Answers to Common Medicare Questions

I have answers to your most common Medicare questions. Here are just a few examples of questions asked by people just like you who are turning 65.

  • How do I know which Medicare plan is right for me?
  • When should I enroll in Medicare?
  • Should I have the same plan as my spouse?
  • How much does Medicare cost?
  • Does Medicare cover (fill in the blank)?

Many of your questions can be answered by copying this into your Google search bar – site:http://www.georgia-medicareplans.com

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

 

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

Below are links that correspond to the questions shown above.

  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/ufaqs/find-right-medicare-plan/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/enroll-in-medicare-at-age-65/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/medicare-traps-and-mistakes/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/ufaqs/how-much-do-medicare-premiums-cost/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/does-medicare-cover-my-cancer-treatment/

You have Medicare Questions.

I have answers.

Give Bob Vineyard a call. I would love to help. (404) 252-5859

 

Turning 65?

Are you turning 65? Will you continue to work and go on Medicare? Or will Medicare be your only health care insurance? Have you learned everything you need to know or do you still have questions? Did you take advice from friends on Medicare? Do you really understand how those Medicare Advantage plans work? Are all Medigap plans really the same?

 

Even if you have already bought a plan, take 3 minutes to read this. It might just save you a lot of time, money and grief.

You are about to go on Medicare. Here are some things you need to know about your journey.

 

Turning 65 – You are not alone

Roughly 80% of retirees turning 65 have never bought health insurance before.

My 40 years in the health insurance business was not enough to prepare me for understanding the Medicare system. It took me about a month of research and talking to Medicare specialists before the light bulb turned on.

If it was that difficult for me I can imagine how confusing it is for you and everyone else.

Your friends that are on Medicare are probably still confused about what they have and how it works. I know this because I talk to people every day that were told something about Medicare that is 100% wrong and will prove very costly down the road.

Ask your friends who THEY talked to in making their decision. If they were pleased, ask for a recommendation. Then you talk with that person and decide if they are giving solid advice or simply pushing a product.

If they bought a $0 premium Advantage plan (along with a bunch of junk to fill the gaps), or Medigap plan F they will learn to regret that choice later down the road.

 

Things you probably don’t know

When turning 65 you have ONLY ONE Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). During that time you can enroll in ANY PLAN from ANY CARRIER without answering health questions. Your initial enrollment for Medigap begins the month when you turn 65 AND go on Medicare Part B. It ends 6 months later.

During your IEP you can freely change Medigap plans within the same carrier or move from one carrier to another without penalty. Most people we talk to will end up paying a lot more for their coverage than was necessary. It is not too late to change. Don’t let pride stop you from making a better financial decision. (More on this later)

You have 63 days from the time you turned 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B to pick a Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan. If you wait, your next opportunity will be during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) and you will pay a LIFETIME late enrollment penalty.

If you bought an Advantage plan and then learned that was the wrong decision you can still purchase a suitable Medigap during your IEP. This happens with some frequency so no need to feel embarrassed.

Many of the newer Advantage plans are “front end loaded” so you pay most of the costs of your care without the benefit of a copay. The networks are also more restrictive than you may have been accustomed to with traditional health insurance.

 

Medigap “gotcha’s”

Medigap is simple, but not as simple as some might think. Sure, the plans are standardized. All plans with the same letter (plan F for example) are identical in every way except the price you pay.

But the simplicity stops there.

Financial ratings don’t matter. “A” rated carriers like AFLAC and Mutual of Omaha have sucker punched retirees in the past.

Look for LONG TERM STABILITY in the Medicare supplement market. If a carrier doesn’t have at least 5 years in the Medigap market operating under the SAME NAME, you probably want to cross them off your list.

Mutual of Omaha, United World, United of Omaha and Omaha Insurance Company have common parentage but the comparison stops there. The names are interchangeable and every 3 – 4 years an old carrier will be swapped for a newer one that has rates 20 – 30% below the “old” carrier. The new, lower rates are only for NEW APPLICANTS.

Aetna Health and Life, Manhattan, Omaha Insurance Company, Companion Life …….. all have “hot” rates in Georgia right now. But none of them have more than 3 years in the Medigap business an at least two have already had a 9% rate increase.

 

My choice

You don’t have to do what I do but consider this. I have more experience in the health insurance business than anyone you have talked to so far. There are some paths I won’t take because I know the pitfalls.

Maybe you should do the same.

I enrolled in Medicare in September, 2015.

I didn’t buy a plan from any carrier with less than 5 years in the Medigap business.

I didn’t buy plan F.

I didn’t buy a Medicare Advantage plan. Even if I did, I certainly would NOT buy a hospital indemnity plan, a cancer plan, a heart attack plan, etc to fill the gaps. Any agent that pushes those policies is more interested making as much money as possible off you than they are in serving YOUR needs.

Ultimately, whatever choice you make should fit your needs and budget. I don’t expect everyone to make the same decisions I make, nor would I pressure anyone to buy something just because I am doing it. But I do believe my clients deserve to know the choices I  makd and why I made them.

