-1397 ext. 1397.  We can also be reached by email at seniordivision@morganwhite.com.

The Annual Election Period is Here

Well the annual election period is here and it is time for Medicare beneficiaries to start comparing their Part C and Part D plans. This is the only time during the year in which an applicant can make changes to their plan after their initial enrollment or special election periods.

The Importance of Part D Evaluations

As mentioned on our website, Part D plans change each year which make it extremely important to compare plans during the AEP.

I like my current plan why is important to compare other options?

We have a lot of clients that are happy with their current plan; however, premiums, co-pays, and formularies change each year.   An example is a client who choose the AARP Saver Plan in 2013 with a premium of roughly $15 was getting a slight increases to $22 per month.

Even though this is a high percentage it is a low premium overall.  What the consumer would not know without comparison would be the that now their $290 per month prescription is no longer covered by this plan.  That means the consumer would be responsible for $290 each time she filled that prescription.

Through Medicare.gov’s Part D tool we found other options and found a plan for $28 premium that had that prescription at a $6 co-pay during the initial coverage period.   That $6 in premium difference was nothing compared to the $284 difference in prescription co-pay.

Annual Election Period

The annual election period is between October 15th and December 7th each year.  Trying to enroll on December 8th is too late, you will be unable to enroll for a new plan effective for 2014 if you do not enroll prior to December 7th.

For help with your supplemental Medicare plans please contact MWG Senior Services at 877-936-2991.  We look forward to being your guide and help with Medicare Part D analysis.

Annual Election Period

2014 Medicare Annual Election Period

Medicare Help for Mississippi

MWG Senior Services is providing Medicare Help to the residents of Mississippi.  Morgan-White Group (MWG) is headquartered in Jackson, MS and is recognized as being one of the top businesses in the state.  The company started a senior division of the company after realizing that there were countless Mississippians needing help with the Prescription Drug and Medicare Supplement Plans.

Medicare Help – MWG Senior Services

MWG Senior Services offers free drug plan analysis to all their Medicare Supplement clients.  They recommend Medicare.gov being one of the best ways to compare Medicare Part D plans but recommend their Medicare Supplement Quote Engine as the top way to compare supplemental insurance.

“People need help with their Medicare Drug Plans.  If you do not know how to compare plans it would be easy to enroll in the wrong plan or stay enrolled in your current plan because you were happy with last year’s coverage.” states Ryan Eaton the senior division manager.

Medicare Help in the State of Mississippi is hard to find.  There are very few companies in MS that offer Medicare guidance for those over 65.  Don’t get us wrong there is always someone who can sell a Medicare Supplement plan or another type of insurance policy, but there are very few senior market advisors that can help Medicare beneficiaries compare their plan options.

Need Help – What Should You Do

If you need Medicare help MWG Senior Services can assist you.  The first step would be to call 1-877-936-2991 and speak with one of their senior market advisors who would ask you some initial questions about your situation.  These questions are asked because their are time frames and enrollment periods that we have to work through.

One of the specialists in the MWG office will then set an appointment with you, which you can come to the office for your consultation.  MWG Senior Services is located off I-55 in Jackson between Briarwood and Adkins Drive.

Medicare Help

Medicare Insurance Finders helping you with your 2014 Medicare Supplement insurance needs.

 

 

Group Insurance or Medicare

With over 25 years in the insurance industry our company has received all types of questions from clients and business owners pertaining to their insurance.  However, there is one that is popping up more and more now that people are working longer and that is “do in need group insurance or Medicare now that I am 65″. Unfortunately, we can not give a one size fits all answer to this question.  There are different factors that come into play like: high income penalties, group insurance rates (your portion), how many employees does your company have, and several other factors that must be considered if you want to make sure that you do the best thing for your coverage.

Compare Group Insurance or Medicare

Group insurance is coverage that is provided by your employer.  Medicare is a federal health insurance program that is broken up into four parts (A, B, C, D).  Part A is funded by payroll tax and Part B is partly government subsidized and partly insured paid.  The question we are covering is which coverage is better for you when you reach age 65, group insurance or Medicare.

The first thing you need to do before you do anything is ask yourself when you are going to retire.  If you are retiring at age 65 – it doesn’t matter which is better because when you quit working your group insurance goes away!  If you are going to continue working then you will need to do the following steps:

  1. Tally up your costs.  Find out what your group health insurance is costing you.  Is it subsidized 100% or do you have to pay 50% of the cost.
  2. Income.  What is your income and do you fall under the high income thresholds of Medicare?  A single individual reaches the high income level at $85,000 per year in 2013.  Depending on your income level it may not be cost efficient to enroll in Medicare Part B.
  3. Company Size.  Medicare is primary for under 20 employees and secondary coverage for groups over 20 lives.  There are different options like a group retiree medical plan that can be offered for those groups with less than 20 employees which can save the employer and employee a lot of money.  It is group insurance or Medicare – you might be wondering?  It is a supplemental insurance built for a group.  Click Here to find out more about this plan.

