Georgia Medicare Gives Thanks

Georgia Medicare Looks at 2018

As Dickens said, “This is the best of times and the worst of times.” Like all years, there are times when things are good and times when things are not so good. From a business perspective I would give this year a 9 on a scale of 10. Georgia Medicare expert reflects on 2018.

Georgia Medicare expert

The Good News

Georgia Medicare supplement clients continue to bless me with referrals. My business grows mostly by word of mouth. When my advice is useful clients remember and pass my name along to their friends.

Like that old shampoo commercial where Heather Locklear told two friends about Faberge, and they told two friends, and so on.

Good new spreads like wildfire, and it is appreciated. With more than 500 GA Medicare clients, new referrals come in almost every month.

Thank you for being generous and sharing my name with your friends.

Georgia Medicare YouTube Channel

After years of planning and hoping it would happen, I finally implemented my Georgia Medicare YouTube channel in early summer. With the help of Christy Sanchez this labor of love is now a reality.

The videos are not fancy or technically complicated. It’s just me talking to the camera the same way I speak to you on the phone. Feel free to like, share and comment on any of the videos.

Of course you can also ask questions.

Say Hello to New Medigap Carriers

I currently count almost 60 insurance carriers offering Medicare supplement plans in Georgia. Many are brand new to the Medigap business. Others are new to Georgia.

At least 6 carriers are new to the Georgia Medicare market. Each one has cut rates to the bone in an attempt to gain market share.

It’s a race to see who can offer the lowest Medigap rate.

For at least a year.

New carriers include Lumico, Western United (late 2017), Everest (late 2016), American Continental, Prosperity (gotta love that name), Mass Mutual, Unified and Pan American. I might have missed a few but that’s a mouthful.

I generally don’t recommend a carrier until they have been here at least 3 years. In the past carriers (like AFLAC) have either disappeared from the market or blew up their rates on renewal in the first 3 years.

I don’t need that kind of drama in my life and neither do you.

Say Hello to a New Name for an Old Friend

One shining star is Anthem Blue Cross. BCBSGA has been co-branded with parent Anthem for a few years now. As of July 2018 the Anthem name is on all new Medicare plans in Georgia.

Of course you can call them direct or use an agent like myself. When you go direct you are a “house account”. You will never know who will answer the phone or anything about them. 

Last week they could have been asking if you wanted fries with your meal.

When you call me you will never hear “Press 1 for English”. You get me or voice mail. Leave a message and I will call you back.

No extra charge for my 40+ years experience.

You can enroll in an Anthem Medigap plan using my link . . . if you have an hour or so to kill. 

https://brokerportal.anthem.com/ac/BobVineyardAnthemGA

Or call me direct. I can take your information in about 10 minutes.

You choose.

The Bad News

A few carriers like Equitable, Manhattan and Aetna Health and Life stopped writing new Medigap business in Georgia. If you have a plan with them you can keep it as long as you pay your premiums.

I hope to move as many as possible away from these carriers in hopes of seeing fewer and smaller rate increases at renewal.

Thank You!

Thank you for all your support, for passing my name along and especially the kind words for my Georgia Medicare YouTube Channel.

I look foward to helping as many people as possible to navigate the Georgia  Medicare maze.

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

I have answers to your most common Medicare questions. Here are just a few examples of questions asked by people just like you who are turning 65.

  • How do I know which Medicare plan is right for me?
  • When should I enroll in Medicare?
  • Should I have the same plan as my spouse?
  • How much does Medicare cost?
  • Does Medicare cover (fill in the blank)?

Many of your questions can be answered by copying this into your Google search bar – site:http://www.georgia-medicareplans.com

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

 

Answers to Common Medicare Questions

Below are links that correspond to the questions shown above.

  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/ufaqs/find-right-medicare-plan/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/enroll-in-medicare-at-age-65/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/medicare-traps-and-mistakes/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/ufaqs/how-much-do-medicare-premiums-cost/
  • https://www.georgia-medicareplans.com/does-medicare-cover-my-cancer-treatment/

You have Medicare Questions.

I have answers.

Give Bob Vineyard a call. I would love to help. (404) 252-5859

 

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. 

Get Medicare When Turning 65

Do I automatically get Medicare when turning 65? How do I enroll in Medicare? When should I sign up for Medicare? Do I need Medicare if I am covered by a group health insurance plan? How much does Medicare cost?

