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.

Obamacare and Medicare Supplements

January 1, 2014 Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) went into effect.  People all over the country have questions, and I think it would be fair to say that no one understands each nook and cranny of the Affordable Care Act but there are a lot of people with good advice and guidance.  However, it seems that most people over the age of 65 are asking how are Obamacare and Medicare going to work together?

Obamacare and Medicare

Obamacare and Medicare

Obamacare has many benefits to consumers that have been in tough spots due to health conditions, and most of these features in Obamacare already apply to Medicare.  Some of these benefits include:

  1. No health questions
  2. Coverage for Pre-Existing conditions
  3. Catastrophic Coverage – No Limits
  4. Availability and Enrollment Periods

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that provides coverage for seniors over 65 and those under sixty-five that are disabled.  Where Obamacare is actually just laws on health insurance companies telling them how they must operate.  The ACA also offers subsidies for low and middle income families.  Currently Medicare does not provide subsides but it does charge “penalties” to those with higher incomes starting at $88,000 for individuals.

A Big Misunderstanding

Over the past month or so we have received calls asking how do we sign up for our Medicare Supplement without having to answer health questions?  Unfortunately Medicare Supplements still have health questions; the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) only requires primary insurance to not ask health questions.  Secondary insurance such as Medigap policies can still underwrite their policies.

This applies for all secondary insurance in both the under age 65 market as well as the Medicare market.  As you can see Obamacare and Medicare are similar but they do not function exactly the same.  The primary difference being that Medicare is a health insurance program and Obamacare is just laws regulating the insurance companies tighter.

If you would like more information on Obamacare and Medicare please contact our office at 1-877-936-2991 or visit us on the web at Medicare Insurance Finders.

 

 

Medicare Suggestions During the AEP

Get ready for the most unique Medicare suggestions you can implement during the Annual Election Period.  These are going to be 3 unique tips that can save you thousands on your 2014 Medicare Insurance plans.  Hopefully you are listening now because we are providing great advice that can really help you with your Medicare options!

Tip #1 – Compare Medicare Supplement Rates

The first tip that can save you hundreds a year on average ($500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples) is to compare Medicare Supplement Rates every two or three years!  So you are probably thinking how do I compare these plans?

  1. Go to Medicare Insurance Finders and get quotes in less than 2 minutes
  2. Call your insurance agent.  The problem here is they may not offer many plans.  Alot of agents only have several companies that they offer.  You need to be comparing with at least 10 different insurance companies to make sure you have a competitive quote.
  3. Call 1-877-936-2991 and ask to speak with Amber Douglas or Nicole Cunningham.  The are licensed agents who can compare rates in 47 states across the country.

Tip #2 – Compare you Medicare Part D Plan (Prescription Drug Plan)

I have seen people save thousands by comparing their Prescription Drug Plans.  Normally those on more prescriptions have a greater need to compare because different plans  cover prescriptions at different levels.   We compared a plan yesterday where there was a $4,000 gap between the most cost effective plan and the least cost effective plan for an individual that came into the office.

An example would be AARP covering ABC drug as a generic prescription, but Humana covers it as a preferred drug.  So with AARP you would probably be paying around $5 for the prescription; however, with Humana you would be paying roughly $25 – $30.  This is just an example not a real example. 

Medicare Suggestions

 Medicare Suggestions – #3

Get a qualified advisor that can help explain when you should compare Medicare plans. There have been a lot of negative reports over the last few years of advisors who are not really looking out for their Medicare Supplement clients.  In my opinion this has made alot of seniors a little nervous about who they can talk with for Medicare Suggestions.

If you don’t know who to call please feel free to call us at 1-877-936-2991 for help with your Medicare Insurance Plans!

 

Compare Part D Plans

As of October 1, 2013, it will be time to compare Part D Plans for for the following year. This means that it is time to review Part D plans whether you are taking 1 prescription or 20 prescriptions.  Plans change each year, this includes the formulary, co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, pharmacies in the network, and the monthly plan premium. With this many factors changing each year it is wise to compare Part D plans.

Compare Part D Plans

Its Time To Compare Part D Plans! October 15 – December 7.

What are the biggest benefits to comparing Medicare prescription drug plans each year?

  1. When you compare Part D plans you can save your self hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars each year.
  2. If you do not perform a risk free analysis you may find out that the plan you currently have is doubling in premiums and they have decided not to cover the prescription you are currently using!
  3. When you review your options it verifies that you know how your plan will work for the following year.  If a drug is not covered you will know.

Compare Part D Plans

There are a lot of insurance companies that offer Part D plans.  The two largest Part D plans are Humana and United Healthcare (AARP).  These carriers offer plans across the country in almost every state.  They usually have very competitive plans and are usually in the Medicare Advantage market as well.

