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

Are All Medicare Supplements Created Equal?

Are All Medicare Supplements Created Equal?

How do I choose a Medicare Supplement plan that will best fit my needs?  What carrier has the best Medicare Supplement?    These are just some of the questions that we hear from our clients.   Health Insurance that you can purchase before you are eligible for Medicare is much different from Original Medicare.  When you are sifting through your Medicare options It can be confusing and you might not know which plan is the “best” or which plan would be the best for YOU.  We can help!  In this blog we are going to talk about, “What are Medicare Supplements?”, “What plan and carrier to choose when you are deciding on a Medicare Supplement.”, and most importantly “Are all Medicare Supplements created equal?”

What are Medicare Supplements?

Medigap is another name for Medicare Supplements.  Medicare Supplements are insurance that seniors can purchase to use alongside Original Medicare.  It is sold by private insurance companies and it can help pay copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.  We like to say that Medicare Supplements are portable because you can use them across the United States and some of the plans you can even use abroad in emergency situations.  This is a benefit that Medicare alone doesn’t offer.  A Medicare Supplement policy only covers one person but with some carriers you can get a household discount if you and someone else in your household choose the same Medicare Supplement carrier.   Also, another benefit is if you purchase a Medicare Supplement and then later have unfortunate health problems, the carrier cannot cancel your policy as long as you pay your premiums.

Medicare Supplements are Equal?  

It is true… some plans are created equal!  But before we talk about which plans are created equal, let’s talk about the different plans available.  There are 10 different Medicare Supplement plans available.  See chart below, compliments of Medicare.gov.  I know that sounds like a lot but let’s break it down and talk about the most popular ones that are used 9 times out of 10.  The most popular plans are Plans F and G.  After 2020, you will no longer be able to purchase a Plan F, but rest assured you can still keep your plan if you purchased it before 2020.  As you can see in the chart below, the only difference in a Plan F and a Plan G is that with the Plan G you have to pay the Medicare Part B Deducible, and for 2017 it is $183.

Medicare Supplement Chart

All Medicare Supplements are standardized.  The Federal and State Laws were put into place to protect you.  It is TRUE!  A Plan F with one carrier has the same benefits as a Plan F with any another carrier.  If all Plan F’s are the same then why should you choose one carrier over another one?

1. Cost:

Medicare Supplement premiums will increase a small percentage year after year. Typically, after 3-4 years that premium increase might cost you an additional $720 more a year.  Some of our clients have found that by using our Medicare Supplement Quote Engine to receive a free, instant quote they can check to make sure they aren’t paying too much for their Medicare Supplement.  Click here to view the Medicare Supplement Premiums that are available in your area.

2. Carrier Financial Stability:

We always advise our clients to purchase a Medicare Supplement from only financially stable carriers that have a B+ or higher rating with A.M. Best.  Our Medicare Supplement Quote Engine can help with this selection by listing the A.M. Best rating for each carrier quoted.   Click here to view the carriers in your area that have a B+ or higher rating.

I hope this article helps you understand a little bit more about Medicare Supplements.  If you have any further questions, one of our advisors would love the chance to assist.  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!

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!

Medicare Changes 2017

Medicare Changes 2017

If you’re looking for answers to your Medicare questions, look no further.  Today, I am going to write about the Medicare changes for 2017.  This may stir up some additional questions in your mind.  Please give us a call and one of our licensed advisors will be happy to answer any and all of your questions!  Our number is (877) 759-5760.

Each year, Medicare costs go up.  The good thing is, if you have a Medicare Supplement plan, your plan benefits will match the cost increase accordingly.  Medicare covers 80% of allowable charges.  So what does this remaining 20% look like?  The following costs give you a high level overview of what you are responsible for when you have Medicare only.

Part A

Part A is your hospital coverage.

Deductible: $1,316 per benefit period
Days 1-60: $0
Days 61-90: $329 per day
Days 91-150: $658 per day

Skilled Nursing Facility

Days 1-20: $0
Days 21-100: $164.50
Days 101 and beyond: all costs

Part B

Part B is your medical insurance which includes doctor’s visits, x-ray services, outpatient services, durable medical equipment, etc.

Coinsurance: 20%
Deductible: $183 annually
Excess Charges: Up to 15% more than Medicare’s approved charge when provider does not take assignment

Medicare Supplement Coverage

One option to help cover these costs and the annual Medicare Changes is by obtaining Medicare Supplement coverage.  There are 10 plans to choose from, but the most popular plans are plans F, G, & N.  I would highly recommend looking into Plan G and our advisors can explain why I recommend that plan over the Plan F.

To view real time quotes for all of the Medicare Supplement plans in your area, click HERE and a new window will open up to our Medicare Supplement Quote Engine.  Once you enter your information, you will see the rates and one of our advisors will be giving you a call to answer your questions.

Thank you for taking time to read our blog.  If you have questions now, give us a call (877) 759-5760.  Our office hours are Monday – Thursday 8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. CST and on Friday from 8:00 A.M. – 2:30 P.M. CST.  We look forward to speaking with you!

Medicare Supplement Plan Comparison

Medicare Supplement Plan Comparison

If you’ve found this article, chances are you are doing your homework on your Medicare Supplement plan comparisons. Look no further! We developed a tool for you to use to show instant rates in your area so you can compare all of the Medicare Supplement plans. You can find this tool by clicking HERE.

We call this tool our Medicare Supplement Quote Engine and you’ll be able to see all of the Medicare Supplement plan comparisons from multiple carriers for plans A – N. Once you submit your information, you’ll be able to see all of the plans and rates. We will call you to go over your options and answer any questions.

