Free and Low Cost Prescription Drugs

Medicare resource for free and low cost prescription drugs. Are you 65 or older and can’t afford your medications? Paying too much for generics? Medicare’s annual election period, commonly referred to as open enrollment, is the only time of year when anyone can change their Medicare Part D plan.How to find free and low cost prescription drugs

Many seniors mistakenly believe Medicare open enrollment allows them to change their Medicare supplement plan without answering health questions. The truth is, you can drop your existing Medigap plan and purchase a new one any time of year, as long as you can pass medical underwriting.

The cost of prescription medications has steadily risen since 2006 when Medicare Part D was created. Some generic drugs that were once considered affordable are now out of reach. Many of these medications now reach $200 or more.

Help is on the way.

 

How to Find Low Cost or Free Prescription Drugs

Finding low cost or free medications can be challenging if you don’t know where to look.

For many, an even bigger challenge is finding a Medicare prescription drug plan that is right for you. Fortunately there are many articles and sites on the internet providing a treasure trove of information, if you only knew where to look.

One such site is VeryWell, a health and information site owned by the folks at About.com. Earlier this year they published an article titled Stores that Offer Free and Low Cost Prescription Drugs.

We found the page while searching for one of our Medicare clients that was having trouble paying for her medications. She has Part D, but that was not enough. VeryWell’s article listed national and regional chain stores where you can save a lot of money on prescription drugs. Here is a partial list.

  • Costco
  • Kroger
  • Publix
  • Walmart
  • Sam’s

Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s allow anyone to purchase prescription drugs even if they are not members. The hope is visitors will see other things where they can save money and will purchase a membership.

Costco also has a branded Visa card with an annual cash back reward for purchases at Costco including gasoline. The card can be used anywhere so your annual “dividend” can multiply with almost every purchase.

 

Rising Medicare Supplement Rates

Many retirees on a fixed income are also finding their Medigap premiums rising to the point where budgets are squeezed. Georgia Medicare plans offers a free, no obligation way to shop and compare Georgia Medigap rates in the comfort of your home.

Using our search engine you can compare about 30 popular plans, compare benefits and rates side by side.

We also offer a more comprehensive research report showing over 200 Georgia Medicare supplement plans and rates.

Your information is never sold. There is never any charge for the report. We do hope to earn your business and believe many will appreciate our no pressure approach.

 

Even More Ways to Find Low Cost Drugs

For over 20 years we have shown our clients how to save money on prescription drugs. Many drug discount plans are worthless and often you will pay a higher price than you normally would by just paying cash.

GoodRx is an exception to the rule.

Last year I needed to refill a prescription for Clobetasol to tame the itch of eczema. A tube normally lasts about 18 months and it normally is less than $20.

However I was shocked to learn the price with my Part D drug plan was going to be $92.

I left the store without taking my prescription with me. By using the GoodRx drug finder I was able to purchase the cream at a competing pharmacy for only $27!

Another resource is Blue Sky Drugs, a reputable Canadian pharmacy. Current pricing for Clobetasol is even lower than GoodRx.

 

How to Find Inexpensive Prescription Medications

Many people who live in rural areas may only have a few places where they can fill their presciptions. The folks at NeedyMeds offer a wealth of information when searching for free and low cost prescription drugs. They also have PAP’s (patient assistant programs) for many of the newer, high priced brand names.

The NeedyMeds $4 Prescription Drug Finder lists savings plans in alphabetical order by pharmacy name.

Some places, such as Publix grocery stores, offer FREE prescription medications.

Below is a partial list of free and low cost prescription drug resources. Grocery chains

  • Publix
  • Kroger
  • Winn Dixie

Many national drug stores have their own promotional plans for saving money on generic drugs.

  • CVS / Target
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens

Another resource for locating low cost prescription drugs in the US and Canada is Pharmacy Checker. Enter the name of your medication in the box and start the search.

If you need or want to save money on your medications (who doesn’t?) there are plenty of ways to lower your costs.