  • Medicare is not automatic at age 65
  • Enroll in Medicare in 10 minutes or less
  • Sign up for Medicare Part A at least 90 days in advance of your 65th birthday
  • You may not need Part B if covered by employer group health plan
  • Medicare supplement plans (Medigap) is priced according to your age, gender, tobacco use and zip code

Shop and compare GA Medigap plans. With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, how do you find the one that is right for you?

GA Medigap rates

Compare plans side by side plus receive a FREE report showing all Medigap plans and rates in your area. Valid email address required.

 

How Do I Get Medicare at Age 65?

Most people assume Medicare is automatic when they turn 65. If you are receiving Social Security benefits you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65. Everyone else will have to apply.best medicare supplement plan F

Many people will receive Medicare Part A at no charge. If you (or your spouse) have at least 40 quarters of substantial wages in the Social Security system by the time you reach age 65 you have prepaid your Part A premiums.

If you refuse Part A you may be denied a Social Security benefit. Deferred enrollment in Medicare Part A is possible if covered by a group health plan. Otherwise late enrollment penalties may apply.

Medicare Part B is optional and carries a monthly premium.

You do not have to be employed in order to get Medicare at age 65. Some who have never worked in the Social Security system can still qualify based on the earnings record of their spouse. The same applies to widows and divorcees of a working spouse.

 

How Do I Get Medicare?

Signing up for Medicare is easy. I signed up in May, 2015 ahead of my September, 2015 65th birthday. You can do the same by following this link to Social Security and selecting the appropriate option.medicare turning 65

You can track the status of your application at MySSA.gov.

Track your earnings record, review estimated Social Security benefit amount, see when your next benefit will be deposited and more.

Once you enroll in Medicare you will receive your welcome letter about a week later followed by your Medicare card in another few weeks.

 

Covered by a Group Health Insurance Plan?

If you are covered under a group health plan as an active employee or spouse of an active employee you may only need Medicare Part A. If you or your spouse work for a large employer (defined as 20 or more employees) your group plan may be primary and Medicare a secondary payer. In that case you may only need Medicare Part B.

Most plan participants with a smaller employer will find that Medicare is the primary payer. In that case you need Part B. Your group health plan will be a secondary payer.

In that situation it may be to your advantage to drop the group health plan and pick up a Medicare supplement plan and Part D drug plan. Ask us for details and pricing.

You can also generate your own quote using this link.

click for instant medigap quote

 

How Much Does Medicare Cost?

Georgia Medigap plans are priced according to your age, gender, tobacco use and zip code. Many plans are priced under $100 per month and offer much richer benefits than you have experienced with your current health insurance plan.

Medicare supplement plans are standardized (all plans with same letter are identical) making it relatively easy to compare plans and rates. More than 40 different F plan rates and 30 different G plans may seem confusing.

Buying on low initial price alone may come back to haunt you later. Some carriers have a history of showcasing a low initial buy-in rate only to raise rates substantially later. One well known mutual carrier has raised rates 11 times since 2012.

Let us help you find the plan that best suits your needs and budget.

GA Medigap rates

Shop and compare. Free comprehensive Medigap report provided with valid email.

 

#GetMedicareAge65 #Turning65 #HowMuchDoesMedicareCost #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates #WhenEnrollMedicare

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

 

How to Find the Right Medicare Plan

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Scroll down for UPDATE

 

Do you want to know the secret of how to find the right Medicare plan when you turn 65? Medicare supplement plan F or a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan? What’s the big deal if you can change plans every year? How can the insurance company offer a free Medicare plan? What’s the catch? Is there something the insurance agent isn’t telling me? Why not cut out the middle man (the agent) and just buy direct?which-medigap-is-best2

If you are turning 65 and aging in to Medicare you have more questions than answers. And there are probably questions you never thought to ask ………. until it is too late.

If you already decided on a Medigap plan you might want to check the rate. There are more than 170 Medicare supplement different plans in Georgia but most don’t illustrate their premiums online.

Shop and compare GA Medigap quotes.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

 

Find the RIGHT Medicare Plan

Georgia has more than 170 different Medicare supplement insurance plans, more than 45 drug plans and about 25 different Medicare Advantage plans. How can you possibly find what you need to know and make the right decision the first time?

Compared to Medicare Part D, and Advantage plans, picking a Medigap plan is a piece of cake. That doesn’t mean it is easy, just easier.

If you have the right information.

