Medicare Supplement – What If You Just Bought?

Let’s say you turned 65, enrolled in Medicare and just bought a Medicare supplement plan. Did you make the right decision? What are some of the traps and mistakes?

Please take 3 minutes to read this then decide if you need to reconsider your decision. It might just save you a lot of time, money and grief.

You are turning 65 and about to go on Medicare. Here are some things you need to know about your journey.

Medicare Supplement - Turning 65

 

About That Medicare Supplement Plan You Just Bought

You are not alone.

Roughly 80% of retirees about to turn 65 have never bought health insurance before.

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

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

Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage?

 

Your Friends May Offer the Worst Advice

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

They are probably very good at many things, but Medicare experts they are not.

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

Sadly, most agents talk too much and never listen to your needs.

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

 

Things You Probably Don’t Know

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

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

You have 60 days from the time you turned 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B to pick a Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan. If you wait, your next opportunity will be during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) and you will pay a LIFETIME late enrollment penalty.

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

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

Get instant GA Medigap quotes, then request our FREE Medicare Supplement rate report that shows ALL the Medicare supplement rates.

 

Discovering What You Bought

Medigap “gotcha’s”

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

But the simplicity stops there.

Financial ratings don’t matter. “A” rated carriers like AFLAC and Omaha have sucker punched retirees in the past. Offer a low going in rate then substantial increases in later years. Sometimes they stop writing new business with that carrier name.

Then what happens?

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

The carrier names are interchangeable and every 3 – 4 years an old carrier will be swapped for a newer one that has rates 20 – 30% below the “old” carrier. The new, lower rates are only for NEW APPLICANTS.

Some carriers have “hot” rates in Georgia right now. But none of them have more than 2 years in the Medigap business an at least one has already had a 9% rate increase.

 

Which Carrier Did I Pick for My Own Coverage?

My choice

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

I enrolled in Medicare in September 2015. How many agents have you talked to so far that are also on Medicare?

My guess is none.

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

I didn’t buy Medicare supplement plan F.

I didn’t buy a Medicare Advantage plan. Even if I did, I certainly would NOT buy a hospital indemnity plan, a cancer plan, a heart attack plan, etc to fill the gaps. An agent that pushes those policies is all about making as much money as possible off you.

 

It’s Your Plan and Your Money

Choose wisely.

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

There are more than 250 different Medigap plans and rates in Georgia. You probably looked at half a dozen or less. What did you miss by not seeing ALL the rates?

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

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

Let me know how I can help. Call (404) 252-5859 to speak with Bob Vineyard. 

Why Are Georgia Medigap Rates So High?

Why are Georgia Medigap rates so high? Which Medicare supplement carrier raises rates the most? Why are (this carriers) Medigap rates going up so much? Which carrier raises rates more? UPDATE 2017 – Wild times ahead! Many carrier rates are increasing by 10% to 15% and some even higher.

georgia medigap ratesThe most popular search term at Georgia Medicare Plans is for Georgia Medigap rates. One large well known carrier in particular dominates the searches more than any other Medicare supplement carrier.

That same carrier has handed out more rate increases since 2012 than any other Medicare supplement carrier. They increased rates ELEVEN TIMES since 2012!

Why is this? What is the answer?

The simple answer is, do your homework before buying.

  • Never buy on carrier name recognition alone
  • Don’t buy a plan based on rate UNLESS you also know the rate history for that carrier
  • Listen to your friends, but don’t buy a plan based solely on their recommendation
  • Never buy under sales pressure

When you make the right choice you can keep that plan for years and never have any regrets. When you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, that may be your only opportunity to purchase a Medigap plan. There is only ONE open enrollment for Medicare supplement plans.

Why look at only a handful of Medicare supplement plans when you have the opportunity to compare over 170 different plans? Check out GA Medigap Quotes for instant, side by side comparisons of the most popular plans.

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If you don’t know where you are going you will never get there.

 

What’s up with Georgia Medigap rates?

Good question. The answer is not simple but I will do my best to explain. But first, here is a sample of queries that drove searchers to my site over the last few weeks.ga medigap rate increase

How often does Mutual of Omaha raise their Medicare supplement rates? What are Mutual of Omaha Medigap rates? Why are Mutual of Omaha Medicare supplement rates going up so much? Rate increases for United of Omaha? Which carrier has raised rates most often, Mutual of Omaha or Aetna?