Our FREE annual review during Medicare open enrollment saves our clients hundreds or even thousands of dollars vs. their current drug plan. Two of our Medicare supplement clients will save over $4,000 next year by switching Part D plans and pharmacy’s.

We can’t guarantee you will save that much but many times the drug plan savings alone is enough to cover the cost of your Medicare supplement premium.

Need to save money on prescription drugs? Ask us. We can help.

 

#FreeLowCostPrescriptionDrugs #MedicareSupplementRates  #MedicarePartD  #MedicareOpenEnrollment

 

 

 

Does Medicare Pay For Glucose Monitors?

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM’s) are life savers for many insulin dependent diabetics. Medicare does cover diabetic supplies and medications but it is the way those items are covered that can be confusing. Not all diabetics need a pump. Not all diabetics that need a pump need a CGM. Some are able to manage their disease with either oral medication or by injection.

CGM Continuous Glucose Monitor CGM

If your doctor certifies to Medicare that you meet their criteria for an insulin pump then maybe Medicare will cover the device.

Or maybe they won’t.

And Medicare might pay for some glucose monitor’s but not for others.

Confused?

Read on.

 

CGM’s and Medicare

A CGM can be an insulin pump but not all insulin pumps are CGM’s.

In insulin pump is an implantable device used to administer insulin rather than using a syringe and needle. Pumps can be programmed to release small doses of insulin in much the same way as your pancreas does. By delivering “mini” doses of medicine the need for long acting insulin is eliminated.

A Continuous Glucose Monitor continuously measures your glucose levels but not your blood glucose levels.

Medicare covers therapeutic CGM’s but not adjunctive CGM’s.

 

Medicare Part B and Part D

Insulin is covered under Medicare Part D (drug plans) unless it is covered by Part B.

Screening for diabetes is covered by Medicare Part B . . . unless you need more than two screenings per year.

Medicare Part B pays for glucose monitors, lancet’s, test strips and most other Durable Medical Equipment (DME) but they do limit the quantity and how often you can get these supplies.

If you use insulin Medicare covers up to 300 test strips and lancets every 3 months. But if you do not use insulin Medicare covers up to 100 test strips and lancets every 3 months.

Apparently Medicare believes you do not need to test your blood sugar as often if you are not insulin dependent.

Medicare Part D covers insulin unless it is covered by Part B.

Medicare may pay for Continuous Glucose Monitor sensor’s but only if your monitor is a specific brand. Sensors are devices planted under the skin to monitor and relay information about your glucose levels.

Medicare has approved the Dexcom G5 CGM but only if you use the receiver that comes with your device but not if you use a smart phone app.

Do you really think Medicare will track everyone who has a Dexcom G5 to see if they are checking their glucose on their smart phone? And why should Medicare care if you use your smart phone or not?

Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan in many cases your plan will pay 80% of the cost of your pump or CGM and you will pay the remaining 20%. Monitors run anywhere from $1000 to $1400 plus another $300 or so each month for sensors. And you will need a battery that is changed about once a year or so. They run around $500.

With an Advantage plan your out of pocket costs can get expensive over the course of a year.

Medicare Advantage plans are purposely designed to maximize your out of pocket expense while minimizing the carriers out of pocket.

For those with original Medicare and a supplement plan your out of pocket cost for a pump and approved continuous glucose monitor can be $0 if you have Medigap plan F.

And let’s not forget insulin.

Many Advantage plans run your insulin through the drug plan portion of your coverage.

Unless your Advantage plan does not cover prescription drugs. Then your insulin may still be allocated to Part D. Insulin under Part D can run $300 – $500 monthly depending on the type of insulin and dosage. It also varies by where you are in regard to the donut hole.

 

Medigap and Your Diabetes

Under original Medicare, if you have a pump, with or without a CGM, your insulin is covered by Part B. That means your out of pocket cost could be $0 for the year if you have a Medigap plan.

The BEST time to purchase a Medicare supplement plan is when your Part B goes into effect and you are turning 65 or older.

Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in helping seniors find Medicare supplement plans with the lowest premiums in their area. Our exclusive report shows you every Medigap plan in your area based on your age and gender. No need to waste time searching for the best rates. We shop, you compare. Call or email.

You can also run your own Medigap quotes from the comfort of your home.

CGM Monitors - Georgia Medicare Supplement Rates

You have questions. We have answers. Never any selling.

 

#CGM #ContinuousGlucoseMonitor #DexcomG5#InsulinPump #MedicareDiabetes #MedicareDiabeticCoverage #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates

 

Medicare Drug Plan Fail

Medicare drug plans fail when you least expect it. I remember it well. It was sunny and warm. After leaving my dermatologist and stopping by the drug store to pick up my new prescription my Medicare drug plan failed me.

Right there in the pharmacy. I was betrayed by my Humana drug plan.

It was humiliating. Medicare drug plan fail

Trusting my Medicare drug card was a costly mistake. It had never let me down before but today was different.

I felt cheated.

I followed all the rules. Used generic medications to save money vs. brand names. Every year during Medicare open enrollment I faithfully checked to see if I had the best Medicare Part D. The one with the lowest drug out of pocket cost.

This was a new prescription for a medication I use only when needed. It is only filled once a year or so. In the past the medication never cost more than $20, but today it was $92.

I had the money, but I knew something was wrong. Had my drug card gone over to the dark side? Was I being ripped off?

I walked out without my prescription.

 

When Your Medicare Drug Plan Fails You

Prior to 2006 Medicare beneficiaries usually had to pay full price for their prescription drugs. Then things changed.

For some people, Medicare Part D was a godsend. For others it was the work of the devil.  These are times when your Medicare drug plan can fail you.

  • Many PAP’s (Patient Assistance Programs) are not available if you have a Medicare drug plan
  • You take a brand name drug and a generic is available, your drug plan probably won’t help
  • Your doctor prescribes a new drug in the middle of the year, you may be paying too much for your new medication
  • You fill a prescription that you only take once in a while
  • You assume all pharmacy’s charge the same price
  • You buy an OTC medication with a prescription
  • When you are not aware of the best price available
  • You assume your Medicare drug plan is giving you the best price every time

Too often retirees automatically use their Part D card and never consider they might be paying too much. They don’t know where to look or don’t bother to research. They assume they are always getting the best price.

Some drugs are covered by Medicare Part B. If you have original Medicare and a good Medigap plan your out of pocket cost could be $0 instead of hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.

Most people we talk to are paying too much for their Medicare supplement plan. With over 240 different Medigap plans you probably didn’t see the best pricing.

Georgia Medigap Rates - Instant Quotes

Regardless of the excuse, they are wrong and are spending money that could have been kept in their pocket.

 

Medicare Drug Price Transparency

Unlike most other health care, prescription drugs have almost 100% transparency.

If you know where to look.

Here are some general tips for controlling medication costs.

  • Run a free Medicare drug report every year when you receive your ANOC (annual notice of change)
  • Consider using a different pharmacy and if possible, use only preferred pharmacy’s
  • Learn how to manage your drug costs and avoid the donut hole
  • Ask if you qualify for Medicare Extra Help
  • Consider using a discount drug card
  • Save money by using mail order, especially from Canadian pharmacy’s
  • Never fill a new prescription without first checking prices

Medicare Part D is the most complex and confusing aspect of Medicare. If you don’t understand your plan, and how to use it, you will definitely pay too much.

 

How I Saved Over $60 on One Medication

I run reports for my Medigap clients all the time. Almost every time we find ways to save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars over the course of a year.

Some clients have been taking OTC medications for years but paying a pharmacist to fill their prescription. On more than one occasion clients are paying over $100 per month for a cholesterol medication that could be bought off the shelf or online. A years supply of this drug is available from Amazon for less than $30. Compare that to paying over $1500 per year for the exact same medication.

Others will needlessly go into the donut hole. Had they managed where and when they bought their prescription the donut hole could have been avoided completely.

