Medicare Open Enrollment 2019

Medicare Open Enrollment 2019. Shop Medicare supplement plans and Part D. New, lower Medigap premiums. Are higher drug costs coming in 2019?

Who is invited? Who should stay home?

Can anyone help navigate the Medicare maze?


Medicare Open Enrollment 2019

So much information. So much confusion. Medicare Open Enrollment is not for everyone, and certainly not for the faint of heat.

If you think you already have all the answers, don’t read this post. If you believe Medicare open enrollment is for everyone you will probably learn something.

Medicare AEP is not a casual stroll. For most people, this is the only time you can change your Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan.

Make a mistake and you will have to live with that decision for a year.


Be Prepared

Before you enter the annual election period, do this.

  • Make a list of all doctors including name, address, phone.
  • List all area hospitals, especially the ones you have used.
  • Make a list of all medications including dosage, refills, prescribing doctor and pharmacy.

Be aware of the donut hole and look for ways to avoid that trap. Make use of generics and off plan purchases.

Look for FDA approved generics and ask your doctor before making a change.


Part D Jungle

If renewing, get your drug list ID and password date from your last drug plan finder.

If renewing, study your ANOC for changes.

Use for reviewing Advantage and drug plan options.

Avoid using for PDP comparisons prior to October 25.


Review Medicare Supplement Options and the GA DOI site is essentially useless when comparing Medicare supplement options.

Most Medigap quote engines only list a handful of options and rarely have plans with the best value

Many quoting sites will sell your information to numerous agents; some don’t provide instant quotes

Never put anything on auto-renew unless you like unpleasant surprises.


Understand the Differences

Both Medigap and Advantage plans cover the same types of medical treatment, but what you pay out of pocket for your care, and where you receive your care, is very different.

Advantage plans are managed care plans. Some are PPO, some are HMO. In 2018 about half the plans are HMO with the balance being PPO.

If you receive non-emergency out of network care under a PPO you may have higher copay’s and deductibles. Your max OOP may also be higher. Some plans do not cap out of network charges.

Non-emergency out of network care charges may be denied if you have an HMO.


Medicare Advantage Considerations and Cancer

In 2018 most Advantage plans issued in Georgia limit your out of pocket for approved in network health care expenses to $6700.

The American Cancer Society tells us that more than half the 1.4 million new cancer diagnoses occur in people age 65 and older. Roughly 20% of retiree deaths are a result of cancer. Medicare pays for almost half of the $74 billion spent on cancer treatment. The elderly account for 70% of cancer deaths each year.

Some cancer centers, such as Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson do not participate in Medicare Advantage plans.

Not all cancer responds to chemotherapy, but 80% of cancers are treated with chemo. Those treatments occur in an outpatient setting and are covered under Medicare Part B.

Chemotherapy drugs administered in a doctor’s office or clinic normally fall under Part B. Medication from a retail pharmacy or by mail fall under your PDP.

This is why most of us chose a Medicare supplement plan in 2018. Bob Vineyard, independent Medicare insurance broker in Georgia, can explain your Georgia Medicare insurance options and will allow you to decide.

We represent several carriers including Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Humana and more.

According to the Mayo clinic, “new cancer treatments are routinely priced at over $100,000 per year of treatment.”

5 Medicare Open Enrollment Tips You Must Know

Understand how Medicare works. Open enrollment only comes around once a year. Take advantage of this time to review all your options.
#GeorgiaMedicarePlans #GAMedigapQuotes #Turning65
How does Medicare work? Open enrollment 2018


Medicare Open Enrollment 2019

Medicare 2019 Open Enrollment starts on October 15th and ends on December the 7th. Who is affected? How do you decide what to keep and what to change? Where can you get answers to your questions?Medicare Open Enrollment 2018

Don’t get distracted by the hype.

During this open enrollment many will want to offer advice but how do you know their opinions are useful? Can you really get solid, unbiased advice or are you at the mercy of scoundrels?

Let’s set the record straight and give you some guidelines about what you need to know and how to sort out good advice from bad.

Five Medicare Open Enrollment Tips You MUST Know

Medicare Open Enrollment 2019 – A Journey with a Purpose

Let’s start with the basics of Medicare 2019 open enrollment. One area that creates more confusion than anything else is changing Medicare supplement plans.

You can change your Medigap plan any time of the year. The annual enrollment period does not include Medicare supplement plans. Only Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans are included in open enrollment.

There is generally only one time when you can buy a Medigap plan without answering health questions. For most folks that is when they turn 65 and enroll in Medicare for the first time. Once you have been enrolled in Medicare Part B for 6 months you can change plans as long as you pass through underwriting.

If you have questions about your ability to change plans, give us a call. In less than 5 minutes you can learn if you are healthy enough to be approved or not. We will also be glad to quote Medicare supplement rates over the phone and email you a Medigap rate report like this one.

If you can change your supplement plan at any time of the year, what do I need to know about Medicare Open Enrollment 2018?

Medicare open enrollment allows you to change your Part D prescription drug plan, or your Medicare Advantage plan. Neither require medical underwriting with one exception. If you are currently in renal failure you cannot change Advantage plans.

At Georgia Medicare Plans our focus is strictly on finding the best Medigap coverage that fits your needs and budget. We also offer detailed advice on Part D and will guide you through the enrollment process.

We do not offer Medicare Advantage plans but we will refer you to an associate if you are convinced Advantage plans are right for you.


