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 Medicare.gov for reviewing Advantage and drug plan options.

Avoid using Medicare.gov for PDP comparisons prior to October 25.

 

Review Medicare Supplement Options

Medicare.gov 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

 

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

 

 

 

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

Medicare Drug Plan Finder

Using the Medicare Drug Plan Finder can be challenging. You can do it yourself, ask an agent, ask the Medicare drug plan carrier or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

We will show you

  • step by step how to navigate the Medicare Plan Finder site
  • how to compare drug plan results side by side
  • eliminate plans with deductibles
  • choose plans where all your drugs on on the formulary
  • find pharmacy’s with the lowest drug costs
  • where to find the estimated drug copay’s
  • how and where to enroll in a Medicare drug plan
  • compare prices using a discount drug card
  • finding prices at Canadian pharmacy’s

The entire process is more frightening than filling out your taxes but with a little practice you will figure it out. By the time you do it again during the next open enrollment you will have forgotten everything you learned.

So bookmark this page when it is time to renew your plan and you can fly through the process like a pro.

 

We are happy to run reports for our existing Medicare supplement clients.

  • We collect your drug information
  • Run reports for you based on all 24 plans in Georgia
  • Send the reports to you by email complete with a recommendation for the lowest combination of drug plan and pharmacy

Or you can call Medicare.

OK, this may not be as fun as talking with Jake from State Farm but it can still save you money.

jake-from-state-farm

Medicare Drug Plan Finder 2018 Update

As challenging as this process was for 2017, it is even more difficult for 2018 plans.

Drugs on Medicare may show as not on the formulary. Call the carrier and get a different response.

To maximize savings you may need to change pharmacy’s. One client will save almost $4,000 in 2018 by using a different pharmacy!

MAJOR discrepancies in results on Medicare.gov and carrier sites. Calling the carrier can be more confusing. Each time you call you get a different answer.

Good luck!

 

Medicare Drug Plan Finder for the Do It Yourself Person

For those who like to do it themselves here is a step by step guide to using the Medicare Drug Plan Finder.

Click this link to go to the plan finder.

https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx

You can also click the General Search image below.

Enter your zip in the box Search. Click Find Plan.

Medicare Drug Plan Finder

 

Select how you get your Medicare coverage.

Most people will select Original Medicare and I Don’t Get Any Extra Help.

medicare-plan-finder-2

Click Continue to Plan Results.

Now the fun starts.

Have all your medicine bottles lined up before moving to the next section.

Medicare drug plan finder

 

Prescription Drugs You Take

Enter the name(s) of each medication, click Find My Drug.

Choose the drug name and dosage you take. Also check off how often filled, quantity and whether you get your drugs at retail or mail order.

Repeat the process for each drug.

Note you can change the dose, add or remove the drug from your list using the buttons.

Make a note of your Drug List ID and Password Date. You will refer back to this in the future.

Then click My Drug List Is Complete.

medicare-plan-finder-3

 

Choose your pharmacy(s).

If you want to compare prices by pharmacy, pick any two.

medicare-plan-finder-4

 

Click Continue to Plan Results

medicare-plan-finder-5

 

Check off Prescription Drug Plans with Original Medicare

Click Continue to Plan Results

The next page should look like this. If it doesn’t you have done something wrong. Go back.

Make sure the results (below) are for the correct year. The image below was taken in October, 2016 so the default is to illustrate the 2017 plans. If you need to view the current year, click that button.

You will notice your Drug List ID and Password Date follow you through the process.

 

medicare-plan-finder-6

 

When you get to the Medicare drug plan page (above), scroll down until you see the options (below)

Select two or three plans that appeal to you, the click Compare Plans

medicare-plan-finder-7

 

The plans you want to compare will appear side by side.

You should use your browser setting to print this page. If you know how to print and save as a PDF you should do so and save it on your computer where you can find it again.

medicare-plan-finder-8

Notice I chose the plan with the lowest drug cost (Envision). The Envision plan has a deductible, so I picked the next lowest cost plan (Silver Script) that does not have a deductible.

Some (but not all) plans do not apply the deductible to tier 1 and tier 2 medications when using a preferred pharmacy. Be sure you know the difference.

Often, but not always, plans that have a deductible will have lower copay’s than plans that do not have a deductible.

 

View Monthly Drug Plan Costs

Scroll down until you see the Estimated Monthly Drug Costs

medicare-plan-finder-9

 

The monthly costs include your premium plus the estimated cost of your drugs. If you go into the donut hole that will appear in the monthly printout (above).

