Medicare open enrollment begins Oct. 15

The 2017 Medicare open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. This is the time of year when you can change your Medicare coverage.

You can do this by joining a new Medicare Advantage Plan or by joining a new stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP). You can also switch to Original Medicare with or without a stand-alone Part D plan from a Medicare Advantage Plan during this time. Be sure you’re ready for any changes you want to make by scheduling a free annual Health Insurance Check-Up.

One of the Office for the Aging’s trained volunteer counselors with the Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) can meet with you and go over your options. Appointments will be available throughout the open enrollment period, and we’ve started taking appointments this month. Our calendar fills up quickly, and remember: After Dec. 7, it’s too late to change your Medicare coverage, so call for your appointment today.

SENIOR NEWS: Deadline nears for Senior Prom

The Office for the Aging also schedules Medicare 101 (orientation) and Navigating Medicare classes every month. This fall, we have scheduled Medicare 101 classes on the following Wednesdays at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Community Room from 10 a.m. until noon: Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 20.

Additionally, there will be 90-minute Medicare 101 sessions at the Center for Healthy Aging at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck at 4 p.m. on the following Mondays: Oct. 2, Oct. 23 and Nov. 27.

There also will be one Medicare 101 session Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Pawling Library (11 Broad St.).

A little bit of computer knowledge can go a long way when it comes to navigating the national Medicare website, Our HIICAP volunteers can teach you how to learn about Medicare and other associated programs to help you make informed choices. Join them at the Adriance Library (93 Market St., Poughkeepsie) at 9:30 a.m. on the following Wednesdays: Sept. 27, Oct. 25, Nov. 22 and Dec. 27.

Original Source:

Original Date: September 14 2017

Original Author: Todd Tancredi

What is Medicare Supplemental Insurance in Texas

Medicare supplemental insurance is provided by the government for seniors (65 years of age or older) or for people who are eligible due to a disability. Eligible candidates for Medigap all get the same level of coverage and benefits. This program has helped a number of individuals with the health care that they need at affordable prices.

Finding the right Medicare supplement insurance in Texas can be quite overwhelming, especially if they are already sick. It is advised to figure insurance issues out when you are healthy because resolving insurance issues can be a bit stressful when you are worried about your health.

Medicare supplement insurance is purchased to close the gaps in Medicare coverage. Medicare does not simply cover every aspect of healthcare but it was meant to provide an economical means to get the most benefits of health care. Note: It wasn’t intended to fully replace traditional health insurance.

Medigap supplemental insurance in Texas provides added benefits such as dental care, hearing care, and vision care that are offered under different plans. Seniors can benefit a lot from the added coverage provided by this insurance. Many people are reluctant to spend money on additional insurance policy rather they depend solely on Medicare. This can be troublesome in the event that Medicare coverage reaches its limit.

Seniors who are now running on a low budget due to rapidly growing inflation and several other factors that have led in adjusting their cost of living are now forced to find every means of saving possible. The Medicare supplement insurance in Texas may be just the area to save.

As stated above, Medicare was never intended to eliminate traditional health insurance. Many people have come to discover that upon resigning the health insurance that was offered was not enough to spend an extended period of time in a hospital.  If an individual requires health care for a long term or an extended period of time they will realize that over 60% of their final bill will be from their pockets. However, this can be avoided it such individual purchases Blue Cross of Texas Medicare supplement insurance.

The benefits of Medigap have turned out to be valuable, particularly for those living on a fixed income. To enjoy the numerous benefits of Texas Medicare Supplement insurance, you’ll have to pick a policy that best fits your individual situation. Questions like: what kind of prescription drug care do I really need or what does Plan A cover? If you find these questions difficult to answer, you may find help from someone in Texas who is experienced in all the Medicare supplement insurance and how each plan work. Once you have decided on a policy, focus on the application process, and start paying the premiums. Surely, you’ll be compensated with significant benefits.

Learn more about Texas Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates, plans, and more at  Our Texas Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans in Texas.  To talk to an expert in Texas Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

Medicare Supplemental Insurance in New York

People who have sought Medicare for their family would be aware of its potential prospects and its benefits. They would be taking adequate steps in making sure that they go for Medicare as soon as possible in their lives since this is one effective way to save money on healthcare expenses. There are two Plans of Medicare- Plan A and Plan B and both have undeniably important roles to play.

Still, there may be clauses that Medicare might not be covered in these two plans, and this is why today there is a plethora of Medicare supplemental insurance in New York. These policies are available locally in each state, and their clauses and premiums would vary too. Yet, these supplemental insurance policies are in great demand by those who are nearing sixties or in their mid-sixties. We shall now check on the areas that Medicare cover and the ones that require Medicare supplemental insurance.

What are the areas that Medicare plans usually cover?

Medicare Plan A would cover hospitalization, nursing and even home health care services cost. This you would get automatically if you have Medicare Plan A. Plan B is for covering doctor bills, and for purchasing regular medical supplies. Plan A would work without your monthly premium while Plan B would require you to pay the monthly premium. There is no necessity for you to select both the plans compulsorily at all. Many organizations, public and private encourage their staff to go for these but there are certain areas, which do not cover under these two plans. That is why today Medigap plans or Medicare supplemental insurance in New York has come up to fill in the void.

What are the areas that Medicare plans do not cover?

From custodial long-term care to eye related, dental related examinations and cosmetic surgeries, acupuncture, hearing aids and even foot related ailments do not fall under any of the two plans. Medigap or Medicare Supplemental plans come in here offering 10 standardized plans. These plans are lettered as A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. People, who have crossed the age of 65, and eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, are also qualified for these Medigap plans.

Further, those who are at the end stage of the renal disease also are eligible to get the Medigap plans. However, from Medicare itself, you would be able to get an information booklet where all the details and further FAQ’s would be there to answer even other queries.

Selecting the right Medicare Supplement Plans

From the Medicare’s official website itself, one can get the names of the popular Medicare supplemental insurance in New York and they can pick the right one from here. While a few people might take time and read through individually all the policies, many others might simply prefer to compare the plans and then opt. Yes, right under the heading of “Supplements and Other Insurance” one would be capable to get “How to Compare Medigap Policies”. This would be able to offer detailed comparisons between all the policies in your state.

Learn more about New York Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates, plans, and more at York-medicare-supplement-plans.  Our New York Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans in New York.  To talk to an expert in New York Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

How Do I Buy Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans In Michigan

The cost of Medicare Supplement plans in Michigan may vary depending on a number of factors like the provider and the area in which you reside. However, Medicare benefits are consistent between planned letter types, regardless of where you live. It is left for you to discover what Medicare policies are available for you, and decide on which plan type is the most appropriate for your budget and health needs.

Medicare plans in Michigan are designed to help Medigap beneficiaries pay for the cost associated with traditional health care, Part A and Part B, including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Medicare Part C is also known as the Medicare Advantage and these plans can’t cater for it. There are 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plans available Michigan, and each plan is distinguished by one of 10 letters (A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N), with plans of the same letter offering the same benefits.

Buying Medicare Supplemental Insurance in Michigan

Before buying Medicare insurance in Michigan, it is best if you understand the different types of plans available and what they offer.

Part A

Part A coverage doesn’t start until you have met a deductible of $1, 132 during a period of time known as a “benefit period”. That period starts on the day you enter the hospital or a nursing facility and runs until you have not received hospital care for 60 consecutive days.

Part B

Part B caters for home health care, outpatient care, lab test, doctor care, and other services from non-hospital providers. An annual deductible of $162 is incurred, after which it pays for 80% of a pre-approved rate for services from health care providers while you are responsible for the remaining 20%. You will also be responsible for the excess if your doctor charges more than Medicare’s rate.


  • Part A coinsurance, plus 1 year coverage after Medicare benefits end
  • Hospice coinsurance
  • First 3 pints of blood each year
  • Part B coinsurance


  • Part A coinsurance, plus 1 year coverage after Medicare benefits end
  • Part A inpatient hospital deductible
  • Part B coinsurance
  • Part B deductible
  • First 3 pints of blood each year
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
  • Hospice coinsurance
  • Emergency care in a foreign country: 80% of the cost of emergency care during the first 60 days of each outing, after which you pay a deductible of $250, subject to a $50,000 lifetime validity, if such care would have been covered by Medicare if provided in the U.S.


  • Part A coinsurance, plus 1 year coverage after Medicare benefits end
  • Part A impatient hospital deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B coinsurance
  • Hospice coinsurance
  • Emergency care in a foreign country: 80% of the cost of emergency care during the first 60 days of each outing, after which you pay a deductible of $250, subject to a $50,000 lifetime validity, if such care would have been covered by Medicare if provided in the U.S.
  • Part B excess: 100% of the excess charge above Medicare’s usual charge if medical provider does not accept Medicare assignment, subject to Federal/State mandated limit.

It is recommended that you carefully evaluate these plans when you shop for your own coverage.

Learn more about Michigan Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at  Our Michigan Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans in Michigan.  To talk to an expert in Michigan Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

New Medicare cards, scams

Starting in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin mailing new Medicare cards to those on Medicare. These cards will have a new Medicare Number—a number unique to each individual.

The new cards will help protect the identities of people with Medicare. The new card will not change your Medicare benefits.

“We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of their Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits,” said CMS Administrator Seema Varma.

Personal identity theft affects a large number of seniors and this number is growing. People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of identity theft crimes. This is why CMS is readying a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards in April 2018-and all Medicare cards will be replaced by April 2019. Mailing Medicare beneficiaries new cards will take time. Be aware that your card might arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.

“Medicare will mail your new card to the address the Social Security Administration has on file for you, so now is the time to make sure Social Security has your correct mailing address,” said Karen Mayse, Leader of Medicare Benefits Counseling at North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging.

If you need to correct your address, you may update it on the Social Security website at using the MyAccount link. You may also call 800-772-1213. TTY users can call 800-325-0778.

People who receive their new Medicare card are advised to destroy their old Medicare cards and start using the new card right away. Medical providers will need the new card in order to bill Medicare for medical services and equipment.

Scammers and fraudsters are usually active whenever Medicare is in the news. Please be wary of anyone who contacts you by phone or e-mail about your Medicare card.

— Remember: Neither Social Security nor Medicare will ever ask you to give personal or private information to get your new Medicare number or new card.

— Protect yourself! Hang up if someone calls you and asks for your Social Security number, your Medicare number or your credit card information!

— If you have questions about the legitimacy of someone contacting you about your Medicare, call your local Council on Aging at 620-241-4383 or Area Agency on Aging at 800-362-0264 and ask to speak to a SHICK counselor.

The McPherson County Council on Aging is located at 926 N. Main St., Suite B, in McPherson.

Original Source:

Original Author:

Original Date: Sept 6 2017

Medicare Moratorium on New Providers Might Punish Innocent

The expansion of an anti-fraud initiative that blocks new ambulance and home health providers from enrolling in Medicare in some states might harm legitimate providers that were trying to enroll.

Ambulance and home health providers told Bloomberg BNA they support the program’s goal of reducing Medicare overutilization, but they said last year’s state-wide moratorium expansions prevented otherwise innocent providers from enrolling in Medicare.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded the temporary moratorium program from selected counties to some entire states in July 2016. The program is designed to stop new provider enrollment in sectors where the CMS has identified a high risk of fraud and abuse.

The expansion affects all newly enrolling nonemergency ambulance providers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas, and all newly enrolling home health agencies in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas.

Previously, moratoriums were in effect in certain counties surrounding large metropolitan areas in those states.

The American Ambulance Association supported the initial, more limited moratoriums, but recognizes the burdens the expansions may pose on providers, Brian Werfel, a Medicare consultant with the AAA, told Bloomberg BNA.

Expanding the scope of the moratoriums from county to state level swept up many providers that were in the midst of enrolling in Medicare, Werfel said. The enrollment process can take up to five months, so providers that wanted to enroll near the original targeted areas were suddenly blocked from enrolling, he said.

CMS May Grant Waivers

The CMS can allow some providers to enroll through the use of waivers and should “liberally” use them, Werfel said. The waivers are doled out on a case-by-case basis and intended to help individual ambulance and home health providers enroll in Medicare in moratorium states, but Werfel said they haven’t been working as well as they should.

The regulation that governs the moratorium program makes clear that it applies to both new enrollment applications and enrollment applications that were pending when the moratorium went into effect, Werfel said.

“What you need to understand is that the enrollment process can take three to six months, depending on how quickly CMS completes its required site visit,” Werfel said.

For example, the ambulance provider moratorium expansions for the entire states of Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey went into effect July 29, 2016.

Any provider that applied for enrollment in May, June or July 2016 did so without any notice that the moratorium would impact them, Werfel said.

A solution to the problem would be to impose the moratorium on newly submitted enrollment applications and grandfather in all pending applications, Werfel said.

The Affordable Care Act gave CMS the authority to impose temporary moratoriums on providers enrolling in Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program if there was a significant risk of fraud and abuse.

The initial moratoriums were imposed in July 2013 and covered enrollment in several counties in Florida, Illinois, and Texas.

They were expanded to counties in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in January 2014, and Medicare made the enrollment bans statewide in all six states in July 2016.

A temporary moratorium lasts for six months, but CMS can renew it for a six-month period an indefinite number of times.

State Expansions

The expansion was largely designed to close up some loopholes in the earlier targeted moratoriums, and there has been no evidence it has reduced access to care, William Dombi, vice president for law at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, told Bloomberg BNA.

The CMS expanded the temporary moratorium to states because the agency felt fraudulent companies were locating in nonmoratorium areas and serving patients in moratorium locations, Dombi said.

However, Dombi said, the expansion blocked companies that had been deep in the Medicare enrollment process from becoming fully certified.

Dombi said he’d heard some indications that the moratoriums have increased the market value of existing home health agencies, as they aren’t facing any competition from new providers.

Dombi is a Bloomberg BNA advisory board member.

Prior Authorization

Medicare overutilization was the driving force behind the creation of the moratorium, but a better solution to the problem might be prior authorization programs, AAA’s Werfel said.

Prior authorization programs require that providers contact the CMS and get coverage approval before offering any services.

Werfel said a demonstration prior authorization program for home health services has reduced Medicare usage. If it can become a full-time program, it could eliminate the need for the moratoriums, Werfel said.

The pre-claims review demonstration program for home health began in August 2016 in Illinois, and has since expanded to Florida, Texas, Michigan, and Massachusetts.

The demonstration program has faced significant pushback from Congress and the home health industry. A bipartisan group of 27 Florida lawmakers sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price in late February arguing that the program would unduly burden home health providers and potentially harm patient access to care.

The NAHC’s Dombi has also urged the HHS to drop the demonstration program. Home health agencies in Illinois have reported up to a two-month backlog in paperwork under the demonstration program, he said.

A separate prior authorization program for nonemergency ambulance services began in December 2014 in South Carolina, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and expanded to Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia in January 2016.

Scaling Back

The temporary moratorium has become a given for most home care providers practicing in Florida for several years, but the new leadership at the CMS might be willing to scale back the program to individual counties, Bobby Lolley, executive director of the Home Care Association of Florida, told Bloomberg BNA.

Most existing providers don’t believe it has limited their ability to grow and expand, Lolley said, but he knows of about a dozen HHAs that were on the cusp of enrollment when the moratorium was expanded and had spent a lot of money in preparation, only to be blocked from the Medicare program.

Lolley said he believed if the right group made a push to scale back the moratorium and target it better, Congress would listen. A seniors group, for example, could make the argument that the moratorium has stifled competition and that more HHAs are needed.

The baby boomer population in Florida is huge and could certainly use more home health agencies, particularly in the panhandle and in Jacksonville, Lolley said.

Original Source:

Original Author: James Swann

Original Date: May 30, 2017

More Michigan Residents Can Qualify For Medigap Subsidy

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – More Medicare recipients in Michigan will qualify for subsidies to buy supplemental health insurance that covers their coinsurance and deductibles.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund announced Monday it’s raising the eligibility threshold, starting in July.

Residents with annual incomes at or below 225 percent of the poverty level — or $26,730 for an individual and $36,045 for a couple — will qualify. The existing cutoff is 150 percent of poverty — $17,820 per individual and $24,030 per couple.

The monthly subsidy ranges from $40 to $125 depending one’s age and disability status.

It’s unclear how many residents will be helped by expanding the Medigap subsidy program. The health fund estimated previously that the current subsidy would help about 80,000 of 400,000 people with Medigap coverage.

Original Source:
Original Author: The Associated Press
Original Date: May 15, 2017

When Is The Best Time to Sign Up for Medicare Supplemental Insurance?

Are you currently enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B?  If yes, you will notice that there are instances in your coverage where you must pay out of your pocket expenses. For example, coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles are some of the expenses that you must pay out of your pocket. This is where Medicare supplemental insurance comes in. Medicare supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, works together with Original Medicare insurance coverage to help fill in some of the gaps. So, when is the best time to sign up for Medicare supplemental insurance cover?

When am I eligible for Medicare supplemental insurance coverage?

You are eligible for Medicare supplemental cover if you are already enrolled in the Original Medigap coverage Part A and Part B. However, if you are under the age of 65 and still have the original cover and are not suitable for the enrollment in Medigap supplemental coverage the law does not allow states to offer the supplemental cover to people below the age of 65 unless they have disabilities or certain medical conditions. Therefore your eligibility to Medicare supplemental coverage depends on the state you live in and the federal Medicare insurance plan you are enrolled in.

The best time to sign up for the Medicare supplement insurance coverage is during your open enrollment period.  This period starts on the first day of the month in which you reach 65 years or older and that you are enrolled in Medicare Part B. It is essential to point out that once the enrollment process has begun, it cannot be postponed, delayed, or replaced without paying a penalty for coverage.

Why it is important to buy a Medicare policy during the enrollment period?

Medicare supplement insurance brokers are allowed to use medical underwriting to decide who is eligible for the Medicare cover and how much they should charge for the policy. However, during the open enrollment period the insurance service provider cannot deny you the following:

  • It cannot refuse to sell to sell to you any Medicare policy it offers.
  • The insurance company cannot charge you a higher premium than it charges other customers who are eligible for the cover.
  • It cannot by any means delay or postpone your cover.

Remember, if your open enrollment period elapses without you signing up for the Medicare supplement insurance plans, you may not be able to enroll in the Medicare supplemental plan as easily as you would have done during open enrollment. Without the guaranteed issue privileges, you might be subjected to medical underwriting and may even be charged overpriced premiums based on your health condition.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates, plans and more at  Our expert Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to a Medicare expert call toll free 888.404.5049 today!