If you want to know what I bought and why, just ask.

There are more than 170 different Medigap plans in Georgia. You probably looked at half a dozen or less.

There are only THREE Medicare supplement carriers with competitive rates that have 5 or more years in the Medigap business. If you didn’t buy from them you probably are, or will eventually be, paying too much.

Georgia Medicare Supplement Rates

You are turning 65 and need to make a decision before going on Medicare. Better to review your decision now rather than later.

Let me know how I can help.

 

#Turning65 #GeorgiaMedicarePlans #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates

Get Medicare When Turning 65

Do I automatically get Medicare when turning 65? How do I enroll in Medicare? When should I sign up for Medicare? Do I need Medicare if I am covered by a group health insurance plan? How much does Medicare cost?

  • Medicare is not automatic at age 65
  • Enroll in Medicare in 10 minutes or less
  • Sign up for Medicare Part A at least 90 days in advance of your 65th birthday
  • You may not need Part B if covered by employer group health plan
  • Medicare supplement plans (Medigap) is priced according to your age, gender, tobacco use and zip code

Shop and compare GA Medigap plans. With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, how do you find the one that is right for you?

GA Medigap rates

Compare plans side by side plus receive a FREE report showing all Medigap plans and rates in your area. Valid email address required.

 

How Do I Get Medicare at Age 65?

Most people assume Medicare is automatic when they turn 65. If you are receiving Social Security benefits you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65. Everyone else will have to apply.best medicare supplement plan F

Many people will receive Medicare Part A at no charge. If you (or your spouse) have at least 40 quarters of substantial wages in the Social Security system by the time you reach age 65 you have prepaid your Part A premiums.

If you refuse Part A you may be denied a Social Security benefit. Deferred enrollment in Medicare Part A is possible if covered by a group health plan. Otherwise late enrollment penalties may apply.

Medicare Part B is optional and carries a monthly premium.

You do not have to be employed in order to get Medicare at age 65. Some who have never worked in the Social Security system can still qualify based on the earnings record of their spouse. The same applies to widows and divorcees of a working spouse.

 

How Do I Get Medicare?

Signing up for Medicare is easy. I signed up in May, 2015 ahead of my September, 2015 65th birthday. You can do the same by following this link to Social Security and selecting the appropriate option.medicare turning 65

You can track the status of your application at MySSA.gov.

Track your earnings record, review estimated Social Security benefit amount, see when your next benefit will be deposited and more.

Once you enroll in Medicare you will receive your welcome letter about a week later followed by your Medicare card in another few weeks.

 

Covered by a Group Health Insurance Plan?

If you are covered under a group health plan as an active employee or spouse of an active employee you may only need Medicare Part A. If you or your spouse work for a large employer (defined as 20 or more employees) your group plan may be primary and Medicare a secondary payer. In that case you may only need Medicare Part B.

Most plan participants with a smaller employer will find that Medicare is the primary payer. In that case you need Part B. Your group health plan will be a secondary payer.

In that situation it may be to your advantage to drop the group health plan and pick up a Medicare supplement plan and Part D drug plan. Ask us for details and pricing.

You can also generate your own quote using this link.

click for instant medigap quote

 

How Much Does Medicare Cost?

Georgia Medigap plans are priced according to your age, gender, tobacco use and zip code. Many plans are priced under $100 per month and offer much richer benefits than you have experienced with your current health insurance plan.

Medicare supplement plans are standardized (all plans with same letter are identical) making it relatively easy to compare plans and rates. More than 40 different F plan rates and 30 different G plans may seem confusing.

Buying on low initial price alone may come back to haunt you later. Some carriers have a history of showcasing a low initial buy-in rate only to raise rates substantially later. One well known mutual carrier has raised rates 11 times since 2012.

Let us help you find the plan that best suits your needs and budget.

GA Medigap rates

Shop and compare. Free comprehensive Medigap report provided with valid email.

 

#GetMedicareAge65 #Turning65 #HowMuchDoesMedicareCost #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates #WhenEnrollMedicare

Welcome to Medicare – What’s Covered?

Welcome to Medicare. What’s covered, what isn’t?  In the exam room I notice a sign. “Lab work is not covered by Medicare“. You owe $289. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Welcome to Medicare physical exam? Covered. Lab work? Not covered.  Really? You turned 65 and signed up for Medicare. What happens next?

Here is a short introduction to Medicare. What’s covered, what isn’t,  and what to expect

  • Medicare’s definition of preventive care has surprises
  • Lab work may not be covered
  • Medical necessity is the rule
  • Free exams aren’t always free

Whether you have original Medicare and a supplement or you enrolled in an Advantage plan, the underlying rules of what is covered and what isn’t are the same. The difference is in how you pay for it.

