H.R. 1470 that was replaced by H.R. 2 – Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 is now law.
What does this bill mean to you?
One major provision of the bill will eliminate "first-dollar" coverage on Medicare supplement plans. Specifically the law dictates that Medicare supplement plan F - as we currently know it, will not be available for purchase in 2020 and beyond.
So, does this mean you should buy plan F now? If you purchase prior to 2020, you will be able to keep your plan for as long as you like - they are guaranteed renewable. But, does that make sense? We don't think so.
Typically when a health insurance product is discontinued, the remaining book of business ages (no people turning 65 in 2020 and beyond can get in), and the aging of that book leads to higher claims experience, and that higher claims experience leads to higher premiums. Understand, you are eligible to change from plan F to a different plan in 2020 and beyond if you are still insurable.
What is one to do? If you are currently enrolled in plan F, and you can medically qualify to change Medicare supplement plans, we recommend changing. Changing now will eliminate the risk of not being able to change down the road.
Give us a call to see if you qualify.
We've just updated our site with new 2016 Medicare publications. If you're interested in knowing how much Medicare costs, the difference between inpatient care vs outpatient care, or just about anything else Medicare related, just click on the "Medicare Publications" page above.
The Medicare annual enrollment period (AEP) begins October 15 and ends December 7.
This is your opportunity to have your Medicare health plan and prescription drug plan reviewed. We strongly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity.
Even if your health status, Rx usage, and plan premiums remain constant - there may be changes to your drug plan formulary or health plan co-pays that are not easily discerned.
The easiest way I know to have a review conducted is to give our office a call at 817-573-0380.
Quick, name the Medicare enrollment period we are in from January 1 through February 14. Well the title gave it away, didn't it?
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and you woke up after January 1, wondering what the heck did i do? And....you'd like to return to original Medicare, this is your opportunity! Here is the description directly from the Medicare website:
"Between January 1–February 14, if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can leave your plan and switch to Original Medicare. If you switch to Original Medicare during this period, you will have until February 14 to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after the plan gets your enrollment form."
May we suggest exercising caution. This period allows you to select a prescription drug plan, but not a different Medicare advantage plan. For health coverage, you can enroll in a Medicare supplement plan, however, if you are not in your Medicare supplement open enrollment period, or a guaranteed issue period, then a Medicare supplement plan will require medical underwriting.
If you have questions, give us a call.
Medicare recently released their 2015 premium and deductible information for 2015.
However, higher income individuals will pay slightly higher premiums for Medicare part D. See all the 2015 changes at the Medicare website: http://medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/costs-at-a-glance/costs-at-glance.html#collapse-4811
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In just over one month the annual enrollment period for Medicare plans will begin. AEP dates are October 15 thru December 7.
This is a very important time for you, if you are enrolled in, or you want to enroll in either/or a Medicare advantage plan or Medicare prescription drug plan (PDP).
Note: AEP does not directly impact your Medicare supplement plan.
We strongly encourage you to talk with an agent during AEP to review your prescription coverage. Even if your prescription usage has remained steady for the past year or more, it is possible the drug formulary on your plan will change from year-to-year. Those changes can mean higher out-of-pocket costs for you. AND, it costs nothing to conduct a quick review.
In addition, there may new plan choices available to you for 2015 that were not available for 2014.
So, give us a call.
A very dear client sent an email a few months ago regarding hospital admissions, then I received a phone call, and another phone call. It seems the email has made it's rounds and it is becoming a cause for concern.
The email indicates that Medicare has changed the way they determine whether you are a hospital inpatient. Apparently, being admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay doesn't necessarily qualify as an inpatient admission. Now, that part of the email is accurate.
There are times you might be in the hospital for one or even more than one night - but you're considered an outpatient.
Here's where things go wrong. The afore mentioned email indicates if you are admitted as an outpatient, then Medicare won't cover your hospital charges. THAT'S NOT CORRECT! Medicare covers your hospital charges either way. However, an inpatient stay is covered by Medicare part A, while an outpatient stay is covered by Medicare part B. For more detail, Medicare actually has a publication addressing the issue. Click here to download it:
The bottom line is this: If you are enrolled in a Medicare supplement plan or a Medicare advantage plan, then your out-of-pocket is very close to the same in either case.
So, rest easy. And call if you have any questions.
Lonnie Thibodeaux is the owner of Sargent Insurance and Financial Services. He specializes in Medicare health plans and prescription drug plans.