Medicare and You | Foreign Travel

Traveling outside of the United States? Medicare does not tag along. Get GeoBlue travel medical insurance coverage. Don’t leave home without it.

International Travel Medical insurance. Because you can’t count on Tyler Perry paying your health care bills.

An Atlanta couple was not allowed to leave a Mexican hospital because they did not travel medical insurance, and they couldn’t pay their $14,000 bill. Actor Tyler Perry has offered to pay their medical bills and travel costs of returning home.

Foreign Travel – Medicare Stays at Home

Many people believe Medicare will cover your health care costs when traveling outside of the country. While there are some things Medicare MAY cover, don’t count on it. Read Understanding Medicare.

Medicare usually doesn’t cover health care while you’re traveling outside the u.s. There are some exceptions, including some cases where Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) may pay for services that you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S.

Medicare and You Foreign Travel
Medicare and You Foreign Travel

Foreign Travel and Medicare

While Medicare may pay for hospital, doctor or emergency services in a foreign country, don’t count on it. You’re in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition.

Foreign Travel and Medicare

You’re traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the emergency. You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether an emergency exists.

In some cases, Medicare may cover medically necessary health care services you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S. Medicare won’t pay for health care services you get when a ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.

Medicare drug plans don’t cover prescription drugs you buy outside the U.S.

International Travel Medical Insurance

Because Medicare has limited travel medical coverage outside the U.S., you may choose to buy a travel insurance policy to get more coverage. Travel insurance doesn’t necessarily include health insurance. It’s important to read the conditions or restrictions carefully.

GeoBlue Foreign Medical Coverage

Planning overseas travel? Enjoy your trip and take along GeoBlue coverage.

Actual claims paid by GeoBlue GeoBlue member from Arizona was in southern France on vacation with spouse; they were touring important architecture from the Roman Empire. While attempting to take a photograph, member fell off a ledge, suffering a severe fracture to leg. He was taken immediately by ground ambulance to a public acute facility nearby, the Hôpital Universitaire Carémeau in Nimes. Broken femur, with severe ligament tears. Due to the acute nature of the injury, immediate surgery and rod insertion to repair the break is recommended.

GeoBlue’s medical assistance team screens and approves for appropriateness of care. GeoBlue arranges direct billing at the hospital to cover the expenses. Following surgery, the patient requires inpatient care for 5 days.

GeoBlue monitors the patient’s condition throughout hospital stay. Once the member is medically cleared to fly, GeoBlue coordinates travel back to the U.S. for both the member and spouse.

This coordination includes arranging for upgraded, more comfortable seating and wheelchair assistance. GeoBlue paid over $24,000 for this medical claim.

GeoBlue Voyager Insurance

Voyager Benefits Include: Worldwide Medical Evacuation benefits Hospitalization, Surgery, Physician Office Visits, Rx and more

Access Elite Providers in 180 countries who accept direct payment from GeoBlue. GeoBlue provides travel health insurance plans and assistance services to 650,000 travelers per year. GeoBlue programs are distinguished by a contracted community of over 6,000 elite providers in 190 countries.

https://www.geobluetravelinsurance.com/product_overview.cfm?link_id=160173 www.BlueWorldwideTravel.com agent ID 160173

Georgia Medicare Minute. GA Medicare expert. Medicare explained.

#MedicareForeignTravel #MedicareIntenationalTravel #GAMedicareExpert

Medicare Part D |How Does it Work?

How does Medicare Part D work? Almost no one understands it. The few that do know can’t explain it. 800-MEDICARE can’t help, neither can your friends. Most agents have no clue and neither do volunteer counselors.

Medicare Part D is confusing

GA Medicare plan expert Bob Vineyard looks at the most confusing part of Medicare.

How Does Medicare Part D Work?

Who Can Explain Medicare Part D?

The folks in Congress who designed the PDP program don’t understand it and they will never use the plan. Most carrier service reps who answer the phone MIGHT be able to explain their plan but they won’t have a clue about their competitors.

Why is Part D so difficult?

Consider this . . .

The program was designed by folks in Congress who know nothing about health insurance and they turned it over to insurance carriers to manage. What could possibly go wrong?

If you believe they know what they are doing just witness how they messed up Obamacare. And don’t overlook the misnomer for the law . . . the AFFORDABLE Care Act.

