New Medicare Cards

New Medicare Cards Are Coming

New Medicare cards are in the works for all Medicare eligible beneficiaries. New cards will be mailed between April 2018 and April 2019 to the address Medicare has on file for you. If you have moved or have a change of address, visit your online Social Security account at My Social Security Account.  MWG Senior Services is available to help guide you through your transition to the new Medicare card.

What does a new Medicare card mean for you?

  • Social Security numbers will no longer be visible on your Medicare card.
  • Greater protection against fraud and identity theft.
  • You may receive calls from scam artists trying to obtain your Medicare number.  Do not provide it to them.  If you receive a call from what you believe to be a scam, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 immediately.

 Things to remember when you receive your new Medicare card:

  • There is nothing YOU need to do to receive your new Medicare card.
  • It will not change your benefits or coverage with Medicare.
  • It will not cost you anything to get the new card.
  • If someone calls you asking you to provide any personal information, hang up immediately and call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.

 Has your Medicare card been lost, stolen, or damaged?

  • Call Social Security @ 1-800-772-1213 and ask that they send you a new one.
  • It will take about 30 days for it to arrive by mail.
  • If you need proof of coverage before you receive the new card, call Social Security and they can mail you a letter that will arrive in 10 days.
  • If you need proof of benefits immediately, visit your local Social Security office.

During this time, be very mindful of the potential scams you may face. Scam artists will try to obtain your personal information by contacting you about your new Medicare card. They may call and ask you for your Medicare or Social Security number.  They may tell you there is a charge for your new card and they need to verify personal information.  They may threaten to cancel benefits and coverage if you don’t provide this information.  These types of calls are more than likely from a scam artist.  Hang up immediately and call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.

Let us help you.  Contact MWG Senior Services if you have any concerns or questions regarding your new Medicare card. We can be reached at 1-877-759-5760 or by email at seniorservices@morganwhite.com.

Annual Enrollment Period

The Annual Enrollment Period is quickly approaching! Do you need help with your Prescription Drug Plan?

The Annual Enrollment Period:

Mid October through the first part of December is often referred to as “Open Enrollment Period” or “Annual Enrollment Period”. They go hand in hand, and here’s why.  During this time, you can not only make changes to your stand-alone drug plan, but you can also make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan (depending on which one you have).  We recommend having someone like us in your corner to assist you through these changes.  Our only requirement for this annual assistance is that you sign up with a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan through our advisors.  If you do not currently have one of those plans through us, give us a call today and one of our advisors will be glad to help.  They can be reached at (877) 759-5760, option 1.    

The Annual Enrollment Period comes every year at the same time, beginning October 15th and ending December 7th.  Some clients are under the impression that the Annual Enrollment period is the only time you can change or get a Medicare Supplement.  This is not true. The good thing about Medicare Supplements is that you can change them anytime throughout the year.  This Annual Enrollment Period is only for making changes in a stand-alone prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Part D Late Enrollment Penalty:

One very important thing to remember is, if you do not obtain a drug plan when you are first eligible, you could receive a late enrollment penalty which is assessed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The penalty is 1% for each month you go without drug coverage and will always be added to any drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan when you enroll. If you have employer coverage and are on Medicare, I encourage you to check with your employer’s human resource department to ensure the coverage that you have is considered creditable drug coverage.

How can our services benefit you?

The drug plans change every year, so you will need to review your plan annually to see what changes are approaching.  That’s where MWG Senior Services can help!  We offer a FREE service to all our Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage clients each year by helping to review your drug coverage to see what changes are being made for the upcoming year. The drug plans are so highly regulated and have so much information to take in, it is hard to know which way to go. We do all the work for you! Already have a supplement with someone else?  No problem!  Any of our advisors can help you look at supplemental options that could help you save some money!

Have questions or need help with your Medicare supplemental options Call MWG Senior Services at 877-759-5760 or email us at seniorservices@morganwhite.com.

Vaccinations that are Covered by Medicare

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

Flu Vaccination:

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

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

Pneumonia Vaccination: 

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

Hepatitis B Vaccination: 

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

Shingles Vaccination: 

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

Tdap Vaccination:

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

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

Carpe Diem! 

Top 10 Medicare Supplement Companies

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Medicare Supplement Companies:

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

 

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

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

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

Turning 65?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:  Medicare.gov

Helping Seniors Navigate the Medicare Maze!

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

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

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

Navigating the Medicare maze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part A Premiums

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

Part B Premiums

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

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

Two types of services Part B can cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Initial Enrollment Period

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

Open Enrollment Period

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

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

Source:  Medicare.gov

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!

 

Medicare Surtax 3.8%

Many of you may not be aware of the new “Medicare Surtax” that will be noticed this tax season by several thresholds of individuals.  This tax is 3.8% and is dependent on two numbers: the taxpayer’s net investment income (NII) and the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).  The tax is applied on the lower of the two numbers, which means that people with low investment income will pay less.

