4 money saving tips that can save you $1,000 per year or more with little or no effort on your part. No coupons to clip. No standing in line to make an exchange. All of these money saving tips can be done from the comfort of your home in a matter of minutes.
Our best money saving tips involve changing the way you buy your medications, and enrolling in a different Medicare supplement plan. Our clients save an average of $450 per year by keeping the same plan but changing carriers. Save even more with nominal cost sharing.
Medigap rates are increasing in January. Apply before 11/15/14 and lock in today’s lower rates.
Money saving tip #1
Change your plan.
This is Medicare open enrollment. From now through December 7th you can change your drug plan or Medicare Advantage with a simple phone call or online enrollment.
For many people, their drug plan is the most expensive part of their health care expenditure. It doesn’t matter if your drug coverage is embedded in your Advantage plan or if you have a stand alone Part D plan, drugs, and how you pay for them, are expensive.
Here are just a few money saving tips to consider
- Don’t run all your medications through your drug plan
- Consider buying online such as through a Canadian pharmacy
- Change your pharmacy
- Consider a drug discount card
- Order maintenance med’s in 90 day refills
- Use mail order when possible
- Switch to generics
- Look for free medications
If you hit expect to hit your donut hole consider buying some of your medications without using your drug plan. The 2015 donut hole kicks in when the retail cost of your drugs hits $2960.
Obamacare eliminates the donut hole by 2020.
Sounds great, but here is how it is accomplished.
You pay more.
In 2014 you must have $6,455 in covered drug charges to hit the catastrophic level.
In 2015 that amount is $6,680, plus your copay’s in the catastrophic level increase as well.
And your premiums will rise in most cases, as will your total out of pocket costs for medications.
Canadian pharmacy’s are a great way to save money. We have recommended (and personally used) the same pharmacy for over 10 years.
If you are buying locally at a retail pharmacy consider making a change. Using a different pharmacy can save you anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred dollars a year. One local pharmacy is almost always lower than any other in your area.
Drug discount cards are normally a waste but we have found the discount card from Needy Meds to be superior to any other card.
If you are taking Amlodipine, Lisinopril or Metformin, did you know you can get these for free? Check out your local Publix pharmacy. Ask them to price your other drugs to.
Then pick up a steak to celebrate your new found savings.
Money saving tip #2
Change your plan.
If you have a Medicare supplement plan you are probably paying too much. At any particular age and zip code, prices for plan F can vary by $100 per month or even more. All plans with the same letter are identical in every way except price.
When you pay more you don’t get more you simply paid too much.
More money saving tips.
The plan with the lowest price today may not be a good value next year. Currently Manhattan Life and Omaha Insurance Company are using low, introductory rates to write business.
Neither carrier has a 5 year renewal rate history.
We NEVER recommend a plan or a carrier that has not established themselves for at least 5 years in the Medigap market.
Buy the low price now and run the risk of a double digit rate increase next year.
Or pay a few dollars more for long term rate stability. We have clients that have never moved their plan (or had reason to) in 4 years time.
We also never recommend plan F. Changing to G or N, with the right carrier, can save another $600 or more AND offer more rate stability.
Money saving tip #3
Change your carrier.
If you have a Medigap plan from Blue Cross or one of the Mutual of Omaha carriers we can almost guarantee you a savings of $40 to $90 per month or more.
Sometimes you can save even more by switching your Medicare Advantage plan.
Too often retirees look only at the Advantage premiums and the add-on benefits such as dental, vision and gym memberships. The REAL cost of an advantage plan is in what YOU pay for your health care.
Your built in drug plan can be a money hole. We recently ran a report for a diabetic client and found the Advantage plan he wanted would have cost him almost $6,000 more for his drugs vs a different plan he had never considered.
Because only half his doctors were in network with plan “B”.
For a few dollars more we showed him a Medigap plan that allowed him to keep ALL his doctors, have less out of pocket than either Advantage plan, and pay less for his med’s than either Advantage plan.
All totaled he saved almost $100 per month in out of pocket costs and had less headache than the Advantage plan.
We had a similar situation with a client’s drug plan. Read “Lassie cant’ find a Medicare plan“
Money saving tip #4
Review your drug coverage, and change your agent. If you got this far your current agent isn’t doing you a favor.
People who buy Advantage plans almost never bother to check pricing on their medication. If their doctor is in network, and their drugs are covered, they stop there.
Never, ever, ever buy a plan without comparing your actual cost for medications.
This is generally a lot easier with a Medigap and separate Part D prescription drug plan. When you have original Medicare, a supplement and a drug plan you can build the kind of coverage you need from scratch. With Advantage plans you take what is in stock on the shelf.
Either it fits or it doesn’t.
No tailoring allowed.
Money saving tips
These tips can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars each year, but you must act now.
The last day to apply for an Advantage plan or drug plan is December 7, 2014.
The last day to apply for a Medigap plan at 2014 pricing is November 15, 2014. We are taking applications now for December, January and February.
What are the 4 mistakes you can make in choosing a Medicare plan? Do you understand the difference in original Medicare and private Medicare Advantage? Do you assume the plan your friends bought is best for you? Did you ask a knowledgeable agent to help or just shop online to find a plan? Have you budgeted for the total cost of health care? Don’t make the same mistake Tony made.
Many consumers start by shopping online, which is not a bad way to go as long as you understand the results. Others ask their friends about the kind of coverage they have. Nothing wrong with that as long as your friends researched and understood their options.
Sadly, too many end up repeating the same mistakes their friend made an only realize when it is too late to make a change.
Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage
You might be surprised at how many fail to understand the difference in original Medicare vs. a private Medicare Advantage plan. They think their Advantage plan is a supplement to Medicare.
Medicare annual open enrollment is when everyone can make changes in their plan.
Medicare and a supplement is more expensive than Medicare Advantage.
Original Medicare allows you to use any doctor, lab or hospital without penalty. You can travel anywhere in the country and have the same level of coverage as you have at home. You can keep the same plan, and doctor, from year to year.
Medicare Advantage picks doctors for you. If you use someone that is not in network, you pay a penalty. Your doctor can be fired from the plan in the middle of the year. United Healthcare has made headlines because they told participating doctors they were no longer needed, leaving patients high and dry.
Can you afford to make that mistake?
Letting your friends pick a plan for you
Have you ever had a friend set you up for a blind date? Oh, they mean well, but most of the time you will smile and be pleasant while inside you are saying to yourself “What were they thinking?”.
One of the 4 mistakes many people make is buying the same plan a friend has. If you follow this philosophy you will probably buy a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan or buy Medigap plan F from United Healthcare (AARP), Blue Cross or one of the current Mutual of Omaha companies.
What could be better than $0 premium? And your doctor(s) are in network so is there anything else to consider?
Or plan F pays 100% of my health care costs. It must be a great plan, right?
The $0 premium plan with $0 deductible might be just right, but did you estimate what your health care costs will be?
And about that plan F.
Depending on your age, gender and zip, Medicare supplement plan rates vary considerably. I recently ran a quote for a female, age 65, in Conyers. The United Healthcare (AARP) plan F was 19th on the list of plans ranked from lowest premium to highest. Blue Cross was 23rd.
If you are really sold on plan F you could have saved $350 a year (or more) if you had purchased from someone OTHER than the name brand carrier.
You would have saved even more, almost $600 a year, by choosing plan G ………. a plan not offered by United or Blue.
Amazon is the worlds largest retail shopping mall. You can find almost anything you want. Sometimes it is a good price, sometimes not. When the purchase arrives, if you don’t like it you can return it.
Buying a Medicare plan online isn’t the same thing.
Too often you won’t know if you like the plan until you actually use it. By then it may be too late to exchange it.
If you go to Medicare.gov there is a lot of information about Medicare Advantage and drug plans, but almost nothing usable when it comes to Medigap.
A common piece of advice on Medicare Advantage is to make sure your doctor is in network but how many times do you stop to check your medication list?
Most people don’t, especially the DIY crowd.
The biggest hassle in online shopping is landing on a site that will sell your information to dozens of insurance agents. Your phone won’t stop ringing and your email will be stuffed with “buy me” notices.
Georgia Medicare Plans never sells your information to anyone. We call once. That’s it. You decide if you want more information.
Tony almost made a $6,000 mistake
Tony is turning 65. Like everyone else he is bombarded with information about available plans. And Tony has asked friends which plan they have and would recommend.