Everyone our age remembers Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Tune in Sunday evening to watch Marlon Perkins track a mother lion and then close the show by saying “Just like the mother lion protects her cubs, Mutual of Omaha will protect you”.

Corny, but effective.

When asking about Medigap rate increases you need to understand there are 4 different carriers that trade on the Omaha name, not just Mutual of Omaha. Tracking rate history can be challenging at best and impossible for most consumers.

 

Georgia Medigap rate changes

Since 2012 Omaha carriers have increased rates no less than 11 times. Some rate increases applied only to legacy (in force) policyholders, some for new applicants, and some increase applied to both. Below is a summary of  changes in Georgia Medigap rates.

  • September 2012 – increase for United of Omaha modernized plans, new and in force
  • December 2012 – increase for United of Omaha standardized plans issued prior to June, 2010
  • July 2013 – increase for Mutual of Omaha standardized plans
  • August 2013 – increase for United World standardized plans issued prior to June, 2010
  • September 2013 – increase for new United of Omaha applications
  • October 2013 – increase for legacy (in force) United of Omaha modernized plan policyholders
  • October 2013 – increase for United of Omaha legacy plan N policy holders
  • December 2013 – increase for United of Omaha standardized plan policyholders
  • October 2014 – increase for United of Omaha plan N policyholders
  • August 2015 – increase for new and legacy Omaha Insurance Company modernized plan policyholders
  • October 2015 – increase for United of Omaha legacy modernized plan policyholders

That’s a lot of rate increases spread over 4 issuing carriers in less than 4 years.

And consider this. New applicants will eventually fall into the legacy class within a short while.

The carriers I recommend have had only 4 rate increases  (each) since 2012. Legacy policyholders receive the same rate adjustment as new policyholders. In other words, legacy policyholders are not burdened with frequent or higher rate increases so new applicants can enjoy lower rates for a while.

Legacy policyholders with carriers I suggest do not pay higher rates than those applying for new coverage.

 

 

Buying a Medigap plan when turning 65

When you first turn 65 you can purchase any Medigap plan you want, no questions asked. During your initial open enrollment it doesn’t matter if you medigap rate peacecan run marathons or if you have one foot in the grave.

In the future you can change plans any time you want, but only if you are healthy. There are no annual enrollment periods for Medicare supplement plans. The plan you buy when you turn 65 may be a plan you have to keep for the rest of your life.

If the premium is no longer affordable you option is to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan (lower premiums, higher out of pocket, no choice of doctors) or have original Medicare as your only coverage.

We help you find the right plan that meets your needs and budget so you can have peace of mind now and in the future.

 

Why limit yourself to one Medigap carrier?

Georgia Medicare Plans is appointed to represent over a dozen Medicare supplement carriers. In almost every situation we can offer you the absolute lowest rate for the plan you want.

But sometimes you might want to pay a few dollars more for long term rate stability.

Or you can just buy based on brand name and hope for the best.

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#GeorgiaMedigapRates  #MedicareSupplementRateIncreases  #GAMedigapRates #2017MedicareSupplementRates

Does Medicare Work Anywhere?

Does Medicare work anywhere I live or go? If I travel to another state, will my Medicare coverage still pay my bills? Can I see any doctor and Medicare will still pay?

Will Medicare work wherever you are? Will it be there for you when you need it most?married couple hospital bed

  • Never any networks, you can travel anywhere in the US and still have coverage
  • Medicare works with any hospital, doctor or lab in the United States
  • Medicare follows you when you move to a new city or state

Because Medicare supplement plans go hand in hand with original Medicare, you will never have a gap in coverage when you travel or relocate to a different city.

Paying too much for your Medigap plan? Use our online instant Medigap quote engine to find the best rates based on your age, gender and zip.

shop and compare GA Medigap quotes

There is nothing like original Medicare for peace of mind, especially when you move. Medicare can work anywhere.

What follows is a true story. Events actually happened. Only the names have been changed.

 

Does Medicare work anywhere in the US?

Fred and Ethel had been married for years. Like most couples, they had their spats but they always made up and deep down inside they truly loved each other.

