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.

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

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

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

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

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

 

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

Below are links that correspond to the questions shown above.

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

You have Medicare Questions.

I have answers.

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

 

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

 

 

 

Best Georgia Medigap Plans

Looking for the best Georgia Medigap plans? Don’t follow the sheep!

  • The best Medigap plan is the one that meets your needs and budget
  • All Medigap plans assigned the same letter are identical in every way. Medicare says it. Look it up. Page 81, Medicare and You 2017 under the heading Medigap Policies Are Standardized
  • Every way except the premium you pay.
  • Over half the seniors that have a Medigap plan choose plan F. . .  but maybe they could have made a better choice
  • Almost 3 out of 4 Georgia seniors buy their coverage from Blue Cross, AARP (United Healthcare) or the “Mutual” company.
  • Did they get the best Georgia Medigap plans?
  • No, they simply followed the crowd.
  • My mother used to say “If Greg jumped off a cliff would you want to also?”.
  • Just because your friends bought plan F from a “big name” carrier doesn’t mean it is the right choice for you.

 

Four things  you need to know about Medigap plans

  • Medicare supplement plan F is the most expensive Medigap plan available in Georgia.
  • Plans offered by the top 3 Medigap carriers in Georgia are some of the most expensive plans.
  • The more you pay for your plan the more money the carrier and the agent make
  • When you pay more you don’t get more, you simply paid too much.

 

How do you shop for the best Georgia Medigap plan?

It depends.

Do you want rates fast or faster?

The quickest way is to run you own rates online.

But you can always call if you want. We want to help.

Best Georgia Medicare Supplement Rates

 

 

#BestGeorgiaMedigapPlans #BlueCrossMedicareSupplementPlans #GAMedigapRates

Ambulance Medical Transport – Non-Emergency

Do NOT call for an ambulance until you read  Don’t Get Run Over by an AmbulanceFailure to follow Medicare guidelines will cause your claim to be denied which means YOU pay the bill.

Accredited Air Ambulance

ACLS Advanced AirAmbulance

ACT Express

Angel Flight

Family Medical Transportation

Grady Non-Emergency Transportation

Milton Ambulance Service

Rural Metro Ambulance

Southern Ambulance Service

MARTA Half-Fare Card

MARTA ParaTransit

MARTA Schedule Information

 

Medicare Fraud Ambulance Charges

Medicare fraud is an easy way to pick the pocket of taxpayers who fund the cost of Medicare. A recent Fox 5 report uncovered a Georgia ambulance company that is fleecing taxpayers by providing a very expensive taxi service under the guise of a medical necessity.

During FOX 5’s investigation, crews repeatedly witnessed one Caring Hand’s patient climbing off the stretcher and walking up a flight of seven steps into her home after dialysis. Another patient was seen walking at least 20 feet to get to the stretcher waiting for her outside her home, and another patient was seen walking outside and climbing onto the stretcher.

According to FOX 5, several patients report they do have family and friends who can take them to dialysis, but taking the ambulance is a matter of convenience.

Each Caring Hands ambulance trip costs taxpayers an average of $500. Multiple by 3x per week for dialysis and these fraudulent charges are costing up around $75,000 per year.

The officers of Caring Hands EMS are also listed as officers of a Mableton dialysis clinic. Only ambulances from Caring Hands were seen transporting patients to and from the clinic. While it is not illegal to have common ownership of a medical transport company and a medical service provider, it is unusual and possibly unethical.

It certainly appears as if Caring Hands has their hands in our pockets.

Knowing When Medicare Will Pay

There are three things you MUST know if you want your Medicare supplement plan to pay for ambulance charges. Otherwise, you may have to rob a bank to pay your bill.

Your Medicare supplement plan should cover emergency medical transport fee’s but there may be some “gotcha’s”.

First, if there is not a true medical emergency at the time, you may be stuck with the full cost of the trip. This can be anywhere from $500  to several thousand dollars.

Second, even if there is a medical emergency, if the transport company is not an approved Medicare provider, Medicare may not pay your bill and you will be stuck.

Third, ambulance companies are not always known for filing their charges correctly with Medicare. If their bill is not coded properly your claim may be denied.

Clients of Georgia Medicare Plans can always call if they have questions about  charges. Affordable Medigap plans. Click here to compare Medicare supplement rates.

 

#MedicareAmbulance #MedicareFraud #GeorgiaMedidcarePlans

Paying for Ambulance Without Robbing a Bank

You won’t have to rob a bank to pay for an ambulance ride WHEN you have a Medicare supplement plan and IF you know these three things. Medicare and your Georgia gap will pay your ambulance bill but only if you know and follow the rules.Medicare Ambulance charges

Your Medicare coverage and a good Medicare supplement plan should cover emergency medical transport fee’s but there may be some “gotcha’s”.

Is an Ambulance Medically Necessary?

First, if there is not a true medical emergency at the time, you may be stuck with the full cost of the trip. This can be anywhere from $500  to several thousand dollars.

Second, even when you have a medical emergency, if the transport company is not a par provider, your health insurance policy will still pay but you could be stuck paying a huge balance. Many medical transport carriers do not accept Medicare assignment. That means you could be subject to excess charges which are not covered by some Medicare supplement plans?

Does YOUR plan cover excess charges? The time to find out is now, not after the bill has arrived.

Third, ambulance companies are not always known for filing their charges correctly with your health insurance company. If their bill is not coded properly your claim may be denied.

Claims denied by Medicare are not covered by your Medicare supplement plan. Your Medigap insurance policy pays AFTER Medicare reviews and approves the claim. If the claim is improperly coded, or is determined by Medicare to be a charge that is not medically necessary, your supplement plan will not pay.

Clients of Georgia Medicare Plans can always call if they have questions about ambulance charges. Affordable GA Medicare supplement insurance rates as well as having an advocate to help you understand your medical bills is a great place to start. Medicare questions? Call us. We are glad to help.

 

#MedicareAmbulance #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates #MedicareExcessCharges