But Tony also likes to do his own research. That’s how he found me.
Most of his friends have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan. Tony has a chronic condition that is under control and he has doctors he trusts. He wants a plan that includes his current doctors.
Tony was proactive and asked his doctors which plans they accept.
“All of them”.
That’s when he found my site. And then he called.
We talked for a few minutes and discussed the differences in original Medicare and a supplement plan vs. Medicare Advantage. Tony was not aware that doctors can be dropped from an Advantage plan in mid year. He also was not aware of the out of network restrictions and penalties. We discussed out easy it is to slip out of network, especially with P.A.R.E. claims.
Then we talked out Medicare and Medigap plans. We also looked at his expected annual cost of health care.
Failing to consider your cost of health care is one of the 4 mistakes almost everyone makes.
But it was the discussion about his meds that brought things to a head.
Tony takes two specific medications to keep his health in control. One is relatively inexpensive, the other is not. He gave me a complete list of his medications and I ran a prescription drug report for him.
After looking over the list I decided to do something I rarely do. Medicare drug reports are quite detailed, and confusing. I normally just show clients the top two plans rather than sending them 20 or more to review.
I repeated the process for the $0 premium Advantage plan he said he wanted.
Then I compared the results.
The Medicare Part D plan with the lowest annual drug costs would result in $3,000 in out of pocket costs for his medications.
The $0 premium plan would have him spending almost $9,000 for the exact same medications.
If Tony had taken the advice of his friends and purchased the $0 premium Advantage plan he would have made a $6,000 mistake.
Can you afford to make that kind of error?
Give us a call to discuss plans that fit your needs AND budget. Or you can start the process by using our online instant quote engine.
How do I compare Medicare Part D plans? Which prescription drug plan is best for me? Am I required to buy a drug plan? How often can I change my Medicare Part D? How much does Part D cost? Where do I find prescription drug plans? How much will my medications cost?
Medicare Part D
Medicare offers prescription drug coverage (Part D) to everyone with Medicare. You must first enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B before you can purchase a drug plan. Medicare Part D coverage is offered by insurance carriers. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered.
Should I buy a drug plan?
For starters, you are not REQUIRED to buy Medicare Part D, but you probably should . . . even if you are not currently on any medication.
If you fail to buy Medicare Part D when first eligible you will be charged a TAX by the U.S. Treassury and this tax is payable for life. Termed a late enrollment penalty (LEP) it is a tax surcharge equal to 1% per month for every month you couild have enrolled in a PDP (prescription drug plan) but failed to do so.
This tax is IN ADDITION TO the premium you pay to the insurance carrier offering the drug plan.
Which Medicare Part D plan is best for me?
Medigap policies do not include a prescription drug benefit. If you want prescription drug coverage you may want to talk to Medicare about prescription drug plans or visit Medicare Drug Formulary Plan Finder
Many seniors will not need a prescription drug plan. Or they may want to order some of their medication outside of their Medicare Part D plan to save money. Many times it is less expensive to pay for your medication out of pocket, or use a mail order pharmacy. There are also many programs available to provide medications for little or no charge.
Georgia Medicare Plans would like to provide you with a FREE REPORT, Choosing the Right Medicare Part D plan. Here are just a few of the tips you will learn from our report.
- How to use the Medicare Plan Finder
- Choosing the best plan for your needs and budget
- Should you use mail order or retail?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of ordering by mail?
- Which Canadian pharmacy’s are best?
- Should I run all drugs through my drug plan?
- How can I maximize the value of my Medicare Part D plan?
You have Medicare questions? We have answers.
#MedicarePartD #MedicareDrugPlan #PDP #DonutHole #ExtraHelp
The popular SilverScript Medicare drug plan is in trouble with the folks at CMS (Medicare). According to a CMS directive, the CEO of SilverScript has been given immediate notifiication of intermediate sanctions (how is that for government legalese?) and is instructed to cease accepting applications for the SilverScript Medicare drug plan.
Here is a link to the CMS letter.
If you applied for a SilverScript Medicare drug plan there is nothing to do. Your policy will eventually be issued (if it has not been already). If your application was received by SilverScript after 1/15/2013 the application will be returned.