If you want to see the estimated copay for each of your medications, click the View monthly drug cost details by selected drugs link.

medicare-plan-finder-10

 

Note the drug copay’s are estimated and do not reflect higher costs due to deductibles or increased costs when you are in the donut hole.

 

Dig Deeper

If you want to really take this drug plan report for a test drive, check out some other neat things you can do.

Go back to the browser frame where the monthly drug costs are shown side by side. Scroll down until you see this section (below).

medicare-plan-finder-11

 

Note the tier level for each of your drugs. It won’t always be the same from carrier to carrier.

Click Print My Drug List.

Click Print Comparison Report.

The Drug List shows all the drugs you have entered by name, dosage, etc.

The Comparison Report can be customized to show only information that is relevant to your situation.

 

Finding the Lowest Drug Prices

Sometimes you have to work a bit to find the absolute lowest drug costs. There are times when you want to purchase 30 or 90 day supplies at retail. Maintenance drugs may (or may not) be cheaper by mail.

 

Current clients of Georgia Medicare Plans can stop right now.

If you purchased a Medigap plan through us do this.

Email me your Drug List ID and Password Date. Give your current zip code and county of residence. I will run your report (based on your Drug List ID and Password Date) then search for ways to cut your drug costs using mail order and discount cards.

Not a current client? Shameless plug here. Let us help you find the best Medigap plan that fits your needs and budget.

GA Medigap Rates

For next year plans I will only do this from October 1 through November 7. After that date I may not have time to perform this service, so no guarantees.

If you are not a current client, proceed as follows.

 

Your Medicare Drug Plan Finder will show you which plans save money when you order by mail.

But wait, there’s more.

Consider ordering drugs from Canada. We have personally used and recommended Blue Sky for years.

You can also save money by using a drug discount coupon from GoodRx. You have the option of going online and printing out a coupon, downloading an app for your smartphone, or requesting an ID card you can carry in your wallet.

 

Decide How You Want to Purchase Your Drugs

Get a piece of paper.

  • Make 4 columns
  • Write down each drug in column one
  • Enter the cost of the drug using your drug plan – See call the carrier (below)
  • Repeat this process for each drug from Canada and again using GoodRx
  • Go back to your Medicare Drug Plan report and remove the drugs purchased from Canada or using GoodRx
  • Run the report again

If you use insulin, most Canadian pharmacy’s will not ship it to you. Insulin prices in the US, even with a Medicare drug plan or discount card are crazy expensive. We have found one Canadian pharmacy that stocks and ships insulin direct to you.

https://rxcanada4less.com/

Check insulin pricing before enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan.

Now you are ready to sign up for a drug plan.

Almost.

Before you enroll in a plan, call the carrier you think you want to use.

  • Give them a list of all your drugs including dosage
  • Ask them for their preferred pharmacy’s – Compare that to your Medicare report
  • Which drugs (if any) are subject to the deductible (if the plan has a deductible)
  • Ask for the initial coverage copay for each drug
  • If a deductible applies, ask for the cost with and without the deductible
  • Ask for your cost if/when you are in the donut hole
  • Write all this down
  • Do NOT enroll yet – You are still not done

Now that you have the copay for each drug from the carrier you think you want to use, go back to your piece of paper with the drug prices.

 

Enroll in a Medicare Drug Plan

Now that you have all your information it is time to enroll in a drug plan.

  • You can enroll direct with the carrier by clicking the Enroll button on the Medicare site
  • Better suggestion is to call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
  • 800 MEDICARE is open 24/7 except federal holidays – You can even call at 3AM
  • You can also enroll direct with a carrier by phone or on their site

I have been advising clients to enroll via 1-800-MEDICARE for years and have had no complaints. When you follow my step by step instructions you can be enrolled in a drug plan in less than 15 minutes.

No hassle. No sales pitches.

 

Finding a Medicare Drug Plan

It will probably take you longer to read this post than it will to use the plan finder. With over 400 clients spread all over the state of Georgia, I don’t have the time to help everyone the way I would like to. By asking you, my client, to do the front end work I can still help others find a Medigap plan that fits their needs and budget without totally abandoning my existing clients.

Here are the steps you need to take to use the Medicare Drug Plan Finder

  • Go to the plan finder
  • Enter your zip and check off how you get your Medicare benefits
  • Input your current medications
  • Choose a pharmacy
  • Review the results

If you take fewer than 5 medications it will take you about 15 minutes to get results. More than 5 will take a bit longer.

If you find this helpful, share this link with your friends. Thanks, and have a great day!

 

#MedicareDrugPlanFinder #GoodRx  #MedicareOpenEnrollment #DrugsFromCanada #GeorgiaMedicarePlans #GAMedigapRates 

Medicare Open Enrollment 2016

What is Medicare open enrollment 2016? When can I change my Medicare supplement plan? How do I find a better rate without going online and having my phone ring off the hook?

