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Delaying Medicare – Penalty or No Penalty?

2017-07-09 Charles Bradshaw business photo

Charles Bradshaw

I get many questions about whether there is a penalty if someone does not enroll in Medicare when they are first eligible at age 65.

Unfortunately, there is a tremendous amount of misinformation told to people approaching their Medicare age mainly by high-pressure Medicare sales people who either do not fully understand the complexities of Medicare or who simply will say whatever they think it takes to make a sale regardless of what is best for the person to whom they are supposedly helping.

As long as you have credible health insurance coverage through an employer – whether it is your employer or your spouse or legal partner – you can delay going on full Medicare until the time you leave the employer coverage without incurring any penalty now or in the future.

Here are some important things to know when you are about to turn 65 or are already 65 or older and have the option to stay on your employer coverage.

1) You may want to enroll in Medicare Part A only and not enroll in Medicare Part B. Medicare Part A covers you if you are an in-patient in the hospital or in a Skilled Nursing Facility for rehabilitation.

Unlike Medicare Part B, there is no monthly premium for Medicare Part A. If you go into the hospital or a Skilled Nursing Facility and still have employer coverage, there is a good chance Medicare Part A will pay for some costs for which you will otherwise be responsible.

An exception to this guidance is if you are currently contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA). If you are contributing to an HSA you should not enroll in Medicare Part A only as you cannot contribute to an HSA once your Medicare Part A is effective.

2) Once you are 65, you have the choice of staying on your employer coverage or going on full Medicare. This is a decision you must make yourself. Your employer is prohibited by federal law from encouraging you to leave their coverage and go on full Medicare. However, it is often the right choice financially and healthwise for you to go on full Medicare.

Employer coverage or full Medicare? How to decide

3) If you choose to stay on your employer coverage past when you are eligible for Medicare, you can choose to change to full Medicare at any time. Your right to go on full Medicare at any time supersedes the election timetable your employer has for their coverage.

4) Once you decide to leave employer coverage and go on full Medicare, you will need to have your employer complete and sign form CMS-L564E – a form provided by Social Security in which your employer attests you have had credible health insurance with them and verifies when you are leaving that coverage.

You will then need to take this completed form CMS-L564E to your local Social Security office and they will enroll you in Medicare Part B (and Medicare Part A if you do not already have Medicare Part A) to coincide with when you leave your employer coverage.

5) When you first go on Medicare Part B, you will be able to enroll in any Medicare Supplement plan – including Plan G – offered in your area with no health questions because you will be in your 6-month Open Enrollment period that commences with your Medicare Part B effective date.

A Plan G Medicare Supplement, combined with Medicare Parts A and B, will allow you to go to any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country that accepts regular Medicare – as almost all do – and all of your costs will be covered 100 percent after you pay Medicare Part B’s once-a-year deductible of only $183.

You will also be able to enroll in a Medicare Part D drug plan without penalty because you will have a two-month Special Election Period due to losing the drug coverage with your employer plan.

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your Medicare transition when the time is right so you can choose the right Medicare plan for you both now and in the future.

I am also happy to help you evaluate whether your best option is to stay on employer coverage or go on full Medicare.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

You can also call me at 888-549-1110 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Real Medicare Versus Private Medicare

2017-07-09 Charles Bradshaw business photo

Charles Bradshaw

I would like to ask you a very simple question that will help you decide how you will receive and pay for your health care for the rest of your life.

Which of the following two goals is most important for you and your family:

1) To be able to get the best health care possible from the doctors or hospitals I believe give me the best chance for the best health outcome with little or no unplanned cost.

Or

2) To help make a big insurance company like Humana more profit and their executives richer even if it means cutting back on my health care and reducing my chances of getting well if I have a serious health problem.

I don’t believe anyone is going to select #2.

However, if you permanently sign over your Medicare benefits to a private Medicare plan such as Kaiser or Humana, you are potentially placing your health care for the rest of your life in the control of a company who will ration your health care if you become sick to maximize their profits – even if doing so reduces your chance for the best health outcome.

This happens because a private, for-profit Medicare Advantage plan operates under a much more restrictive set of guidelines when it determines what tests, treatments or surgeries it will approve.

There are many times real Medicare – also called regular Medicare or original Medicare – will approve an expensive procedure such as an MRI or a new, expensive cancer treatment when a private Medicare Advantage plan will say “no” in order to save money.

When you opt-out of real Medicare and enroll in a private Medicare plan, Medicare no longer pays your medical bills. Instead, the federal government sends your Medicare dollars to the private company who somehow convinced you it was a good idea to let them make your health care decisions instead of you and your doctor.

Every time a private Medicare Advantage plan says “no” to an expensive medical procedure when real Medicare would have said “yes”, the private plan increases their income while decreasing your chance for the best health outcome.

Sadly, if you opt-out of real Medicare for a private Medicare plan, your opportunity to change your mind later will be either extremely limited or possibly non-existent. This is because leaving a private Medicare plan and returning to real Medicare with a Medicare Supplement that pays your share of Medicare almost always requires you to answer a lengthy list of health questions and verify you are in good health.

