4 Common Misconceptions About Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Also known as Medigap, Medicare supplemental insurance can be used together with Original Medicare Part A and Part B to help cover additional out-of-pocket expenses. For example, deductibles, coinsurance, and copayment as well as other benefits such as paying partial or even full coverage for overseas travel emergency care, Medicare Part B excess charges, and more. However, coverage for Medicare Supplement Insurance is standardized differently in states like Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance is also sold by private insurance companies who are free to set their own cost for any plan. You must at least 65 years or older, be enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Medicare and live in a state that sells the plan you are interested in purchasing because not all plans are available in every state.

The best way to shop for a plan is to compare offerings from multiple insurance companies in your area because the availability and cost of any plan differ from one insurance company to another. Which brings us to the next point:

Misconceptions About Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Brokers

Most people think that they can only buy Medicare supplemental insurance plans directly from an insurance carrier and that it would cost them more if they used an insurance broker. This is not the case. Consulting directly with an insurance broker costs you nothing, in fact, it is to your benefit to make full use of their Medicare proficiency because they have complete access to many different insurance policies that may not be available to you, some which are too complicated to comprehend.

They can not only help you understand the details of a policy and also work out what level of cover you need, but they will also help you find a good deal and even negotiate premiums on your behalf.

Comparing Medicare Supplemental Plans

Most people feel that everything is straightforward and they can figure out everything on their own. Understanding any insurance plan is challenging let alone grasping the workings of a Medicare supplemental comparison plans that come in 10 standardized benefit packages labeled from A – N. You also need to be aware of the three pricing methods which will affect your costs, prescription drug coverage, and other alternative options. It doesn’t hurt to seek expert advice to ensure you are getting the best policy at an affordable price.

Prescription Drug Coverage

Another misconception is that Medicare does not cover prescription drugs. While Original Medicare Parts A and B cover outpatient prescription drugs under limited conditions, Medicare Part D offered through private insurance companies or purchased as part of a Medicare Advantage Part C plan offers prescription drug coverage.

Medigap Eligibility

Most seniors fear that a poor medical history might render them ineligible for a Medicare supplemental plan. Well, during your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you have the right to buy any Medigap policy offered in your state and once you enroll in Medicare Part B and you are not required to answer health questions.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

 

 

Your Medigap Clients Will Soon Get New Medicare Cards

Medicare program managers are getting ready to replace the Medicare cards of every enrollee with original Medicare coverage.

The giant card replacement effort will affect clients who use Medicare supplement insurance to fill in the gaps in their Medicare Part A hospitalization coverage and Medicare Part B outpatient and physician services coverage.

Medicare Advantage will also get new original Medicare cards, but they can continue to use their Medicare Advantage plan cards when seeking medical care.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says it will begin mailing the new cards in April.

EHealth previewed its fourth-quarter earnings and announced a Medigap agency deal.

The waves of mailings will continue until sometime this summer.

The first enrollees to get the new cards will be the enrollees in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, according to a CMS mailing wave announcement.

The last enrollees to get the new cards will be the enrollees in Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee and the Virgin Islands.

CMS is replacing the cards because a provision in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) requires CMS to remove Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards by 2019, officials say.

In a guide aimed at doctors and other health care providers, CMS officials give detailed advice about how they want providers to talk about the new cards.

Officially, for example, CMS is calling the new card identifiers on the cards “Medicare beneficiary identifiers,” or MBIs, even though the new identifiers include both numbers and letters.

When providers talk to patients about the identifiers, the providers should refer to the numbers as “Medicare numbers,” because testing shows that consumers know the term “number” can refer to alpha-numeric identifiers, officials say.

Officials also want providers to explain the reason for the change by telling patients, “The change will help protect your identity.”

The testing shows that consumers want an explanation of why the card change is happening, officials say.

“Consumers perceive preventing identity theft to be the primary benefit and reason for the change,” officials say.

EHealth previewed its fourth-quarter earnings and announced a Medigap agency deal.

To keep identity thieves from using the new card mailings to steal people’s identities, CMS is encouraging enrollees to update their mailing addresses.

CMS is giving enrollees the following advice: “Beware of anyone who contacts you about your new Medicare card. We will never ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare number and card.”


Medigap Issuers

CMS notes that Medicare will give Medigap issuers information about enrollees’ new Medicare identifiers before it mails the new cards.

