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.

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.

When can I buy a Medigap policy?

Are you turning 65 soon?  You might find out that looking through Medicare options is like trying to put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.  Fortunately, in this and upcoming blogs, we have selected some frequently asked questions to talk about in more detail.  

We hear this question all the time; “When can I buy a Medigap policy?”  The good news is you can buy Medigap (Medicare Supplement) at any time throughout the year and you don’t have to wait until October 15 – December 7.  The stipulation is, you might have to go through underwriting to qualify for a different Medigap policy. 

In this blog, we will outline:

(1) When you can purchase a Medigap policy without having to go through underwriting.

(2) What is underwriting?

(3) When you can change your Medigap policy if you aren’t happy with it. 

If you purchase your Medigap policy when you are first eligible for Medicare, you can purchase any policy sold in your state without having to go through underwriting.  This means if you have any health problems, you can purchase a Medigap policy at the same rate as a healthy person, if you purchase it within your open enrollment period.  Each person’s open enrollment period will start the first day their Medicare Part B is effective and it will last for 6 months. 

If you decide to change your Medigap policy outside of your open enrollment period, typically you will go through underwriting.  This means, if you have some health problems, the insurance companies could either deny coverage or charge you more due to certain health conditions.  Keep in mind, even though Medigap policies are standardized, the health questions are not.  So, just because you may not qualify for one carrier doesn’t mean that you will be turned down for another carrier.  Check with our advisors to see if there is an option that fits your needs. 

If you are about to lose your group health coverage, you might be eligible for Guaranteed Issue, which is another way you can purchase a Medigap policy without having to go through underwriting.  There are many different qualifications for a Guaranteed Issue period.  Please click here to learn more about your Medicare rights.

To compare prices of different Medigap policies and carriers available in your state, click here.

Now that you know you don’t have to wait until October 15 – December 7 to make changes to your Medigap policy, and you know a little more about changing your Medigap (Medicare Supplement), please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (877) 759-5760 or send us an email at seniorservices@morganwhite.com with any questions you may have pertaining to your specific situation.  Be sure to mention you heard about us through our blog!  Have a great day! 

Source:  Medicare.gov

Affordable Health Insurance

Affordable health insurance for those 65 years or older.  It is the time of the year to compare Medicare insurance plans and also to enroll through the federal and state exchanges.  We are going to give you some ways to compare plans and also some tips on the best way to compare insurance plans.

Affordable Health Insurance

Let’s start by understanding that affordable health insurance has a different meaning to different people.  So you may think a plan is affordable that is $400 per month and I may think that an affordable plan is $100 per month.   It is not that either one of us are right it is simply a matter of opinion.

As of October 1, 2013, the Affordable Care Act put in place health insurance that is available to all Americans.  This means that no matter what pre-existing condition, what income, what state or any other factor you can apply for health insurance and can not be turned down.  This is assuming that you are a legal citizen and are in compliance with the law.

As of October 15, 2013, many Medicare beneficiaries will begin comparing their Part D (prescription drug plans) and Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) to see what is the most cost effective plan for 2014.  Many of these plans are considered affordable; however, a lot of American are disagreeing about the under age 65 plans.

Affordable Health Insurance – Medicare Supplements

We recommend going to the Medicare Supplement Quote Engine also known as the Medicare Insurance Exchange around here.  This quote engine works in 47 states and will compare plans in less than 2 minutes without having to put in your social security number and other information that is irrelevant to getting a quote.

If you are not computer savvy we recommend you call 1-877-936-2991. One of the advisors are there and can help you compare plans.  They will need to know some basic information to compare plans.

Under Age 65 – Health Insurance Plans

The best way to compare plans through the federal exchanges is to go to www.healthcare.gov. This website will allow you to choose your state and compare plans.  The negative of finding affordable health insurance through this site is that it is not a smooth process.  Currently they are experiencing a lot of computer glitches and overloading from people coming to the website to compare plans.

Affordable Health Insurance

The Federal Health Insurance Exchange – Affordable Care Act

Before enrolling in a plan we recommend you make sure you understand the health insurance policy.  There are going to be different levels of benefits labeled by Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.  These represent the coverage amounts.

One other thing to understand is that some insurance companies may not be represented on the federal exchange but their policies are available through private exchanges.

We wish you luck in finding affordable health insurance and if we can be of any assistance please contact us at 1-877-936-2991.

 

Genworth Long Term Care

NEWS: GENWORTH LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE DELAYED IN THE CALIFORNIA MARKET!!!

Genworth a long term leader in the long-term care insurance market has announced a delay in the California market due to lingering customer service issues they are experiencing.  Unlike most companies, Genworth has taken the time to address these issues prior to launching a push for their LTC products.