The information a consumer really needs is not available to the public.

You won’t find it on Medicare.gov.

You won’t find it on the Georgia Dept of Insurance site.

You won’t find it on public forums.

You won’t find it on sites with “instant Medigap quotes” ……………. including mine.

Where will you find the information you need to make an informed decision and choose the right Medicare plan for your needs and budget.

Pick up the phone and call. I will answer all your questions and give you rates by phone and email a comparison.

Call 404 907 0925.

 

You can also start the discussion by email or securing a Medigap quote through my site.

 

 

Susan is turning 65 and wants a Medicare supplement plan

A short time ago, Susan visited my site.

Twice.

Medicare changesThe first time she entered her information for a quote she was a non-smoker. The second time she was a smoker.

Both times she listed a valid email address.

Both times she gave a bogus phone number.

I know because I called and the number was disconnected.

No problem. I know some people don’t like to talk on the phone.

Since I didn’t have a valid phone number I sent an email asking if she used tobacco or not. Rates are higher for tobacco users with most carriers, so I wanted to give her accurate rates.

I also have access to over 170 different plans and rates. Most of them are not shown online anywhere.

They are not on Medicare.gov

They are not illustrated on carrier sites.

They do not appear on agent sites, including mine.

This isn’t a plot. Some carriers don’t want their rates made public.

Susan responded to my email. Here is what she had to say.

The first entry was a mistake.  I didn’t realize that non-tobacco was checked.  I am still a tobacco (cigarette) user but I have cut my smoking down to about 5 cigarettes or less a day, using e-cigarettes. (Comment: for rating purposes she will be considered a smoker with MOST carriers)

I don’t really have any questions.  I won’t be 65 until November so I have plenty of time to search online for the best rates. (Comment: Yes, she does have time. Will she find the best rates online? No).

I’ll probably go with Plan G if the difference in a year’s premiums between it and Plan F is more than $147, and I’m sure it will be. (Comment: Plan N might be an even better choice)

The last thing I want is a long, drawn out conversation on the phone with someone attempting to explain things I always know. (Comment: That’s the last thing I want too).

I’m just simply looking for the best rates for Plan G or Plan F.  I’m familiar with Medicare and how it works.  My husband is already on Medicare.  I much prefer to search online and actually read article than have someone attempt to explain anything to me.  I will let you know if I do have further questions.

My response was simply to provide the best rates based on her data and wish her well.

I don’t know if she believes she can game the system and get a non-tobacco rate or not. That is not my concern since I closed her file.

I did quote non-tobacco rates, using a carrier that does not assess tobacco loads if you buy when you first turn 65 and go on Part B. The rates are accurate and lower than anything Susan can find online.

Based on her age, tobacco use and zip code she will probably pay at least $150 more per year than she needs to and that is just the first year. The carrier with the next best tobacco rate has a history of dealing higher than normal rate increases.

Medicare.gov is a great place to go if you want information on ALL the Advantage plans in your area, and ALL the Part D drug plans. In fact, I tell prospective clients to buy Advantage plans or drug plans by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

But if they want accurate information on all the available Medigap plans in Georgia, they should talk to me. I have more information on Medicare supplement insurance carriers than Medicare does. And if you ever have a question AFTER you buy, give me a call.

You will get me or my voice mail.

You will never hear “Press 1 for English”.

 

UPDATE

A few weeks later I got another email from Susan, our online shopper that didn’t want to talk to anyone. She told me the best rates she could find for plan G were $115 from Aetna and $118 through Omaha. She wanted to know if these rates were good.

She completely ignored my email from a week earlier giving her a rate of $106 for plan G.

My response, “The rates are good. Pick the one you want”.

 

 

Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage?

Which is the right Medicare plan for you?

That is something you need to decide once you have the facts and understand your options. My job is to educate you so that you have enough information to make the right choice based on your needs and budget.

I won’t tell you what to buy.

You will never be pressured into buying anything at any time.find medicare information

There is no charge for my advice. The carriers pay me when I assist you in finding the right plan based on your needs and budget.

Give me 5 minutes on the phone and decide if I can be helpful or not. That’s all I ask of anyone.

If you like what you hear, great. If not, no problem. Move on and I will close your file.

The rates and plans I show you are identical in every way to those you can get direct from carriers.

The difference is, you get the benefit of my 40 years in the health insurance business at no additional charge.