During a transition period, Medicare will accept claims that use either the old numbers or the new MBI identifiers, officials say.

After the transition period ends, Medigap issuers will have to start using the MBIs.

Insurers can use identification numbers other than the new MBIs for non-Medicare business, but, eventually, they will have to make sure they take Social Security numbers off of their own plan ID cards, officials say.

If private payers continue to have their own ID numbers, then they should put only their own numbers on enrollees’ cards, not the MBIs, officials say.

Original Source: http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2018/02/05/your-medigap-clients-will-soon-get-new-medicare-ca?slreturn=1518550054&page=2

Original Date: Feb 5 2018

Five Reasons to Enroll in a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan

Medicare may cover some of the costs of your healthcare, but it doesn’t cover everything. For some Americans, there can be a lot of out-of-pocket expenses that can make it harder to make ends meet. Some of this gap can be filled with Medicare supplemental insurance plans.

 

Let’s cover five good reasons why you need to enroll in a Medicare supplemental insurance plan to help you manage your health better.

  • You Travel Frequently

Various types of Medicare supplemental insurance will allow you to travel to other states or out of the country, but still be covered with health insurance. This means that you won’t have to constantly be buying supplemental insurance, and you’ll be able to save money over time.

  • You Want To Keep Your Network of Providers

If you have the Medicare Advantage Plan then you know that you must go to their providers, even if it means a long distance for you. You may also not like some of the providers, but there is little recourse for you to choose. But with other Medicare supplemental insurance plans, you can choose which healthcare network you want to go to, as long as they accept your specific insurance plan.

  • You Want To Choose Your Own Specialists

Some specialists require a referral from your doctor, which can lead to delays and perhaps not get you the best care you need if your other Medicare supplemental insurance plans don’t cover that expense. But with a good Medicare supplemental insurance you can have your choice of specialists, even without that referral, and most of the expenses can be covered.

  • Additional Costs Are Covered With Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans

With a Medicare supplemental insurance you may get many additional costs covered, that are not covered by basic Medicare. These can include blood transfusions, extra hospital stays, nursing care, and hospice or respite care.

  • You Will Have Coverage For Life

Once you sign up for one of the Medicare supplemental insurance plans you’ll have coverage for life. You won’t be denied care because you’re too old, or because you get a specific disease or condition. This can be a comfort to many patients. You may want to note that rates can change as you get older though, but these costs adhere to a strict plan of fees that includes everyone in your state.

 

It’s of benefit for you to do a Medicare supplement comparison. Once you see the differences between plans, you can decide which may benefit your health. You may discover that Medicare Advantage may be too restrictive, so you’ll want to try Medigap or one of the other plans.

 

Even if one plan seems cheaper, it may not necessarily be right for you. Carefully read through the fine print to see exactly what is covered. You may wish to make your choice based on what your total coverage costs will be, plus out-of-pocket expenses, at the end of the year. One plan may be better for healthier people.  Once you decide on your Medicare supplement comparison, you’ll feel confident that you and your family will have the best coverage they need.

 

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

 

Thinking of retiring? Eight things you need to know before you do

Are you planning to retire soon? Are you dreaming of the retirement phase of your life? It is easy to fantasize about how you might spend your time: traveling, spending time with loved ones exploring hobbies, etc.

Well that is the easy part. If you are seriously considering retiring in the next year or so, below are some recommendations for things that need to happen before you start hinting at retirement party ideas at work.

Consult your financial planner/adviser. Ask for advice and guidance through the process. Hopefully, you have been monitoring your savings and have an idea of where you stand. If not, now is the time to determine if you have enough savings to retire in the first place.

Not sure how much money you need to have saved up? Not to worry. Financial planners have cost of living calculators and can assist with this part of the process. Your financial planner will provide you with an estimated monthly income level for retirement. Basically, it comes down to how you want to live in retirement. The more lavish your lifestyle, the more you need to have saved.

Schedule time with your human resources department. Most companies have formal policies and procedures related to retirement. Many require advanced notice of three to six months and paperwork you will need to complete. Ask about accrued vacation and sick time as some firms will pay out the value of that time, others will not. Be sure to ask about post-retirement benefits, especially healthcare options.

Reassess your budget. Invest time in developing a budget of recurring expenses. Determine the minimum amount on which you could live and include basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, groceries, etc.

