New to Medicare – What Do I Need to Know?

When you are new to Medicare you will have questions. But you probably don’t know who can help. Even if you did, what questions will you ask?

You don’t know what you don’t know.

new to medicare
New to Medicare – What Questions to Ask?

About the time you think you have it all figured out they change the rules.

Turning 65?

If you are turning 65 and new to Medicare you are about to enter the state of confusion.

Medicare may SEEM simple, but it is not. It is easy until you have a claim. Then it becomes complicated. Where will you turn then? Will you go to the friend that told you to buy the plan they have? Maybe you will call the agent that SOLD you the plan? Good luck with that. They may not even be in the business by now.

You could call the carrier where you went direct to avoid talking to agents. You call an 800 number, press 1 for English then get routed to voice mail. Someone will call you back in a few days while you are in the shower.

How well does that work for you?

Maybe your best choice is to find a GA Medicare expert.

New to Medicare?

Enrolling in Medicare

If you are approaching age 65 and new to Medicare you know the drill. For the last year your phone has been ringing. Pushy insurance agents calling to SELL you a plan you don’t want, you don’t need and can’t afford.

Your mailman hates you because of all the junk mail that arrives at your door every day.

What do you keep? What do you throw away? Where do you turn for answers to your Medicare questions? Check out Medicare plans in Georgia.

Who Can Help Me?

There is nothing wrong with buying a Medicare plan online as long as you are prepared for a LOT of phone calls from agents wanting to SELL you something you don’t need, don’t want and can’t afford.

When you are new to Medicare how do you find the RIGHT plan?

All I ask is for you to give me 10 minutes by phone. Time to answer YOUR questions. You will NEVER be pressured to buy anything. This is your opportunity to ask ANY Medicare related question, then decide if you want to work with me or not.

It’s that simple.

It’s an offer you can’t refuse.

Am I Required to Buy a Medicare Drug Plan?

Am I required to buy a Medicare drug plan? What if I don’t take drugs? Can I wait until I need a plan? GA Medicare expert Bob Vineyard explains.

Is Medicare Part D required by law? What is the best 2019 drug plan? Is there a penalty if I DON’T buy a prescription plan? Is Part D optional?

required to buy medicare drug plan
Required to Buy a Medicare Drug Plan?

Medicare Part D

I don’t take any prescription drugs. Why must I buy something I don’t need or want?

You are not REQUIRED to buy a prescription Medicare drug plan. But if you don’t enroll in a plan when first eligible you will pay a penalty.

And the penalty is payable for life. It also increases every year.

So . . .

Am I Required to Buy a Medicare Drug Plan?

Where Can I Find the BEST Plan?

Finding the best Medicare drug plan isn’t easy. Part D is the most confusing part of Medicare. How do I find the RIGHT plan for me?

You could get lucky this time, but what about next year?

Is there a GUIDE to Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage? Yes, and it is only 88 pages . . .

The best drug plan is the one that is right for you. Do the following before enrolling.

  • Use the Medicare Drug Plan Finder
  • Enter all your current medications
  • Choose a pharmacy. Look for the one with the lowest copay’s.
  • Make sure all your drugs are on the formulary
  • Consider buying generics with cash or a discount card
  • Look for plans with a deductible
  • Enroll in a plan with the lowest total out of pocket cost

You can do all this by yourself.

Or you can ask a Medicare expert to help. I am always willing to help my Medigap clients. If you are not a client, please don’t ask. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

Why is Medicare Confusing?

Seniors often buy the wrong drug plan and spend too much on their prescription plan. Seniors on Medicare spend an average of $263 per month on prescription medications.

Lower your medication bill by only using your drug card when necessary. The right drug plan will save a lot on brand names but you will almost always pay MORE for generics.

Consider paying cash or using GoodRx instead for maximum savings. Also look for a Medicare drug plan with a deductible. https://youtu.be/LaA9NnFeBXI

You have questions? I have answers. Call or email.

#MedicareDrugPlan #MedicarePartD #GAMedicareExpert

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