Why Do I Need a Medicare Insurance Agent?

Medicare insurance agent. Who needs them? Medicare is simple. Pick the lowest rate. Why use and insurance agent? Cut out the broker. Go direct to the carrier. Save the commission.

You Don’t Need an Agent

Medicare expert? Truth is, you don’t need an agent to SELL you a Medicare plan. You can use Medicare.gov, go direct to a carrier or even use one of those online “FREE” quote services. But how will you know if you picked the right plan or paid too much?

Ask a Medicare expert.

Will you save money by eliminating the middleman?

No. This video explains.

Does an Insurance Agent Offer Real Value?

Experience.

About 70% of those who turn 65 and are enrolling in Medicare for the first time have never bought health insurance before. Most people will need to get it right the first time. For many there are no Mulligans. No do-overs. This may be your only chance to buy a Medicare supplement plan.

Medicare supplement rates change every year. Old carriers are retired. New carriers enter Georgia with low initial rates.

You can change Medigap plans anytime you want . . . as long as you are healthy. Medicare expert and insurance agent Bob Vineyard will help you find the right plan that fits your needs and budget.

Those Pesky Drug Plans

Medicare Part D drug plans are complicated. Deductibles, formularies, copay’s, preferred pharmacy’s change every year.

Too many people pay too much for their Medicare drug plan.

Could be they bought the same plan their friends have. Wrong.

Maybe they bought from the carrier that issued their Medigap plan. Wrong.

Sometimes seniors will shop on their own and pick the plan with the lowest premium. Not always correct. Not always wrong. But the criteria is definitely wrong.

Many times they buy a plan suggested by an insurance agent that really doesn’t understand Medicare Part D. This happens way too often.

Check out my YouTube Channel and review drug plan videos.

Learning the Language

Welcome to the world of Medicare where almost everything is a TLE and has an acronym. Here is a friendly introduction.

TLE = Three Letter Entity

CMS = Center for Medicare (and Medicaid) Services

MSN = Medicare Summary Notice

PDP = Prescription Drug Plan

ABN = Advance Beneficiary Notification

Having fun so far. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

Confused?

You have questions. We have answers. Call or email.

Do You Need a Medicare Expert?

Nope.

You can DIY. (Do It Yourself).

But if you mess up who can you blame?

You can spend hours online researching. Attend seminars. Invite strangers (insurance agents) into your home.

But they don’t leave until you buy something or call the cops.

You could also sort through the mountain of information that comes in the mail. Ask your hair stylist or members of your bridge club. Does anyone still have bridge clubs?

Buy direct from a name you trust. Here is a tip. Medicare carriers with familiar names often overcharge, sometimes by hundreds or thousands of dollars per year.

Why?

Because they can.

They know you are buying on name recognition and have not researched. You trust them to treat you right.

They will take advantage of that trust and profit from your lack of understanding.

Give Me 10 Minutes

That’s all I ask.

Look over my website. Watch my videos. Call or email.

Yes, I am an insurance agent. But also an expert with over 40 years experience.

And just like you, I am enrolled in Medicare.

If you don’t feel comfortable with my advice, move on. No hard feelings. I don’t chase. I don’t beg.

Either you want my help and advice or you don’t.

Not only will I save you a lot of time and keep you from chasing rabbits, but you will also learn how to maximize your Medicare dollars.

And isn’t that what this is all about? Finding real value in the advice offered by a Medicare insurance expert.

#GeorgiaMedicareExpert #GeorgiaMedicarePlans

Georgia Medicare Gives Thanks

Georgia Medicare Looks at 2018

As Dickens said, “This is the best of times and the worst of times.” Like all years, there are times when things are good and times when things are not so good. From a business perspective I would give this year a 9 on a scale of 10. Georgia Medicare expert reflects on 2018.

Georgia Medicare expert

The Good News

Georgia Medicare supplement clients continue to bless me with referrals. My business grows mostly by word of mouth. When my advice is useful clients remember and pass my name along to their friends.

Like that old shampoo commercial where Heather Locklear told two friends about Faberge, and they told two friends, and so on.

Good new spreads like wildfire, and it is appreciated. With more than 500 GA Medicare clients, new referrals come in almost every month.

Thank you for being generous and sharing my name with your friends.

Georgia Medicare YouTube Channel

After years of planning and hoping it would happen, I finally implemented my Georgia Medicare YouTube channel in early summer. With the help of Christy Sanchez this labor of love is now a reality.

The videos are not fancy or technically complicated. It’s just me talking to the camera the same way I speak to you on the phone. Feel free to like, share and comment on any of the videos.

Of course you can also ask questions.

Say Hello to New Medigap Carriers

I currently count almost 60 insurance carriers offering Medicare supplement plans in Georgia. Many are brand new to the Medigap business. Others are new to Georgia.

At least 6 carriers are new to the Georgia Medicare market. Each one has cut rates to the bone in an attempt to gain market share.

It’s a race to see who can offer the lowest Medigap rate.

For at least a year.

New carriers include Lumico, Western United (late 2017), Everest (late 2016), American Continental, Prosperity (gotta love that name), Mass Mutual, Unified and Pan American. I might have missed a few but that’s a mouthful.

I generally don’t recommend a carrier until they have been here at least 3 years. In the past carriers (like AFLAC) have either disappeared from the market or blew up their rates on renewal in the first 3 years.

I don’t need that kind of drama in my life and neither do you.