Medicare Drug Plans are Confusing

The most difficult part of my work is helping clients find the right drug plan that delivers the best value. Let’s look at how I handled a review for a new client.

Bill currently takes two different medications to control his cholesterol, Ezetimibe and Xarelto. While was covered under a group health insurance plan his Xarelto copay was $0. That goes away once he is covered by Part D.

Bill likes to take charge of things and his own review of drug plans led him to believe his best option was a plan with a monthly premium of $55.

I felt he could do better.

Both of these drugs are expensive. Ezetimibe has a retail price of $300 for a 30 day supply; Xarelto is $400.

2019 update – Ezetimibe is currently $12 with a GoodRx discount. 


Avoiding the Donut Hole

My analisys indicates he will enter the donut hole by the 4th month and his out of pocket drug costs will exceed $350 per month.

My suggestion was to drop Ezetimibe from his drug plan evaluation and purchase outside of Part D using GoodRx. His copay would be about the same as his drug plan but by removing the drug from the formulary calculation he is able to delay entering the donut hole to month 7 vs. the 4th month.

Can he avoid the donut hole completely?

As it turns out he can.

He can buy Ezetimibe through Blue Sky and lower his costs even more than using GoodRx. Before he enters the donut hole his Xarelto copay is $46. Once in the donut hole his copay more than triples. Copay’s for all drugs, not just the expensive ones, increases while in the donut hole. He can avoid the donut hole completely by purchasing his meds (except Ezetimibe) through the drug plan and then buying Xarelto from Blue Sky right before entering the donut hole.

Combining these suggestions he can choose a drug plan with a $22 monthly premium vs the $55 plan he would have picked on his own. Bill saves over $500 in prescription drug costs.


Medicare Drug Plans – Who is Advising You?

Where can you go for help and advice for drug plans during Medicare open enrollment 2018? Let’s run down the list.

  • You can do it on your own
  • You can call 1-800-MEDICARE
  • Ask a friend what they have
  • Choose the same plan you spouse has
  • Talk to a volunteer at Georgia Cares
  • Search online
  • Ask an insurance agent
  • Talk with your hair stylist

Obviously there are many choices but whatever route you take during Medicare open enrollment 2018 make sure you consider all of the following.

  • Start with the Medicare plan finder even if you are going to ask for advice
  • Next, record your Drug List ID number and Password Date for future reference
  • Be sure to consider lower cost generics where possible
  • Make sure you are including the lowest cost participating pharmacy’s*
  • Check generic pricing using GoodRx
  • Also check pricing at a Canadian pharmacy such as Blue Sky
  • Include star ratings in your evaluation
  • Don’t just assume the plan that worked well this year is your best choice for 2018
  • If you use an agent, make sure they are looking at ALL available plans, not just the one that compensates them
  • If you use 1-800-MEDICARE ask if they have suggestions on ways to save by purchasing drugs outside of Part D
  • Sometimes free advice is worth what you paid for it

*In 2017 Walgreen’s often has the lowest prices for medications. If your evaluations for this year did not include Walgeen’s as an option you probably never saw the lowest priced drug plans. Low price pharmacy’s change every year. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake for 2018.


Look for Medicare Supplement Premium Savings

At Georgia Medicare Plans we do things other agents fail to do. If an agent fails to offer you a free Medigap rate report are they showing you the best options for you or only the plans that pay them the most money?

Every prospective client receives this report for the plan(s) they are considering. Just ask. It’s that simple. We email your report  for review. Take time to study the report and form your questions. We are happy to help.

You have entered the “No Selling Zone”. Most of all, there is no pressure to buy but we do hope to earn your business. Call or email with questions, when you turn 65 or during the Medicare Open Enrollment 2019 dates.


#MedicareOpenEnrollment #MedicarePartD #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates #Turning65

5 Medicare Open Enrollment Tips You Must Know


Medicare open enrollment begins October 15 and ends at midnight December 7. There are at least 5 things you must know to avoid financial disaster.  You can be turning 65 and enrolling for the first time or have seen this movie before. Some people make the same mistakes over and over again without realizing the problem.

The next open enrollment is October 15, 2018.

If you think you already have all the answers, don’t read this post. If you believe Medicare open enrollment is for everyone you will probably learn something.

Did you know some parts of Georgia only have a few Medicare Advantage options but over 230 different Medicare supplement plans are available? Rather than “one-size-fits-all” you might be better suited to finding a plan that meets your needs and budget.


Post summary.

  • What you need before entering the open enrollment arena
  • Why you should never buy a drug plan from a stranger
  • Open enrollment isn’t for everyone
  • You may be denied a Medigap plan
  • Why you don’t want to auto-renew your drug plan or Advantage plan

Let the games begin!

Medicare Advantage – Oops I Made a Mistake

Medicare Open Enrollment Tips and Secrets

The first thing you need to know, Medicare open enrollment isn’t for everyone. Medigap plans never participate in open enrollment. No matter how well your drug plan served you this year it can turn into a nightmare next year.Medicare Open Enrollment

Be prepared!

Don’t buy a drug plan from a stranger. Don’t auto-renew anything.

Medigap plans are owned by you. A solid Medicare supplement plan will suit many well for years to come. Advantage plans are rented from year to year. The actual cost of the plan cannot be determined until you need it. By then it may be too late to change.

When in doubt, get advice. Even if you are confident, get advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, even when you don’t think you are lost.