In my case the $92 fill at CVS was available across the street for $27.

When will your Medicare prescription drug plan fail you?

 

#MedicarePartD #DrugDiscountCards #CanadianPharmacy

Don’t Buy a Medicare Drug Plan

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Don’t buy a Medicare drug plan. Don’t buy it from Blue Cross, AARP, Humana or any other carrier. Don’t buy a drug plan from a company website. Don’t buy Part D from an agent. Not any agent.

And that includes me.*

don't buy a medicare drug plan

don’t buy a medicare drug plan

But you should allow me to review available drug plans (there are currently more than 20 of them) and suggest the best drug plan / pharmacy combination that produces the lowest out of pocket cost to you.

We recently showed 2 different clients how to save over $4,000 per year

by switching plans AND pharmacy’s.

 

Don’t Buy a Medicare Drug Plan That Has a Deductible

Unless you understand how much money you could save.

Drug plan deductibles are confusing to consumers.

But many agents also don’t understand them.

So we made this video just for you.

 

We Shop – You Compare

How easy is that?

I will also shop the market for you and suggest the best GA Medigap plan. With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, you will be overwhelmed and confused.

I can distill your options down to a handful of plans and carriers to consider in less than 10 minutes and show you why some plans deliver the best value while the rest really stink.

Click now to shop and compare GA Medigap quotes now.

Your information is never sold.

 

Don’t  buy a Medicare drug plan direct

Depending on where you live in Georgia, there could be as many as 30 different Medicare drug plans offered by over a dozen different carriers.

atlanta gaMonthly premiums start in the mid teen’s and your annual projected drug costs could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Don’t buy a drug plan direct from a carrier.

If you call Blue Cross, or Humana, or Aetna or any of the other carriers offering drug plans what will you get?

A sales pitch about their plans.

They won’t tell you about plans from other carriers that might be better. They may even forget to mention other ways to save money on your prescription drugs.

Of course you can always just shop online at the carrier sites.

Click to find the drug plans.

Click to enter your medications and dosage.

Click to pick a pharmacy from the preferred list.

Click to review plan options and drug costs.

Then when you are through go to another carrier site. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

How much fun is that?

John C. of Atlanta saved over $500 per year by purchasing his Medigap plan through Georgia Medicare Plans

 

Don’t buy Medicare Part D from an agent.

Never buy your drug plan from an agent.

Not any agent.

bob on fbIncluding me.

Why?

Legally, an agent can only tell you about plans they are certified to present. Most agents are only approved to discuss a few plans from maybe 2 or 3 carriers.

Out of 20+ drug plans that may be in your area most agents can only legally discuss maybe 3 or 4.

What about the other plans?

Medicare does not allow them to tell you about better plans, only the few they are approved to offer.

The same rules apply to Medicare Advantage plans.

When an agent tries to sell you an Advantage plan they can only discuss the ones they are approved to offer. And they are not allowed to compare one plan against another.

Currently Marietta, Georgia has 11 different Advantage plans from 6 different carriers. It the agent that is hoping to sell you a plan is only appointed with two of the carriers, not only can they not compare the two plans for you but they can’t tell you about plans from the other 4 carriers.

There are over 240 different Medigap plans in Marietta and I am allowed to discuss any or all of them and give your rates on any of them by phone or email.

Doesn’t that make more sense?

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Where should you buy a Medicare drug plan?

Don’t buy it from a carrier.

Don’t buy it from an agent.

The only place you will get information on EVERY drug plan in your area is at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

The people that answer the phones can tell you about every plan available to you, even the ones that don’t pay a commission to an agent.

You can buy a drug plan at 3:00 AM or 3:00 PM.

Seven days a week.

24 hours a day.

Except on federal holidays

You can get informed and unbiased information on Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

The best time to call is usually after 7:00 PM week nights.

Here is what you will need:

  • The exact name and dosage of each medication
  • How often refilled
  • Drug refill quantity
  • Retail or mail order
  • Preferred pharmacy

But let us help you with your Medicare supplement options AND show you how to save money on Medicare Part D year after year

Here’s why.