WHO thinks Obamacare is AFFORDABLE? How many got to keep their plan no matter how much they liked it? Which of you were able to keep their doctor?

So why do you think they got Medicare Part D right?

Almost no one Understands Part D.

Medicare prescription drug insurance plans have moving parts. Some have a deductible, others do not. All have copay’s. Some copay’s are a flat dollar amount, others are a percent of the retail price. All plans have the donut hole. All plans have preferred pharmacy’s and drug formulary’s.

Some drug plans have a mail order option, others do not. Some mail order refills will save you money, others will not and some will even cost you MORE than filling at a pharmacy. The preferred pharmacy you use this year may not be favored next year.

Am I Required to Use my Drug Plan?

Will you pay less for your medications if you pay cash or use a discount like GoodRx vs running everything through your drug plan? Are you better off running ALL your drugs through the Medicare Drug Plan Finder or only checking prices on some of your med’s? Why will I pay a higher copay by using my drug plan vs a discount card?

Why should I buy a drug insurance plan if I don’t need it? What is the penalty for not having a drug plan? Is it the same every month? How long will I have to pay the penalty? Can I pay the penalty from my HSA?

Can I save money by ordering from Canada? Why is it less expensive to pay cash, use a discount card or order from Canada?

Can I enroll in Medicare Part D at any time? Can I switch drug plans whenever I want? Do I need to review my prescription plan every year or can I just let it renew?

Who Will Help me Find a Medicare Drug Plan?

Why do some agents help with Medicare Part D and others don’t? How much are agents paid to help with Part D? Are agents required to show me ALL the drug plans in my area? Why do agents only sell one or two plans? How many drug plans are offered in Georgia?

What is wrong with picking the plan with the lowest premium? Aren’t all drug plans the same? Why do I have to buy my drug plan from an insurance carrier? Many of the policies are from carriers I have never heard of. Why shouldn’t I just buy from the same company that sold me the Medicare supplement plan? Don’t I get a discount for buying Medicare Part D and Medigap from the same carrier? Is there a reason why I shouldn’t enroll in the same drug plan as my spouse?

My best friend says her plan is the best. What is wrong with buying the same plan she has? Can I use my PDP with any drug store? Can I continue to fill my prescriptions at the same pharmacy I have always used?

Where Can I Get Help With Medigap Coverage?

Shameless plug follows . . .

Georgia Medigap rates. Best GA Medicare supplement prices. GA Medigap rates. GA Medicare 2020. Medigap 2020 plans. 2020 Medicare premiums. Plan G. Georgia Medicare agent. Medicare 101. Georgia Medicare Minute. Medicare explained. Medicare Part D. Silver Sneakers. How does Medicare work?

Bob Vineyard has over 40 years experience in the health insurance field. All your questions will be answered. People love to buy but they hate to be sold.

All I ask is for you to give me 10 minutes by phone. Time to answer YOUR questions. You will NEVER be pressured to buy anything. This is your opportunity to ask ANY Medicare related question, then decide if you want to work with me or not. It’s that simple.

I call it “An offer you can’t refuse

Why is Medicare Part D So Confusing?

Seniors often buy the wrong drug plan and spend too much on their prescription plan. Seniors on Medicare spend an average of $263 per month on prescription medications.

Lower your medication bill by only using your drug card when necessary. The right drug plan will save a lot on brand names but you will almost always pay MORE for generics.

Consider paying cash or using GoodRx instead for maximum savings. Also look for drug plans that have a deductible.

#HowDoesMedicarePartDWork #GAMedicarePlans

Medicare Plan Finder is Broken

The Medicare Plan Finder for 2020 is hopelessly broken. CMS decided it was time for an overhaul. Make the Plan Finder more user friendly.

The Medicare brain trust says that 70% of seniors are tech savvy. Sure, they may be able to check email, watch videos of the grandchildren on Facebook and even order from Amazon.

But how many TRULY understand Part D and can find a drug plan without help?

Crickets . . .

Medicare Plan Finder is Broken

How Does the Plan Finder Work?

Let’s look at what CMS did to the “new, improved Medicare drug plan finder.

To use the new Medicare Plan Finder you should establish an account.