If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going You Will Wind Up Somewhere Else

Before enrolling in Medicare at age 65 for the first time, or planning your next move during Medicare open enrollment, there are things you need to do first.

  • Make a list of all doctors including name, address, phone
  • List all area hospitals, especially the ones you have used
  • Make a list of all medications including dosage, refills, prescribing doctor and pharmacy
  • Be aware of the donut hole and look for ways to avoid that trap
  • Make use of generics and off plan purchases
  • Look for FDA approved generics and ask your doctor before making a change
  • If renewing, get your drug list ID and password date from your last drug plan finder
  • If renewing, study your ANOC for changes
  • Use for reviewing Advantage and drug plan options
  • Avoid using for drug plan comparisons prior to October 25
  • and the GA DOI site is essentially useless when comparing Medicare supplement options
  • Most Medigap quote engines only list a handful of options and rarely have plans with the best value
  • Many quoting sites will sell your information to numerous agents; some don’t provide instant quotes

Never put anything on auto-renew unless you like unpleasant surprises.


It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

It may seem like it, but just because you have been through open enrollment before doesn’t mean you got it right. In fact, most people get it wrong. Sometimes they eventually figure it out, sometimes not.

Putting your coverage on autopilot is one of the biggest mistakes people make.

Medicare Open EnrollmentAdvantage plans change every year even if the premium doesn’t. Doctors and hospitals leave the network. Copay’s and deductibles change. Most of the plans have increased the maximum out of pocket allowed by Medicare.

When your health changes your out of pocket charges can exceed $500 per month PLUS MEDICATION. At that point it is probably too late to change to a Medigap plan.

Drug plans change more than anything. It doesn’t matter if you have a stand alone Part D or a drug plan built into your Advantage plan. Your medication cost is almost guaranteed to increase over the current year.

Prescription drugs consume 25 – 30% of total annual health care costs. Your biggest savings can come from picking the right drug coverage.

Don’t buy a drug plan from an agent. Most will only show you the plans that pay them a commission. Good for them. Bad for you.

Don’t buy a drug plan from a carrier. They will only tell you what THEIR plan covers.

Don’t rely on a drug finder report for next year that is calculated before the end of October. It is rarely correct. Always keep a copy of the report including your drug list ID and password date. You may have to challenge the carrier if the formulary changes or ask Medicare for an SEP to move to another drug plan mid-year.


When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It

Some people are better off with original Medicare and a Medigap plan. Rarely will anyone be financially safe with Medicare alone.

Others are just fine with an Advantage plan.


One is not inherently better than the other, but one is a better choice for your future needs.

Don’t let anyone tell you one plan is better than the other. If they try to sell you something, walk away. You don’t need them.

Shameless plug follows.

Bob Vineyard and Georgia Medicare Plans won’t sell you anything, but he will help you to buy the plan that fits your needs and budget. No hard sell. We educate our clients, listen more than we talk, ask questions, offer advice and then let you decide.

People hate to be sold but they love to buy.

We don’t sell anything.

We are shamelessly biased in favor of Medigap plans. That’s what I bought. Ask most agents what they will buy when they are on Medicare. If they are honest most will say they will buy a Medigap plan.

If you want an Advantage plan, call Scott. I will give you his number and a recommendation. Just ask me.

We are happy to help you buy the plan that fits your needs and budget but only when you are ready. Sometimes we will even tell you to keep the plan you have.


I Knew I Was Going To Take The Wrong Train, So I Left Early

If you have a Medigap plan and want to change, you may be denied.

If you have an Advantage plan, and want to change to a Medigap plan, you may be denied.

Medigap does not have an open enrollment.

wrong trainThere are only a few ways to get a Medigap plan without medical underwriting. One is to sign up when you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare for the first time. For many, that will be their ONLY CHANCE to purchase a Medigap plan.

Another is to successfully pass medical underwriting.

In some situations you may have a guaranteed right to purchase a Medigap plan but you may not get the plan you want or can afford.

Medicare open enrollment is only for those with drug plans and Advantage plans. Everyone else that wants a Medicare supplement plan may have to settle for something less.

I talk to people every day that say they are healthy but will never qualify for a Medigap plan. I can tell you in 3 minutes or less if you can qualify.

Don’t waste your time chasing something you can’t get.


I Never Said Most Of The Things I Said

Some agents will tell you anything because they think that is what you want to hear. Your friends are great but don’t buy what they have because what they have may not be right for them and it may not be right for you either.

“All my friends have AARP Plan F and it pays for everything”.

Yes, it does. But all plan F’s pay for everything and most will charge you a lot less than AARP.lily_tomlin_ernestine

“I have a Medicare plan and it doesn’t cost me a dime”.

Just because you don’t pay a premium doesn’t mean your coverage is free. Advantage plans are great until you use them then you may find you can’t really afford them.

$0 premium is not the same as $o cost.

Which works better for you? $0 premium or $0 copay and $0 deductible?

We specialize in Medicare supplement plans. We have rates for over 170 different plans and will freely share information by phone or email. No one will come to your house. You don’t come to see us. Most people like it like that.

If you really want an Advantage plan, we won’t try and talk you out of it. That’s not our job. We have an agent that handles those things for us. He is very good and you can take what he says to the bank.

You can get an instant online quote on our site. Your information is never sold. The quote engine only has about 30 plans. If you want to know all your options just ask. We have nothing to hide. We will even give you rates from plans we don’t sell.