Call the carrier or 1-800-INSURANCE and you never know who will answer the phone or how much they know about Medicare.

Before you go any further, I suggest the following links.

The Secret Life of Medicare Advantage Plans

Don’t Buy a Medicare Drug Plan

Those two posts should answer many of your questions and put you on the track to finding the RIGHT Medicare plan.

You might also want to shop and compare GA Medigap quotes. Click the image below for an instant quote. No gimmicks.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

 

 

#Turning65Medicare #ChoosingTheRightMedicarePlan  #MedicareSupplementInsurance

The Secret Life of Medicare Advantage Plans

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Medicare Advantage plans have a secret life. The carrier won’t tell you. Neither will the agent. If you knew these secrets you secret life of walter mittymight change your mind about signing up for one. Consider this. Why does if Medicare Advantage plans are so great, why does Medicare give you an escape clause? Why do some agents that sell you on the idea of an Advantage plan tell you to throw away your red, white and blue Medicare card? Why do agents push Medicare Advantage plans so much? Is there something you need to know that they aren’t telling? Do these Advantage plans really have a secret life? And how can they push these Free Medicare Plans? What’s the catch? Why is turning 65 so difficult when it comes to Medicare?

Have you already decided that original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan are right for you? We have access to over 170 different Medigap plans from more than 30 carriers. We will freely share information on any plan you want, no obligation.

Want to take a peek at GA Medigap quotes? Click the image below.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Post summary.

  • Turning 65 and signing up for Medicare. How?
  • How good are the free Medicare plans?
  • Why do most agents push $0 premium Advantage plans?
  • How do I get out of the Advantage plan when I realize I made a mistake?
  • Why can’t I keep my doctor?

Medicare Advantage plans secret life

Wanda is turning 65 in a few weeks and is totally confused. Should she stay on her husband’s group insurance plan or go in Medicare? Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan? And what’s up with this free Medicare plan a lot of her friends have?

lady pensiveWanda was referred to me by a dear friend. The two of them had lunch earlier in the day and Wanda told Emily (our mutual friend) that she was turning 65 in a few days and totally confused.

Emily mentioned my name and then emailed me with a copy to Wanda. I called Wanda shortly after responding to the email.

Wanda’s husband works for a big company in Atlanta. They have a very good group health plan through his employer. The plan covers Wanda, her husband and their youngest child. The company pays all but $600/month for health insurance, vision and dental coverage.

Wanda has not signed up for Medicare.

After a short phone conversation I told Wanda what she needed to do.

  • Go online today and sign up for Medicare Part A only.
  • Keep the group plan, at least for now.
  • Do not sign up (yet) for Medicare Part B, Part D or a supplement plan.
  • Throw away all the literature that has been coming in for the last few months.
  • Stop talking to your friends.
  • Forget about the free Medicare plans agents are pushing
  • Call me when your situation changes and you are ready to go on Medicare Part B

That’s it. No sales pitch. No arm twisting. Just an honest appraisal of the situation and advice.

But what about the secret life of Medicare plans?

Read on.

 

Why do your friends sign up for a “free” Medicare plan?

Well, it’s pretty simple. They signed up for a “free” plan because somebody talked them into it.huckster

If someone tells you something is free, don’t you get suspicious? Have you ever received anything of value that was truly free? Isn’t there always a catch?

Here is the first catch.

Medicare does not allow an agent to tell you their Advantage plan is free. If they do say that, they are violating the CMS marketing rules.

$0 premium Medicare plans are not free.

  • You still have to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • You are not allowed to use your red, white and blue Medicare card.
  • Every time you see a doctor, have lab work, a scan, are admitted to the hospital you have to pay.
  • If you want to keep your out of pocket costs to a minimum you must use THEIR doctors and hospitals.
  • Your out of pocket costs could easily exceed $500 per month under an Advantage plan.
  • And if these plans are so great, why does Medicare allow you to dis-enroll?

 

One Other Thing in the Secret Life of Advantage Plans.

Medicare does not allow agents to tell you about ALL the plans in your area, only the ones they can sell and earn a commission.

The agent can legally only show you one carrier at a time. If you want information on another carrier Medicare rules say they must wait 48 hours before telling you about the other plan. Apparently the folks at Medicare think you are not smart enough to consider more than one plan at a time.

How silly is that?

So why do agents and carriers push Advantage plans?

They are profitable.

