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

2017 Medicare Open Enrollment

2017 Medicare Open Enrollment
MWG Senior Services – (877) 759-5760

With the 2017 Medicare Open Enrollment just around the corner, I’m sure you’ve noticed an increase in Medicare advertisements on TV, billboards, and in the mail.  With all of the advertisements, sometimes it’s hard to know where to turn.  Everyone claims that their plan is the one you need.  Wouldn’t you like to have someone you can talk to that will make a recommendation based on your specific needs?  Typically, people come to us because they are inundated from all of the advertisements they’ve seen and they want us to educate them on how the different plans will affect them.

The Medicare Open Enrollment I mentioned earlier is October 15th – December 7th of each year and, as you may know, this is the only time of the year that people with certain plans can switch to another plan for the upcoming year.  If you’re unhappy with your plan or if you would simply like to see how the plans for 2017 compare to what you currently have, give us a call!  We are happy to answer any and all of your questions.  This is what we do every day and we absolutely love it!  Our number is (877) 759-5760.

Medicare Supplement Quotes

If you’re interested in seeing some rates in your area prior to speaking with us, visit this link: https://member.medicareinsurancefinders.com/?key=16610-00000-00000.  You’ll be able to see rates from multiple carriers in your area within two minutes.  Once you have entered your information in the Medicare Supplement Quote Engine, you will receive an email from the advisor that has been assigned to you.

MWG Senior Services – (877) 759-5760

Senior Services Team

Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period

When can I disenroll from my Medicare Advantage plan?

Are you unhappy with your Medicare Advantage plan?  Did you know that the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MAPD) is January 1st – February 14th every year?  If you are unhappy with your plan, you can disenroll during this time and return to Original Medicare (you cannot switch to another Medicare Advantage plan at this time, but you can enroll in a Part D stand-alone drug plan).  If you miss this period, your next opportunity to change your plan is during the Annual Enrollment Period which is October 15th – December 7th of each year.

But before you disenroll, we recommend that you speak with someone to see if a Medicare Supplement is right for you.  Keep in mind that most people will have to answer health questions, but there are some that may qualify for a Guaranteed Issue period which would eliminate the underwriting process.

We want to help you make an informed decision!

If you would like additional information, please give us a call at 1-800-800-1397 ext. 1397 and mention that you read our article on the Medicare Insurance Finders blog.  We will take care of you just as we would our own family.  We look forward to speaking with you soon!

 

Enrollment by Medicare Star Rating

This article focuses on the enrollment by Medicare Star Rating as of April 2013.  The chart below shows that over 5,000,000 people have enrolled in the mid-level (3.5 star) plan.  This is the largest category followed by a (4.5) star rating; while the lowest is a two star rated plan.

Enrollment by Medicare Star Rating

Enrollment By Medicare

Enrollment By Medicare Star Ratings

If you need help discerning which Part D or Medicare Advantage plan is right for you contact Medicare Insurance Finders at 1-877-936-2991.

MA NEWS! 2014 Plan Design!

There was MA news released late yesterday afternoon!  Medicare Advantage plans after much push back from congress, Medicare Advantage enrollees  and insurance companies will not be receiving a cut in 2014.   The proposed 2.3% cut has now been removed and an increase was given to the Medicare plans run by private insurance companies. Continue reading

2014 MA Plans – Will they be here?

A question many seniors are asking right now is will MA plans be around in 2014?  As stated in previous articles Medicare Advantage plans are feeling some hits from the Federal government on their subsidies.  With roughly 5 billion dollars spent over the traditional Medicare fee for service costs, Medicare is stating it is more expensive than Original Medicare.

While this is an accurate statement it has many of the 14 million seniors on one of the MA plans very nervous.  “I don’t want my Medicare Advantage Plan taken away” – states a senior in the Northeast.  Other organizations like AHIP have prompted seniors to contact their congress members to tell them to go against these cuts.

When did MA Plans Start?

Under the 2003 MMA, Medicare Advantage Plans were put into place as well as the Part D plans going into effect in 2006.  MA Plans can include Part D drug coverage. However, these plans had been seen in the 90′s as the Medicare + Choice plan that was dismantled because the plans cost more than Original Medicare.  When this plan closed down over 3 million people had to go back to Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement Plans.

What are my options if Medicare Advantage Plans stop in 2014

You have options in fact very good options if this happens.  Medicare Supplement Companies are forced to offer guaranteed issue Medicare Supplements if your Medicare Advantage plan pulls out of your service area (for more on guaranteed issue rights). This means that you have no health questions for several different plan options in your state, usually the Plan F Medicare Supplement is always one of these plans.

Our advice is to stay on top of what is happening with MA plans and keep up to date on our blog for up to date Medicare news.  Call us at 1-877-936-2991 for more help with your Medicare Insurance needs.

MA Plans

Offering Supplemental Medicare plans – Medigap and Dental Insurance

Need Medicare Supplement Insurance

If you need Medicare Supplement Insurance and are looking for supplemental plans that fit your budget – LOOOK NO FURTHER.  Medicare Insurance Providers offers you online Medigap Quotes.  We do not sell your information so do not worry about filling out the lead form and having hundreds of agents call you.  Before you get a quote there are a few things you should know about Medigap or Medicare Supplement Insurance.