We want to make your life simple so you can get back to enjoying retirement and the grand kids.

No smoke.

No mirrors.

Just solid advice.

We want to earn your business. Is that too much to ask?

Medicare open enrollment isn’t for everyone but we can make it a lot easier.

Medicare Open Enrollment



#MedicareOpenEnrollment #MedicareSupplement #MedicareAdvantage #GeorgiaMedicarePlans

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 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 Open Enrollment 2015

The Medicare open enrollment 2015 edition opens October 15 and closes December 7. If you are turning 65 you will be making best medicare supplement plan Fdecisions along with 48 million retirees looking to change their plans. Significant Medicare changes are expected in 2016 so plan accordingly. Medicare premiums and deductibles will rise next year and so will Medicare supplement premiums, especially for Medigap plan F. Medicare Part D drug plan costs will move higher as the donut hole gradually closes before 2020 when it disappears completely.

Also, Medigap plan F will be retired in 2020. The result will be even higher prices for plan F than you see now. Don’t be roped into buying a plan that will soon be cost prohibitive.

Instant online GA Medigap quotes. Shop and compare up to 30 plans side by side.


Expect fewer Medicare Advantage plans, especially in rural Georgia. More PPO plans will go away and be replaced by HMO’s. Advantage premiums probably won’t change much but look for higher copay’s, higher deductibles and more plans will move to $6700 out of pocket maximum.

Keep in mind the MOOP (maximum out of pocket) only applies to IN NETWORK APPROVED claims (excluding drug costs).

Post summary:

  • What you need for open enrollment
  • Turning 65, new to Medicare, open enrollment not for you other than Part D
  • Losing employer retiree plan? Check out your options
  • Shopping online? We can guide you through the maze
  • Upcoming surgery? Medicare Advantage probably the wrong choice


Medicare Open Enrollment

All Medicare drug plans and Advantage plans run on a calendar year basis. Your current plan may or may not renew but whether it renews or not you need to be prepared for the Medicare open enrollment in 2015.

Here are a few pointers if you are new to Medicare or have been to this rodeo before.

  • Update your list of medications and dosages
  • Make a list of your doctors including name and address
  • Evaluate your health. Is it better or worse than last year?
  • Update your health care budget
  • Consider what you pay every month in premiums AND your out of pocket health care costs
  • Any planned surgeries or tests? You may save money having them done this year ….. or next.

More on planned surgeries coming up below in this post.


If You Are Turning 65

Turning 65? If you are not receiving Social Security, you need to sign up for Medicare A and possibly B. The easiest way is to go online using this link to Social Security.

happy birthday 65I did this in June. It took about 10 minutes. Three days later I received my Medicare letter and about 10 days after that my Medicare cards.

If you will be covered by an employer group plan you may not need Part B. However, you may need Medicare Part D if your current plan is not considered creditable.

If you have Medicare Part A, have been covered under an employer group plan and you want to enroll in Medicare Part B only you will need to complete forms CMS40B and CMSR297 then mail to Social Security or take it to their office for processing.

If you do not sign up for Part A when you turn 65 you may encounter delays and penalties in the future.


Losing Retiree Health Insurance

Many large companies including IBM, GE, UGA are terminating existing retiree health insurance and employees are being told to talk with consultants like Towers Watson and One Exchange.

If you are part of a group losing your retiree health plan there are things you need to know.

  • You may be required to purchase at least SOME coverage through the “exchange” to receive HRA monies
  • Most exchanges only show you a small sampling of plans in your area
  • The advisers are encouraged to push plans that pay a higher commission, even if that choice is to your detriment
  • Most of the Medigap plans on the private exchange are over-priced
  • Many times you can preserve your HRA bonus by purchasing Part D only through the exchange

There is no charge to consult with Georgia-Medicare Plans. You can run quotes on our website through this link and we will also email information on the lowest priced Medigap plans in your area.

Medicare open enrollment is your chance to shop and compare.


Shopping for Medicare Supplement Plans

Instant online rates are available for about 30 different GA Medigap plans through our quote engine. You may find that helpful but the real savings may lie among the more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia.confused senior medicare

Online quote engines are limited to half a dozen carriers. We have Medigap rates for over 30 different carriers.

Some carriers offer lower non-tobacco rates to tobacco users when you meet the criteria. A few carriers have household discounts of up to 7% but many times the savings are mostly smoke and mirrors.

It doesn’t matter if you are new to Medicare or feel you have been given bad advice in the past, we are ready to listen to your concerns. There is never any obligation to buy from us (although we do hope we are given a chance to earn your trust) nor is there a charge for our time.

We have the same plans and rates you can get direct from the carriers. The difference is you don’t have to press 1 for English and you benefit from our 40 years in the industry.

Use this Medicare open enrollment time wisely. Others talk, we listen


Planned Surgery and Medicare

If you anticipate having major surgery within the next 12 months or so, you need to make the right choice when turning 65.

It doesn’t matter if you are having a joint replaced or eye surgery. Enrolling in a $0 premium plan is probably not your best option. Most newly minted Medicare beneficiaries will be much better off with a $0 copay, $0 deductible plan than a $0 premium plan.

With a $0 premium plan the insurance carrier picks your doctor and hospital for you.

With a $0 premium plan you are responsible for the lions share of the cost of your care.