From there build an ideal retirement budget and estimate for restaurants, entertainment, travel and other additional desired budget lines. Consult your notes from the meeting with your financial planner and compare the estimated monthly income to the budget and adjust as necessary. You may need to follow up with your financial planner at this point.

Study up on the Social Security process. Visit the Social Security Administration website. Seek advice of relatives or friends who have been through this process so you know what to expect. Read the FAQs and find your birth year in the Retirement Age Calculator to learn about your benefit eligibility and when you can maximize your benefits. When you are ready, you can begin the application process online.

Make a plan for healthcare needs. Some companies offer retiree healthcare plans, so be sure to ask your human resources department about those options. Brush up on the process for applying for Medicare coverage. Often Medicare coverage is not enough. Explore Medicare Supplemental Insurance, often called Medigap, options. Consult others and explore multiple options so you may make an informed decision that is best for your individual situation.

Consider housing changes. Many retirees downsize their homes in this stage of life. Selling a larger home, purchasing a smaller home and saving those extra funds for future living expenses is certainly an option. Smaller homes often are accompanied with lower utility and maintenance costs which can have a huge impact on your monthly retirement budget. Of course, not everyone that retires goes this route. If you host family and guests often, this may not make sense for your lifestyle.

Explore alternative means of income. Also called a side hustle or gig work. Many retirees will continue to work part-time or pick up a part-time gig after a few months into retirement. Part-time work or project-based work allows for more flexibility and less commitment than full-time work.

Some retirees are attracted to part-time opportunities in order to continue engagement with their community. If you retire and find yourself living over the estimated budget or missing some community engagement, picking up part-time work can help to offset those expenses and fulfill this need.

Envision the future. How do you want your daily life in retirement to look? What goals do you have for your retirement? Start a list of activities and things you want do. Spending time with grandchildren, writing a book, traveling to a new place, etc. The sky is the limit! Well, the sky and consultation with the budget is the limit.

 Written By:
Date: Feb 4 2018

A 5-Step Checklist for Enrolling in Medicare

Is it time for you to enroll in Medicare? Here’s a system that will help you choose the right plan with a minimum of fuss and bother.

Enrolling in Medicare for the first time can be quite a task. There are so many important decisions to make and so many different factors to juggle that it can get more than a little overwhelming. Here’s a way to approach the process one step at a time and end up with the best Medicare package for your needs.

Step one: Find your initial enrollment window

You probably already know that you become eligible for Medicare at age 65, but the timing for your initial enrollment period is actually a bit more complicated than that. Enrollment begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. That means you have a total of seven months to complete the initial enrollment process.

For example, let’s say you’re going to turn 65 next May. Your Medicare initial enrollment window would open Feb. 1, continue past your birthday, and close at the end of August. It’s best to start the Medicare enrollment process as early as possible, because if you wait until your 65th birthday or later to enroll your coverage might not kick in until after your previous health insurance policy expires, leaving you with a potentially dangerous gap in coverage.

Cartoon checklist

Image source: Getty Images.

Step two: Choose Medicare Advantage or Medigap

Basic Medicare doesn’t cover all your healthcare needs, so to supplement it, most retirees choose either a Medicare Advantage plan (aka Medicare Part C) or a Medigap plan. This decision can have major consequences, both immediately and in the future.

Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private health insurance companies. They replace original Medicare and provide additional coverage. By law, these plans must offer all the same benefits that original Medicare plans do, though they can charge enrollees different amounts for those benefits. Most Medicare Advantage plans also cover healthcare expenses that aren’t included in original Medicare, such as prescription drug coverage. Further, unlike original Medicare, many Medicare Advantage plans have a network of medical providers and require you to use only those providers (or at least they charge you extra if you go outside the network).

Medigap is an add-on for original Medicare subscribers. Like Medicare Advantage, Medigap plans are offered by private insurance companies. However, Medigap plans are a lot less flexible: Each plan must follow one of several templates set by Medicare policy. There are 10 templates in all to choose from (the Medicare website includes a handy chart that you can use to compare the options each plan offers). All Medigap plans pay 100% of your Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs, and most also cover 100% of your Part B coinsurance; beyond that, Medigap plans vary in what they cover. Providers will often charge a wide range of premiums for Medigap plans, even when those plans use identical templates and offer identical coverage. For that reason, it pays to shop around when choosing a Medigap plan.