Medicare open enrollment

Isn’t this the same as turning 65? Can’t I change my Medicare supplement plan without going through underwriting?

 

What is Medicare Open Enrollment?

Medicare annual open enrollment period starts on October 15th and ends on December 7th. During that time you can

  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another one
  • Change your Part D drug plan

You can change your existing Medicare supplement plan at any time of the year but you may be required to pass medical underwriting.  If you have an existing Medicare Advantage plan, and would rather have original Medicare and a Medigap plan you can enroll in a Medigap plan subject to medical underwriting.

 

Is Medicare Open Enrollment the Same as Turning 65?

Short answer is not.

Turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare Part B for the first time allows you a 6 month window to enroll in any Medigap plan. Never any underwriting. They can’t ask your height and weight. What medications you take.

All of those are off limits.

But open enrollment is different.

If you have original Medicare and a supplement plan you can change drug plans without underwriting.

You can also improve your Medicare supplement plan and look for lower rates. But you can do that any time. Open enrollment is not the best time to change Medicare supplement plans. If you have been on Medicare Part B more than 6 months medical underwriting is required. That process can take 2 weeks or longer outside of open enrollment. The time frame is a month or longer if you try to change Medigap plans during open enrollment.

How Do I Find the Best Medicare Supplement Rates?

Shopping online is simple, thanks to the internet. But it can also be frustrating. Here is what most people do.

There must be a better way.

  • Go to GA Medigap Quotes
  • Fill in your information
  • Get an instant quote
  • Wait for your personalized quote by email showing Medigap rates you won’t see anywhere else
  • We shop. You compare
  • We take the time to answer all your questions about Medicare, plans, rates, service and so forth..
  • When you pay more you don’t get more. You simply paid too much
  • Our goal is to give you the confidence in knowing you have made the right decision and are not paying too much or buying the wrong plan

How easy is that?

#GAMedigapRates #MedicareSupplementRates #MedicareOpenEnrollment #Turning65

 

Find the Best Medicare Supplement Rate

shopCompareBig_new2

How do you find the best Medicare supplement rate? You can search Georgia Medigap rates online, attend seminars, invite a parade of strangers into your home and let them try to sell you something. The Medicare.gov site is another option as is calling carriers direct.

The best rate is the one that fits your needs and budget. What your friend Mary or Bill bought was (hopefully) right for them. But that does not make it right for you.

Mary wears a size 6. You wear a size 4. That’s close but just not a good fit.

Bill has health problems you may not be aware of, while you are in almost perfect health.

Picking the right plan for you requires a basic understanding of what is available, and realizing your decision today may be the last time you get to make a change in coverage.

This is especially true if you are turning 65 and going on Medicare for the first time.

You are about to enter the no bull zone.

best medicare supplement rate

 

Finding The Best Medicare Supplement Rate

Some people just go with a carrier they know, such as Blue Cross, Cigna, Humana, etc. simply because they had health insurance with them in the past and they never had a problem. Others will buy through an association such as AARP,  AMAC, ASA, AGA, CAP or others.

Each of these groups have a political, social or religious agenda that may or may not appeal to buyers.

Still others will ask their friends what they bought and work on the assumption it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

There are pluses and minuses to each of these approaches. All that really matters is making sure you understand what you bought and being sure it will fit your needs for as long as you both shall live.best medicare supplement rate

Yes, as long as you both shall live. Just like marriage, except this is a different kind of contract.

 

The Medicare supplement policy you buy today may be the last one you ever own.

For many, the only time they will be able to purchase a Medicare supplement plan is when they turn 65. Others will qualify medically and can change plans in the future. The older you get the more health problems that can arise. That can complicate your attempt to secure a Medigap plan in the future.

Advantage plans have minimal underwriting and annual enrollment periods. In most cases you can move from one plan to another during this time.

 

Medigap plans do not participate in the annual enrollment period.

You can change plans (at any time, not just annual enrollment) but you have to prove you are healthy.

You would be surprised how many people don’t know that. Even people who have been on Medicare for years believe they can change their Medicare supplement plan during open enrollment.

They can, but it is not automatic.

Finding the best Medicare supplement rate is really pretty easy. Just ask.

 

Buy a Name Brand

Many people think if they buy from a name brand carrier they will be fine.

That is a false sense of security.

AFLAC is a name brand. Big, well known name. Entered the Medigap market in 2012. Exited in 2013. Those who bought AFLAC and were in good health moved to a different carrier.

The unhealthy ones stayed around.

Premiums had to support a smaller block that is getting older and sicker by the day.

What about Mutual of Omaha? Isn’t that a wise choice.

 

Which Mutual of Omaha are you buying?

Mutual of Omaha, United World, United of Omaha or Omaha Insurance Company?

It makes a difference. Each Omaha carrier has different rate structures. When a new Omaha carrier is introduced in your area the new applicants are usually offered rates that are often 25% less than you are paying.

Relying on a brand name to help you find the best Medicare supplement rate may not be your best decision.

 

Buy From a Carrier You Know

You will be surprised how many people that are retiring from a job will simply sign up with the carrier that has their group health plan. Somehow they believe they are getting a better deal.

Your Aetna group health plan is not the same company that writes under the Aetna name for Medigap coverage. Same is true for Cigna group vs. Cigna Medicare supplement.

Two different companies.

If you are going on Medicare for the first time your new Medigap carrier is not allowed to ask any health questions. So the Cigna that offers you a Medicare supplement plan is not allowed to view your medical history with the Cigna that has your group plan.

No harm, no foul.

But that won’t guarantee you the best Medicare supplement rate.

Sometimes the carrier that never could pay your group health claim properly (at least in your eyes) will pay all your Medigap claims on time and without a hitch.

Buy from someone you know does not guarantee you will get the best Medicare supplement rate.

 

Medigap Rate Transparency

When you get an instant FREE Medigap quote from Georgia Medicare Plans you will also receive a report like this one. We will show you rates from carriers that offer coverage in your area. The report is tailored to your age, gender and zip.

This is part of our Medigap rate transparency approach.

We don’t know of another agent that freely volunteers this information. Also, we will answer your questions by phone or email. You have entered the no bull zone.

No tricks.

No games.

No bull.

Other agents may refuse to give you a rate by phone or email.

Not us.

Our glass pockets approach means you will have many plans and carriers to pick from rather than just a few.

 

Most of the people we talk to eventually become clients

because they know they can rely on us to show them the best Medicare supplement rates and help them find a plan that fits their needs and budget.

They also like the fact the will get straight answers to their questions. When you call you get me or my voice mail. Leave a message during the week and you will get a call back usually within 24 hours and often the same day.

We want you to have the best Medigap plan possible and will help you find it with the least hassle.best medicare supplement rate

Email inquiries are often answered within 2 hours or less. I do make exceptions for those that come in at 2 AM. Don’t expect me to get up every two hours during the night to answer your questions.

It won’t happen.

Not only do you get the best Medicare supplement rate, but you can tap into my 40 years of experience at no charge.

Or you can go online to sites that capture your information and sell it multiple times to agents. You can call every carrier that writes Medigap and listen to their sales pitch. You could also invite a parade of agents to come to your home and vow not to leave until you buy or call the police.

We have clients all over the state of Georgia. Everything is handled by phone and email. You don’t come to see me. I don’t go see you.

Most people prefer it that way.

You can start your search for the best Medicare supplement rate here by getting a free, instant Medigap quote. Your information is never sold  and you will get a report just like this as soon as I have a few minutes to review your information.

How easy is that?

 

shopCompareBig_new2

 

 

#BestMedicareSupplementRate #FreeInstantMedigapQuote #GeorgiaMedicarePlans #BobVineyard

5 Medicare Open Enrollment Tips You Must Know

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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 Medicare.gov for reviewing Advantage and drug plan options
  • Avoid using Medicare.gov for drug plan comparisons prior to October 25
  • Medicare.gov 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.

Fork-In-The-Road

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 plans.car salesman scam

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

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

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

Medicare Advantage –

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

Medicare Part D –

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

Medicare supplement –

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

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

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

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

No pressure. No tricks. Shop and compare now.

Medicare shop and compare

 

 

#MedicareOpenEnrollment #MedicareAdvertising #MedicareAdvantage #MedicareSupplementInsurance

 

Can You Afford Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Can you afford Medicare supplement insurance? Can you afford to NOT have it? How much does it cost? (Less than you think). Which plan is best? How do I find the lowest rate? Should I buy Medigap plan F like all my friends or something different?

Shop and compare GA Medigap plans. Instant rate quote. No hassle. Your information is never sold.

Medicare shop and compare

 

Medicare open enrollment is just around the corner. Others are just now turning 65 and will soon be navigating the Medicare maze.

You can get rates anywhere, but what most people want is information and solid advice without the hype and pressure. You get the benefit of my 40 years experience at no extra cost.

Post summary.

  • How much does Medicare pay for serious illness?
  • Is Medicare Advantage, with the lower premiums, better?
  • $0 premium or $0 copay and $0 deductible?
  • Finding the plan with the best rates and overall value
  • Why avoid Medigap plan F?

 

Can you afford Medicare supplement insurance?

Here are the facts. You decide.

Original Medicare covers about 80% of your medical costs and none of your prescription drug costs. Your remaining 20% share (after Medicare pays their portion) can run into the hundreds in an average year and thousands in a bad year. The 20% you pay is not capped. Your treatment continues until you run out of money.medicare bad news

Many Medicare Advantage plans have $0 premiums. Advantage plans have moving parts, doctor and hospital networks (most are HMO’s), deductibles, coinsurance and copay’s. The plan you buy this year probably won’t be offered next year and you will have to switch plans …… and possibly doctors as well.

Next year you will start this process over again, and then again the year after that. At least the Advantage plans have a cap on your out of pocket costs. Most of them limit your share to $6700 for the year. Then next year you start all over again.

If you are turning 65 and live in Georgia, you can buy our most popular Medicare supplement insurance plan for around $100 per month. About $3 per day.

The one I bought is $104 per month. Beyond the monthly premium my out of pocket cost is limited to the Part B deductible ($147 in 2015) and after that a $20 doctor visit copay.

If I had to go to the hospital my out of pocket cost would be $0.

Sure, I would rather have a $0 premium plan. Who wouldn’t? But I would also rather have to come up with $147 and an occasional $20 than dig into my savings to fork over $6700.

But that is just me.

You may feel differently.

 

Which Medicare supplement plan is best?

That’s simple.

The best plan is the one that fits your needs and budget.

If you are in good health, and don’t care which doctor you use, those $0 premium Advantage plans might be just the ticket. But when your health changes you won’t like them very much. And by then you won’t qualify for a Medicare supplement plan.

If you are turning 65, this may be your one and only chance to buy a Medicare supplement plan.

So is the Medigap plan a better option?

If you can afford $100 per month and find it easier to budget for a fixed premium vs. several hundred or thousand for out of pocket medical expenses, then the Medicare supplement might be what the doctor ordered.

Choose wisely.

Whatever you decide today might have to last you the rest of your life.

 

How do I find the lowest Medigap rate?

That part is easy. Just ask.

Sure, you can go online and shop. Plenty of places to compare rates, including my site. But you will only see a dozen or so plans, even on my site.

telephone oldAnd some of the rate comparison sites are just a come on. They take your information and sell it to a bunch of agents who will call and pester you until you stop answering the phone or buy.

That won’t happen here.

I never sell your information. You will get one call from me and that’s it. After that it is up to you if you want more information or not.

Including the lowest rates in your area.

There are over 170 Medigap plans in Georgia but you will never see more than a dozen or so. The rest are available offline. Heck one of my competitors only shows you plan F from 4 different carriers. What good is that?

Most people want more than just a rate. They want information. They want to know that the decision they make will be the right one,  just in case they have to keep their plan for the rest of their life.

But go ahead and shop now. It won’t hurt and your phone won’t ring off the hook. Because I will only call you once.

Medicare shop and compare

When we talk I will ask a few questions and give you a straight answer to your questions. If you just want the lowest rate I will give you that by phone and follow up with an email.

But if you want to really learn how Medicare works, I will give you all the time you need to feel comfortable with whatever decision you make.

It really is that simple.

 

Should I buy Medicare supplement plan F?

Probably not.

Your friends that bought plan F didn’t talk to me. If they talked to an agent at all they probably don’t even know plans other than F existed.

And the probably paid too much for that plan.bob on fb

If they bought from AARP (United Healthcare), Blue Cross or Mutual of Omaha I can almost guarantee they overpaid.

You see, all the Medigap plans with the same letter are identical in every way …….. except the price.

So it doesn’t matter if they pay United Healthcare $166 per month, or Blue Cross $191 monthly or Colonial Penn $277 per month, they get the same coverage.

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

That’s me on the right. My daughter took that picture at the Chop House. We went to a Braves game a few years ago and she wanted a picture.

Current plan F rates are expected to increase at least $20 per month in 2016, and probably even more.

By 2020 when plan F is discontinued anyone with plan F can keep it but the premiums will rise at a faster clip than now.

Which sounds better to you?

Buying Medicare supplement plan F that is being yanked off the market in a few years or saving $800 per year (and more) by enrolling in a plan you can keep as long as you live?

Shop and compare now. When I call, give me 10 minutes to educate you and then decide if my advice is worthwhile or not.

Medicare shop and compare

 

 

 

#MedicareSupplementInsurance #MedicareSupplementPlanF  #MedicareOpenEnrollment #MedigapRates

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.

shopCompareBig_new2

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