There are other factors that are a little more complicated than I would like to present in an article but just know that when you are comparing group insurance or Medicare you need someone who knows what they are talking about.  Not just a regular health insurance agent, but someone who specializes in Medicare.   Call 1-877-936-2991.

Group Insurance or Medicare Example

I had a business owner call a few months ago and he was a high income earner ($500k+).  Due to the penalty with Medicare and his low premiums for his group health plan.  It was not cost efficient for him to leave the group plan.  It was going to be $400 more per month or $5,000 roughly per year.

If you are leaving the group plan make sure to get a Medicare Supplement.  Most people want a plan that covers the gaps and allows you to go to any Medicare doctor.  Medicare Advantage plans change each year and it is not a plan that you can hang your hat on.  We hope you enjoyed this article and please don’t hesitate to share.

 

Group Insurance or Medicare

Offering Supplemental Medicare plans – Medigap and Dental Insurance

Affordable Health Insurance

Affordable health insurance for those 65 years or older.  It is the time of the year to compare Medicare insurance plans and also to enroll through the federal and state exchanges.  We are going to give you some ways to compare plans and also some tips on the best way to compare insurance plans.

Affordable Health Insurance

Let’s start by understanding that affordable health insurance has a different meaning to different people.  So you may think a plan is affordable that is $400 per month and I may think that an affordable plan is $100 per month.   It is not that either one of us are right it is simply a matter of opinion.

As of October 1, 2013, the Affordable Care Act put in place health insurance that is available to all Americans.  This means that no matter what pre-existing condition, what income, what state or any other factor you can apply for health insurance and can not be turned down.  This is assuming that you are a legal citizen and are in compliance with the law.

As of October 15, 2013, many Medicare beneficiaries will begin comparing their Part D (prescription drug plans) and Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) to see what is the most cost effective plan for 2014.  Many of these plans are considered affordable; however, a lot of American are disagreeing about the under age 65 plans.

Affordable Health Insurance – Medicare Supplements

We recommend going to the Medicare Supplement Quote Engine also known as the Medicare Insurance Exchange around here.  This quote engine works in 47 states and will compare plans in less than 2 minutes without having to put in your social security number and other information that is irrelevant to getting a quote.

If you are not computer savvy we recommend you call 1-877-936-2991. One of the advisors are there and can help you compare plans.  They will need to know some basic information to compare plans.

Under Age 65 – Health Insurance Plans

The best way to compare plans through the federal exchanges is to go to www.healthcare.gov. This website will allow you to choose your state and compare plans.  The negative of finding affordable health insurance through this site is that it is not a smooth process.  Currently they are experiencing a lot of computer glitches and overloading from people coming to the website to compare plans.

Affordable Health Insurance

The Federal Health Insurance Exchange – Affordable Care Act

Before enrolling in a plan we recommend you make sure you understand the health insurance policy.  There are going to be different levels of benefits labeled by Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.  These represent the coverage amounts.

One other thing to understand is that some insurance companies may not be represented on the federal exchange but their policies are available through private exchanges.

We wish you luck in finding affordable health insurance and if we can be of any assistance please contact us at 1-877-936-2991.

 

Health Insurance – What it doesn’t cover?

Lets start by being pretty straight forward – we should have commons sense to understand that some things will not be covered by our health insurance plans.  For instance cosmetic surgery that is not due to an injury or accident will not be covered by an insurance policy.  First of all it is not medically necessary and second insurance premiums would be through the roof if it covered procedures that were just whenever someone wanted to use it.

Health Insurance – What’s Not Covered?

Below are list of things that are not covered by a health insurance policy.  Some policies may have riders (additional coverage) that provide protection; however, the basic policy does not cover these items.

  1. Long-Term Care – this is custodial care and is not deemed skilled care by Medicare or other insurance policies.
  2. Cosmetic Surgery – cosmetic surgery will usually be covered if a major accident or injury occurs that causes damage; however, basic cosmetic surgery is not covered.
  3. Erectile Dysfunction – this is not covered by Medicare Part D.  Many times during the Annual Election Period senior men are surprised to find this is not covered, because unlike Medicare they see this as medically necessary.
  4. Dental and Vision Coverage – this will be covered under a separate policy.  If you are in need of dental/vision coverage I would recommend going to Dental4Everyone to compare plans in your zip code.
  5. Weight Loss Surgery – most of the time this procedure will not be covered.  A recent article by Insurance News states that 90% of health insurance policies do not cover this.
Health Insurance Specialists

Medicare Insurance Finders helping you with your insurance needs.