Long-Term Care insurance helps cover custodial care that is not covered by Medicare insurance.    Medicare and Medigap plans only cover medically necessary coverage where Genworth Long Term Care Insurance covers care such as cleaning, bathing, etc. that is needed when you experience loss in your daily activities of living.   An example of this would be needing someone to help take you to the grocery store or the bathroom if you were not able to accomplish this on your own.  Continue reading

Medicare Doctor Fix

The National Association of Health Underwriters recently published an article discussing the SGR (sustainable growth rate) which was a flawed formula that has caused Congress to scramble over the past few years for a Medicare Doctor Fix.   The SGR was created in part of the Balanced Budge Act of 1997 to control the rate of physician’s pay in Medicare.

The cut to doctors pay started as a small percentage decrease which is now over 30% if the cuts were allowed to happen.  Many think that  politicians and lobbyists enjoy having this issue so they can raise money from a plethora of physician groups.  It seems like Congress could get together regarding this Medicare doctor fix and create a solid 25 year solution instead of having an “emergency meeting” every year.

Medicare Doctor Fix

As mentioned above Congress gets together each year to come up with a fix but no long term solutions have been set in to place. Each year that this issue arises doctors tend to discuss pulling out of the Medicare market.  Some do just because they do not want to have to handle all the red tape that comes along with Medicare claims and the low reimbursement rates.

We have heard doctors say they get paid 30% less for Medicare patients and have to do more work with the filing of claims.  Then if something is entered wrong there is a chance of getting audited or having Uncle Sam bring down the hammer.

Why is the Medicare Doctor Fix a big topic?

Currently there are over 10,000 people a day turning 65 and that means over 3 million a year that are reaching Medicare eligibility (not including disability or end-stage renal disease beneficiaries).  The elderly need doctors!  Congress will have to figure something out in the years to come before they quit accepting new and possibly existing Medicare patients.

Medicare Insurance Finders has published this “Medicare Doctor Fix” article to help explain the importance of Congress to step up to the plate and figure out a long term solution to the SGR formula.

Medicare Doctor Fix

Medicare Coverage in a nutshell.

Medicare Supplement Plans 2014

With all the healthcare reform information circling we are getting questions about 2014 Medicare Supplement Plans.  The “Medicare Supplement Plans 2014” will be no different than the plans that have been setup since 2010.

In 2010, the Medicare Modernization Act changed the basic plan designs while adding a few plans and taking away some plans.  However, 2014 Medicare Supplement Plans will carry the same plan design and we believe the rates should stay very close to where they are now as well.  Continue reading

Saving for Retirement

Whether you are 22 years old and just out of college or 55 just getting your kids out of the house, saving for retirement is an important decision.  Also choosing not to make a decision – is a decision.  Nike came up with the “Just Do It” slogan from someone saying “You said tomorrow yesterday”.   Procrastination is a killer in saving for retirement.

In today’s article we will be reviewing the different strategies that people may take when saving for retirement, and in tomorrow’s article we will provide you with different advisors opinions. Continue reading

Plan C Medicare Supplement Insurance

In most of our articles we recommend the Plan F or Plan G Medigap policies.  However, in the state of Pennsylvania we recommend the Plan C Medicare Supplement since “Excess Charges” are not allowed.  This particular Medicare Supplement policy provides similar coverage to the Plan F but it does not cover excess charges.  Since the state of Pennsylvania does not allow hospitals/physicians to bill excess charges this is unnecessary coverage.

Plan C Medicare Supplement – Outline of Coverage

As you will notice below the Plan C Medicare Supplement has excellent coverage and the only thing it does not cover compared to the Plan F is the Excess Charges.  In most states, I am leary to suggest any plan that leaves an undisclosed liability on the table.  We do not know what will happen with our health and playing risky in retirement is not something we promote. Continue reading

Sequester Cuts Hit Medicare

Today I read an interesting article on MSN dealing with how the “Sequester Cuts Hit Medicare”.  Initially, I did not see this being to bad of an issue; however, after further review and a clarification from an MSN article (stating it is true) there could be some issues for those having Part B Cancer Drugs administered in their physicians office.

Sequester Cuts Hit Medicare

Brief Overview:  It appears that due to the sequester cuts that take place April 1st, doctors offices (oncologists) are not wanting to administer the cancer drugs (Under Part B) due to the costs and the possibility of losing money.   Hospitals are predicted to receive an influx of patients if a deal is not reached in Congress – which could hurt Medicare worst since it is approximately $6,500 more expensive to administer these prescriptions in the hospital versus the doctors office. Continue reading