  • login using MyMedicare username & password
  • Change password every 2 years (formerly every 60 days)
  • Must be different from previous 6 password’s – can you remember password from 12 years ago?
  • Can’t contain username, SSN or Medicare number
  • Volunteers and agents prohibited from storing your login information
  • Do NOT share your login and password with anyone you do not know or trust
  • Anyone who has your login info can see claims, Rx complete 3 yr history, name, address and Medicare number

What could possibly go wrong?

How do you like it so far?

Medicare Drug Plan Finder

But Wait – There’s More

Drug history automatically imports from MyMedicare when you are logged in

  • Imports drugs on file with medicare.gov
  • Does not include paid by cash 
  • Generic pricing may not be accurate or useful
  • You are unable to view preferred pharmacy pricing
  • If you forget your login must remember answers to security questions
  • Cannot create an account without a Medicare number – New to Medicare? You won’t have your number.
  • The folks at 800 Medicare use the same plan finder.
  • They can’t help you either . . .

We have seen this movie before.

Remember Obamacare and Healthcare.gov?

When healthcare.gov rolled out DC had been working on it for 5 years.

It was virtually useless, had MAJOR security flaws, and impossible to navigate unless you were trained.

There were approximately 20 million people seeking information on plan options. Contrast that with over 50 million who will be using the site during a 9 week period.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hackers Paradise

Healthcare.gov was miserably broken out of the gate and was “closed” for several hours at a time while they tried to patch it.

As recently as 2018 healthcare.gov was hacked, again, exposing private data on 75,000 people.

It has been hacked NUMEROUS times since it went public.

Surely you can’t be serious?

I am serious and don’t call me Shirley . . .

Is there any reason to believe the Plan Finder and Blue Button will be any better?

The new Medicare Plan Finder has so many flaws that I don’t feel safe making plan choice suggestions for my clients. Instead, I will be referring all clients to an agency that will handle this for me.



Your Medicare Questions Answered

Your Medicare questions answered by GA Medicare expert Bob Vineyard. Where do you go for answers? Why does no one want to help until you BUY something? Can anyone help?

How about the Georgia SHIP staffed by volunteers? Or calling Medicare direct? Who has all the answers when you want to know who has the best Medigap plan? Is there a Medicare for Dummies, or Medicare 101 site?

Medicare questions answered

Where is the best place to find answers to ALL my questions without getting a SALES PITCH?

Medicare Questions Answered

Why Search the Web When All Your Answers are Here?

Georgia Medicare expert Bob Vineyard spends hours every day searching so you don’t have to. Don’t you have something better to do with your time?

Even after working in health insurance for over 45 years Bob still is learning new things. He spends times reading information on Medicare, health and senior fitness so you don’t have to. Bob also participates in several consumer forums, answering the tough questions.

Bob is dedicated to helping YOU understand how Medicare works. He also makes sure you find the right plan that fits YOUR needs and budget.

Welcome to the NO SELLING ZONE!

Your Medicare Questions Answered by Volunteers

Why not talk to a SHIP counselor? They aren’t selling ANYTHING. It’s a non-profit organization. What could be wrong with that?

Counselors are volunteers with limited training. Kind of a Medicare 101 crash course for dummies. It would be rare to find someone who has had years of experience working with Medicare beneficiaries and insurance carriers.

The belief by some is, because they are volunteers working for a taxpayer funded, non-profit organization, their advice must be unbiased. Your Medicare questions answered by someone who truly wants to help . . . and that is true.

Motivation to help is good, but how accurate and useful is that advice? Will you have a counselor dedicated to help you . . . or will you be handed off to the first available person? Is personal service meaningful to you, or are you willing to accept advice from just anyone?

Going to the Source

Call 1-800-MEDICARE 24/7 except federal holidays. Operators are standing by . . . and most of them speak English.

When you ask questions about Medicare their computer “listens” to the conversation and an answer pops up on the rep’s screen. They will read the answer to you and assume you understand.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is great but it is no substitute for the real thing. Remember HAL 9000 from Space Odyssey. “I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that”.

While 800-MEDICARE is good, just like volunteer organizations, they don’t understand the insurance side of Medicare.

Medicare is easy.

Insurance is hard.

One Source for Answers to Your Medicare Questions.

Bob makes life simple. He explains how Medicare works using words that you understand.

For example. Many folks get confused about Medicare supplement and Medigap. What are they? How are they different.

Bob’s answer is this.

Medicare supplement and Medigap are interchangeable terms. Like Kleenex and tissue.