Fred had a heart condition that required him to see a specialist several times a year. Ethyl was a nurse for many years before retiring due to health issues and she took good care of Fred. As they aged they realized they wanted to be closer to their daughter Lucy in Atlanta, so they made plans to sell their house and relocate.

Lucy loved her parents and so did her husband Ricky. Their children were grown and they agreed to invite Fred and Ethyl to move in with them.

And so it began.

 

Fred had a heart attack

Fred and Ethyl sold their home in Louisiana and moved to Georgia to live with Lucy and Ricky. The move went smoothly but not without incident.

Soon after moving Fred had a heart attack and was taken by ambulance to Northside Hospital. After being stabilized in the ER Fred was admitted to the coronary care unit where he could be monitored 24 hours. A few days later he was moved to a private room so his care could be continued until he was well enough to be discharged.

Will Medicare work anywhere?

Medicare covers emergency room, hospital ICU, doctors, scans, and inpatient lab work in full subject to a $1288 deductible (2016). For the next 60 days following admission Medicare will pay 100% of your medical bills.

Fred was ready for discharge but the doctors wanted him to spend a few days in a rehab facility before going home where he would need periodic home health care.

Medicare works anywhere. In the hospital, in rehab, at home.

 

But Fred and Ethyl didn’t have Medicare

Medicare can work anywhere, but Medicare Advantage is a different animal.

In order to save money they enrolled in a $0 premium Medicare Advantage HMO plan. What they saved in premiums they paid out in health care expenses between doctor trips and hospital visits while living in Louisiana. As Fred’s health declined their out of pocket costs grew to several thousand dollars each year.

married couple walking from storeMedicare HMO plans offer coverage for in network care and emergency care out of network. But you have no coverage for out of network treatment when it is not a medical emergency.

Lucy was helping her parents with the move so she called their insurance carrier to find out what needed to be done to continue coverage. She was told their current plan would be good for 60 days. Once they relocate to Georgia they will need to notify Social Security of their new address and secure new coverage.

But things didn’t go as smoothly as expected.

Fred’s emergency admission to the hospital was covered by his HMO even though the hospital was not in his network. But doctor visits by both Fred and Ethyl prior to his admission were not covered and they had to pay out of pocket.

Fred’s rehab and home health care would not be covered by his plan either since Atlanta providers were not included in his plan.

Their out of pocket expenses had already run more than $1,000 and they were going to become even higher unless they could secure new coverage.

Lucy called me three days before the end of the month, asking for my help in securing new Medicare coverage. Specifically, she wanted a Medicare supplement plan for her parents.

 

What she wanted was impossible

When Lucy called, her dad was still in the hospital and they had not yet notified Social Security of the change in address. The best we could hope for would be to have everything in place by the first of the month following.

In the meantime their non-covered medical expenses were mounting.

Even moving to another Medicare Advantage plan with Georgia networks is possible, but not within the time frame they needed.

Original Medicare has no networks. If Fred and Ethyl had original Medicare and a supplement plan their out of pocket exposure would have been minimal.

Their Medigap plan would also follow them from Louisiana to Georgia without a hitch. No need to change plans. The same coverage they had in Louisiana would continue in Georgia.

Does Medicare work anywhere? Absolutely. So will your Medicare Advantage plan. Just be prepared to pay more when you travel out of the Advantage plan service area, and changing coverage once you arrive may be a challenge.

When you want full coverage anywhere you go, nothing beats original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan

original medicare supplement coverage

 

Popular searches that lead to this page.

Does Medicare cover me when I travel? Am I still covered by Medicare when I travel out of state? Can I go to any provider when I have a Medicare Advantage plan? How does Medicare Advantage HMO work?

 

#Medicare #MedicareAdvantageHMO

Welcome to Medicare – What’s Covered?

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

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

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

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

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

You might want to view our Medicare Exam video on YouTube

Turning 65 – Welcome to Medicare 2018 – What’s Covered?

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

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

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

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

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

Ask me anything. Others talk, we listen.

 

Welcome to Medicare Surprises

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

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

That was the wrong assumption.

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

Lab work is not covered by Medicare

Seriously? What’s that all about?

Preventive screenings are covered by Medicare in the following situations

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

What is considered medically necessary?

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

Preventive lab work may not be covered by Medicare.

 

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

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

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

Not so with Medicare.

Those under age 65 pay nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Medicare physical exam.

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

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

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

 

More ways to save money.

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

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

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

 

GA Medigap quote

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

 

#MedicareLab #WelcometoMedicare

Hospital Admission – In or Out?

Original Medicare offers excellent hospital admission coverage under Medicare Part A. But how is your hospital bill treated under Part B? Are you in or out?

  • Full Part A coverage for up to 60 days following a deductible of $1288 per hospital admission
  • Full Part A coverage for up to 100 days in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
  • Full Part A coverage for up to 100 days for home health care

Each of the above are true but only if they follow hospital admission as an INPATIENT (Medicare Part A) for at least 3 consecutive days prior to your SNF stay or home health care.hospital admission

But what if you were never admitted as an inpatient and your observation stay was covered by Medicare Part B?

What is my liability for out of pocket costs if my hospital admission was a Part B stay?

 

Hospital Admission – In or Out?

Consider the case of Caroline Giada.

On the morning of Sept. 23, 2014, Caroline Giada woke up in her home in coastal New Jersey. She rose from bed, walked over to the bathroom and fainted, hitting her back on the sink cabinet on the way down. When she came to, she couldn’t move. So she called 911.

The 76-year-old was taken to the emergency room, where the attending nurses looked her over and booked her into a bed. Over the next six days, she was given every kind of test imaginable: X-rays, electrocardiogram, CT scan, ultrasound, MRI. Nurses came and went. So did doctors. Finally, a week later, the problem was uncovered: a fracture in the L5 segment of Giada’s lower spine. They called in a specialist, but he said he couldn’t operate until the following Thursday.

After her surgery and rehab, when she was ready to go home, Giada was hit with another surprise: a bill. Medicare had covered the surgery and the rehab, but not the nursing facility stay, and the facility told her she owed $2,360. “I couldn’t understand it,” says Giada. “They said, ‘Well, Medicare isn’t paying, because the hospital put you under observation instead of as an inpatient.’” – America Aljazeera

Had Caroline been admitted as a hospital inpatient, her nursing facility stay would have been covered in full. Instead she was faced with a significant outpatient bill.

 

If You Have Medicare, Ask!

Are you considered an inpatient or outpatient?

If you don’t know, ASK!

Medicare does cover outpatient services subject to an annual deductible ($166 in 2016) and coinsurance (you pay 20%, Medicare pays 80%). Unlike traditional insurance that caps your out of pocket, you responsibility for Part B expenses have no cap.

You continue paying 20% until you are well, you run out of money, or you die.

Look what Medicare covers.

Medicare supplement plan F will pay your Part A deductible ($1288 in 2016), your Part B deductible ($166 in 2016) as well as your 20% share. With original Medicare and Medigap plan F your out of pocket for approved Medicare Part B charges is $0.

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Hospital Notification Changes

The  Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act was signed into law in August, 2015 and will go into effect in August, 2016.

Medicare beneficiaries in the hospital for more than 24 hours must be informed in writing of their hospital admission status within 36 hours of when they begin receiving medical services as an outpatient. The written notice must clearly explain:

  • that the individual is not an inpatient;
  • the reasons for the person’s observation status; and
  • the implications in terms of increased financial responsibility and lack of eligibility for coverage in a SNF after discharge.

The patient or their representative must sign the notice to acknowledge their understanding.

When was the last time you reviewed your Medicare supplement plan? Get a free instant Georgia Medigap quote. No obligation.

We will also send you a Medigap Transparency Report showing rates for all Medicare supplement carriers in your area. Most quote engines, including ours, only show a few plans. But there are more than 40 carriers offering Medigap plans in Georgia. See which ones have the best rates!

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#GAMedigapRates  #HospitalAdmission #MedicarePartB

 

Find the Best Medicare Supplement Rate

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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?

 

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#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

Piedmont Wellstar Medicare Advantage 2016

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The popular Piedmont Wellstar Medicare Advantage HMO plan will not be available in 2016. Existing members have received their non-renewal notice and now begins the task of finding new coverage.old lady adjusting glasses computer

Piedmont Wellstar tried to put a smiley face on their announcement ……….