You might want to view our Medicare Exam video on YouTube

Turning 65 – Welcome to Medicare 2018 – What’s Covered?

dr kildareBy the time you reach 65 and enroll in Medicare, most people have a doctor (or doctors) they like and trust. They want to continue that relationship and are not interested in picking a doctor from a list provided by an insurance company.

Georgia Medicare Plans specialize in helping you keep your doctor(s) and finding a Medicare supplement plan that fits your needs and budget. We have rates and information on more than 230 different Medigap plans and will provide a FREE REPORT on all plans based on your age, gender and zip.

You can start your research by comparing rates and benefits for roughly 30 plans by getting an INSTANT GA Medigap quote.

shopCompareBig_new2

I understand your confusion. Most people want information so they can understand what lies ahead. They want the time to read, make notes and ask questions.

Most of the insurance agents you will talk to are not old enough to enroll in Medicare and have not experienced it first hand. Bob Vineyard turned 65 in September, 2015 and enrolled in Medicare. In spite of 40 years in the health insurance business and over 400 Medicare clients, I am still learning things every day about how Medicare works.

Ask me anything. Others talk, we listen.

 

Welcome to Medicare Surprises

When I turned 65 and signed up for Medicare, one of the first things I did was schedule my Welcome to Medicare physical.

Because I chose original Medicare and a supplement plan, I was able to keep my doctor. My group insurance plan required me to have an annual exam and wellness interview so there should not have been any surprises with my Welcome to Medicare exam.

That was the wrong assumption.

While waiting in the exam room I saw a notice on the bulletin board.

Lab work is not covered by Medicare

Seriously? What’s that all about?

Preventive screenings are covered by Medicare in the following situations

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm scan – Men only, if you smoked 100 cigarettes in your lifetime
  • Bone density – Mostly women, if you are estrogen deficient or have osteoporosis
  • Lab tests – Only if considered medically necessary by Medicare

What is considered medically necessary?

Medicare defines medically necessary as tests or treatment needed to diagnose or treat an illness, injury, condition, disease or symptoms that meet accepted standards of care.

Preventive lab work may not be covered by Medicare.

 

Congratulations! You are healthy. Your test is not covered!

I take no medications. For the last few years my doctor has run routine lab work to make sure my body is doing what it is supposed to. As much as it galls me to say, my Obamacare plan covered routine tests like CBC, Lipid Panel, CMP, etc. at no charge to me.not covered

These tests were not free. The labs and technicians do not volunteer their time. The costs associated with the lab tests were absorbed by the health insurance carrier and baked into the premiums.

Not so with Medicare.

Those under age 65 pay nothing.

If you are 65 and older, there is no more free lunch.

When I asked about the sign on the wall. The one that said “Lab work is not covered by Medicare” her response took me aback.

Medicare generally doesn’t cover those tests if you are healthy. But if you were sick, they would pay for them.

Sign this ABN form. If Medicare denies the claim you will have to pay the cost of your lab work. You will owe $289.

So much for my “free” Welcome to Medicare exam.

 

Medicare physical exam.

Is it covered? Is it free? How much will I have to pay?

Original Medicare is quite good in most respects. No more doctor networks. Forget about balance billing (when you use Medicare providers that accept assignment).  Huge bills for health care are a thing of the past.

So exactly what is covered, and what isn’t? Check out this free Guide to Medicare Preventive Services. And yes, it really is free. Click to download.

 

More ways to save money.

Most of the retirees we talk to are paying too much for their Medicare supplement plan. Many are facing rate increases. One large Mutual company has increased rates 10 times since 2012!

Medigap plan F will be retired in 2020. Switch now if you can. Plan G is popular with over 90% of our clients. Some have not had a rate increase in two years.

Get a free GA Medigap quote.  FREE report listing rates for all plans based on your age, gender and zip code  sent by email once we confirm your information.

 

GA Medigap quote

You need to be informed. The more you know and understand the better it will be for your bank account.

 

#MedicareLab #WelcometoMedicare

Medicare Advertising – What is Legal?

Medicare advertising kicks into high gear in the fall because of the annual open enrollment period. This year you open enrollment begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. You can expect your mailbox to be stuffed with all kinds of medicare mailmansolicitations and advertisements. Your email volume may pick up as well with promises of better coverage for less money.

How much is real? What is a come-on? Are some of them scams? Are insurance companies legally allowed to offer Medicare advertising for enrollment purposes?

Most of the people we talk to, that already have Medicare, are in the wrong plan, paying too much, or both. It doesn’t matter if you are turning 65 and going on Medicare the first time, or have been covered by Medicare and just got bad advise. We can help.

We offer instant online Medigap quotes. No tricks. Compare plans and rates side by side. Your information is never sold.

Medicare shop and compare

We have rates on more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans and will always give you the lowest rate by phone.

 

 

Medicare Advertising

I have been in the insurance business for 40 years and am always interested in staying on top of what is going on around me in
“my world”. I read news articles daily, subscribe to information on Medicare and Social Security, and continuously scour the web for anything that might be of interest to my clients.

have I got a deal for youJust today I received the following in a newsletter published by an “independent” Medicare adviser. Normally their information is spot on but this was just wrong on so many levels.