Humana has seen most of their company’s growth in the Medicare market.  United Healthcare has also experienced large growth in this marketplace.

For help in comparing your Medicare Part D plans please contact MWG Senior Services at 1-877-936-2991.  Our staff is certified (AHIP Certification as well as carrier certified) and ready to help you with your Medicare Part D choices.  We also specialize in comparing Medicare Supplement Plans which can also save you hundreds with less than 2 minutes of your time.

 

Retiree Plans for Employers

Large employers in today’s market are looking for ways to offer retiree plans without having to manage extra liabilities.  Since there are many different ways that you can structure a retiree plan we wanted to discuss several concepts that have been used to establish retiree plans with very minimal (if any) costs to establish.

Retiree Plans – Employer Subsidized or Voluntary

Your group will either be completely voluntary or employer subsidized.  Subsidies can vary depending on what you are looking to do, but most of the time new subsidies are not added, but they are usually continued from previous retiree plans if there were any in force.

Retiree Plans

 

Voluntary Retiree Benefits

Voluntary plans are those that the employee can decide to participate in the plan if they would like to but they are not required too.  There are voluntary individual and group plans.

  1. Individual Retiree Plans – what many employers do for retirees is offer them a way to access individual plans upon retiring.  They partner with a company like MWG Senior Services which will help guide there retirees through the Medicare transition.  MWG for instance provides a Medicare Supplement Quote Engine, Part D analysis for prescription drugs, and individual service on each account.  Individual plans usually allow for retirees to purchase lower costing plans if they are able to qualify.
  2. Voluntary Group Retiree Plans – provide employers with a way to establish a group and offer a plan specifically for “XYZ Corporation” retirees.  These plans have no health questions and allow previous employees a way to access retiree coverage if there were no other options available.  Usually these plans can be established with no cost to the employer.

From a voluntary standpoint MWG Senior Services stated, “Offering both a group and individual option allows employers to cover all grounds for their retirees over the age of sixty-five.”

Subsidized Retiree Plan

When you are looking to establish a retiree plan that will be partially or completely funded by the employer you will be asked for some basic pieces of information so that insurance companies can properly quote the group’s retirees.   Common items that will be requested prior to giving a quote are typically: employer name and address, employer contact, group experience, group census, portion employer is looking to subsidize, plan designs, and other information that will help the company build the correct retiree plan.

MWG Senior Services can help you in preparing quotes and getting organized to offer these plans to your retirees.  MWG Senior Services has several companies that they use and quote for each proposal request.  They each have positives that may merit more favor depending on what the employer is looking to offer.

Call MWG Senior Services at 1-877-936-2991 to get your retiree plan started or visit us on the web at www.mwgseniorservices.com.

Michigan Medicare Supplement Plans

This page will provide you with a simple overview of Michigan Medicare Supplement Plans.     We agree with the “KISS” principle of keep it simple stupid; we will keep the terms simple and precise and give you the information you need to know when comparing Michigan supplemental plans.

Michigan Medicare Supplement Plans – What are they?

Medicare Supplements (also known as Medigap plans) fill in the gaps of Original Medicare Parts A & B.   Original Medicare does not cover all the deductibles, co-insurance, or co-pays so most people choose one of the Michigan Medicare Supplement Plans to make sure there is not a huge unfunded expense left lingering over their heads during retirement.

The most comprehensive plan is the Plan F which picks up all the costs with a Medicare approved procedure.  So in essence you are not out of pocket at all when you go to the hospital or doctor.  These plans are very convenient but the Plan G is the most cost effective plan that provides small out of pocket costs.

Here is a chart that shows the different Michigan Medicare Supplement Plans Available.

Michigan Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare Supplement Insurance Outline of Coverage

Compare Insurance Rates

Medicare explains in the “Medicare and You” book that it is very important to compare Medicare Supplement rates because all plans provide the exact same benefits (standardized plans).  This means that a Stonebridge Medicare Supplement Plan G provides the same benefits as the Cigna Medicare Supplement Plan G.  It comes down to the rates that are offered by the companies.

One factor that we do recommend comparing is the financial stability of the company.  It is important to know that the company you choose has a B+ rating or higher.  If the rating is lower than a B+ walk away and call 1-877-936-2991 to make sure you have a competitive plan with a good company.

HOW DO I GET RATES

You can get online insurance rates through the Medicare Quote Engine.  Rates are listed after entering a small amount of details (Date of Birth, Gender, Zip Code, Etc.).  If you are not comfortable with online rates call 1-877-936-2991 for your personalized Michigan Medicare Supplement Plans analysis.