 

Do not buy a Medicare supplement plan from Medicare

You certainly can if you wish. But consider this.

  • Medicare.gov only gives you premium ranges, not exact rates
  • Medicare.gov only has a few carriers and most of the information is outdated
  • You won’t learn who is new to Georgia and who has been writing business for years
  • You won’t learn which carriers are pulling out of Georgia
  • You won’t know about past or future rate increases
  • You won’t learn which plans were dropped by carriers
  • You won’t learn which carriers stopped writing business under an old name and started with a new one
  • You won’t learn about average annual rate increases
  • But you can buy a plan 24/7 if you are in a hurry and don’t care about any of the above items

When you allow Bob Vineyard at Georgia Medicare plans to assist, you get the benefit of 40 years experience in the health insurance business.

Or you can buy from a carrier or Medicare.gov and hope the person answering the phone can really answer your questions.

We can discuss all of the 240 Medigap plans, tell you which ones are due for a rate increase, which have a history of huge rate increases and which carriers don’t yet have a track record. We will provide you with rates by phone and email.

Click to shop

 

#MedicareDrugPlans #MedicarePartD  #Don’tDoDrugs

Aetna Medicare or First Health Part D Plan?

If you have an Aetna Medicare Advantage plan, Aetna or First Health Medicare Part D plan you may be in for a big surprise. Medicare Part DThe preferred pharmacy’s listed on Medicare.gov for these plans and carriers was not completely correct. As a result, when you fill your prescription at a non-preferred pharmacy you may pay a much higher price for your medication.

This alert published today on California Health Advocates and applies to retirees in all states including Georgia.

(If you have an Aetna Medicare or First Health plan) you may find that your pharmacy is no longer a network pharmacy. Pharmacies that are not in your plan’s network can charge you more, even full price, for your drugs.

CHA was alerted that incorrect information was posted on the Medicare Plan Finder and other Aetna sites during the last Annual Enrollment Period, aka Open Enrollment. Pharmacies no longer contracted with Aetna as network pharmacies were incorrectly listed as such. Beneficiaries may have relied on the incorrect information and enrolled in an Aetna Medicare or First Health Part D plan. Medicare is allowing beneficiaries affected by the incorrect information a Special Election Period to change plans. An estimated 50,000 beneficiaries may be affected.

Using your Medicare Part D plan at a non-par pharmacy means you will pay a much higher price, even possibly full retail. You should take advantage of this special enrollment period to evaluate your Part D coverage and consider making a change to a different plan.

Georgia Medicare Plans routinely reviews drug plans for our Medigap clients and makes recommendations that often save our clients $1,000 per year or more in out of pocket drug costs.

Even if you are not a current client but would like an independent review we are glad to assist. You are welcome to call or email your request.

We often find that many people are overpaying for their Medicare supplement plan. It is not unusual to find savings of $450 per year by changing carriers without losing coverage. If you have plan F we can usually show you even greater savings from plan G if you are willing to consider nominal cost sharing.

If you qualify for a special election period we can help. CMS has granted this exception for those with Aetna Medicare Advantage or Aetna and First Health Part D plans where the information on Medicare.gov was misleading.

Free instant Medigap quotes.

Georgia Medicare supplement rates

Should All Diabetics Take Cholesterol Medication?

Are you a diabetic with high cholesterol? Should you take a statin drug? Are you at risk for heart disease? How much should you expect to pay for your diabetic medications? bob on fb

Georgia Medicare Plans feels that retirees on Medicare need good information to maintain their physical and financial health. Free Medicare Part D review, free instant Medigap quotes and access to our most popular report “Medicare and Social Security” are just a few of the valuable services we provide.

This report has been viewed and shared over 1,000 times in the last few months.

 

Diabetic and High Cholesterol

Many diabetics also battle high cholesterol, but are statins the treatment of choice?

New guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) call for giving the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins to all people with diabetes to help prevent heart disease.