Once you pick a $0 premium plan you may never again have the option of buying a Medicare supplement plan. The annual Medicare open enrollment period only applies to drug plans and Advantage plans. Following your initial enrollment period you may only enroll in a Medigap plan by going through underwriting. This initial enrollment time may be your only chance to pick a Medicare supplement plan.

Choose wisely.

Medicare shop and compare



#MedicareOpenEnrollment #Turning65  #MedicareSupplementPlanF

4 Money Saving Tips for Medicare Open Enrollment

4 money saving tips that can save you $1,000 per year or more with little or no effort on your part. No coupons to clip. No standing in line to make an money saving tipsexchange. All of these money saving tips can be done from the comfort of your home in a matter of minutes.

Our best money saving tips involve changing the way you buy your medications, and enrolling in a different Medicare supplement plan. Our clients save an average of $450 per year by keeping the same plan but changing carriers. Save even more with nominal cost sharing.

Click to shop and compare Medigap plans and rates.

Medigap rates are increasing in January. Apply before 11/15/14 and lock in today’s lower rates.



Money saving tip #1

Change your plan.

This is Medicare open enrollment. From now through December 7th you can change your drug plan or Medicare Advantage with a simple phone call or online enrollment.

For many people, their drug plan is the most expensive part of their health care expenditure. It doesn’t matter if your drug coverage is embedded in your Advantage plan or if you have a stand alone Part D plan, drugs, and how you pay for them, are expensive.

Here are just a few money saving tips to consider

  • Don’t run all your medications through your drug plan
  • Consider buying online such as through a Canadian pharmacy
  • Change your pharmacy
  • Consider a drug discount card
  • Order maintenance med’s in 90 day refills
  • Use mail order when possible
  • Switch to generics
  • Look for free medications

pharmacyIf you hit expect to hit your donut hole consider buying some of your medications without using your drug plan. The 2015 donut hole kicks in when the retail cost of your drugs hits $2960.

Obamacare eliminates the donut hole by 2020.

Sounds great, but here is how it is accomplished.

You pay more.

In 2014 you must have $6,455 in covered drug charges to hit the catastrophic level.

In 2015 that amount is $6,680, plus your copay’s in the catastrophic level increase as well.

And your premiums will rise in most cases, as will your total out of pocket costs for medications.

Canadian pharmacy’s are a great way to save money. We have recommended (and personally used) the same pharmacy for over 10 years.

If you are buying locally at a retail pharmacy consider making a change. Using a different pharmacy can save you anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred dollars a year. One local pharmacy is almost always lower than any other in your area.

Drug discount cards are normally a waste but we have found the discount card from Needy Meds to be superior to any other card.

If you are taking Amlodipine, Lisinopril or Metformin, did you know you can get these for free? Check out your local Publix pharmacy. Ask them to price your other drugs to.

Then pick up a steak to celebrate your new found savings.


Money saving tip #2

Change your plan.

If you have a Medicare supplement plan you are probably paying too much. At any particular age and zip code, prices for plan F can vary by $100 per month plan for even more. All plans with the same letter are identical in every way except price.

When you pay more you don’t get more you simply paid too much.

More money saving tips.

The plan with the lowest price today may not be a good value next year. Currently Manhattan Life and Omaha Insurance Company are using low, introductory rates to write business.

Neither carrier has a 5 year renewal rate history.

We NEVER recommend a plan or a carrier that has not established themselves for at least 5 years in the Medigap market.

Buy the low price now and run the risk of a double digit rate increase next year.

Or pay a few dollars more for long term rate stability. We have clients that have never moved their plan (or had reason to) in 4 years time.

We also never recommend plan F. Changing to G or N, with the right carrier, can save another $600 or more AND offer more rate stability.


Money saving tip #3

Change your carrier.

plan nIf you have a Medigap plan from Blue Cross or one of the Mutual of Omaha carriers we can almost guarantee you a savings of $40 to $90 per month or more.

Sometimes you can save even more by switching your Medicare Advantage plan.

Too often retirees look only at the Advantage premiums and the add-on benefits such as dental, vision and gym memberships. The REAL cost of an advantage plan is in what YOU pay for your health care.

Your built in drug plan can be a money hole. We recently ran a report for a diabetic client and found the Advantage plan he wanted would have cost him almost $6,000 more for his drugs vs a different plan he had never considered.


Because only half his doctors were in network with plan “B”.

For a few dollars more we showed him a Medigap plan that allowed him to keep ALL his doctors, have less out of pocket than either Advantage plan, and pay less for his med’s than either Advantage plan.

All totaled he saved almost $100 per month in out of pocket costs and had less headache than the Advantage plan.

We had a similar situation with a client’s drug plan. Read “Lassie cant’ find a Medicare plan


Money saving tip #4

Review your drug coverage, and change your agent. If you got this far your current agent isn’t doing you a favor.

People who buy Advantage plans almost never bother to check pricing on their medication. If their doctor is in network, and their drugs are covered, they stop there.

Never, ever, ever buy a plan without comparing your actual cost for medications.

This is generally a lot easier with a Medigap and separate Part D prescription drug plan. When you have original Medicare, a supplement and a drug plan you can build the kind of coverage you need from scratch. With Advantage plans you take what is in stock on the shelf.

Either it fits or it doesn’t.

No tailoring allowed.

Georgia Medicare supplement rates


Money saving tips

These tips can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars each year, but you must act now.

The last day to apply for an Advantage plan or drug plan is December 7, 2014.