Medicare Surtax – Thresholds

  • $250,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • $125,000 for married couples filing separately
  • $200,000 for everyone else

How does the Medicare Surtax Work?

A quick example of how the Medicare Surtax works: John Doe earned $150,000 last year and had $75,000 of net investment income.  The adjusted gross income correlates to $225,000 (total earned and investment income).  Mr. Doe since he is single has a $200,000 threshold.  So the MAGI after being reduced is $25,000 ($225,000 minus $220,000).  So he will receive a tax bill of $950  which is $25,000 times 3.8% Medicare Surtax.

Most people across the country will not have to worry about this tax.  Someone reading this article right now is thinking, “Man I would love to have that problem.”  This is something that everyone should be made aware of so they can plan accordingly.

Medicare Surtax

Offering Supplemental Medicare plans – Medigap and Dental Insurance

If you need help understanding about Medicare, Medicare Supplements or the taxes associated with Medicare email us at seniordivision@morganwhite.com or call us at 1-877-936-2991.  We look forward to working with you and helping you decipher the Medicare system.

For a free trial of the new and improved Medicare Supplement Quote Engine visit Medicare Insurance Finders homepage for a quick trial. In less than 2 minutes you can search over 30 different insurance companies in your own zip code.

Medicare Supplement Tax

The President recently allocated a large portion of his budget to Medicare and the Medicare Supplement Taxes.  The plan is to increase the cost of certain Medigap policies to reduce the amount of people who want to pay for first dollar coverage.  Certain members of Congress who have tried to get this passed for several years are pleased that it slipped into the President’s proposal for the budget.

Medicare Supplement Taxes – Why?

Most people wonder, “Why would you impose a Medicare Supplement tax on seniors who are trying to purchase insurance policies to fill in the gaps of Original Medicare?”  The reason the government is pushing this is because they feel first dollar coverage causes more people to go to the doctor for any minor thing. This may be true for some. On the other side of the coin, people who do not have first dollar coverage and don’t go to the doctor or hospital may have more acute conditions that end up being more costly in the long run.
The Medicare Supplement Tax will amount to 15% of the average Medicare Supplement Premium, which equates to 30% of the Part B Premium.

What are my options?

There are several options to avoid this Medicare Supplement Tax.

  1. Enroll in a Plan G instead of a Plan F.  First of all the premiums are lower. Secondly, the only difference between a Plan F and G is that the Part B deductible ($147 – 2014) is missing.  There is a good chance the tax will be more than the $147 deductible.
  2. Enroll in the BAI group medical plan that mimics the Plan F Medicare Supplement.  It does not ask health questions. Plus, it avoids the surcharge tax. This means that your premium will be an average of 15% less than the standardized Medicare Supplement.  To enroll in this plan you can call 1-877-936-2991.

Choosing a Medicare Supplement is more complicated than it was 10 years ago.  Now you are required to enroll in a Part D plan. You have to check the stability of the carrier you are enrolling in to make sure they are not going to give you a low rate the first year, then raise the rates by 16% the second year. Also, be aware of a potential Medicare Supplement Tax.  Call us at 1-877-936-2991 with any Medicare Supplement related questions.

Medicare Supplement Tax

Hassle Free Rate Comparison

 

Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Rates

Wisconsin is one of the three states across the country that does not have Standardized Medicare Supplement Plans.  However, we still provide Wisconsin Medicare Supplement rates online for plan “F” and plan “G”.  Understand since these plans are not standardized in WI that they are not called Plan F or Plan G but adding the different pieces together gets you the same coverage.

Why would I want a Plan F or Plan G in Wisconsin?

The reason the Plan F and Plan G are quoted on our quote engine for your state is because these are the two most popular Medigap policies across the country.  The state of Wisconsin offers these plans but has not adopted the standardized names as 47 other states across the country have.

Plan F provides the most benefit rich coverage – which means that basically it picks up all the deductibles, coinsurance and co-pays that you are left to pay after Medicare pays its share. Click here for more information on Plan F coverage.  However, those that don’t have to have the top of the line coverage often opt for the Plan G.  This plan does not cover the Part B deductible which is under $150 a year, but it offers more savings on premium as well as a lower rate increase history.  This is big for seniors living on a budget wanting to keep their costs down.

Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Rates

Wisconsin’s Medigap plans provide stable coverage which can not be said about Medicare Advantage Plans.  Medigap policies provide you with the same coverage year after year as well as the flexibility to see any doctor that accepts Medicare.  Below is an example of what our quote engine offers for Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Rates.  Aetna, United Healthcare Continental Life, Mutual of Omaha, Humana and many other insurance companies offer these plans in your state and our dedicated support staff is standing by to help advice you on how to choose a plan.

Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Rates

Here is an example of the Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Rates shown in our quote engine.

Call us today (1-877-936-2991) for your personalized Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Plan or visit us on the web for your own quote at www.medicareinsurancefinders.com.