Health Day

But are diabetics at any higher risk for heart disease than anyone else with high cholesterol?

According to Dr. Richard Grant, not necessarily.

“We agree that the decision to start a statin should be based on a patient’s risk,” said Dr. Richard Grant, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and chairman of the ADA’s professional practice committee.

“It turns out that patients with diabetes have the same risk as people with heart disease, so all of our patients need to be on statins,” he said.

But are statins the only way, or even the best way to treat cholesterol?

According to  Dr. Grant, some diabetics may not need statins. Younger, healthier patients and older patients with other medical conditions may not benefit from statins.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of people with diabetes, Grant said. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes, he said.

The increased risk of heart disease in people with diabetes is what was behind the rationale for this year’s recommendations on statins, blood pressure and exercise, according to Grant.

Many people can control their blood pressure and cholesterol with diet and exercise alone. But some people, such as my wife, have high cholesterol as part of their genetic make up. No matter how much she exercises or how closely she watches her diet, she cannot get her cholesterol below 240.

She does take Red Yeast Rice (a natural statin) and fish oil at the suggestion of her doctor. This seems to help but she can’t overcome the genetics.

 

Diabetic medications

Treating chronic illnesses can be very costly for retirees. Georgia Medicare Plans works closely with their clients to help them find ways to save money while treating their diabetic condition.

Many type II diabetics can fill their metformin prescription at no charge at select pharmacy’s. Some diabetic supplies (including insulin) are covered under Medicare Part B. A good Medigap plan combined with original Medicare can save you several hundred dollars per year in out of pocket costs.

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Medigap carriers will issue coverage to most type II diabetics (as long as you do not have complications associated with the disease) and some type I diabetics. You may even qualify for standard rates.

Switching from brand name drugs can save you anywhere from a few hundred dollars a year to several thousand dollars.

One such example is Glucophage (brand) vs metformin (generic). Most drug plans will not cover a brand name drug if a generic alternative exists. Glucophage will cost you over $1,000 per year at retail with a Medicare Part D plan. Switching to metformin lowers your cost to less than $150 per year and some pharmacy’s make metformin available at no cost.

Actos is another popular diabetic medication. If you are taking Actos and pick a low cost ($15) drug plan from Humana your annual cost for the medication will exceed $6,000 per year. Switching to a more expensive ($70) drug plan will drop your drug costs to $3,000 per year.

While these savings are significant, changing from Actos (brand) to pioglitazone (generic) will not only allow you to pick a lower premium drug plan ($15) but more importantly lowers your annual drug costs to a more respectable $300 per year.

Most agents are willing to help you find ways to save money on your Medicare supplement coverage but few are willing to explore savings on drug plans. We find that most of our clients who bought drug plans without any help are paying more than they need to both in premiums and out of pocket drug costs.

We save our clients $550 per year or more on their Medigap premiums but the savings exceeds $1000 per year on drug costs.

Recently we reviewed drug coverage for one of our clients. They were paying $115 per month for a drug plan and spending $13,000 per year for their medications. A 30 minute review showed them how to cut their premium in half and drop their drug costs to $6,000 per year.

You don’t have to be a diabetic to realize these kind of savings. Your path to saving money begins with a free Georgia Medicare Plan quote.

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#diabetic #Medicare #cholesterol #MedicarePartD

Lassie Can’t Find a Medicare Plan for You

Lassie can save you when you fall in a well, but she can’t help you find the right Medicare plan. Lassie

Check and double check your Medicare Part D plans. Don’t make a costly $1300 mistake.

Diane, a Medigap client, asked me to review her Part D options for 2015. This is a free service for our clients. I ran a report, sent it to her, and followed up.

She currently has a Cigna Rx plan and after reviewing her ANOC wondered why the plan I suggested had a higher premium ($34 vs $27). Was it because the plan I suggested had a $0 deductible while the plan Cigna offered had a $320 deductible?

Actually it was much more complicated.