An agent that sells you an Advantage plan makes twice as much commission as they would by offering you a Medicare supplement plan. That alone is pretty good incentive but to make it even better they are paid their full years commission the month after your coverage goes into effect.

You sign up in October. Your coverage goes into effect in January. In February your agent collects $400.

Even on that $0 premium plan.

 

No Premium? How Can That Be?

As if that isn’t enough, some agents will tell you how great the Advantage plan is because you only have to pay $250 per day for the first 7 days you are in the hospital.

Then they will tell you that you need a plan to cover that contingency and will proceed to sell you an extra plan for only $38 per month.

The agent pockets 60% of your monthly premium as their compensation. That’s another $274 in commission over the next 12 months.

Next they might ask if cancer runs in your family, or if you know anyone that had cancer.

The good news is your $0 premium plan pays 80% of the cost of your chemotherapy treatment.

The bad new is, you pay the remaining 20%. The worse news is, some chemotherapy treatments run in excess of $3,000 each.

Medicare pays $2400. You pay $600.

For each treatment.

You really should consider a cancer plan to cover that out of pocket cost. For only $40 per month you can have a plan that covers the costs of chemo and pays you a flat $1,000 for your initial diagnosis.

The agent pockets 60% of that premium as well.

Now your $0 premium plan is costing you $78 per month but at least you have your out of pocket costs for a hospital stay covered as well as your chemotherapy.

And the agent made $962.

You should have called me.

For about the same monthly premium you pay nothing for a hospital stay and your chemo is only $147.

Not per treatment but for the entire year!

And you no longer need to pay for a hospital inpatient plan or a cancer plan.

How sweet is that?

 

Your Medicare Escape Clause

If your Medicare Advantage plan is so great, why does Medicare give you an escape provision?escape hatch

That’s right. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and later discover you don’t like it you can quit the plan (Medicare calls it dis-enrolling) and go back to original Medicare. It’s called a Trial Right.

You also have an annual dis-enrollment period that runs from January 1 through February 14.

All these ways to QUIT a Medicare Advantage plan. Is it any wonder why it is called the secret life of Advantage plans?

Of course if your agent told you to throw away your red, white and blue Medicare card you will need to get Medicare to send you a new one.

Don’t expect the agent that sold you the Advantage plan, and the hospital plan and the cancer plan to tell you that you can always change to original Medicare if you don’t like the Advantage. Your Trial Right is just another part of the secret life of Advantage plans.

As long as we are talking about secrets, here are some things you need to know.

  • Your Trial Right period doesn’t last forever
  • Your Trial Right may entitle you to purchase ANY Medigap plan.
  • Or you may be limited to only certain plans pre-selected by Medicare
  • Unless you exercise your trial right correctly you may have to go without drug coverage until the next open enrollment
  • Your annual dis-enrollment period comes with some barbs.

When you first turn 65, if you reject original Medicare for an Advantage plan that may be the only time you could enroll in a Medicare supplement plan without restriction.

Choose wisely.

The Medicare Advantage Convenience Factor

Mangled Care

Did you ever wonder how the insurance company can offer you coverage and not charge a premium but still pay the agent over $400 for enrolling you?

It’s a secret.

mangled careManaged care has been part of the fabric of health insurance for 30 years now but too often managed care becomes mangled care. When an insurance company bureaucrat that knows nothing about you or your medical condition decides on your care the outcome is mangled care.

When you reject original Medicare the government pays the insurance carrier a monthly fee to cover some of your expenses. The less THEY pay for your care the more money they get to keep.

When you are diagnosed with cancer ….

  • THEY get to pick your doctor
  • THEY pick your hospital
  • THEY decide which treatment is best for you based on the lowest cost to THEM
  • THEY pay 80% of your chemotherapy (the same amount Medicare pays) and you pay the remaining 20%

Original Medicare does not have mangled care. With original Medicare and your red, white and blue card

  • YOU pick your doctor
  • YOU pick your hospital
  • YOU and your doctor decide which treatment is best for you

Original Medicare pays 80% of the cost of your chemo but with your supplement plan your share is $0 if you have plan F or $183 for the entire year if you have plan G.

One other thing about Advantage plans.

Depending on where you live there may be anywhere from 3 to a dozen Advantage plans available.