“While PWHP has chosen to exit the Medicare Advantage program, largely because of premium deficiencies, our success … can be measured against the ‘triple aim’ health care goals of improving the patient experience and quality of care, while reducing the trend in health care cost,” the statement read. “To this end, PWHP has been successful as demonstrated by our members’ satisfaction, our quality of care and our ability to keep healthcare cost trends per member flat for the past 18 months.” – Marietta Daily Journal

“Premium deficiencies” is just another way of saying the plans provided way too many benefits which resulted in attracting sicker patients that led to losses.

Premium deficiencies and success do not belong in the same sentence.

Roughly 12,000 existing members will lose their P-W coverage as of 12/31/15.

Post summary

  • Piedmont Wellstar discontinued for 2016
  • Pick a new Advantage plan and you may have to change doctors and hospitals
  • Original Medicare, keep your doctor
  • Original Medicare and a supplement plan
  • Sleep well at night knowing you made the right choice

If you are tired of having coverage dropped and want to pick your own doctors and hospitals, perhaps it is time to return to original Medicare and a supplement plan.

Medicare does not have doctor or hospital networks.

Medicare will never cancel your coverage.

When you select the right Medigap plan you can keep it for life.

Medicare shop and compare

 

Piedmont Wellstar – What Next?

The 2016 Medicare open enrollment kicks off October 15 and ends on December 7. Current members can pick from any of the following.

  • Enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan
  • Return to original Medicare
  • Return to original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare supplement plan

The first two options are straight forward. Keep in mind that changing to a new Advantage plan means checking to make sure your doctors and hospitals are in the new network and cross-referencing your medications with the drug formulary.

It also means being prepared to repeat this process every 1 – 3 years in the future. grandma shaking head

One couple losing Piedmont Wellstar coverage had 13 doctors between them and numerous medications. After spending more than an hour researching options they still did not have a workable solution.

Who wants to go through that again?

Medicare Advantage plans are great when you are healthy but the numbers change when your health goes south.

 

Return to Original Medicare

Some Piedmont Wellstar orphans will simply go with original Medicare, maybe a drug plan, and take their chances.

While that approach does guarantee access to any doctor or hospital it may not be the best financial option. Medicare alone is an open ended plan that pays 80% of covered Part B charges while you pay the remaining 20%.

Open ended means you pay the 20% portion until you are well again, dead, or run out of money.

Two of those three options are not good.

 

Medicare Plus Supplement

All of my clients want the freedom to pick their own doctors, find a drug plan that fits their needs and don’t want the hassle of trying to change plans every year.

With original Medicare and a supplement you can sleep well at night.sleep well at night

Almost every conversation I have with prospective clients begins with them saying “I don’t want to change my doctor”. I can certainly understand that position. When you have health issues you want a doctor you know and one that knows you. Conditions that require frequent checkups to make sure that mole on your skin is not changing or making sure your medications are controlling your sugar levels give you comfort when dealing with someone you like and trust.

If you are in good health you can purchase any Medigap plan you want from any carrier. This opens up a wide range of plan choices and premium savings that are not otherwise available.

But if you are in poor health you are not frozen out of the Medicare supplement market. Instead your choices will be limited to a handful of plans and high prices. The most common “guaranteed issue” option is Medigap plan F.

It is also the most expensive.

A female, age 67, non-tobacco user in zip code 30060 will see plan F premiums from popular carriers at $154 (Aetna), $159 (Omaha), $180 (AARP) and $183 (BCBSGA).

That same female that can qualify medically will have the ability to enroll in a Medigap plan N without the network hassle. Plan N premiums for this lady start at $89 and the out of pocket maximum is normally less than $500 vs the cap on the Piedmont Wellstar plan at $4000.

Plan N is very similar to Medicare Advantage plans except without

  • provider networks
  • annual notice of change
  • pronounced increase in your out of pocket cost sharing
  • threat of cancellation (when you pick the right carrier)
  • insurance carrier bureaucracy

Georgia Medicare Plans has rates for over 170 different Medigap plans available throughout the state. You can also review instant online quotes, comparing multiple plans side by side. The image below links to our quote engine. This is a secure, private site. Your information is never sold.

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This might be the right time to replace your cancelled Piedmont Wellstar plan and return to the security of original Medicare and a quality Medicare supplement plan.

 

 

#PiedmontWellstar #MedicareAdvantage #MedicareSupplement #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

 

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