Dear Marci,

Last year around this time I started receiving a lot of notices in the mail advertising different health insurance plans for my Medicare coverage. I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I received, and I don’t want to experience that again. How can I sort through these notices and make sure that I am not being taken advantage of? How are insurance companies allowed to market their plans?

– Naomi (Pittsfield, MA)

Marci’s response follows in part.

Dear Naomi,

You are not alone—this is a common concern among beneficiaries. October 15 marks the beginning of Fall Open Enrollment, which is the time during the year when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their health care coverage. Starting October 1, Medicare Advantage Plans will start advertising their offerings for next year. While most plans abide by the marketing rules set forth by Medicare, not all plans do.

Some of Medicare’s marketing rules for plans are:

  • Unless you are already a member of a plan or have given permission, plans are not allowed to contact you in any way other than through the mail.
  • Plan names cannot suggest that the plan is preferred or endorsed by Medicare.
  • Plan representatives cannot approach you in public places, such as parking lots of malls. In health care settings, plans can only advertise in common areas such as cafeterias. They may not advertise in waiting rooms.
  • If you schedule a time to speak with an insurance broker about Medicare Advantage options, they cannot try to sell you products other than a Medicare Advantage Plan, such as a life insurance policy.
  • Plans cannot offer gifts worth more than $15. Further, they must provide the gift even if you do not sign up for the plan.

In addition to being aware of these rules, you should consider these tips to help avoid becoming the victim of marketing fraud:

  • Always verify all information you receive from an insurance plan representative. If a representative says that a particular doctor is in network, you should call the practice to confirm with the doctor.

  • Be aware of your right to choose how you receive Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage Plan representatives should not tell you that Medicare Advantage is your only option.

  • If you are feeling pressured, you can tell the plan representative that you will follow up at a later date. This will give you time to make your decisions.

  • Use government websites and official sources of information.

All of the above is good and helpful information, except it is not 100% correct.

The marketing rules above apply only to Medicare Advantage and Medicare drug plans.

Medicare advertising for supplement plans (Medigap) or about Medicare in general are not subject to the same rules and guidelines.

That being said, just because governance over Medigap advertising is somewhat relaxed does not mean carriers and marketers are free to say anything they wish.

 

Medicare Open Enrollment

Does the Medicare open enrollment affect you?

In some cases, yes.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D prescription drug plan, welcome to open enrollment. In most cases you can change your Advantage plan without medical underwriting. There is never any underwriting for Part D.

Medicare supplement plans can be changed ANY time, not just during open enrollment. Unless you are a new enrollee, you will probably have to pass medical underwriting before you can make a change.

Just about everything you need to know about open enrollment can be found in our featured post, Medicare Open Enrollment 2015.

I suggest you click the link and take notes.

 

Are You Being Scammed?

Is the Medicare advertising misleading? Maybe, maybe not. Use common sense.

While perfectly legal, the Medicare Advantage literature quite often makes a big deal about $0 premium but (in my opinion) falls short in explaining the true cost of MA plans.car salesman scam

Advantage plans are great until you use them, then they can get quite expensive. That is usually when I get calls from people who say they can’t afford their $0 premium plan any more.

What they are really saying is they can’t afford to pay their medical bills. Unfortunately when it gets to that point they probably can’t qualify for a Medigap plan.

Here are a few things to watch out for if you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time or considering making a change.

Medicare Advantage –

  • Look for your doctors and hospitals in their provider directory
  • Find out if you need a referral to see a specialist
  • What is the penalty for using out of network (non-par) providers?
  • What is your in-network maximum out of pocket?
  • What is your out of network out of pocket maximum?
  • Do your drug copay’s change?
  • Are all your drugs on the formulary?

Medicare Part D –

  • Do your drug copay’s and deductibles change?
  • Are all of your drugs on the formulary?

Medicare supplement –

  • Don’t buy plan F
  • Don’t cancel any existing coverage until you know you have been approved by your new carrier
  • Don’t buy a Medigap plan based on price alone
  • All plans with the same letter pay claims and pay them on time
  • The only difference is the premium you pay
  • Never buy direct from the carrier
  • Use a local Georgia agent that knows the market

When shopping online bear in mind that most of the sites you go to are marketing sites. They gather your information and sell it to multiple agents.

When you get a quote from Georgia Medicare Plans your information is never sold. You get instant, online Medigap quotes. You will also get one phone call from me, usually within 48 hours.

I only call once. I will answer your questions, give you the best rates on plans in your area and give them over the phone.

No pressure. No tricks. Shop and compare now.

Medicare shop and compare

 

 

#MedicareOpenEnrollment #MedicareAdvertising #MedicareAdvantage #MedicareSupplementInsurance

 

Medicare Traps and Mistakes

You are turning 65. What are the Medicare traps and mistakes most retirees make in navigating the Medicare maze? One big-mistakewrong decision can cost you thousands of dollars. Your choice is much more complex than just deciding on original Medicare and a supplement plan or Advantage.