As a rule of thumb, Medigap plans charge higher premiums than Medicare Advantage plans do — the price you pay for having few, if any, deductibles to worry about (among other benefits). Medigap plans also never include prescription drug coverage, unlike most Medicare Advantage plans. Note that you may find it difficult to switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap later on, as Medigap providers have the right to deny you coverage for pre-existing conditions, among other reasons, once you’re no longer in your initial enrollment window. So, all else being equal, your best choice is probably to start with a Medigap plan.

Step three: Compare specific plans

Before making a final decision on Medicare Advantage versus Medigap, pull up the Medicare plan finder and browse through the plans available in your area. Some of the options you’ve considered may not be available. For example, if you’ve decided that Medigap plan G is perfect for you, but there are no plan G policies offered in your area, then you may need to go back to the drawing board. Comparing the premiums for specific policies may also influence your decision.

If you’ve decided to go with Medicare Advantage, there are two additional factors to consider: the plan network and the formulary. Most Medicare Advantage plans have provider networks, though not every plan will require you to stay within the network. However, it’s best to choose a plan whose network includes your primary care physician and any specialists you see regularly. This will almost certainly reduce your charges for visits to these providers. The plan’s formulary determines which prescription drugs are covered and how much you’ll have to pay for those drugs. Check to make sure that your regular prescriptions are included in the formulary, preferably in one of the cheaper tiers.

Step four: Consider additional coverage

Choosing a Medigap plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t have drug coverage means you’ll probably need to sign up for a Medicare Part D policy as well. Medicare Part D plans provide prescription drug coverage, which is a necessity for most retirees. As with Medicare Advantage plans, you’ll want to look at the formularies for your Part D options and choose one that includes any prescriptions you’re likely to be taking.

Step five: Check back during open enrollment

While your initial enrollment window varies based on your birthday, the annual Medicare open enrollment period is always from mid-October to early December. This is your opportunity to select your Medicare coverage for the following year. Whether you’ve loved or hated your initial experiences with the Medicare plans you selected, you’ll definitely want to use this opportunity to compare your existing plans to your other coverage options.

You may find that the plan you really wanted is now available in your area, or certain plans may have changed their networks or formularies in ways that make them far more suitable. Or your chosen plan may be changing next year in ways that make it less suitable — higher premiums, a more restrictive network, worse co-pays, and so on.

Once you get the hang of it, doing an annual review of Medicare plans during open enrollment will take just a few minutes of your time and will help ensure that you have the best possible health insurance coverage for the following year. Given how expensive healthcare is, even with superb coverage, taking a few minutes to optimize your health insurance is time well spent.

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Jan 13, 2018 at 8:05PM

Improvements To Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans are part of a federal health insurance program created for people over the age of 65. It is sold by private companies to supplement Original Medicare benefits. It offers coverage for services such as overseas travel and can be used to help pay some of the costs that are not covered by Original Medicare such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Medigap policies are standardized and are identified in most states by letters A through N to make it easy for consumers to identify the different plans and to ensure that what they purchase meets their needs.

Improvements For Medigap

There are improvements that have been made to Medigap plan for patients and provider including:

  • Two new Plans M and N with new cost-sharing rules have been added
  • Medigap Plans E, H, I, and J, including high-deductible Plan J, has been dropped
  • Preventive Care benefits were dropped from all Plans because Medicare now covers many of these benefits.
  • The in-home recovery benefit was dropped from all Plans due to underuse
  • Hospice benefits have been added to the basic benefits of Plans A through D and Plan F and G
  • Plan E is no longer available
  • Benefits for excess charges in Plan G were increased to 100%

Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans and what they cover:

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan A – you are required to pay all deductibles, skilled nursing coinsurance, Part B excess charges and foreign travel emergency care. This plan covers:

  • 100% of 61 to 90 days of your hospitalization coinsurance including that of the first three pints of blood
  • The cost of 365 extra days of hospital care after Medicare coverage ends
  • Medicare copayment of hospice care

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan B – you will pay your Part B deductibles, all hospitalization costs beyond the additional 365 days after the Lifetime Reserve is used up and costs that are not covered by Medicare after 21 days in a skilled nursing facility. It covers:

  • Part A deductibles
  • Medicare copayment/coinsurance of hospice care
  • The cost of 365 extra days of hospital care after Medicare coverage ends
  • 100% of your hospitalization coinsurance from 61 to 90 days as well as that of cost the first three pints of blood

