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

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

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

Compare Part D Plans

It is that time of the year – time to compare Part D plans.  It is the Annual Election Period next week and this is the time of the year which you can compare and switch Part D plans.  You do not have to compare or switch plans, but it is highly recommended since these plans will change each year.

What is the Annual Election Period?

This is a time which you can enroll, disenroll or change your Medicare Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan.   This time frame also gets commonly called the Open Enrollment Period.

It is highly recommended to start your comparison on October 15th when it begins, waiting until December can put you at a risk of getting enrolled prior to the December 7th cut off date.

Do Part D Plans change each year?

Yes, Part D plans change every year that is why it is so important to compare your options.  An example that comes to mind is a company that had a great plan three years ago.  The premiums where less than $20 per month and there was no deductible.  Needless to say that plan did not stick around more than 1 year without doubling its premium and beginning to cover less drugs.

Compare Part D plans annually to make sure that your plan covers your prescriptions, has an affordable premium and to know that your pharmacy accepts that insurance company’s plan.

Compare Part D Plans

How do I compare Part D plans?  That is a great question and the easy answer is to say go to medicare.gov and compare the plans.  However, that is not an easy task for most people.  Usually you will want to make sure you have a senior market advisor to help inform you of the different “gotchas” to the plan.  An example of these could be step therapy, prior authorization, and quantity limits.

The company may cover your prescription but only cover it one per day when you need to take 2 per day.  This means that you will have to pay out of pocket for the remaining costs.  An annual review can help make sure you have a plan that suits your needs.

Call 1-877-936-2991 for help with your insurance needs.

Compare Part D Plans

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

2014 Annual Election Period

Its that time of the year again the time when you pull out your prescriptions and write down the names, dosages, and quantities so that you can compare Prescription Drug Plans in the best manner possible.  That’s right its the 2014 Annual Election Period! This is the time of the year which you can compare and change prescription drug plans (Part D) or Medicare Advantage plans (Part C).

2014 Annual Election Period Basics

There are several key components of the 2014 Annual Election Period: time frame, eligibility, comparing options, and understanding limitations.

Annual Election Period Time Frame & Eligibility

Basically the annual election period which is commonly referred to as the “Open Enrollment Period” is from October 15th – December 7th of each year.  This is the only time frame you can enroll, change or drop a Part C or D plan unless there is a Special Election Period which you meet.  This would be moving out of the plan’s service area, losing Medicaid benefits, or something along these lines.

If you do not make a decision during the 2014 Annual Election Period you are choosing to stay in the same plan you currently have.  However, if you decide to change then your plan will go into effect January 1, 2014.

To enroll in a prescription drug plan you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A.  To enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan you must be enrolled or entitled to Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B.  Remember that Part D just covers prescription drug benefits, while Medicare Part C is a health plan which may or may not cover your prescriptions.

Comparing Options and Understanding Limitations

We recommend our clients to compare their options each year during the AEP.  MWG Senior Services suggests this because plan benefits change each year!  This means that your $20 per month Part D plan with no deductible could be $50 with a $310 deductible in 2014!  If you do not evaluate your options you could be stuck with major changes in your plan.

What is the best way to compare plans during the 2014 Annual Election Period?  The best way is to write down your prescriptions and have someone who has completed AHIP training walk you through the Medicare.gov website.  These plans can be difficult to evaluate and if you do not have a qualified advisor you may miss a key component of the plan.  Ex: your plan may show you that all the prescriptions are covered, but you did not realize that it was pulling generics as a search options and most of your brand name drugs are not covered.

If you have more questions or need help comparing prescription drug plans feel free to call MWG Senior Services at 1-877-936-2991.

2014 Annual Election Period

2014 Medicare Annual Election Period

 

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.

Drug Supply – Prescription Drug Plans

Recently we had a client call us to let us know that the co-pay originally quoted with the Humana Part D plan was twice as high as originally projected.  A little surprised and hoping we did not mess up when researching the drug supply, I asked him for the name of the prescription and the drug dosage.

Drug Supply Example

After looking the prescription up on the Humana Insurance and Medicare websites I noticed that the drug supply was accurate with what I originally told our client the co-pay would be (20% of the drug cost with a cost of $290 at his pharmacy).  After he read me his drug information I started realizing what the problem was.  The prescription was a 43 day supply – which meant the pharmacy was charging him in a  2 month supply.

All of a student his $290 (retail cost) drug with a 20% co-pay was being doubled because it was equivalent to getting a 60 day supply. We still needed to call the insurance company to verify this information, but this taught all of us an important lesson.

Part D Recommendation

  1. The first recommendation is review your Prescription Drug Plan every year.  These plans change and a good analysis is very important.
  2. The next thing is to make sure you get the full 30 day supply or 90 day supply.  Do not get a 35 day supply or you will be charged for a 60 day supply and this will cause you to be closer to the donut hole.
  3. Contact Medicare Insurance Finders for a free analysis of your Part D plan.  We give this review every year during the Annual Election Period to our Medicare Supplement clients.

Medicare Insurance Finders is based out of Jackson, MS but services the entire United States.  We have policy holders in just about every state and represent over 25 insurance companies to help you find the right plan.  Give us a call at 1-877-936-2991.

Drug Supply - Prescription Drug Plans

Providing advice on Medicare Supplements for individuals with health issues

Medicare Part D Analysis

Do you know how to complete a Medicare Part D analysis?  An even better question is: does your Medicare Supplement agent help you compare Part D plans each year?  If not you need to call Medicare Insurance Finders who will compare Medicare Part D plans each Annual Election Period (October 15th – December 7th) to make sure you have the most cost effective plan for your needs.

Medicare Part D Analysis – How does it work?

To compare Medicare Part D plans several things need to take place.  Below we have them listed in the preferred order to make sure all grounds are covered. Continue reading

Prevent Medicare Part D Mistakes

With over 30 million drug plans written during the Annual Election Period there are going to be a few mistakes.  Today, we will review some of the ways that you can prevent the Medicare Part D mistakes or issues that arise after submitting an application.

Medicare Insurance Finders has seen numerous problems arise over the years, but the number one reason why Medicare Part D mistakes take place is that people choose the Social Security deduction for their payment option.  Do not choose the Medicare Part D Social Security Deduction unless you want several months of incorrect premium deductions.

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