There are various ways to go down this journey and no doubt self education is part of the process. You can attend seminars, read the countless brochures and pamphlets that arrive daily before you turn 65 and talk with friends. Whatever you do, just make sure you avoid the Medicare traps that lie ahead.

No doubt the BIGGEST mistake in choosing a Medicare plan is failure to properly estimate the cost of health care.

Maybe my story will help.

I am a baby boomer, going on Medicare in September of this year. In spite of 40 years in the health insurance industry, transitioning to Medicare was more challenging than I expected. Looking at Medicare options reminds me of my first time in Home Depot.

 

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Medicare traps and Home Depot

The first time I walked into Home Depot I was overwhelmed. I am not much of a handy man, but I do know which end of the hammer is useful.

hd hammerHome Depot must have had 100 hammers.

I needed someone to not only point me in the right direction, but explain why one hammer was better than another for the particular work I was doing.

Before Home Depot I owned 1 hammer. Now I have at least half a dozen, each designed for a particular job.

Medicare is the same way.

There are over 170 different GA Medicare plans to pick from. How do you find the right one?

Perhaps the biggest mistake people make in choosing a Medicare plan is underestimating the cost of health care.

Most people I talk to are in relatively good health and they assume they will remain that way for years to come.

I hope they do.

But we never know what lies around the next turn of the page on a calendar. Things can happen overnight.

 

Medicare Part D mistakes

One very common Medicare trap is failing to anticipate the cost of health care. More specifically, underestimating the cost of medications under Medicare Part D. drugs

If you have had a decent health insurance plan with Rx copay’s before Medicare you will probably be very disappointed in what you get with Medicare. Drugs that had a $20 copay under a group health plan may be $35 or more.

Diabetics using Novolog can expect to pay anywhere from $55 to $90 or even more for a 30 day supply. After you hit the donut hole your cost increases to $200 for a months supply.

AARP lists Part D goofs in their Top 10 Medicare Mistakes.

Mistake No. 5:
Not signing up for Part D because you don’t take any prescription drugs

Mistake No. 6:
Picking a Part D drug plan on the basis of its premium or its name or because your best friend chose it

If you are like most people, at some point while you are retired your largest expenditure will be for medication. Roughly 70 – 80% of your OOP health care costs will go toward medication.

 

Ken’s Medicare journey

About 4 years ago I met Ken and his wife over coffee at a McDonalds. Both were active and had enjoyed good health. Both were turning 65 and going in Medicare in a couple of months.

They were financially comfortable. Not wealthy but better off than many their age. They had been accustomed to high deductible health plans and wanted the same once they were on Medicare. The high deductible plan F (Hi F) appealed to them as a way to keep their monthly costs down.

They were business owners and, while the business was not going as well as it once did it still provided them with income to supplement their savings and Social Security.

At the time the Blue Cross Hi F plan was reasonably priced around $40 per month. Blue discontinued that plan about a year after they bought it because they lost too much money on it. Premiums for the Hi F have risen by double digits ever since. Aetna has one of the best rates now and is charging around $70/month for someone turning 65.

hospital bed emptyA few months after Ken enrolled in Hi F his health took a turn for the worse. Several weeks in the hospital and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. He was weak, his heartbeat was erratic and they had difficulty stabilizing him.

He was eventually well enough to go home only to return to the hospital the next month, and in a new year.

Medicare Part A, the hospital inpatient portion, currently has a $1260 per admission deductible. When you have Hi F you pay the first $2180 in charges before the plan pays anything.

If your claims cross a calendar year you are looking at more than $4,000 in out of pocket costs.

That’s tough for anyone but to make matters worse, his illness meant he could no longer work. Their business continued to falter which put more financial pressure on them.

In addition to hospital and doctor charges, Ken began a new medication regiment. His drug costs went from less than $100 per month to over $600.

The biggest Medicare trap in my opinion is failing to anticipate your out of pocket health care costs.

In this situation, the worst thing he could have done would have been to have a Medicare Advantage plan where his OOP (out of pocket) costs would have more than tripled from $2,000 per year to $6,000.

Comparing Hi F to plan N is a much better value and in many cases about $30 more per month.

 

Confusing Medicare Advantage and Medigap

Along with buying the same plan your friends have, we often find that retirees think Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement are the same thing. medicare disadvantage

They are not.

Medicare Advantage has a lot of moving parts, usually requires you to use a network provider to avoid penalties, makes it necessary to review (and probably) change your plan every 1 – 3 years, and will end up costing you a lot of money in OOP expenses when you need your plan the most.

Consumer Reports says confusing Medicare Advantage with original Medicare is one of the Seven Medicare Traps and Costly Blunders.

About one in four Medicare recipients opt for the newer Medicare Advantage plans. These are private plans (mostly HMOS) that take the place of original Medicare plus Medigap, and usually the Part D drug plan as well. While you’ll probably pay lower monthly premiums, bear in mind that you will not have Medigap to cover any deductibles and co-pays, which can vary from plan to plan. Thus, one of the downsides of an Advantage plan is potentially higher out-of-pocket costs if you get seriously ill.

Ken (in our story above) did have original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan (Hi F) and still had over $4,000 out of pocket over 2 years. As bad as that was it could have been over $13,000 with an Advantage plan.

 

More Common Medicare mistakes

At one time your Social Security normal retirement age and beginning Medicare occurred at the same time, age 65. In 1983, long before Congress started raiding the “Trust Fund” to pay current obligations, they decided something had to be done to “save” Social Security.

medicare bad newsBeing politicians, their ingenious way was to DELAY future benefits for baby boomers and younger by changing the NRA (Normal Retirement Age) from 65 to 66 and even later.

Deciding when to start receiving Social Security is one thing, but don’t just assume that your Medicare should coincide with Social Security.

Bottom Line lists failure to sign up with Medicare at number one on their list of Medicare Traps

How much could a sign-up delay cost you? With Medicare Part B (that’s medical insurance), for each full 12-month period that you are late in signing up, a 10% penalty is tacked on to your premiums (basic premiums are $104.90 per month in 2015) for as long as you keep getting Part B. With Part D drug coverage, the penalty is 1% of the “national base beneficiary premium” ($33.15 per month in 2015) multiplied by the number of full uncovered months you were eligible but failed to sign up. The penalty applies if you are not enrolled for 63 days or more in a row when you don’t have creditable prescription drug coverage. (Creditable coverage means that your plan’s coverage is comparable to Part D plans.)

All of that could add up to perhaps $3,000 to $5,000 in penalties over the course of your retirement if you are one year late signing up…or climb to more than $10,000 if you are several years late.

Don’t miss your start date!

Shop and compare GA Medigap quotes

Instant online rates

Your information is NEVER sold!

 

#MedicareTraps  #MedicareBlunders #MedicareDisadvantage  #GAMedigapQuotes


How to Max Out Your Social Security

If you want to max out your Social Security benefit you will need to plan ahead. You can begin receiving Social Security at age 62 but most baby boomers will come out ahead to wait until FRA (full retirement age) at 66. Regardless of when you begin Social Security, most of us will go on Medicare A & B when we turn 65. How much is the spouse benefit?

How much does Medicare cost? Should I stay on my group plan or is it better to begin Medicare at age 65? Can I have Medicare without Social Security?

 

Social Security at age 62 or wait?

If you need to begin Social Security at age 62 for financial reasons, go ahead. It is your money. But if you want to max out your benefits the longer you wait the more you will receive each month. Apply for Medicare

The Catch 22 in your benefit is this. How long will you live?

If you are in relatively good health and your family has a history of living into their 80’s or older there’s a good chance you will have a long life too.

But we never know until we get there.

CNN Money addresses the question, “Should you tap your Social Security benefits early or wait?”.

Many people want to get their hands on their benefits as soon as possible, fearing (incorrectly) that Social Security will go broke. Others enjoy the sense of control they get from investing those funds instead of passively waiting for a higher payment down the road.

In spite of some claims, Social Security will not go broke. Technically, it already is. Excess payroll tax collections have mostly been borrowed by Congress to pay current obligations. The Trust fund is full of IOU’s but that does not mean Social Security will implode.

There are too many of us boomers out there and we are old enough to vote if they try and take Social Security away from us. Yes, I said us. I will turn 65 in September of 2015 and will go on Medicare. My plan is to delay SS until age 66 or possibly later.

 

Social Security planning

If you fail to plan you plan to fail. There is a lot to be said for that old saw.

Back in the old days when we wanted to go on vacation we planned ahead. Many of us ordered at trip planning kit from AAA that contained maps, information on lodging and restaurants and even included brochures of places to see.

That was then.

Now we go on the internet and let Google be our friend. We may map out our trip to get an idea of trip times but rather than bulky maps that never can be folded up neatly we rely on GPS to get us from point A to point B.

We don’t have a retirement GPS and we do need to plan ahead.

Of the items mentioned in the video, long term care planning is often the one that is most overlooked. I have a business associate that handles long term care for me. Let me know if you need an introduction.

 

Turn 65, go on Medicare?

At one time you had no choice. Most people retired at age 65 and some even a few years earlier. If you worked for a “big company” like AT&T or IBM you had a retiree health insurance plan.

But those days are mostly gone.

att retiree health insuranceMany large employers have cancelled their retiree health plan and shuttled their employees off to consultants like Aon or Towers Watson. Instead of a company health insurance plan you are forced onto Medicare. Your former employer may have set up a retiree HRA and made a deposit to help you pay for your Medicare Part B and either a Medicare Advantage plan or Medigap plus Part D.

The advice given by the service reps at Aon or Towers Watson is mostly inadequate. You may have also been told the only way to participate in the HRA was to buy your coverage through the consulting firm.

In many cases that may not have been completely accurate.

We helped several retirees find a plan that fit their needs and budget and still retain access to the HRA funding. In every case the premiums for plans we suggested were lower than those for comparable plans through Aon or Towers.

With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, how do you find the right one for you? I will be glad to discuss the plans I considered as well as the one I will pick when I go on Medicare.

You can begin your search on our site. View plans side by side to compare benefits and rates. Of course we are always available to answer any questions you may have.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Still have questions?

Social Security can be confusing, even more so than Medicare. You are not the only one with questions.

Here are a few links to help you find your path and max out your Social Security benefits.

How to Max Out Your Social Security Checks

How to Calculate the Spousal Benefit

Social Security Spouse Benefits – The Rules of the Road

If you found this post to be of benefit please share it with your friends. Let us know how we can help.

 

#SocialSecurity #Medicareturning65 #AT&T

4 Mistakes Retirees Make in Choosing a Medicare Plan

What are the 4 mistakes you can make in choosing a Medicare plan? Do you understand the difference in original Medicare and private Medicare Advantage? medicare shockDo you assume the plan your friends bought is best for you? Did you ask a knowledgeable agent to help or just shop online to find a plan? Have you budgeted for the total cost of health care? Don’t make the same mistake Tony made.

Many consumers start by shopping online, which is not a bad way to go as long as you understand the results. Others ask their friends about the kind of coverage they have. Nothing wrong with that as long as your friends researched and understood their options.

Sadly, too many end up repeating the same mistakes their friend made an only realize when it is too late to make a change.

Shop and compare over 170 different plans in the comfort of your home.

 

Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage

You might be surprised at how many fail to understand the difference in original Medicare vs. a private Medicare Advantage plan. They think their Advantage plan is a supplement to Medicare.

say whatIt’s not.

Medicare annual open enrollment is when everyone can make changes in their plan.

Nope.

Medicare and a supplement is more expensive than Medicare Advantage.

It depends.

Original Medicare allows you to use any doctor, lab or hospital without penalty. You can travel anywhere in the country and have the same level of coverage as you have at home. You can keep the same plan, and doctor, from year to year.

Medicare Advantage picks doctors for you. If you use someone that is not in network, you pay a penalty. Your doctor can be fired from the plan in the middle of the year. United Healthcare has made headlines because they told participating doctors they were no longer needed, leaving patients high and dry.

Can you afford to make that mistake?

 

Letting your friends pick a plan for you

Have you ever had a friend set you up for a blind date? Oh, they mean well, but most of the time you will smile and be pleasant while inside you are saying to yourself “What were they thinking?”. blind date

One of the 4 mistakes many people make is buying the same plan a friend has. If you follow this philosophy you will probably buy a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan or buy Medigap plan F from United Healthcare (AARP), Blue Cross or one of the current Mutual of Omaha companies.

What could be better than $0 premium? And your doctor(s) are in network so is there anything else to consider?

Or plan F pays 100% of my health care costs. It must be a great plan, right?

The $0 premium plan with $0 deductible might be just right, but did you estimate what your health care costs will be?

And about that plan F.

Depending on your age, gender and zip, Medicare supplement plan rates vary considerably. I recently ran a quote for a female, age 65, in Conyers. The United Healthcare (AARP) plan F was 19th on the list of plans ranked from lowest premium to highest. Blue Cross was 23rd.

If you are really sold on plan F you could have saved $350 a year (or more) if you had purchased from someone OTHER than the name brand carrier.

You would have saved even more, almost $600 a year, by choosing plan G ………. a plan not offered by United or Blue.

 

Shopping online

Amazon is the worlds largest retail shopping mall. You can find almost anything you want. Sometimes it is a good price, sometimes not. When the purchase arrives, if you don’t like it you can return it.

Buying a Medicare plan online isn’t the same thing.

Too often you won’t know if you like the plan until you actually use it. By then it may be too late to exchange it.

If you go to Medicare.gov there is a lot of information about Medicare Advantage and drug plans, but almost nothing usable when it comes to Medigap.

A common piece of advice on Medicare Advantage is to make sure your doctor is in network but how many times do you stop to check your medication list?

Most people don’t, especially the DIY crowd.

Big mistake.

The biggest hassle in online shopping is landing on a site that will sell your information to dozens of insurance agents. Your phone won’t stop ringing and your email will be stuffed with “buy me” notices.

Georgia Medicare Plans never sells your information to anyone. We call once. That’s it. You decide if you want more information.

Shop and compare now.

medicareplansgeorgia

 

Tony almost made a $6,000 mistake

Tony is turning 65. Like everyone else he is bombarded with information about available plans. And Tony has asked friends which plan they have and would recommend.

But Tony also likes to do his own research. That’s how he found me.

bag_of_moneyMost of his friends have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan. Tony has a chronic condition that is under control and he has doctors he trusts. He wants a plan that includes his current doctors.

