BBB warns Medicare recipients to not fall victim to latest scams

The Better Business Bureau is warning Medicare recipients to not fall victim to scammers. Beginning in April 2018, Medicare will begin mailing new cards to everyone who gets Medicare benefits. In Wisconsin, cards will begin to be mailed out after June.

A spokesman for the BBB stated, instead of having your Social Security Number on the card, the new cards will have a unique Medicare number. Cards will be mailed to the address you have on file with the Social Security Administration. This will happen automatically and you don’t need to do anything or pay anyone to get your new card.

While Medicare cards are undergoing this big change to make them more secure, scammers are taking advantage of confusion around the launch.

How the Scam Works
You receive a call from a person claiming to work with Medicare. They are allegedly calling about the new Medicare cards, which will be mailed this spring. The cards will be more secure because they use a “Medicare Beneficiary Identifier” instead of a Social Security number.

The scammer claims that there’s a problem with your card. The con artist may say your new card was lost or someone tried to use your ID number. To resolve the situation, the scammer just needs your Social Security number.

In another version, the scammer claims you must pay money to receive your new Medicare card. They may ask you for payment information, so they can “complete the process” for you. They may even ask you to mail them your old card.

How to Avoid Medicare Scams
• Know how the Medicare card switch works. Understand that Medicare isn’t calling consumers about the card switch. Also, the new Medicare cards are being provided free of charge.
• Never provide personal information to a stranger. Don’t share personal details with anyone who calls you unsolicited. Do not confirm or give out your full name, address, Social Security number or any other personal information.

Original Source:

By WSAW Staff |

Improve Your Medicare Coverage with a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan

Medicare covers the basic healthcare needs of seniors in America.  However, a Medicare supplemental insurance plan can be purchased as additional protection to avoid financial ruin if you should become injured or sick.  Medicare supplemental insurance plans are also known as Medigap.

Supplemental insurance plans provide additional coverage that pays costs that Medicare doesn’t.

These costs may include copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. It may also cover insurance for travel outside of the USA. If you wish to enroll in a Medicare supplemental insurance plan it’s important to know that you are obtaining insurance coverage from a private company.

Enrollees are often curious as to how Medigap insurance works when they are already enrolled in Original Medicare. Medicare will first pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount of your healthcare costs and then whatever it not covered, depending on the supplemental plan you choose, a portion or all will be paid by your Medigap policy.

It’s important to know that your Medigap policy is different from the Medicare Advantage Plan. The MAP provides Medicare benefits, while Medigap basically supplements your original Medicare benefits. If you wish to improve your Medicare coverage and enroll in a Medicare supplemental insurance plan, you must first have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

But if you have the Medicare Advantage Plan you will not be able to get Medigap. However, you can choose to leave the Medicare Advantage Plan and then enroll in Medigap, but you must do it before your Medigap policy starts. You will not qualify for a Medigap plan if you already have a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plan either.

After you choose a Medicare supplemental insurance plan you must pay a private insurance company a monthly premium to enroll in the program. You must pay it every month to stay in good standing, and it’s in addition to your regular Medicare premiums.  A Medigap policy from a private insurance company will only cover one person. If you need your spouse or children covered, you’ll also need to purchase separate policies.

You should also know that you need to purchase from a private insurance provider who has been licensed to sell in your state. One great benefit of the Medigap policy is that you’ll always be covered, and that it’s guaranteed renewable, even if you have health problems. If you pay the premium, the insurance company won’t be able to cancel the policy.

After January 2006, Medigap policies haven’t been able to include prescription drug coverage. If that’s something you’re interested in, you can search for information on Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

Before choosing a Medicare supplemental insurance plan you should know that the Medigap policies don’t cover everything. Some of these items may be long-term care, private duty nursing, dental care, eyeglasses, vision care, or hearing aids. Don’t mix up Medicare supplement insurance plans with other types of medical insurance plans. Before you enroll in a Medicare supplemental insurance plan, carefully review your options and make the right choice of plan for you and your family.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at  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!