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan C – this plan doesn’t cover Medicare Part B excess charges but covers the following:

  • Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayments
  • Medicare Part B copayments and coinsurance
  • First three pints of blood for a medical procedure
  • Medicare Part A hospital coinsurance and hospital costs up to 365 days after Original Medicare benefits are exhausted
  • Skilled Nursing Facility care coinsurance
  • Medicare Part A deductible
  • Medicare Part B deductible
  • Up to 80% foreign travel emergency coverage

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan F – is the most comprehensive supplement because it pays for all of the gaps in Original Medicare Part A and Part B, including both your hospital and outpatient deductible. This plan is not only renewable, but you can see any Medicare specialist of your choosing without any referrals.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance – High Deductible Plan F –  allow you to save on premiums while still receiving the most robust offering of Medicare Supplement but you will pay a higher out-of-pocket amount until a deductible amount is reached then your plan covers the rest of your Medicare-covered health-care costs for the rest of the year.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan G – this plan saves you a little money because it pays Part A deductibles and all coinsurance, which are all of the benefits of Plan F, with the exemption of Part B deductible. You only need to pay the regular yearly Medicare Part B deductible out of pocket.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan K – this plan covers 50% of your Part A deductible, 50% of the cost of the first three pints of blood and of the skilled nursing facility copayment on 21 to 100 days. It also covers Medicare copayment or coinsurance of hospice care, including the cost of 365 extra days of hospital care after Medicare coverage ends.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan L – covers 75% of coinsurance and copayments not covered by Medicare Part B as well as that of hospice care that is not covered by Medicare Part A. It also covers three pints of blood drawn, coinsurance for a skilled nursing care facility and deductibles not covered by Medicare Part A.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan N – has similar benefits as Plan F but you will need to pay Medicare Part B deductible, Medicare Part B excess charges, and copayments for emergency room visits that do not result in an inpatient admission out of pocket.

Contact Us

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

 

Finding the Best Medicare Supplemental Insurance in Arizona

There was a time not too long ago, when Medicare Supplemental plans were hard to choose. Information about these plans you could only obtain by talking to a licensed insurance agent. Even then it was a bit skeptical as they were usually just trying to sell you what they wanted. Times have changed and more companies are now selling this special Medicare Insurance. Since these companies are competing with one and another, they are trying to win you over with customer service, better rates and even recommending a supplemental plan that fits the customer’s budget / healthcare needs.

At www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com we listen to the customer’s needs and recommend a plan that fits in their budget. In order to do this here are some tips to get you started.

  • Figure out what you are paying for healthcare right now.

This includes doctor’s visits, hospital visits, etc really anything health care related you want to write down to calculate how much money you are spending. You can do this for last year, and some people even go another year back. Keep in mind you also want some “wiggle room”. The wiggle room is for those unexpected sick days.

  • Research, research and more research

If you have time, make sure you do your research before calling a representative. This will give you an advantage when you do decide to call a company. You don’t have to go too in depth, but just enough to know so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Arizona Supplemental Insurance Basics

If you don’t have a lot of time here is a basic run down on supplemental insurance. Arizona has 10 different supplemental insurance plans. Each of these plans has different tiers of coverage and premiums. For a Supplemental insurance chart view our Arizona Medicare Supplemental page. Now each company will have the same plans and same coverage, but the premiums will be different. Premiums are based off of a few factors including…

  • Location
  • Age
  • Tobacco use
  • The plan you choose
  • When you enroll
  • Gender

For more research a great place to find reliable information on Supplemental Insurance is www.Medicare.gov. After you have some basic knowledge on the topic, we recommend you start calling insurance agents. If you don’t have time to call, you can also go to our free Medicare supplemental insurance quote tool.

Learn more about Arizona Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates, plans, and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com/arizona-medicare-supplement-plans.  Our Arizona Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans in Arizona.  To talk to an expert in Arizona Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

If you’re tired of Medicare Advantage, now is the time to ditch

Tired of Medicare Advantage? Now is time to ditch

If you missed your initial Medicare enrollment period or want to dump your Advantage Plan altogether, now’s the time to do it.

Nurse in blue scrubs and stethoscope holding chalkboard that says Medicare.
Getty Images

While early December marked the end of open enrollment — when Medicare recipients can make changes related to their Advantage Plan (Part C) and prescription drug coverage (Part D) — two separate windows opened Jan. 1 for people in certain situations.