Say Hello to a New Name for an Old Friend

One shining star is Anthem Blue Cross. BCBSGA has been co-branded with parent Anthem for a few years now. As of July 2018 the Anthem name is on all new Medicare plans in Georgia.

Of course you can call them direct or use an agent like myself. When you go direct you are a “house account”. You will never know who will answer the phone or anything about them. 

Last week they could have been asking if you wanted fries with your meal.

When you call me you will never hear “Press 1 for English”. You get me or voice mail. Leave a message and I will call you back.

No extra charge for my 40+ years experience.

You can enroll in an Anthem Medigap plan using my link . . . if you have an hour or so to kill. 

https://brokerportal.anthem.com/ac/BobVineyardAnthemGA

Or call me direct. I can take your information in about 10 minutes.

You choose.

The Bad News

A few carriers like Equitable, Manhattan and Aetna Health and Life stopped writing new Medigap business in Georgia. If you have a plan with them you can keep it as long as you pay your premiums.

I hope to move as many as possible away from these carriers in hopes of seeing fewer and smaller rate increases at renewal.

Thank You!

Thank you for all your support, for passing my name along and especially the kind words for my Georgia Medicare YouTube Channel.

I look foward to helping as many people as possible to navigate the Georgia  Medicare maze.

Turning 65?

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

 

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

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

 

Turning 65 – You are not alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Things you probably don’t know

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

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

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

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

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

 

Medigap “gotcha’s”

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

But the simplicity stops there.

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

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

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

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

 

My choice

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

Maybe you should do the same.

I enrolled in Medicare in September, 2015.

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

I didn’t buy plan F.

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Medicare Supplement Rates

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

Let me know how I can help.

 

#Turning65 #GeorgiaMedicarePlans #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates

Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

Does Medicare cover hearing tests and hearing aids? Find financial assistance to offset the cost of hearing exams and aids. How Veterans can get help for hearing and vision concerns. Purchase high quality digital aids at a discount.

Welcome to Medicare where the rules are different. No problem. We are here to help. Sit down. Relax. Take your shoes off. We are here to help. And there is never any selling.

There are some situations where Medicare will pay for diagnostic hearing tests if your doctor feels the tests are necessary to start a treatment plan. Always ask your doctor if testing or treatment will be covered by Medicare.

 

Hearing Aids, Dental Care, Eye Exams

If you are turning 65 and trading in your “Big Company” group health insurance plan for Medicare you may be in for a shock. Say goodbye to dental and vision coverage. Most employer plans did not have a hearing aid benefit so no loss there.

The good news is, you can also say goodbye to high deductibles, even higher out of pocket costs and those pain in the butt out of network penalties.

But years of listening to Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and Iron Butterfly may have damaged your hearing.

If your spouse is telling you to turn down the volume it might be time to have your hearing checked.

Hearing aids aren’t the only thing not covered by Medicare. There are quite a few, relatively low cost health care items that are your responsibility. Here are just a few things not covered by Medicare.

  • routine hearing exams and hearing aids
  • regular eye exams, eyeglasses and contacts
  • acupuncture and chiropractic care (unless spinal manipulation is medically necessary)
  • non-emergency transportation
  • cosmetic surgery

The good news is, you have great coverage for major items such as cancer, heart issues, cataracts and joint pain. Original Medicare coupled with supplement plan G means limited out of pocket costs for most health care.

Georgia Medicare Supplement Rates

How to Pay for Hearing Tests and Aids

There are insurance plans that will cover part of the cost of hearing aids but don’t waste your money.  Hearing aids can be very expensive.   But don’t give up hope. Here are a few ideas that may help.

We hope the above links will help in your search for assistance in dealing with hearing loss. If you know of other resources please don’t hesitate to share this with us so we can add to the list. Otherwise you may need to resort to a stylish hearing device like this one.

hearing aids

 

Local hearing resources for Georgia residents include Georgia Hearing Center and Georgia Hearing Institute.

At Georgia Hearing Center, our audiologists have nearly 50 years combined experience in the hearing industry. We strive to provide professional and friendly hearing healthcare to adults and children of all ages.

The Georgia Hearing Institute, affiliated with The ENT Center of Central Georgia, has provided comprehensive audiological services for over 40 years to patients from infancy to adulthood. With locations in Macon and Warner Robins, patients of all ages are benefiting from improved hearing and ultimately, a better quality of life. We are pleased to provide the full spectrum of hearing testing, amplification, and custom products sales and services at both of our locations.

One last link before you go. Crank up the volume and listen to Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones belt out “Whole Lotta Love“.

 

#HearingAids #HearingLoss #Deafness #MedicareHearingAids

 

Welcome to Medicare – What’s Covered?

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

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

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

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

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

You might want to view our Medicare Exam video on YouTube

Turning 65 – Welcome to Medicare 2019 – What’s Covered?

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

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

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

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

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

Ask me anything. Others talk, we listen.

Welcome to Medicare Surprises

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

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

That was the wrong assumption.

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

Lab work is not covered by Medicare

Seriously? What’s that all about?

Preventive screenings are covered by Medicare in the following situations

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

What is considered medically necessary?

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

Preventive lab work may not be covered by Medicare.

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

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

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

Not so with Medicare.

Those under age 65 pay nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

Medicare physical exam.

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

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

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

More ways to save money.

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

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

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

GA Medigap quote

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

#MedicareLab #WelcometoMedicare #GAMedicareExpert #GAMedigapRates