If you are looking for supplemental health insurance contact MWG SENIOR SERVICES at 800-800-1397 option 6!  We have tools available that will allow us to find plans available in 47 states in less than 2 minutes.  Your health insurance is in safe hands with MWG.

Guaranteed Issue Med Supp

Recently we initiated contact with a group that has a “Guaranteed Issue Med Supp”.  It is not a standardized Medicare Supplement, but it is a plan that supplements Medicare and is almost like a Plan F and Plan N hybrid plan.

It is guaranteed issue in the sense that there are no health questions, not even “Do you have end-stage renal disease?”.  So for the individuals that can not get a Medicare Advantage Plan due to this health questions, you not have an option!  This plan is offered through Benefits Association, Inc. a MS Non-Profit corporation.  The plan has a one page application online that you can sign up for from any state across the country besides New York and Florida.

Guaranteed Issue Med Supp

Why would you choose this plan over any other Medicare Supplement in the market?

  1. Guaranteed Issue – since there are no health questions a previous surgery will not make you wait two years before seeing what other options are available (5 years for some Medicare Supplement Plans like Philadelphia American). 
  2. Low Rate Increases – they have an average rate increase of less than 3% per year.  That is 5% less than the average Medigap policy in force in 2013.
  3. Online Application – right now finding an insurance company that offers an online application is virtually impossible.  There are a few in California but most states do not have a direct to consumer online application.
  4. Rates are age banded – a 69 year old will pay the same as a 66 year old.  This policy puts rates in a age band.  Ex: 66-69 =$XYZ, 70-74 = $XYZ.
  5. Guaranteed Renewable - these plans are guaranteed renewable.  This is different from being a “Guaranteed Issue Med Supp or a Guaranteed Issue Supplement to Medicare”.  Guaranteed Renewable means that the plans are guaranteed to renew each year, you can not be cancelled.

This plan is not the most cost effective plan for everyone; however, for people who have received rate increases and are unable to switch due to a health issue you should definately check out the rates to see if it is more beneficial.

Call 1-877-936-2991 if you are interested in the supplement to Medicare plan!

Guaranteed Issue Med Supp

Benefits Association – Group Retiree Medical Plan

How does the Healthcare Law affect my Medigap Plan?

With recent news of the large employer mandates getting pushed back a year, it is bound to have people wondering if this means there is any changes to their Medigap plan (supplemental insurance to Medicare).  How does the healthcare law affect my Medicare – is the chant of millions of Medicare beneficiaries across the country.

For a basic understanding of Medicare we recommend you focus on the Medicare Insurance Finders website for detail specific questions.  Our goal here is to free up any questions you may have about how the healthcare law affects your Medigap Plan!

Healthcare Law Affects Medigap Plans

We will discuss the three main topics surrounding Medigap plans and the Affordable Care Act so that we will cover the majority of questions.

  1. Will there by health questions on 2015 Medicare Supplement Plans?  The answer to this question is YES.  Medicare Supplements are secondary insurance and only primary insurance is required to ask no health questions.  This means that most insurance companies will still require you to answer these questions.
  2. What are the main changes to Medicare Supplement plans due to the Affordable Care Act?  Since the healthcare law is not in full effect we do not know for sure what changes it will have to Medicare which will directly affect Medicare Supplements; however, we do know that there are certain procedures that have been put in place which will help seniors with Part D plans (such as reducing the donut hole).
  3. What will happen to Medigap Rates in 2014 or 2015?  Since there are currently no changes to Medicare that will directly affect the bottom line for Medicare Supplement Plans we do no see this being something that will have a significant impact on the rates.  However, if Medicare bumps up pay to doctors/hospitals or others it could create more costs for the supplemental insurance which in turn would be directed right back to the consumer.

Healthcare Law AffectsFor questions on your Medicare Plans and how the Healthcare Law Affects your Medicare Insurance call 1-877-936-2991.

 

Genworth Long Term Care

NEWS: GENWORTH LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE DELAYED IN THE CALIFORNIA MARKET!!!

Genworth a long term leader in the long-term care insurance market has announced a delay in the California market due to lingering customer service issues they are experiencing.  Unlike most companies, Genworth has taken the time to address these issues prior to launching a push for their LTC products.

Long-Term Care insurance helps cover custodial care that is not covered by Medicare insurance.    Medicare and Medigap plans only cover medically necessary coverage where Genworth Long Term Care Insurance covers care such as cleaning, bathing, etc. that is needed when you experience loss in your daily activities of living.   An example of this would be needing someone to help take you to the grocery store or the bathroom if you were not able to accomplish this on your own.  Continue reading