Ten Important Facts about Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans

Are you a senior on Medicare? You probably know that the plan does not cover all the health insurance benefits you need. This is exactly where a Medical supplemental insurance plan becomes important. Also referred to as Medicare gap or Medigap coverage, it has a variety of benefits that supplements the costs that Medicare does not cover. Here are ten important facts about Medicare supplemental insurance plans.

Medicare supplemental plans are standardized

Medicare supplemental plans are standardized. This means that each plan that begins with the same letter (with designated letters A to N) must have the same basic benefits, irrespective of the insurance company you purchase the plan from. However, different insurance companies determine their pricing independently.

Medicare supplemental insurance plans cannot be combined with certain health insurance types

Medicare supplemental plans were designed to work with Original Medicare (parts A and B). If you have another type of insurance, purchasing a supplement plan from a supplement plan from an insurance company may be illegal.

Medicare Supplement plans do not cover all medical benefits

Benefits such as Part A and B deductible, Part B excess charges, skilled nursing facility care coinsurance, and foreign travel emergency are covered up to 50% by some Medicare supplement plans. On the other hand, benefits such as Medicare part A coinsurance, part A hospice care copayment or coinsurance, part B coinsurance or copayment, and the first three pints of blood are covered by supplement plans to at least 50% and it could be up 100%.

Medicare supplement plan is best bought when you are first eligible

Although Medicare supplement plan can be bought anytime, you could be subjected to medical underwriting which would allow insurance companies gather information about your medical history. This history – past or present – could be used as grounds to either charge you more for a plan or reject your application. The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is the best time for purchasing a supplement plan. During this time, you would not be subjected to a medical underwriting by insurance companies. This period lasts for six months beginning from when you are 65 or older.

You must leave your insurance plan to enjoy a Medicare Supplemental plan

If you already have another insurance plan such as a Medicare Advantage plan, you must leave the plan before the Medicare supplemental plan begins.

A Medicare supplement plan is for one person

If a holder has a spouse that qualifies for a Medicare supplement plan, he/she will have to purchase a separate policy.

Consumers pay a premium

Medicare supplemental insurance plan consumers pay the insurance company a monthly premium for the policy. This is in addition to the Part B premium that a policy holder must pay to Medicare.

Medicare Supplement plans no longer cover prescription drugs

In the past, Medicare supplemental plans had prescription drug coverage. However, since January 1, 2006, such coverage has been disallowed. For consumers who need such coverage, they can purchase the stand-alone Part D also referred to as Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

It is illegal anyone with an MSA to sell a Medicare supplemental plan

If anyone has a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plan, it is illegal to sell a Medicare supplemental plan to a consumer.

Medicare Supplemental Plans are guaranteed renewable

So long as a consumer continues to pay the premium, no insurance company can cancel a Medicare supplemental policy even if the consumer has medical issues.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at  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!

What older people should know about Medicare and Medicaid in an era of proposed reform

We have made Medicare and Medicaid so complex that the quality of our own understanding of the individual implications of enrollment as well as the debate over various reform proposals is degraded.
We have made Medicare and Medicaid so complex that the quality of our own understanding of the individual implications of enrollment as well as the debate over various reform proposals is degraded. File illustration


Not unlike both the 111th Congress that passed the Affordable Care Act and the 115th Congress that recently amended it with the new federal tax bill, we are often in the dark about our own health care and health insurance systems.

Whether you think this is a matter of being in good company or a national embarrassment, I can think of no problem greater among our citizenry than health insurance illiteracy in general, and about Medicare and Medicaid, in particular.

Many of us, for example, learn about the limits of our own individual health care coverage at the clinic check-in window or in the pharmacy check-out line. These are the wrong venues at which to ask questions and consider the implications of plan and coverage design.

Polling data reveals that the majority of Americans do not understand that Medicare offers only a limited long-term care benefit, for example. As citizens, we generalize about health care and health insurance in ways that may be profoundly inaccurate as well as personally disadvantageous, though they seem intuitive to us. When we do this, we bargain in the dark over both our own future and that of our fellow Americans.

Never miss a local story.

Older people are at a particular disadvantage in this “understanding your health insurance” game because older Medicare beneficiaries are often retired, remote from former employers’ human resource departments and they are often reluctant to burden adult children with the task of attempting to decipher coverage.

Government-funded health insurance beneficiaries are required to choose, choose and choose again in a system that requires them to make selections at every turn, even if they must be made in the near dark.

Traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage? Medicare Part D coverage and, if so, what plan? Medicare Supplemental Insurance and, if so, at what level of coverage and cost?

We have made Medicare and Medicaid so complex that the quality of our own understanding of the individual implications of enrollment, and also the debate over various reform proposals are degraded. Is it a defect or a feature of these programs that ordinary intelligent citizens of good will have difficulty understanding both their own government-funded health insurance and the proposals to reform both Medicare and Medicaid throughout our society?

The UMKC Consortium for Aging in Community is hosting two public events on Medicare and Medicaid in March, in an effort to create a bridge between health care experts and the community’s need for information. It is our hope this series will enable all of us to be better health care beneficiaries, both more aware and more concerned about why the system is structured the way it is.

Ordinary intelligent people ought not be excluded from the current debates over the future of Medicare and Medicaid. Indeed, those very people ought to drive the debate, as they are the ones with the most at stake in any reform proposal.

Original Source:

Original Author:

Original Date: March 4 2018

Comparing Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans

Medicare supplement insurance was designed to cover holes and gaps in basic Medicare parts A and B for qualifying seniors within the age range of 65 and those with disabilities under the age of 65. Medicare is a health insurance program funded by the government designed to help seniors pay for their medical and health needs such as prescription drugs, treatments, checkups, surgeries and other accessories that make life easier for them.  Undoubtedly, that most people who are now getting to this age group are somehow going to notice substantial changes in their life with Medicare proven to be of great benefit. However, Medicare does not cover all their individual needs.  To combat this the federal government introduced Medicare supplemental insurance plans or Medigap.

Comparing the Differences of Plans

It is highly essential to compare Medicare supplemental insurance plans if you need extra health insurance to supplemental Medicare Part A and Part B. When you look at these plans, the very first thing you will realize is that they are offered by the same providers from whom you would have received coverage in the days when you were dependent on your individual plan. However, unlike the individual insurance coverage, the Medicare supplement insurance is regulated by the government and your provider can only charge a certain amount for coverage and each of the supplemental plans must cover certain costs. The Medicare supplement insurance makes it easier for you to choose a plan and you won’t have to worry about getting stuck with poor coverage that leaves you with huge bills to pay for each medical treatment.

Getting the Treatment You Need At The Price you Can Afford

Each Medicare supplemental insurance carrier offers Medigap plans A through L.  Senior will need to have Medigap plan A and B which covers the basic medical treatments and drugs prescription. With Plan B, you should also expect to pay premiums. However, Medigap plan C through L have some different options. When opting for a plan in these categories ensure you base your decision on the two major factors; the treatment that you will need and the amount you will be able to pay regarding co-pays and deductibles.

Benefits of Medigap Plans

There are series of benefits when you make the best choice of Medigap plans. Firstly, you will be covered of all various types of treatments, cares and medication that you will require to keep you healthy. Secondly, you should expect to be paying premiums only, and the best supplemental Medicare insurance will allow you to avoid those annoying deductibles and co-pays. You will never have to worry about settling bills for treatments that you believed your insurance was going to pay for.

Some other benefits of Medicare supplemental insurance plans also include vision and dental coverage which have lower copays than Medicare. Although, expensive service such as hospitalization and surgery the co-pays can tend to be higher. If you have hospitalizations in the past, ensure to check out the limitations on hospital coverage with the Medicare Advantage plans.

It is crucial to fully understand all the limits of Medicare supplemental insurance plans before choosing. Take your time to ask a reputable insurance agent about all the Medigap options available and compare them with other forms of supplemental insurance to make an informed decision about your medical coverage.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at  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!


Don’t ignore this gap when signing up for Medicare

In the fight against opioids, doctors and state insurers are increasingly turning to acupuncture. But debate about how well it works remains pointed. (Feb. 20) AP


If you recently signed up for Medicare and are considering a supplemental policy to reduce what you shell out for health care, don’t dilly-dally.

When you first enroll, you get six months to purchase what’s known as a Medigap policy — which helps cover the cost of deductibles, copays and coinsurance associated with Medicare — without an insurance company nosing through your health history and deciding whether to insure you.

“The ‘guaranteed-issue’ period is the first six months,,” said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino in New York. “After that, it could be a nightmare.”

Basically, unless your state allows special exceptions, you have to go through medical underwriting after that six-month window. And, depending on your health, that process could cause the Medigap insurer to charge you more or deny coverage altogether.

While Medigap is no panacea to the rising cost of health care, about 13.1 million Medicare beneficiaries were using such policies to reduce their out-of-pocket outlays in 2016, according to the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance. That’s about 22%  of the estimated 58.4 million people on Medicare. Keep in mind this is different than a Medicare Advantage policy. More on that below.

If you are considering one of these policies, it’s worth making sure you understand what you’re buying. Beyond knowing the deadline for making a decision, here are some key considerations before you sign on the dotted line.

The basics

While a number of companies offer Medigap insurance, they can only offer policies from a list of about 10 standardized plans. Each is simply assigned a letter: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. Some states also offer a high-deductible version of Plan F.

This standardization means that, say, Plan A at one insurance company is the same as Plan A at another. Be aware, however, not every plan is available in all states.

Also, Medicare recipients under age 65 who are disabled might not have access to a Medigap plan, depending on where they live. Gavino recommends checking with your state’s insurance department to find out if a plan is available.

The plans differ on what is covered. For instance, Plan F pays your Medicare deductibles while Plan A does not.

Or, some plans cover 100% of your deductibles and co-insurance, while others might only pay a portion of those costs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a chart on its website that shows the differences. You also can use the agency’s search tool to find available plans in your ZIP code.

Additionally, Medigap policies can only be coupled only with original Medicare (Part A hospital coverage and Part B outpatient coverage). In other words, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), you cannot purchase a Medigap plan.

When it works

Overall, while about a third of Medicare recipients have an Advantage Plan and their ranks have been growing, some people discover that their favorite doctor or pharmacy is not part of an Advantage Plan’s network and decide to remain on (or return to) original Medicare because their doctor accepts it.

Others, such as frequent travelers, want to avoid the limitations that sometimes come with Advantage Plans, such as requirements to visit in-network doctors or pay more if they are out of network.

Regardless of the reasons for remaining on original Medicare, it’s important to understand its limitations.

For instance, Medicare has no out-of-pocket maximum. Additionally, Parts A and B come with deductibles and limitations on what services are covered and to what degree.

“If you’re sick a lot, or in and out of doctor’s offices, you can end up with some big bills,” Gavino said.

That’s where Medigap policies help. Yet they aren’t a cure-all: For instance, Medicare does not cover dental and vision expenses, and Medigap policies do not pick up those costs. Advantage Plans, on the other hand, might offer coverage for both.

Additionally, many Advantage Plans include prescription drug coverage (Part D). If you are on original Medicare — whether you have a Medigap policy or not — you must sign up for a prescription plan unless you meet certain requirements.

Additionally, depending on a combination of factors — the policy’s features, where you live, and sometimes your age — the cost can reach a few hundred dollars a month.

The most popular Medigap plan (Plan F) cost an average of $159 to $236 for a 65-year-old male in 2016, according to the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance.

Your location alone can make that number vary wildy, however. In New York City, the highest cost of a Plan F premium was $444; and in San Jose, California, the lowest cost was $135.

Plans that offer less coverage are generally less expensive.

Premium differences

Where you might see differences between the same plans is in the monthly premiums. For instance, depending on where you live, several insurers could offer Plan F with different premium amounts.

Gavino recommends avoiding insurers that have little history in the marketplace yet offer the cheapest premiums.

“Some people will go for the cheapest option and then end up with a 20% to 30%  increase the next year,” she said.

Additionally, Gavino said, it’s worth finding out whether the insurer you’re considering will let you switch between plans.

If your financial situation changes and you want to move to a less expensive policy, there’s a chance the company will require you to go through medical underwriting before letting you switch.

Additional considerations

For people who end up switching from Advantage Plan back to original Medicare — which they can only do at certain times of the year — it’s important to avoid making the move before considering whether Medigap will be part of your plan.

If you will need to undergo medical underwriting and are uncertain whether you’ll get coverage, Gavino said you should remain on your Advantage plan until you know for sure.

Original Source:

Original Author: Sarah O’Brien, CNBC

Original Date: Feb 25 2018

When Can You Sign Up for Medicare Supplement Plans?

Medicare supplement plans are designed to cover out-of-pocket costs which include deductibles, coinsurance, co payments, and costs that are not covered by Medicare part A and B. The best time to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan is typically during the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period. During this period, you would not be subjected to any form of medical underwriting, a situation where an insurance company uses an already existing medical condition as a reason to deny you medical coverage or charge you for such coverage.

Enrollment Periods and Terms

The open enrollment period usually lasts for a period of 6 months beginning on the first day of the month when you are 65 or older or when you enrolled in Medicare part B. In some states, there are Medicare Open Enrollment Periods for individuals under the age of 65. You could seize such opportunity if you fall in such category.

When the Medicare Open Enrollment Period expires, signing up for a supplement plan may not be as easy if you are trying for the first time. If you have already signed up for a Medicare Supplement plan, you may not be able to switch plans with guaranteed issue. In the absence of guarantee issue rights, insurance companies may subject you to underwriting that would ensure you are charged a premium fee for medical coverage based on your health condition.

Guarantee Issue Rights

On the other hand, there are situations where you may have guarantee issue rights even after the Open Enrollment Period. These situations could include, but are not limited to:

  • When your Medicare Supplement plan ends through no fault of yours
  • When you were misled by your insurance company
  • When you move out of an area where you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or the plan leaves the Medicare program
  • When you are enrolled in an employer-sponsored Original Medicare plan and the coverage of your employer ends.

Medicare Part D

It is important to note that Medicare Supplement plans do not include benefits of prescription drugs (Medicare Part D). Although some plans in the past included this coverage that is not the case today. If you already have a Medicare Part D, prescription drug coverage, ensure it is creditable so you avoid paying a penalty for late enrollment if you decide to sign up for the Part D plan soon. Medicare Supplement plans are easy to understand and if you follow the laid down directions for signing up, you can rest assured of a friendly medical coverage devoid of any penalties.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at  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!

Estate Planning: Medicare vs. Social Security

Sexagenarians face big health, financial choices heading into retirement.

When it comes to signing up for Medicare and Social Security, what older employees don’t know can hurt them.

While Medicare and Social Security are two separate programs, there are some similarities.First, each is aimed at providing older Americans with some sense of medical and financial security. Second, employees pay a tax into each in what amounts to a group health and pension plan. And third, every person’s situation is different, so a cookie-cutter approach toward the programs can’t be taken. There is plenty of free information out there and experts who can guide you toward crafting a path that works best with your situation.

However, thoughts about either program typically don’t enter our thoughts until we’re a little older, grayer and less likely to continue working, voluntarily or elsewise.

“Absolutely, you should start looking at (Medicare) before you turn 65,” says Semanthie Brooks, an executive council member of Columbus-based AARP Ohio, referencing the age when most of the population can first sign up for Medicare.

So, what should you do as the time arrives? Maybe the first step is learning the basics.


Sixty-five is the age when most people are eligible to sign up.

The government allows three months before a 65th birthday until three months after to do so. There is also an annual open enrollment period from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 when people receiving Medicare benefits offered by private insurers in contract with the government can enroll or change their plans.

Four sections comprise the 53-year-old health benefit:

  • Part A refers to hospital insurance that covers a swath of services including hospital care, some nursing home care, hospice care and home-health services. There are no premiums attached in most instances.
  • Part B pays for some doctor, hospital, ambulance and outpatient services, plus X-rays. A monthly premium is attached. If you bypass signing up for Part B when first eligible, you could endure fees and penalties that will increase the premium for the rest of your days on Medicare. However, those who have health insurance through a job or a spouse’s job when they turn 65 may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that allows them to avoid the Part B late penalty.
  • Part C, or Medicare Advantage Plan, lets private insurers, approved by Medicare, provide the benefits. HMOs and PPOs are examples of this. Medicare pays a portion of your healthcare costs and insurer premiums are involved. There are some 3,000 different advantage plans offered in Ohio.
  • Part D is outpatient prescription drug insurance and is generally offered through Medicare Advantage plans. You also can purchase a standalone plan.

Together, Parts A and B are referred to as Original Medicare.

There are additional options such as Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap), that takes care of costs not covered by Original Medicare, and Medicare Mutual Savings Accounts in which all costs are paid for by Medicare once a person reaches a yearly deductible. In other words, there’s a lot to know beforehand for an older employee.

For instance, if you’ve signed up for Medicare and work for a company of no more than 20 employees, your claims are paid initially by the government program and then your employer’s health plan kicks in. It’s reversed when there are more than 20 employees. Also, making contributions to your Health Savings Account will come to an end once you’re enrolled. You can still use HSA funds to pay for medical expenses, but you can’t add a penny more.

You also might wonder how much responsibility your employer shoulders in keeping you abreast of options. Not much, and in fact they may want you to sign up for Medicare and get off the company’s medical plan, says Tom Waggoner, president of the employee benefits firm AccBen-USI Insurance Services in Dublin.

“There are a lot of employers who have employees over 65 with cancer or a critical illness of some sort,” he says. “They would love to move them onto a Medicare supplement plan, but that is illegal. An employer cannot incentivize, request (to) or help an employee move to a supplement plan. Meanwhile, the government wants them to stay on employer-based coverage because it doesn’t cost it anything.”

So while a company’s HR department won’t be much help, online sites including, and the Medicare resource center through the Ohio Department of Insurance ( are good places to start.

Brooks encourages people to approach Medicare with preparedness, adding that not very many do their homework. “The average person (signs up) for Medicare and then selects a Medigap plan because her neighbor says it’s good.”

She and Andy Haggard conduct information sessions to help older adults navigate their way through Medicare.

“A lot of people are really lost and don’t know where to begin,” says Haggard, of the community education and outreach division at Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, whose sessions attract about 100 attendees each.

Social Security Benefits

Social Security is often referred to as the third-rail of politics, meaning politicians who touch it get shocked into oblivion. It also is a labyrinth of rules and mathematical formulas incorporating the complexity of an M.C. Escher lithograph.

You can begin collecting monthly benefits as early as age 62, but you’ll see 20 to 30 percent less over your lifetime than if you wait until FRA, or full-retirement age. For people born in 1960 or later, FRA is 67, and 66 for those born before 1960. Further, there’s an annual 8 percent monthly benefit increase for each year beyond FRA until age 70, when the increases stop.

Financial planners like Mark Coffey and Ben Skinner of Summit Financial in Columbus say benefits are always included in a wealth strategy. A few top-of-mind issues to ponder when approaching age 62:

  • Are there other income resources like a savings account or IRA that could delay taking benefits until at least FRA?
  • If there is a good outlook on health status and more than 10 years life expectancy, think about waiting until FRA. “The health of the individual is probably the second most important thing to consider,” Coffey says.
  • There are machinations of spousal benefits that could mean higher benefit amounts should one spouse die. Skinner says the scenarios require one spouse who is turning at least 66 and the other 62.

Original Source:

Original Author:

Original Date: Jan 22 2018

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  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.

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Original Date: Feb 5 2018