Tony was proactive and asked his doctors which plans they accept.

“All of them”.

That’s when he found my site. And then he called.

We talked for a few minutes and discussed the differences in original Medicare and a supplement plan vs. Medicare Advantage. Tony was not aware that doctors can be dropped from an Advantage plan in mid year. He also was not aware of the out of network restrictions and penalties. We discussed out easy it is to slip out of network, especially with P.A.R.E. claims.

Then we talked out Medicare and Medigap plans. We also looked at his expected annual cost of health care.

Failing to consider your cost of health care is one of the 4 mistakes almost everyone makes.

But it was the discussion about his meds that brought things to a head.

Tony takes two specific medications to keep his health in control. One is relatively inexpensive, the other is not. He gave me a complete list of his medications and I ran a prescription drug report for him.

After looking over the list I decided to do something I rarely do. Medicare drug reports are quite detailed, and confusing. I normally just show clients the top two plans rather than sending them 20 or more to review.

I repeated the process for the $0 premium Advantage plan he said he wanted.

Then I compared the results.

The Medicare Part D plan with the lowest annual drug costs would result in $3,000 in out of pocket costs for his medications.

The $0 premium plan would have him spending almost $9,000 for the exact same medications.

If Tony had taken the advice of his friends and purchased the $0 premium Advantage plan he would have made a $6,000 mistake.

Can you afford to make that kind of error?

Give us a call to discuss plans that fit your needs AND budget. Or you can start the process by using our online instant quote engine.

 

 

 

#MedicareAdvantage #Medicareannualopenenrollment

Home Depot and Medicare

The first time I walked into Home Depot I was overwhelmed. All I wanted was a hammer. What I didn’t know was, what kind of hammer I needed. Home Depot must have had 50 different kinds of hammers. hammers and medicare

All I wanted was to drive a few nails into some lumber.

Medicare is the same way, but different.

When you turn 65 and enter into the Medicare system for the first time it can be like my venture to Home Depot. It can be very overwhelming.

Feel free to browse around our Medicare “store” where you can shop and compare plans with one click in the comfort of your home.

medicareplansgeorgia

 

Home Depot knows hammers

Did you know there are claw hammers, tack hammers, ball pein hammers, cross pein hammers, club hammers, sledge hammers …………

The list goes on.

Fortunately for me there were people who knew how to help me. What kind of project am I doing? Am I handy with tools? Will there be other projects next year? How much can I afford to pay for a hammer? Do I need anything to go with my hammer, such as band-aids? Will I need an electric hammer or will a manual one work?

So many questions. Who knew that choosing a hammer would be so difficult?

The same is true with Medicare.

 

Choosing a Medicare plan is like picking out a hammer

cartoon medicare more complicated than rocket science When you turned 65 you probably talked to your friends about Medicare. What kind of plan did they have? Did they like it? Why did they buy it?

You also have received tons of stuff in the mail. Some from Medicare but most from insurance carriers pushing their plan.

Medicare used to be simple.

You turned 65. You went on Medicare. You picked out a supplement plan.

Now there are drug plans and Advantage plans. PPO’s, HMO’s, POS plans and more.

Let’s face it. You’re not in Kansas any more.

Too bad there’s not a Home Depot for Medicare.

 

No Home Depot, but you can get close

More like an Amazon for Medicare.

Georgia Medicare Plans is like shopping on Amazon for Medicare but with the personal service and expert advice you expect from a Home Depot.

Welcome to our “store”.

We welcome the DIY crowd at Georgia Medicare Plans. Feel free to look around, compare rates and plans. Make yourself at home.

We are here to help and answer any questions, but only if you need it. There is never any pressure to buy anything. You are free to enter and leave at your discretion, but we hope you will stay and ask a few questions.

Bob Vineyard has worked in the health insurance field since 1975 and specifically focused on Medicare for the last 5 years. We understand your frustrations.

You have questions. We have answers.

What is the difference in Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement? What is a Medigap plan? Do I need a drug plan if I don’t take any medications? Which plans are accepted by my doctor? Which plans pay better than others? Which ones do not require me to file a claim? Is Medicare supplement plan F better than a Medicare Advantage plan? Do I need a supplement plan to go with my Advantage plan?

We are like Home Depot and Amazon. Personalized help and online shopping.

 

May I help you?

The most dreaded words in retail.

Most of the time we look away and say “No thank you, I am just looking”. Never make eye contact. If you do you know to get ready for a sales pitch.

At Georgia Medicare Plans there are no sales pitches. We don’t pester you to make an appointment. I won’t come to your home. I won’t try to sell you something you don’t need or want.

Most people that turn 65 think they are shopping for a Medicare plan. bob on fb

They are wrong.

What they really need is someone that knows the Medicare system and can explain it in ways they can understand ………….. in 10 minutes or less ………….. over the phone.

You are not shopping for a plan. You are shopping for an agent. That’s me on the right, in the Chop House at Turner Field.

I am here to help.

And I won’t make you buy a hammer.