The last day to apply for a Medigap plan at 2014 pricing is November 15, 2014. We are taking applications now for December, January and February.


#medicareopenenrollment  #medicareannualelectionperiod

Medicare Open Enrollment Rate News

Medicare open enrollment for 2014 is almost half way over. Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in affordable Medigap plans to fit almost every budget.  Medicare open enrollment rate news


Medicare Open Enrollment Medigap Rates

Who is raising rates for 2014 and how much? Which carrier recently dropped rates, but only for NEW policyholders? Which big name carrier recently pulled their Medicare supplement plans off the market and what does this mean for those left behind? How do you find the most affordable Medigap plans? Which supplement plans are available for diabetics? Why is a dog on this page?

 GA Medigap Quotes

Medigap Rates You Won’t See Anywhere Else

You can find Medicare supplement rates online almost anywhere, but if you want REAL SAVINGS, you have to know where to look.

Most Medigap carriers and agents will only show you Medicare supplement plan F. Why is that? If you don’t know the answer you are talking to the wrong person.

Most agents will show you rates from the number one Medigap carrier in Georgia (Blue Cross) and the number two carrier (Mutual of Omaha). Why?

They have some of the highest rates and that generates the biggest payday for the agent.

The agent that only shows you plan F, and only shows you Blue or Omaha, is thinking more about their wallet, not yours.

We are not afraid to show you lower rates, even when we earn a lower service fee. We will show you how to save real money by picking something OTHER THAN plan F.

We also share the secrets of saving money on your medications even though we earn $0 for those recommendations.

We have the LOWEST Medigap rates anywhere and know more ways to put more money in your pocket.

But here is the catch.

You have to ask.


Medicare Open Enrollment and Supplement Rates on the Rise

Two carriers recently announced rate increases for 2014. Normally we don’t have this information until late November or early December.

One carrier will be increasing rates 8% which in the big scheme of things, isn’t bad. Their typical increase in the past has been in the 13% range.

Now the bad news.

Their two most popular plans are no longer available.

More bad news.

If you own a policy from this carrier, even if you bought it last month, your rates are increasing 8%.

The other Medigap carrier is raising rates by 6% on their most popular plan. If you bought one of their plans in 2013 your first year rates will still hold until your policy anniversary.

There is still time to lock in the 2013 low rates but you need to apply BEFORE 11/15/2013

Shop and compare up to 40 plans in 60 seconds.

GA Medigap Quotes


Only one of these carriers allow their rates to be quoted online. Call or email if you need a personalized quote showing the four best plans that fit your budget. Be sure to include valid contact information (phone & email) as well as your DOB and zip code.

We recently showed one Georgia couple how to save over $1700 per year by swapping their Mutual of Omaha Medicare supplement plan F to a different plan. I can’t guarantee you that much savings, but we rarely disappoint. As they say on TV, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more.

Medicare Supplement Rates Drop?

Believe it or not, one carrier recently DROPPED their rates an average of 23% . . . but only for NEW policyholders.

Existing policyholders that bought in September, 2013 or earlier still pay the old, higher rates unless they re-applied.

This big name company swaps carriers about every 3 years and pulls this same stunt.

The recent rate and name change was so sudden that most quote engines (including ours) have not yet updated to include the new rates. But we have a private (offsite) quote engine with plans from over 30 carriers.

By the time you read this their rates MAY be loaded for review at Georgia Medigap Quotes. If not, you can always call or email for a personalized proposal.


Which Big Name Carrier Ducked Out of the Medigap Business?

AFLAC gave up the ghost in September. They are still around and offering cancer plans and such, but no more Medicare supplement plans.

This time around that ride lasted about 16 months but not before they raised rates for policyholders.

Their departure is not a qualifying event so you are not eligible for a guaranteed issue transition to a different carrier. But the good news is, we have several carriers that will issue policies if you are in overall good health. Many diabetics can pick up a new policy with a carrier that is expected to stay in the market for a long time.

If you own an AFLAC plan, shop and compare your rates or give us a call.


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So why is the dog on this page?

I thought he was cute.

First Timer’s Guide to Medicare 2018

Do you need a first timer’s guide to Medicare? It doesn’t matter if  you are turning 65 and this is your first time in Medicare or you are an “old hand” looking at the 2018 Medicare open enrollment period, you probablyfirst timers guide to medicare need help. Which is better? Original Medicare and a Medigap plan or Medicare Advantage? How much do you really know, and how much do you think you know? How do you avoid buying the wrong plan or paying too much?

The knowledge gap can be frightening.


Why You Need a First Timer’s Guide to Medicare

If you don’t ask the right questions you will not get the answers you need. How do you know the information you have is accurate? The Medicare site is comprehensive but is not always up to date or accurate.

In talking with “first timer” Janet she recently visited the Medicare site and to her surprise, there were only 4 Medigap carriers listed in her zip code.

There are over 30 carriers that write Medicare supplement plans in Georgia and those plans are available in every county and zip code throughout the state.  With 11 unique standardized plans and that many carriers it is easy to become overwhelmed.

If you are going to shop and compare Medicare supplement plans and rates less than a dozen allow their rates to be posted online. We invite you to use Georgia Medicare Plans free quote engine to shop and compare up to 40 plans in 60 seconds or less.

GA Medigap Quotes

We also have access to over 200 plans offline and will be glad to provide you a side by side comparison of rates so you can be assured of getting the best possible rate for plans that meet your needs and budget.