  • But your agent can only tell you about the plans he or she is approved to sell.
  • If you want to find out about ALL the plans you have to talk to more agents
  • Each agents can only tell you about the plans they are approved to sell
  • Your agent is not allowed to compare one plan vs. the other

Agents will never tell you this (but I will), you can find out about ALL the plans in your area by calling Medicare. That’s part of the secret life of Medicare Advantage plans. Agents can’t tell you about all the plans in your area.

 

Would you like to see rates on Medicare supplement plans?

We have access to over 240 different plans in Georgia.

We can discuss the benefits and rates of every plan.

You can see plans online and get instant GA Medigap Quotes by following this link.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

If you call us we will offer rate reports and side by side benefit comparisons for any plan offered in Georgia.

We charge nothing for our advice. You get the benefit of my 40 years in the industry at no cost.

I will answer all your questions. Offer advice and let you decide which plan meets your needs and budget.

No risk.

No pressure.

No tricks.

No secret life.

No agenda.

Give us a call. We want to help.

 

#MedicareAdvantagePlans #MedicareTrialRight #MedicareSupplementPlan #Medigap

How to Max Out Your Social Security

If you want to max out your Social Security benefit you will need to plan ahead. You can begin receiving Social Security at age 62 but most baby boomers will come out ahead to wait until FRA (full retirement age) at 66. Regardless of when you begin Social Security, most of us will go on Medicare A & B when we turn 65. How much is the spouse benefit?

How much does Medicare cost? Should I stay on my group plan or is it better to begin Medicare at age 65? Can I have Medicare without Social Security?

 

Social Security at age 62 or wait?

If you need to begin Social Security at age 62 for financial reasons, go ahead. It is your money. But if you want to max out your benefits the longer you wait the more you will receive each month. Apply for Medicare

The Catch 22 in your benefit is this. How long will you live?

If you are in relatively good health and your family has a history of living into their 80’s or older there’s a good chance you will have a long life too.

But we never know until we get there.

CNN Money addresses the question, “Should you tap your Social Security benefits early or wait?”.

Many people want to get their hands on their benefits as soon as possible, fearing (incorrectly) that Social Security will go broke. Others enjoy the sense of control they get from investing those funds instead of passively waiting for a higher payment down the road.

In spite of some claims, Social Security will not go broke. Technically, it already is. Excess payroll tax collections have mostly been borrowed by Congress to pay current obligations. The Trust fund is full of IOU’s but that does not mean Social Security will implode.

There are too many of us boomers out there and we are old enough to vote if they try and take Social Security away from us. Yes, I said us. I will turn 65 in September of 2015 and will go on Medicare. My plan is to delay SS until age 66 or possibly later.

 

Social Security planning

If you fail to plan you plan to fail. There is a lot to be said for that old saw.

Back in the old days when we wanted to go on vacation we planned ahead. Many of us ordered at trip planning kit from AAA that contained maps, information on lodging and restaurants and even included brochures of places to see.

That was then.

Now we go on the internet and let Google be our friend. We may map out our trip to get an idea of trip times but rather than bulky maps that never can be folded up neatly we rely on GPS to get us from point A to point B.

We don’t have a retirement GPS and we do need to plan ahead.

Of the items mentioned in the video, long term care planning is often the one that is most overlooked. I have a business associate that handles long term care for me. Let me know if you need an introduction.

 

Turn 65, go on Medicare?

At one time you had no choice. Most people retired at age 65 and some even a few years earlier. If you worked for a “big company” like AT&T or IBM you had a retiree health insurance plan.

But those days are mostly gone.

att retiree health insuranceMany large employers have cancelled their retiree health plan and shuttled their employees off to consultants like Aon or Towers Watson. Instead of a company health insurance plan you are forced onto Medicare. Your former employer may have set up a retiree HRA and made a deposit to help you pay for your Medicare Part B and either a Medicare Advantage plan or Medigap plus Part D.

The advice given by the service reps at Aon or Towers Watson is mostly inadequate. You may have also been told the only way to participate in the HRA was to buy your coverage through the consulting firm.

In many cases that may not have been completely accurate.

We helped several retirees find a plan that fit their needs and budget and still retain access to the HRA funding. In every case the premiums for plans we suggested were lower than those for comparable plans through Aon or Towers.

With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, how do you find the right one for you? I will be glad to discuss the plans I considered as well as the one I will pick when I go on Medicare.

You can begin your search on our site. View plans side by side to compare benefits and rates. Of course we are always available to answer any questions you may have.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Still have questions?

Social Security can be confusing, even more so than Medicare. You are not the only one with questions.