The first is the wordy Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, which lasts until Feb. 14. This is for people enrolled in an Advantage Plan for 2018 who want to switch to original Medicare (Part A hospital coverage and Part B outpatient coverage). The change takes effect the first day of the month after the request is received.

“Maybe someone has buyer’s remorse, or they might not have been aware of the pros and cons or restrictions of their Advantage Plan, like their doctor or hospital isn’t in network,” said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino in New York and an independent broker and general agent for Medicare plans.

The second window, called the General Enrollment Period, lasts through March 31 and is for those who missed their initial enrollment period or are not eligible for year-round special enrollment. Eligibility for that option is based on special circumstances, such as moving outside of your plan’s service area.

For people who use the General Enrollment Period, coverage begins July 1.

Also note: Natural-disaster victims who were unable to enroll in Medicare last year have until May 31 to sign up. To check if you meet the requirements, you can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office.

For people using one of the two windows that just opened, here are some things to consider.

A smiling doctor having a discussion with an elderly male patient.
Getty Images

Dropping an Advantage Plan

If you go back to original Medicare, you also will have to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan if your Advantage Plan included such coverage — i.e., you do not already have a stand-alone drug plan.

This matters, because if you go 63 days without Part D coverage, you may face a lifelong penalty that is tacked onto your premiums. Basically, it’s 1% of the national base premium, which is $35.02 in 2018, multiplied by the number of months you lacked Part D or other acceptable drug coverage.

Also, if you switch back to just Parts A and B and want to get a Medicare supplemental plan (also called Medigap), you might need to be approved by the insurer, depending on where you live and exactly how long you’ve had your Advantage Plan.

Basically, a Medigap policy covers some of the costs that original Medicare does not cover — such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles — or uncovered services, such as medical care when you’re traveling abroad.

When you first qualify for Medicare, you get a six-month window to purchase a Medigap policy without undergoing medical underwriting. This means the insurer cannot deny coverage based on existing conditions or charge you a higher premium.

After that initial window, however, Medigap insurers typically will evaluate your medical history and can charge you more or decline coverage altogether.

Even if you know you’ll breeze through the evaluation, it still can take time for all your records to reach the insurer.

“Underwriting can take a couple months,” Gavino said. “The worst-case scenario is that you have Parts A and B until you get the supplemental policy.”

A worried senior couple examining Medicare plan costs on their laptop.
Getty Images

General enrollment

If you missed your initial enrollment period, you can sign up for coverage during this annual window. It could come with a penalty, however.

Your seven-month initial enrollment period typically begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after your birth month, a total of seven months. Generally speaking, you must sign up for Part A — unless you meet certain exclusions — and Part B during your initial enrollment. You can also sign up for Parts C and D at that point.

If you fail to enroll when you’re first eligible, you can face late-enrollment penalties unless you qualify for an exclusion, such as working full time and getting insurance through your employer.

If you get Part A for free — most retired workers do — there’s no penalty if you enroll late. But if you are not eligible for free Part A and don’t buy it when you’re initially eligible, your monthly premium could go up by 10%. You’ll pay the higher amount for twice the number of years you went without Part A coverage when you were eligible.

If you don’t sign up for Part B during your initial sign-up window, you also could face a late-enrollment penalty (again, unless you meet an exclusion). In this case, the premium will be increased by 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B but did not. The penalty also is lifelong.

Additionally, if you are in this boat, you might also have missed your window for signing up for Part D prescription drug coverage without a late-enrollment penalty.

Remember that signing up through the general enrollment period means your coverage kicks in July 1.

Your options for insurance until then depend on your situation. Gavino said, for instance, there might be short-term medical plans available to tide you over, or if you are already covered through other insurance — i.e., employer-sponsored or through a health exchange — you might be able to retain coverage until then.

Author: Sarah O’Brien, CNBC
Published: 4:00 PM EST January 6, 2018

Two Popular Medigap Plans Are Ending. Should You Enroll While You Can?

If you will soon turn 65 and be applying for Medicare, you should carefully consider which Medigap policy to enroll in because two of the most popular plans will be ending soon. In 2020, Medicare beneficiaries will no longer be able to enroll in Plans F and C.

Between copayments, deductibles, and coverage exclusions, Medicare does not cover all medical expenses. Offered by private insurers, Medigap (or “supplemental”) plans are designed to supplement and fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. There are 10 Medigap plans currently being sold, identified by letters. Each plan package offers a different combination of benefits, allowing purchasers to choose the combination that is right for them.

Plans F and C are popular Medigap plans in part because they both offer coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible. Enrollees in Plans F and C do not have to pay the deductible. Plan F, the most comprehensive Medigap plan currently available, also pays for all doctor, test, and hospital fees. Plan C is similar, but it does not cover the excess fees that doctors charge over Medicare’s limits. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of Medigap enrollees have either plan F or plan C.

As a result of legislation passed by Congress in 2015, starting in 2020 Medigap insurers will no longer be allowed to offer plans that cover the Medicare Part B deductible – in other words, Plans F and C. (“Critics argue that Plan F makes it too easy for people to go to the doctor without thinking twice about the cost,” observed the Chicago Tribune.) However, people currently enrolled in Plans F and C, as well as those who buy policies before 2020, may keep their F and C coverage for the rest of their lives.

Although his appears to offer an incentive to “lock in” these two comprehensive plans while you still can, before enrolling in Plans F or C new Medicare beneficiaries should consider the risk. While the plans are comprehensive, without new enrollees after 2020 experts warn that premiums may go up. As the enrollees in Plans F and C age and get sicker, the companies offering Plans F and C may experience more costs that won’t be offset by new younger, healthier enrollees. An alternative is Plan G, another comprehensive plan that does not cover the Part B deductible. But some experts believe that premiums will rise for this plan, too, as more beneficiaries in poor health enroll in it.

The choice of Medigap plan is important because once you choose one, it is difficult to switch. Medigap plans cannot consider pre-existing conditions when you enroll during the open enrollment period, which is a six-month period that begins on the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. But if you don’t enroll during the open enrollment period, there is no guarantee that the insurance company won’t charge you more for a pre-existing condition.

Before choosing a Medigap plan, you should weigh your need for comprehensive coverage with the risk of higher premiums. With the imminent phase-out of Plans F and C, it’s a tough choice and there are no easy answers. For more information from the Chicago Tribune about what the elimination of plans F and C means for consumers, click here.

Original Article: https://www.elderlawanswers.com/two-popular-medigap-plans-are-ending-should-you-enroll-while-you-can-16471

Original Date: Dec 22 2017

Learning The Ins and Outs Of Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Tennessee Medicare Supplemental Insurance Policies are available for individuals who reside in the state and are currently receiving benefits from the federal Medicare program including both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.  These supplemental plans, also referred to as Medigap Plans, are designed to pay the costs for the services that Original Medicare does not cover.  Most residents on Medicare opt to purchase one of these plans due to the out of pocket costs that beneficiaries incur.

For example, a beneficiary who only receives Medicare and has no supplemental policy has an incident occur where they are in the hospital for six months.  Medicare alone does not pay for extended hospital stays so that patient will be stuck with an insanely huge hospital bill to pay out of pocket for.  To avoid this scenario, participants of Original Medicare can purchase one of the Tennessee Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans that are available to residents to make their medical expenses more manageable.

Tennessee Medicare Supplement Plans

Tennessee Medicare Supplemental Insurance Providers must be licensed in the state to offer them.  When Medicare recipients enroll in a plan they won’t have to worry about covering the 20% of medical costs that are not covered by Medicare.   At most, beneficiaries who have purchase a policy will only be required to pay a small co-payment or just the premium.

TN Medicare Supplemental health plans also cover extend hospital stays as well as long term stays in a nursing facility.  Additionally, these plans will also cover deductibles that are difficult to meet due to financial constraints.  On the other hand, Tennessee supplement plans cannot serve as standalone coverage, as they are only designed to supplement the benefits offered by Medicare.  Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs either.  Beneficiaries are required that a separate Medicare drug plan be purchased for that purpose.

Beneficiaries Under 65 in Tennessee have Medicare Supplemental Options

Not all states will require carriers to offer supplemental insurance plans to those receiving Medicare benefits that are under the age of sixty five.  Thankfully, the state of Tennessee Medicare Supplements includes all 10 plan options.  The difference between these plans when your under sixty five compared to over sixty five are the rates, contact one of the Tennessee’s senior Medicare agents today to find out more information.

Learn More About Us

Learn more about Tennessee Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates, plans, and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com/tennessee-medicare-supplement-plans. Our Tennessee Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Tennessee Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!