Most people want information but they also need answers to questions about Medicare when you are 65+.

If this is your first time buying health insurance the task can be daunting.

Bob Vineyard has been helping people navigate the maze of choices, plans and rates since 1975. If he can’t help you, no one can.


First Timers Guide to Medigap or Medicare Advantage

One of the most difficult challenges for newcomers to Medicare is which path to take. Should you go with original Medicare and a supplement plan or venture off into Advantage land?

Affordability is an issue but most people simply look at the lower premiums on Advantage plans and never realize the true cost of Advantage plans. Budgeting the premium is easy. The hard part is figuring out what you will pay when you get sick or injured.

I always tell people that Advantage plans are great until you need them, but when your health changes and you need medical help will you have the money and ability to navigate the system? You can minimize your out of pocket costs by only picking from the list of doctors and hospitals provided by your Medicare Advantage carrier. Go outside the network and you will find that you have little coverage or none at all meaning you have to come up with several thousand dollars that may not be in your budget.

That won’t happen with a good Medigap plan. You know almost to the penny how much you will have to pay for medical services and you are free to use any doctor or hospital anywhere in the United States.


Medicare Supplement – Don’t Get Ripped Off

Do you know how easy it is to pay too much for your Medicare supplement plan? You are about to find out.

Carl signed up for Medicare 4 years ago when he turned 65. Based on the recommendation of a friend, he bought a Blue Cross of Georgia Medicare supplement plan F. At $139 per month it seemed like a good price for a plan that covered everything approved by Medicare Part A and Part B. He was told his BCBSGA plan would be readily accepted by any doctor or hospital throughout Georgia.

medicare supplement - don't get ripped offThat part was true, but what Carl did not know was that ALL Georgia doctors that accept Medicare assignment will treat him and take his Medigap coverage regardless of  the carrier.

That same plan today costs him over $200 per month and will increase to $181 in January.

Medicare supplement plan F could have been purchased from a different carrier for $104 in 2010 and today the premium would be $128. That’s  LESS than his cost of coverage from four years ago!

Don’t get ripped off! Make the wrong decision today and you will pay for that mistake over and over again for a very long time.

When Carl first bought his plan he was in good health. Today he has a heart condition and is facing surgery to correct coronary artery blockage. Because of impending surgery he is not able to change to a lower premium plan at this time.

The only consolation is, with his Medicare supplement plan F he should not have to pay a dime for his health care.

Carl could have used a first timer’s guide to Medicare. With our help he would have saved a lot of money over the years.

When you shop and compare Medigap plans with us you not only have instant access to top plans and rates but you will learn how seniors that bought a plan from Mutual of Omaha in September 2013 would have saved over $30 per month by simply waiting until October to buy the exact same plan.


#NavigatingMedicareMaze #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates #MedigapPlanF #MedicareSupplementPlanF

2013 Medicare Open Enrollment | What Do I Need to Know?

Your 2013 Medicare open enrollment is coming soon. What do you need to know? Who is eligible for the 2013 Medicare annual open enrollment? 2013 Medicare open enrollment

Is the 2013 Medicare open enrollment the only time  I can buy or change Medicare plans? Can I change my Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan during the annual enrollment period? Am I required to buy new Medicare Advantage coverage or a new Medicare Part D policy?

UPDATED 11/19/2013 – Blue Cross and New Era increased rates for 2014. Blue is raising rates 8%, New Era by 6%. New Era is still the one to beat in most situations. Mutual of Omaha RAISED rates by 8% on existing United of Omaha policyholders (2nd increase this year) then a month later introduced Omaha Insurance Company (for new applicants) with rates that average 23% less than United of Omaha for the same plan.

Are you tired of carriers playing games? Shop and compare now.

Shop and Compare Medicare supplement insurance rates

2013 Medicare Open Enrollment

The 2013 Medicare open enrollment is for the 2014 plan year for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D drug plans only. If you have or want a Medicare supplement plan you can do that at any time during the year.

During the 2013 Medicare open enrollment you can buy a new Advantage plan or drug plan if you wish.

If you currently have an Advantage plan or drug plan, you definitely should review your plan to see if you need to make a change. Some Medicare Advantage plans will no longer be offered in your area and you must pick a new plan or else you will be automatically enrolled in original Medicare.

If you enroll in original Medicare because of losing your current Advantage plan you have a GUARANTEED RIGHT to enroll in a Medigap plan with any carrier without going through medical underwriting.

If you choose to change your Part D drug plan there is no medical underwriting. Anyone can change their drug plan, or enroll for the first time during the 2013 Medicare open enrollment period.


Who is Eligible for Open Enrollment?

If you are currently enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, you are eligible to participate in the 2013 open enrollment period. You can buy a new Advantage plan or, in some cases, purchase a Medigap plan without medical underwriting.

Medicare Advantage plans change every year, often in very subtle ways. Your premiums may rise but that is not the only way you are affected.

Most Advantage plans have doctor and hospital networks. Providers that were IN network in 2013 may not be in network in 2014.

Also copay’s, deductibles and coinsurance often changes from one year to the next. Your maximum out of pocket may change dramatically. Keep in mind your policy out of pocket maximum only applies to covered in network charges and do not include your prescription drug costs.

Even if your medications have not changed since last year, you should compare the formulary drugs on your current MAPD or stand alone drug plan to the new formulary for 2014. Drugs covered under your plan in 2013 may not be covered on the same plan in 2014 or your copay may have increased significantly.