  1. The first thing to understand is that Medicare Advantage Plans are not the same as Medicare Supplement Plans.  Medicare Advantage Plans take over Original Medicare where Medicare Supplement Insurance fills in the gaps of Medicare.  Medigap plans do not include Part D coverage while a lot of Medicare Advantage Plans do contain prescription drug coverage.
  2. If you need Medicare Supplement Insurance you should compare rates before choosing a plan.  Websites like Medicare Insurance Finders allow you to see up to 25 insurance company’s rates so you can see who offers the best price.  Unlike many things in life price is the most important factor with Medigap plans.  Coverage is standardized so two companies offering Plan F insurance must provide the same basic coverage. (APPLES TO APPLES)
  3. Compare financial stability of the different companies.  As long as you choose a company with B+ or higher rating you should be just fine, but a lot of people like to choose an A rated carrier just to make them feel better – I completely understand.

Need Medicare Supplement Insurance

Most people need Medicare Supplement Insurance quotes and/or advice when one of the following situations takes place:

  • Losing Group Coverage
  • Turning 65
  • Medicare Supplement Rates on current policy increase
  • Losing Medicare Advantage Coverage
  • Moving to a different area
  • Unhappy with current coverage (usually due to price or provider restrictions)

If you are looking for help with your insurance coverage call our office (1-800-800-1397 option 6) for all the advice and guidance you need pertaining to Medicare Supplement Insurance.

Need Medicare Supplement Insurance

Providing advice on Medicare Supplements for individuals with health issues

Medicare Advantage Cuts

We all heard during the elections how President Obama and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney argued about the Medicare Advantage cuts from the Affordable Care Act.  Mitt Romney sited that there was over 700 billion in MA cuts, while President Obama argued that this was absurd.  Well the truth came out this week when Medicare Advantage cuts appeared larger than anticipated.

Medicare Advantage Cuts

The last week of February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a further cut of 2.3% in Medicare Advantage Payments in 2014.  This sent the Medicare Advantage Plans into an uproar stating that they were already getting close to a 5% cuts to their plan and adding this 2.3% would put them right at 7% cut.

The insurance companies were not the only ones who noticed these cuts.  Companies that are publicly traded and offered MA Plans all took a hit.  Some companies like Humana and United Healthcare took large hits (roughly 8%).

Medicare Advantage Cuts

Medicare Advantage Plans verse Medicare Supplement Plans

What do these Medicare Advantage cuts mean?

To a consumer these Medicare Advantage cuts mean either a loss of benefits, higher premiums or both.  AHIP recently released a statement that members will probably get some unpleasant surprises in 2014 plan year.  Some of the possible changes could be premium increases from $50-$90 per month or cut in benefits.

If premiums increase and benefit are cut we are expecting Medicare Supplement plans to increase enrollments.  These plans supplement Original Medicare and pick up the deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pays that accompany covered Medicare services.  Medicare Supplements normally have higher premiums than Medicare Advantage Plans, but they do provide much more extensive coverage.

These Medigap plans also do not limit providers available, but MA plans do limit their members to specific networks which is the major issue with people who have enrolled in a MA Plan.  Basically these MA cuts will stir up some change in the Medicare market towards the end of 2013 (Annual Election Period) so people have a chance to change prior to the 2014 plan year.

 

Medicare Advantage Plan

Recently we had a scenario where a disabled Medicare beneficiary had a Medicare Supplement policy that had received increases over 4 years.  His premium had reached over $400 per month or $4,800 per year.  We realized that he had over 10 years to go before reaching his “Open Enrollment Period” which allowed him to change to a different Medigap Policy.  So we found a way to save him money through a Medicare Advantage Plan and had a way to guarantee he did not spend any more than $4,800 per year.  Continue reading

Medicare Myths – Understanding the Misconceptions of Medicare

I recently read an article published by Senior Market Advisor that discussed some of the top myths of Medicare.  I thought this would be a good article to pass along to our clients and followers.  One of the top Medicare myths that we hear is “I can not change plans because of health issues”.  This could not be further from the truth.

Medicare Myths

Below we will cover the most common Medicare myths.

Medicare Myth #1: Health Issues keep me from changing plans.  Medicare Advantage Plans and Guaranteed Issue Medicare Supplements are two widely used plans for individuals that have health issues.  There are certain enrollment periods for those wanting to go into a Medicare Advantage Plan but the guranteed issue group retiree medical plan has no specific time frame for enrollments.

Get Medicare Supplemental quotes in seconds from Medicare Insurance Finders and speak with an advisor who can help you with your insurance questions.

Medicare Myth #2: Medicare will cover Long Term Care Expenses.  Medicare will not cover custodial care expenses.  Medicare will cover skilled care that is available after several days in the hospital, but custodial care is not covered by Medicare.  A long term care insurance policy is what you need for those expenses.

Medicare Myth #3: Supplemental Insurance is too expensive.  Medicare Advantage Plans offer $0 premiums in most states and in a lot of states more comprehensive coverage provided by a Medicare Supplement will be in the $100 range for those in their mid 60′s.   Go to Medicare Insurance Finders to get a Medigap quote.

Medicare Myth #4: My doctor won’t accept the Medicare Supplement plan.  If your doctor accepts Medicare he will accept the Medicare Supplement plan.  Some doctors may not accept your Medicare Advantage plan but that is a reason to review the provider directory when enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan.  There are different networks such as a HMO or PPO that have provider lists.

Medicare Myth #5: My coverage will not be as good as it was with my group health plan.  Medicare provides excellent coverage to those age 65 or older or those on Medicare disability.  Do not believe the Medicare myths that state that your coverage will not be as good as it was on your group health plan.