Diane’s annual Rx cost (out of pocket) would be $2880 with the plan Cigna wanted her to buy vs. $1558 with the “higher priced” plan.

Had she bought the plan suggested by Cigna she would have saved $84 per year in premiums but paid out more than $1300 in additional drug costs.

Shop and compare your Medigap plan. We can’t guarantee savings like Diane’s but we often find mistakes that cost you money.

We also saved her more than $600 this last year by showing her a Medigap plan that delivered more value vs. the one she had picked on her own.

Lassie didn’t help then either.

How much can you save? Click to find out.

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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

Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Coverage

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What is the Medicare Prescription Drug plan? How does the donut hole work? How can I avoid the donut hole? What if I can’t afford my prescription drug? medicare part d cattle callDoes Medicare cover vaccines? Doesn’t Medicare Part B cover prescription drugs? Why do I have to pay more because of my income. When is open enrollment?

 

24 prescription drug plans are available in 2016 including three new plans. Seven plans have been discontinued for 2016

 

Picking the right Medicare drug plan

October 15th is right around the corner and about 35 million retirees will have 7 weeks to review their current plan, compare it to new 2015 plans and sign up before midnight December 7th.

The number of plans available for 2016 will be slightly lower than 2014, just slightly over 1000 plans nationwide. More plans are expected to have deductibles and $0 copay generics may be a thing of the past.

The 2016 co-branded Humana WalMart plan will experience a 14% increase in the monthly premium.

The Humana Walmart prescription drug plan still has the lowest premium in 2016 (but not necessarily the lowest cost).

Wellcare Classic changes their premium from $28.90 with a $320 deductible for 2015 to a monthly premium of $27.00 and increases the Rx deductible to $360. Probably other hidden surprises in there, such as higher copay’s.

The co-branded AARP/UHC plan jumps from $27.00 to $37.40 for 2016 and adds a $360 deductible.

Compare your current plan to the 2016 plans using the Medicare Plan Finder.

Georgia Medicare Plans is happy to assist our Medigap clients in finding the right plan for their needs. There is never a charge for our service.

If you are not a current client and would like to compare plans and rates for Medicare supplement plans we invite you to take advantage of our FREE instant quote engine. Click to shop and compare plans.

Medicare shop and compare

 

Medicare donut hole

The confusing donut hole is back and more expensive.

In 2014 you hit the prescription drug donut hole (actually a corridor deductible) once you had run $2850 in covered drugs through your plan. For 2015 that amount increases to $2960.

Obamacare does promise to eliminate the donut hole in increments by 2020 the trade off is higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher copay’s. So while only 6% of Medicare beneficiaries hit the prescription drug donut hole, because of Obamacare everyone’s cost for Medicare Part D will increase.

 

Escaping the prescription drug donut hole

ee card thank you for wineThe donut hole only impacts those who run more than $2960 (2015)  in medications through their drug plan. One way to avoid the hole is to switch to lower cost medications, including generics. Another is to purchase your drugs outside of Medicare Part D. This would be medications where you pay cash as well as those bought from other countries including Canada.

We recommend and use Blue Sky Drugs.

The more medications you run through your prescription drug plan, the quicker you get to the donut hole.

Medicare supplement clients of Georgia Medicare Plans receive no charge consultations on ways to lower their prescription drug costs.

With so many choices, how do you keep it all straight?

Sometimes a glass of wine helps ……..

 

Vaccinations

Some vaccinations are covered under Medicare Part B, some by Part D. If the vaccine is administered in your doctor’s office the office visit should be covered under Medicare Part B. The cost of the vaccine may also be covered under Part B.

Part B covers vaccines for Hepatitis B if you are a high risk patient. You may also have Part B coverage for flu vaccines and pneumonia.

Preventive vaccines not covered by Part B must be covered by Part D.

For more details review this publication from the Medicare Learning Network.

 

Medicare Part B medications

SOME prescription drugs are covered by Medicare Part B. As a general rule, most infusion therapy drugs are covered by Part B. Some drugs can be covered by Medicare Part B or Part D depending on the condition and the way the prescription is written.