Can I Change Medigap Coverage During Open Enrollment?

You can make a change to your Medicare supplement plan at ANY TIME during the year. Many are under the impression the ONLY time they can change is during the 2013 Medicare open enrollment period.  You can change your Medigap plan now if you wish.

If you want to buy a new Medicare supplement plan, choose wisely.


Medigap Premiums Vary Considerably

Most carriers do not publish their rates online. Most carriers require you to invite an agent into your home if you want rates and information. Most agents will not quote you a rate by phone or send a proposal by email. Many agents will only quote one plan with one carrier (usually Blue Cross or Mutual of Omaha) and will not tell you about money saving options.

Medicare supplement rates cover a wide range for the same plan.

Medicare supplement plan F for a female, age 65 can range anywhere from $115 per month to $217.

Why would you pay more than you need to? When you pay more you don’t get more, you simply paid too much.

Click now to shop and compare Medigap plans and rates. Up to 40 plans in 60 seconds.


Looking for the Most Affordable Medicare Supplement Plans?

You will not find low cost Medigap plans online, no matter how hard you look.


Last week Audrey contacted me about Medicare supplement plans. She had just turned 65 and had decided on plan F from Mutual of Omaha.audrey

Turning 65, she was constantly receiving phone calls and mail offering information about Medicare supplement plans. Most of her friends told her Medicare supplement plan F was the best plan. Many suggested Mutual of Omaha, so she took their advice and applied for coverage with Mutual of Omaha.

After all, her friends won’t steer her wrong, will they?

Not intentionally . . .

But consider this. Her friends have bought a Medicare supplement plan for the FIRST TIME. This is not like buying a car or a house which most of us have done several times over our 65+ years on this earth. How many car buyers do you know that found the perfect car at the right price the very first time?

How did your first car purchase go? Was it a great car that lasted and never gave you any problems? Did you ever wonder if you paid too much?

Audrey was having second thoughts about the plan she bought, so she called me.

I explained that Mutual of Omaha (United of Omaha in Georgia) is a fine company but is a bit overpriced. The plan F she wanted from Mutual of Omaha is currently $179. That same plan was $132 in 2010.

She can buy plan F today from several carriers that have a much lower price than Mutual of Omaha and the best rate today for her is $115.

Why pay $179 for the exact same plan you can get for $115?

She can change plans at any time but what else can she do with the $64 monthly savings that would benefit her?


One More Thing About Mutual of Omaha . . .

In a few days you will no longer be able to buy a United of Omaha Medicare supplement plan in Georgia. United of Omaha will still be around but NEW applicants looking for insurance from the Mutual of Omaha group will instead be offered a plan from Omaha Insurance Company.

That plan that Audrey bought just a few weeks ago for $179 is now available from Omaha insurance for $149.

Same plan.

Same parent company.

$30 less.

Do you care to guess what will happen to Georgia seniors that have United of Omaha Medigap plans? If you think their rates will go down you are wrong. Instead, their rates will continue to go up and up and up.

But why pay $179 or even $149 when you can have the exact same plan for as little as $115?


When you are weighing your options for the 2013 Medicare open enrollment, make sure you understand all that impacts you.

The 2013 Medicare open enrollment is only for Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans.

You can change your Medigap plan at ANY time during the year. When you shop and compare Medicare supplement plans you do not have to invite strangers into your home. You can compare plans from the comfort of your home as long as you know where to look and understand the most affordable Medigap plans are NOT found online.

Universal Medicare Advantage Halts New Sales

Universal Medicare Advantage plans are no longer marketed in ANY service area. The Georgia Dept. of Insurance issued a cease and desist order against Universal Medicare Advantage plans in November, 2011, so this was not unexpected.

Financially struggling Universal Health Care, once among the fastest-growing companies in St. Petersburg, warned agents that it has stopped marketing its Medicare services in all areas effective immediately.

The notice, which did not include a reason, could threaten the survival of the managed care company. Universal has already been losing members after being billed as a “consistent poor performer” by the federal government, which suggested in a letter to Medicare recipients in the fall that they consider shopping around for other options.

Tampa Bay Times

Universal Medicare Advantage plans have been popular in Georgia and other states due to the low premiums . . . perhaps a bit too low.

Scrutiny over Universal’s finances has been building. Regulators in two states (including GA) have already cracked down. And in December, the company laid off at least 100 employees at its downtown St. Petersburg offices in part because of disappointing sales during the fall open enrollment period for Medicare.

Rumors were spreading which possibly impacted new sales.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, who signed the consent order in November, cited the company’s net loss of more than $27 million in 2011 and its loss of $22.1 million in the first six months of 2012 as the trigger. Potentially, Universal faced $45 million in annual losses if one extrapolates the first half results, he said at the time.

On Dec. 18, the Ohio Department of Insurance followed suit. The company was found in violation of state laws in reporting a net loss greater than 20 percent of its $41 million surplus for the 12 months ended Sept. 30.

Georgia seniors with Medigap plans don’t have to worry. Any doctor that accepts Medicare assignment will also accept your Medicare supplement plan, regardless of the carrier.

There are many safeguards built in to Medicare products. If your Medicare Advantage carrier terminates coverage due to financial reasons you have a guaranteed right to purchase a Medigap policy without subjecting to medical underwriting.

Georgia Medicare Plans has the lowest Medigap rates in the state. Get a Medigap quote today.