Here are a few links to help you find your path and max out your Social Security benefits.

How to Max Out Your Social Security Checks

How to Calculate the Spousal Benefit

Social Security Spouse Benefits – The Rules of the Road

If you found this post to be of benefit please share it with your friends. Let us know how we can help.

 

#SocialSecurity #Medicareturning65 #AT&T

Do I Need a Medicare Supplement Plan and Medicare Advantage?

Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage. What’s the difference? Do I need both? What is the difference in Medigap and Medicare supplement? Do AP20C7Advantage plans have more advantages? Can I change plans every year during open enrollment?

Which plan is better? Should I have an Advantage plan or Medigap?

That is a question only YOU can answer.  Consider the differences and then decide which plan fits your needs and budget.

Are you turning 65? Do you need help navigating the Medicare maze?

Call us. We can help.

 

Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage

What is the difference?

A lot.

Do I need both a Medicare supplement plan and an Advantage plan?

Nope. Even if you wanted both, Medicare says you can’t have both.

So pick one or the other.

 

Medicare supplement plan F rates

What is the difference in Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage?

Medicare supplement plans work with original Medicare.

  • No networks
  • Use any doctor, lab or hospital anywhere in the U.S.
  • Referrals not necessary to see a specialist
  • Keep your current doctor(s)
  • Your doctor cannot be dropped from the plan mid year
  • You can keep your plan every year.
  • Annual review not needed (for your supplement plan)
  • Out of pocket is clearly outlined and can be budgeted
  • Pick a drug plan that covers the drugs you need

 

Is Medicare Advantage Better?

The advantages of a Medicare Advantage plan are, the monthly premium is lower.
The disadvantages are:
  • you are limited in most cases to docs and hospitals in the network
  • the Rx is often paired with the plan and may not include the meds you need
  • your doctor can be drop out of the plan at any time
  • you may have to change your plan every year
  • you have to review the plan every year (participating network providers, meds, cost of health care, etc)
  • your out of pocket for in network only claims is almost always higher than Medigap
  • your out of pocket cap averages $6,700 (most 2018 plans) + out of network claims + Rx copay’s
  • you can find yourself out of network and incur penalties any time, anywhere
But other than that, the Advantage plans are great until you use them.

Can I change plans every year during open enrollment?

Medicare supplement plans do not have annual enrollment periods. When you first turn 65 you can purchase any Medigap plan with any carrier, no questions asked.
Medicare Advantage plan and Part D drug plans can be changed every year, but only during open enrollment. Most retirees will change their Advantage and Medigap changedrug plan every year or so, whether they want to or not. Each year the plans change and you MUST review to make sure you are not going to pay more for your health care than you expected.
Never ever take the “automatic” renewal option. Always ask your agent to shop and compare plans for you every year.
One of my Part D clients was prepared to take the automatic renewal from Cigna. Their new rate was dropping a few dollars and other than the addition of a deductible, the plan seemed like a good buy.
What they did not know (until I reviewed it for them) was this.
The renewal plan did not include all of her medications.
The renewal offer was $7 less than the Cigna plan I suggested but the difference in her out of pocket costs was significant.
Her expected annual prescription drug cost for the renewal offer was $2880.
The projected drug premium for the plan that was $7 higher but her annual prescription cost was only $1530. That additional $7 monthly premium saved her more than $1300 in out of pocket drug costs.
Had she accepted the automatic renewal she would have saved $84 in premiums but would have paid out more than $1300 for her medications.

Comparing Medigap plans is easy

Kind of.
Benefits are standardized and assigned a letter of the alphabet from A through N.
But Medicare only uses 9 of the letters
Medicare supplement plan F is the most popular. Also the most expensive and most oversold.
Plans G and N offer exceptional value.
Some carriers don’t offer all the plans.
AARP/United Healthcare does not off plan G. Neither does Blue Cross of Georgia (BCBSGA). Nor does Humana.
Mutual of Omaha (Omaha Insurance Company in Georgia) does not offer plan N. They did at one time, but not any more. Makes you wonder why, doesn’t it?
We never recommend a plan that does not have at least a 5 year renewal rate history.  That is to protect you.
Manhattan Life and Omaha Insurance Company have only been offering Medigap for a little over a year. Same for Companion Life.
There are over 250 different Medigap plans in Georgia. We have Medigap rates you won’t see anywhere else, but you can start your online shopping experience by clicking this button.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices