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 Fail

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

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

It was humiliating. Medicare drug plan fail

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

I felt cheated.

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

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

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

I walked out without my prescription.

 

When Your Medicare Drug Plan Fails You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Medigap Rates - Instant Quotes

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

 

Medicare Drug Price Transparency

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

If you know where to look.

Here are some general tips for controlling medication costs.

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

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

 

How I Saved Over $60 on One Medication

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

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

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

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

When will your Medicare prescription drug plan fail you?

 

#MedicarePartD #DrugDiscountCards #CanadianPharmacy

Don’t Buy a Medicare Drug Plan

shopCompareBig_new2

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

And that includes me.*

don't buy a medicare drug plan

don’t buy a medicare drug plan

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

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

by switching plans AND pharmacy’s.

 

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

Unless you understand how much money you could save.

Drug plan deductibles are confusing to consumers.

But many agents also don’t understand them.

So we made this video just for you.

 

We Shop – You Compare

How easy is that?

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

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

Click now to shop and compare GA Medigap quotes now.

Your information is never sold.

 

Don’t  buy a Medicare drug plan direct

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

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

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

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

A sales pitch about their plans.

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

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

Click to find the drug plans.

Click to enter your medications and dosage.

Click to pick a pharmacy from the preferred list.

Click to review plan options and drug costs.

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

How much fun is that?

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

 

Don’t buy Medicare Part D from an agent.

Never buy your drug plan from an agent.

Not any agent.

bob on fbIncluding me.

Why?

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

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

What about the other plans?

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

The same rules apply to Medicare Advantage plans.

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

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

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

Doesn’t that make more sense?

shopCompareBig_new2

 

 

Where should you buy a Medicare drug plan?

Don’t buy it from a carrier.

Don’t buy it from an agent.

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

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

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

Seven days a week.

24 hours a day.

Except on federal holidays

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

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

Here is what you will need:

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

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

Here’s why.

 

Do not buy a Medicare supplement plan from Medicare

You certainly can if you wish. But consider this.

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

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

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

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

Click to shop

 

#MedicareDrugPlans #MedicarePartD  #Don’tDoDrugs

Do I Need an Insurance Agent?

Do I need an insurance agent to buy a Medicare supplement plan? How much extra will I pay to buy through a broker? Do insurance agents offer the same plans that I can get direct from a carrier? Don’t most insurance agents push the plans that pay them the highest commission? confused senior medicare

It doesn’t matter if you are turning 65 and going on Medicare for the first time or you have been in the Medicare system for a few years. Most people still don’t really understand how Medicare works and how it applies to them.

You have questions. We have answers.

Shopping for Medicare coverage? With more than 230 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, how do you find the one that is right for you? Click and compare rates and plans from GA Medigap quotes

Have you ever seen a Medigap rate report like this?

Everyone I talk to will get a report that is customized to reflect the plan or plans where they have an interest.

If the agent that is trying to SELL you on buying from him or her isn’t offering information like this, what else are they keeping from you?

 

Should I use an insurance agent when buying a Medicare supplement plan?

This question comes up from time to time but I suspect it is often considered but rarely asked. When it happens to me it usually comes in the form of “How much do you charge for your advice?”.

Perhaps I should consider it an affront, but I don’t. I do wonder if they ask their home and auto insurance agent same question. Similarly, when people go online do they ask them how much more they have to pay for buying a plan from an 800 number agent?

My response is always the same.

bob on fbMedicare supplement plans you buy through me are the exact same plan at the same rate as those you would buy direct from the carrier. The only difference is, when you buy from me you get the advantage of my 40 years of experience at no additional charge. When you have a question you can call or email.

When you call you get me or my voice mail. You will never hear “Press 1 for English”. You won’t be routed through a bunch of prompts. I return calls within 2 business days and often the same day. If I can’t answer your question I will tell you so and will get back to you within 24 hours with the answer you need.

Call a carrier and you talk to whoever answers the phone that day, if you get a live person. More often than not you get voice mail. You have no idea who will call you back or when. You don’t know if they have worked for the carrier for years or just started last week.

Did I mention you pay the same premium for the same plan when you buy from an insurance agent?

 

Where can I see all the Medigap plans?

You can’t.

Some of is because most agents don’t have a quote engine on their site where you can see Medicare rates instantly. Something like this.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

 

Even if you find a quote engine you will probably only see a few plans. That’s the way it is on my site. The people who designed and maintain the quote engine only have permission from a few carriers to illustrate their rates.

If you found a site with 230+ Medigap plans and up to 50 different carriers it would probably overwhelm you.

Insurance agents act as filters, showing you the good and bad and providing insight into not only current rates but carrier history.

 

Bill and Brenda went Medicare shopping

Last year Brenda visited my site a few times, reviewed available plans and rates, but was not available when I called. I left a message but never heard back.

I only call once. If I get voice mail, I leave a message. That’s it. I don’t bug people to death. I don’t chase them down.

Meanwhile Bill and Brenda received several automated emails from me. Each one had information about Medicare in general as well as specific information on Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Part D.happy couple

After a few weeks had gone by Bill emailed me. They were both turning 65 and going on Medicare in a few months and they wanted me to come to their home one evening to discuss options.

Only one problem.

I don’t make house calls and I rarely conduct business after normal office hours, but I did agree to call them at a designated time and day.

 

How Much Can You Really Save?

We talked for perhaps 40 minutes or so. I walked them through the Medicare process and answered all their questions. I agreed to send them information by email so they could study their options in their time frame.

Brenda had already discussed Medicare with her friends and was convinced they needed to buy plan F from AARP/United Healthcare. If they needed plan F they could save $500 per year with a different carrier but the real savings would come by switching to plan G and save over $1000 per year.

The savings didn’t stop there.

Brenda was taking a “prescription” dose of Niacin as part of her cholesterol medication regiment. When I ran their drug report it turns out she was prescribed an OTC version. Her pharmacist was pulling the medication off the shelf, slapping a label on it and charging over $100 per fill for a 30 day supply. She was paying over $1200 per year on her high deductible plan.

I looked on Amazon for the same strength, slow release Niacin.

$17 for 175 tablets.

She could get a years supply for around $35 vs. $1200 from her druggist.

I suggested she ask her doc about the OTC version from Amazon. She did and he blessed the change.

She changed drug stores shortly after that. Probably should have changed docs too but that was up to her.

The point of this is, a few phone calls and emails with an insurance agent (that would be me) resulted in a savings of over $2,000 per year by using an agent. Had she followed the advice of her friends that decision would have cost her a lot of money over the next few years.

 

Do you need an insurance agent?

Not really.

Anyone can do this but very few insurance agents take the time to educate their clients the way I do.

In September of this year I will be going on Medicare and I am pretty sure I will take my own advice. The same advice I give others.

You need adequate coverage to protect you against the cost of health CARE.

You don’t need to spend all your money on insurance.

You don’t need as much coverage as you think you do and can certainly do better than buying what your friends have. Unless they bought it through Georgia Medicare Plans.

Shop and compare now.

Your information is NEVER sold.

 

 

#MedicareSupplementInsurance #InsuranceAgent #GAMedigapQuotes

Aetna Medicare or First Health Part D Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free instant Medigap quotes.

Georgia Medicare supplement rates

Should All Diabetics Take Cholesterol Medication?

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

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

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

 

Diabetic and High Cholesterol

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

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

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

According to Dr. Richard Grant, not necessarily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Diabetic medications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#diabetic #Medicare #cholesterol #MedicarePartD

Medicare Drug Plan – Save Money

Save money on your Medicare drug plan with simple changes. Avoid the donut hole. Turning 65? The drug plan with the lowest premium may cost you the most.  Medicare Advantage may be your worst enemy if you want to save on prescription medications. Save even more by substituting OTC for prescription medications. Change your pharmacy, save big. Finding places that offer free prescription drugs. Take advantage of Medicare Extra Help. Lower your drug costs by ordering medications from Canada.

Georgia Medicare Plans is more than your best resource for low cost Medigap plans. In addition to over 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia there are more than 40 different drug plans.

We show you the plans with the best value and let you decide. Shop and compare now.

Georgia Medicare drug plan

 

Low premium drug plan may be a mistake

Sadly, too many people focus on the monthly premium and fail to look at how much the plan REALLY costs. Every year when the new drug plans are say whatintroduced there is always one carrier that tries to capture as much of the market by offering a drug plan with the lowest premium. Some years it is Humana. Others the AARP plan from United Healthcare will have the rock bottom premium.

What’s wrong with that?

Dee has the low premium drug plan from Humana, and thought it was fine. I always offer a free drug plan review to my Medigap clients but she only took a few low cost generics and felt the Humana Walmart plan was best.

This year she decided to take me up on my offer and ask for a comparison of her Humana Part D plan with the other 40+ plans available in her zip code. Dee sent me a list of her medications (exact name, dosage, number of refills, preferred pharmacy) and I entered them into the Medicare Plan Finder.

The results surprised her.

If she simply renewed her Humana drug plan for next year the annual cost of her medications would be over $3,000. Switching to a different Part D plan with a slightly higher premium drops her drug costs to $1300.

That’s a savings of $1700 per year!

For the last 3 years she has saved over $500 per year with the Medicare supplement plan I suggested vs. the plan she picked on her own. Putting $500+ per year in Dee’s pocket vs. the insurance carrier certainly helped, but how much more could she have saved over that time if she had allowed me to help?

 

Generics, the key to savings

It is common knowledge that generic drugs can save you money, but not everyone can tolerate the fillers in generics. But did you know that some medicare disenrollmentmedications you are filling by prescription are available in the same strength as your prescription brand?

Barb has been taking a prescription dose of Niacin ER for years at the insistence of her doctor. Every month for the last several years she fills the prescription and pays $109 for 30 pills. Her existing drug plan won’t cover the prescription version since there is an OTC alternative so Barb pays the regular retail price.

A little research turned up the same dosage over the counter was available from Amazon at a cost of $45 for 500 capsules. She could have been getting almost a years supply from Amazon for about the same price as she is paying for a 30 day supply from the pharmacy.

While she was grateful for my advice she was not pleased that her doctor had her overpaying $1,000 per year for the exact same medication that was available on the shelf in the vitamin section.

These are just two examples out of many. How much can you save?

 

Medicare Advantage, one stop shopping

Many retiree’s flock to Medicare Advantage plans for the low monthly premium and convenience of having all their medical and drug needs in one package.data mining for gold

The low monthly Advantage premiums certainly are attractive, but like with everything else, the true cost is in what you pay for your health care. When you buy a Medicare Advantage plan you take the drug plan that is built in. Depending on your Georgia zip code, you may have anywhere from 2 or 3 Advantage plans to over a dozen.

But in that same area you could have 30 or more drug plans.

Toby had picked out a Gold Medicare Advantage plan based on the recommendation of some friends but at the last minute decided to compare his choice with original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan. He had already checked and found his doctors were in the Advantage network and the hospitals in his area were as well. He was quite confident that the Advantage plan would work just fine.

We discussed the merits of each plan and while he was now leaning toward a Medigap plan he wasn’t completely ready to pull the trigger. I asked for, and received, a list of his medications and ran a drug plan report for him. Even though I normally only do this for existing clients, I felt Toby needed the “big picture” to finalize his decision.

The Medigap plan I suggested had a monthly premium of $112 plus another $30 for a drug plan. Comparing to his $40 Advantage plan that included prescription medications made him want to stay with his original choice and forgo the supplement plan.

But when I showed him the difference in his drug costs with a stand alone drug plan vs. the one built into his Advantage plan, going with original Medicare, a supplement plan and separate drug plan became the obvious choice.

His annual drug costs with the Advantage plan were almost $6,000 per year MORE than the stand alone Part D!

Too often retirees only look to see if their doctor is in network and fail to calculate the cost of prescription drugs.

 

Additional money saving tips

We have several ways to help you save money on your prescription drug needs. Combining a low cost Medicare supplement plan with the RIGHT drug well informedplan is just one way.

Look for places that offer free and low cost prescription drugs. Your Publix pharmacy has a FREE medication list. Combining drugs from a reputable Canadian pharmacy with free prescription drugs can keep you out of the donut hole.

The key to saving money involves knowing where to look and how to understand your Medicare plan finder report.

Vera saved $550 per year. Bill will save over $1200. Sam saves over $900 every year.

I can’t guarantee you will save $300 to $1400 per year or more by switching drug plans any more than I can promise savings of $500+ by using one of our preferred Medigap plans over the one you have now.

The only way to know how much you can save, or could have saved, is to start with a free, no obligation Medigap quote. Compare plans side by side and see for yourself. We do have access to over 170 different Medicare supplement plans and can show you rates you won’t see anywhere else.

Then let us run a drug plan comparison.

This costs you nothing but a few minutes of your time, about 15 minutes on the phone to get a better idea of what YOU want, and then we email your report(s). Another 15 minute phone call after that and you can find out how much you can save with a better Medigap plan and drug plan.

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