One of the reasons our clients love us so much is that after we get your Medicare Supplement in place, we will also assist you in finding a Part D prescription drug plan that is most cost effective for you. We have a team in place to help you with your Medicare Supplement options and another team in place to help you with your Part D.

Our clients have found that our team approach benefits them the most. Instead of having one person you can call, you have an entire team that has your back when it comes to Medicare. If you’re new to Medicare and are in your Open Enrollment period for Part B, all of the plans are available to you with NO health questions! If you’ve been on Medicare a while and you’re looking for a lower rate, we will go through health questions with you in order to find a carrier that would best suit your needs.

Got questions?

If you need assistance, we are here to help you navigate the Medicare maze! Just give us a call at (877) 759-5760, option 1. Our advisors are ready to answer all of your questions. You can also email our team at seniorservices@morganwhite.com if you prefer. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Medicare Supplement Plan F

Medicare Supplement Plan F – Is it really the best choice?

When people think of Medicare Supplements, usually the first plan that you will hear them talk about is a Medicare Supplement Plan F.  Why?  This plan offers first dollar coverage and there is no out of pocket cost as long as Medicare picks up its 80%.  But did you know that there are significant savings with plans outside of the popular Medicare Supplement Plan F?  Let’s take a look at some current facts.

Medicare Supplement Plan F Facts

  1. There are no co-pays for Parts A & B.
  2. There are no deductibles.
  3. There are no networks.
  4. Rate increases are sometimes higher than other plans.

Now let’s take a look at Plan G facts…

  1. There are no co-pays for Parts A & B.
  2. The only deductible is the annual Part B deductible ($166 for 2016).
  3. No deductible for Part A, which is your hospital insurance.
  4. There are no networks.
  5. Rate increases are generally lower than Medicare Supplement Plan F.

Okay, from the facts above, you can see that Plan G has some cost sharing over the Medicare Supplement Plan F.  But what about the difference in premium?  Is there a cost savings there?  Absolutely.  Now let’s see if the difference in premium is greater than the out of pocket cost (Part B deductible).

I’m going to look up some Medicare Supplement Plan F & G rates on our quoter, which can be accessed by clicking HERE.  We’ll look at some rate comparisons in 5 different areas.  Since the rates are based on zip code, we will pull zip codes from the largest cities of the states below.  Rates are also based on gender, age, and whether or not you use tobacco.  For this illustration, we are going to pull female, age 65, and non-tobacco.

Location Plan F Plan G Annual Savings
Jackson, Mississippi (392XX) $116.65 $89.63 $324.24
Houston, Texas (770XX) $146.81 $111.79 $420.24
Detroit, Michigan (482XX) $141.15 $118.87 $267.36
Nashville, Tennessee (372XX) $134.95 $95.80 $469.80
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (190XX) $158.52 $123.45 $420.84

Wow.  Look at those savings going from a Medicare Supplement Plan F to a Plan G!  Like I mentioned before, the only out of pocket cost with Plan G is the Part B deductible which is $166 this year.  Why would you pay $469.80 in TN, for example, for a $166 benefit?  I know I wouldn’t.

If you’d like to speak to one of our advisors, call us at (877) 759-5760 or send us an e-mail to seniorservices@morganwhite.com.  We can answer your questions and see if there’s an opportunity for us to work together.  If not, that’s okay!  Let’s get this conversation going.

2016 Medicare Open Enrollment Period

2016 Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Well, we are 11 days into the Medicare Open Enrollment Period for the 2016 plan year.  We have received many phone calls already and we are so happy to have the honor to help seniors through this fast paced enrollment window.  Remember, the last day of the 2016 Medicare Open Enrollment Period is Monday, December 7th.

What are my options?

If you found this blog by searching the internet and you have any Medicare questions during this time, please give us a call!  We want to be your #1 Medicare resource.  Our number is 1-877-759-5760.  That number will reach everyone in our division, so whoever picks up can get you in contact with the right person to answer your Medicare questions during this Medicare Open Enrollment period.  If you’d rather email us your questions, that is fine too!  Our team email address is seniorservices@morganwhite.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the frequently asked questions we are hearing.

  1. Which drug plan is right for me?
  2. My rate has increased.  What are the current Medicare Supplement rates in my area?
  3. My doctor prescribed a new medication for me.  Is it covered on my plan?
  4. I recently moved.  Does my plan still work in my new location?

There are too many questions to list!  But those are just a few that we hear often.  Maybe you have a different question – we’d like to hear from you.  Challenge us with your questions!  If we don’t know the answer, we will research it and find out.

Medicare Supplement Quotes

We have an online Medicare Supplement Quote Engine that can provide you with current rates in your area as well. To view rates in your area, please click HERE.  One of our authorized advisors will contact you to go over your options.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Senior Services Expo

Medicare Supplement Rate Decrease

Everybody Likes a Medicare Supplement Rate Decrease!

Over the last couple of months, American Continental & Continental Life, companies of Aetna, decreased their Medicare Supplement rates for Plan G!  The decrease ranges from 4 – 22% across several states.  This is exciting news for Medicare eligible individuals!

The states that have recently reduced their Medicare Supplement rates are Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Quotes and Questions?

If you would like to review the rates available in your area, please click HERE.  We are always happy to answer any questions, so give us a call.  We can be reached at 1-800-800-1397 ext. 1397 by phone or you can email us at seniordivision@morganwhite.com.

 

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.

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!