How easy is that?

Where can you get your Medicare questions answered?

Call or email. Give us 10 minutes. Ask any question. Never any pressure to buy. You decide if the information is helpful or not. No selling ever!

This is my offer you can’t refuse.

Will Medicare Pay For Shingles Vaccine?

Does Medicare cover shingles vaccine? Will my Medigap plan pay for Shingrix? Can I get the shot for free during my Medicare Annual Exam?

GA Medicare expert Bob Vineyard answers your immunization questions.

Does Medicare Pay for Shingles Vaccine
Will Medicare Pay for Shingles Vaccine?

What is Shingles?

Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The same virus that causes chicken pox is also responsible for shingles.

After having chicken pox, the virus can lay dormant in your body for years. The virus lives in your nervous system near your spinal cord.

According to Mayo Clinic:

The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body. These signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Itching
Will Medicare Pay for Shingrix?

What is the Shingles Vaccine and How Does it Work?

Most vaccines start with some form of the virus which is injected. The idea is your body will detect the intruder and generate anti-bodies to attack the virus.

Older vaccines such as Zostavax use a weakened form of the virus. Shingrix, approved in 2017, uses inactivated (dead) virus. Vaccines containing dead virus cells eliminates the risk of transmission.

Is Shingrix Better than Zostavax?

Currently there are only three approved shingles vaccines. Zostavax, Shingrix and Varivax.

Zostavax, approved in 2006, was the only vaccine for shingles for many years.

Shingrix gained approval as a vaccine in 2017 and is considered to be 97% effective in adults age 50 to 69. Whereas Zostavax has a 50% effectiveness rate.

Varivax was approved in 2018. It is similar in price and effectiveness to Shingrix.

All three named shingles vaccines are approved by Medicare and should be included in all Medicare Part D plans.

How Much Does the Vaccine Cost?

Cash prices for Shingrix are currently $150 per dose. You need two doses for maximum effectiveness. Your second does should be given at least 2 months but no more than 6 months following your first dose.

Zostavax is a single dose immunization with a cash price of $225.

The cash price for Varivax is $150 per dose. The manufacturer recommends two doses a month apart.

How Long Before I Need to be Vaccinated Again?

Shingles vaccinations should remain effective for several years before you need another vaccination.

You can get Shingrix at age 50, when your chance of having shingles rises. Studies have shown that its protection remains strong for at least 4 years, but researchers hope it will last much longer because the immune response is stronger. – WebMD

Is the Shingles Vaccine Covered by Medicare?

Medicare covers the shingles vaccine as one of its preventive benefits. But, unlike some other vaccines that are paid through Part B, the shingles vaccine is covered by Part D.

Have You Had Shingles?

If you have chicken pox as a child? If you did you have a one in three chance of getting shingles as an adult.

Two years ago during my annual Medicare wellness visit my doctor asked if I wanted to get the shingles vaccination. We discussed the pro’s and con’s. She wrote a prescription for Shingrix.

I had every intention of getting the shot but all the local pharmacy’s were out of stock. They had no idea when they would have it in stock.

Two months later I woke up with intense itching and moderate pain. It started near my kidney and radiated around my left side.

My wife looked at it and said I had the Shingles.

Welcome to old age.

This was a weekend and my regular doctor was not available. On Sunday I went to a nearby urgent care facility. The doctor confirmed I had shingles.

I was given a prescription for the generic form of Valtrex.

Valacyclovir (Valtrex) is an antiviral medicine. It is used to treat or prevent infections caused by certain kinds of viruses. Examples of these infections include herpes and shingles.This medicine will not cure herpes. It is more popular than comparable drugs. It is available in generic and brand versions. Generic valacyclovir is covered by most Medicare and insurance plans, but some pharmacy coupons or cash prices may be lower. –GoodRx

Using Part D the prescription would have cost nearly $50. Using the coupon and paying cash my cost was $9.

Pay Cash or Use Your Drug Plan?

If you use your Medicare Part D plan for generic drugs you will almost always pay more. Buying generics and paying cash will normally save money.

The approved Shingles vaccines are all brand names. There are no generics. But you may still save money using coupons or drug assistance programs. Check the Medicare site for Patient Assistance Programs.

Do you have Medicare questions? Call or email.

#ShinglesVaccine #Shingrix #GAMedicareExpert