A few examples of Part B drugs include:

  • medications used with DME such as infusion pumps or nebulizers
  • some antigens
  • injectable osteoporosis drugs
  • blood clotting drugs
  • flu shots, pneumococcal vaccinations and Hepatitis B shots
  • immunosuppressive drugs

 

Making drugs affordable

If you are having trouble paying for your medication there are several assistance programs through Medicare and Social Security.

Details on the Medicare Extra Help programs are available here.

You may also qualify for different levels of help through the Medicare Savings Program. Options QMB, SLMB, QI and QWDI are outlined in the Medicare Savings Program link

 

Medicare additional charges

If you are in what Medicare considers a high income bracket you may have to pay a surcharge on your Part B and Part D premium. If you purchase a Medicare Advantage plan that includes a prescription drug benefit you are also subject to a surcharge. senior-scratching-head

If you think you may be hit with a surcharge, this Medicare pamphlet may help.

Social Security uses your MAGI (modified adjusted gross income) from prior years tax forms to determine if there is a penalty and how much to charge. Your MAGI is your AGI (adjusted gross income) PLUS deductions for IRA contributions, deductions for student loan interest.

Your AGI starts with gross wages, self employment income, taxable dividends and interest, alimony, pension benefits (including RMD) and the taxable portion of your Social Security income.

Income surcharges are deducted from your Social Security check.

 

Navigating Part D options

It doesn’t matter if you have original Medicare, a supplement and Part D or if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drugs. Every year during open enrollment you MUST compare your current drug plan to the new options. If you fail to do so you could very well end up paying more than you should for your plan, your medications, or both.

Georgia Medicare Plans is always happy to assist our current Medigap clients in reviewing prescription drug plan options and offering suggestions on ways to minimize your out of pocket costs.

Shop and compare plans now.

 

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#MedicarePartD #Medicare #prescriptiondrugplans

How Do I Compare Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans?

How do I compare Medicare Part D plans? Which prescription drug plan is best for me? Am I required to buy a drug plan? How often can I change my Medicare Part D? How much does Part D cost? Where do I find prescription drug plans? How much will my medications cost?  Medicare part D

 

Medicare Part D

Medicare offers prescription drug coverage (Part D) to everyone with Medicare. You must first enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B before you can purchase a drug plan. Medicare Part D coverage is offered by insurance carriers. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered.

Should I buy a drug plan?

For starters, you are not REQUIRED to buy Medicare Part D, but you probably should . . . even if you are not currently on any medication.

If you fail to buy Medicare Part D when first eligible you will be charged a TAX by the U.S. Treassury and this tax is payable for life. Termed a late enrollment penalty (LEP) it is a tax surcharge equal to 1% per month for every month you couild have enrolled in a PDP (prescription drug plan) but failed to do so.

This tax is IN ADDITION TO the premium you pay to the insurance carrier offering the drug plan.

Which Medicare Part D plan is best for me?

Medigap policies do not include a prescription drug benefit. If you want prescription drug coverage you may want to talk to Medicare about prescription drug plans or visit Medicare Drug Formulary Plan Finder

Many seniors will not need a prescription drug plan. Or they may want to order some of their medication outside of their Medicare Part D plan to save money. Many times it is less expensive to pay for your medication out of pocket, or use a mail order pharmacy. There are also many programs available to provide medications for little or no charge.

Free Report

Georgia Medicare Plans would like to provide you with a FREE REPORT, Choosing the Right Medicare Part D plan. Here are just a few of the tips you will learn from our report.

  • How to use the Medicare Plan Finder
  • Choosing the best plan for your needs and budget
  • Should you use mail order or retail?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of ordering by mail?
  • Which Canadian pharmacy’s are best?
  • Should I run all drugs through my drug plan?
  • How can I maximize the value of my Medicare Part D plan?

You have Medicare questions? We have answers.

 

#MedicarePartD #MedicareDrugPlan #PDP #DonutHole #ExtraHelp