Fortunately, if you have not yet started Medicare, you can stay with real Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Supplement that takes effect when your Medicare starts without answering health questions. You will be approved for this wonderful coverage that allows you to choose any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country that accepts Medicare – as almost all do – regardless of your health and you will always be able to keep this coverage regardless of any health conditions you develop in the future.

If you have already opted out of real Medicare and assigned your Medicare benefits to a private, for-profit, restricted access Medicare Advantage plan, you can choose to return to Real Medicare prior to February 14, 2018. However, in order to qualify for a Medicare Supplement that will pay your share of Medicare, you will likely have to answer health questions and be in fairly good health.

I would appreciate the chance to help you understand your Medicare options so you can choose the right Medicare plan for you both now and in the future.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

You can also call me at 888-549-1110 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Employer Coverage or Full Medicare? How to Decide.

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

Charles H.Bradshaw

The question I receive more than any other when someone is turning 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare is “What do I do about Medicare if I am still working and have coverage through my employer?

There are several different issues to consider when answering this question.

The first thing to know is when you turn 65 and are still working, you have a choice between staying on your employer’s coverage or leaving that coverage and going on full Medicare.

By “full Medicare” I am referring to having both Medicare Parts A and B along with a Medicare Supplement to pay your share of Medicare and a Medicare Part D drug plan to pay most of the cost of any medications you take now or may take in the future .

In many situations it is advisable to enroll in Medicare Part A only even if you have employer coverage. Medicare Part A has no monthly premium and may cover some of your costs if you have an in-patient hospital stay or skilled nursing stay. This is not “full Medicare.”

When choosing between staying on employer coverage and or leaving employer coverage and going on full Medicare, the choice requires a comparison of your monthly costs under both options as well as your potential costs if you become sick. This is not a choice the Employee Benefits department at your employer can help you make. In fact, federal law prohibits employers from assisting employees with evaluating their Medicare options even if full Medicare is the best option for the employee.

Let’s start with full Medicare first. In most states, you will pay a little less than $300 per month for Medicare Parts A and B as well as a Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D drug plan. With this coverage, you will have a once-a-year Medicare Part B deductible of $183 and after that all of your medical costs will be covered 100 percent for the rest of the year.

Now, compare this cost to not only what you will pay per month for your employer coverage but also what your potential out-of-pocket costs may be if you become sick or have an accident. In many situations, your monthly cost for your employer coverage may be a little less than you would pay with full Medicare but your deductible and other out-of-pocket costs may be much higher than with full Medicare.

Many employer plans now have annual deductibles as high as $3,000 or $4,000 or even more and out-of-pocket maximums of $6,000 or more. If you have existing health issues, you may already be certain to spend some or all of such a high deductible and out-of-pocket maximum every year.

In most situations, it only takes a minimal amount of annual health care needs each year to make full Medicare a less costly option than employer coverage because of the higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums with most employer coverage.

The choice between staying on employer coverage and going on full Medicare is not a one-time decision. Once you are past your Medicare eligibility date, you can choose to leave employer coverage at any time to go on full Medicare. This includes during the middle of the year. You do not have to wait until your employer’s annual election process.

There are a few additional things to consider when choosing between remaining on your employer coverage or going on full Medicare.

  1. You may need to stay on employer coverage to maintain coverage for your spouse or dependent if they are not yet Medicare-eligible.
  2. If you take any expensive medications, those medications may be covered at a lower cost with employer coverage than with a Medicare Part D drug plan.
  3. If you contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA) with your employer coverage, you will no longer be able to do so once you enroll in Medicare Part A – even if you do not enroll in Medicare Part B.
  4. With full Medicare, you can receive health care from any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country that accepts Medicare as almost all do. This means you may have more choices in your health care providers than you would given the network limitations of most employer coverage.
  5. In some states – such as Florida – you will pay more for your Medicare Supplement if you first enroll at an age later than 65. While this is not a major cost difference, it could make choosing to move to full Medicare the best choice if the decision is a close call.
  6. There is almost no situation where it is a good idea to enroll in Medicare Part B while you have employer coverage. The cost for Medicare Part B is $134 per month and the combination of both coverages rarely pays any cost that full Medicare would not already pay. In addition, by starting Medicare Part B while you still have employer coverage, you may lose some options for choosing a Medicare Supplement you will eventually need once you eventually leave your employer coverage.

Whether you are about to turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare or if you are 65 or older and still on employer coverage, I would appreciate the chance to work with you to help you compare your employer coverage options with full Medicare.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

You can also call me at 888-549-1110 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Getting Diet Advice From McDonald’s

A gentleman named Edward from Nashville scheduled a Medicare consultation with me that took place yesterday.

When I called Edward, I could tell right away he was stressed out about the fact he was turning 65 in a few months and going on Medicare. He told me he was getting bombarded with all kinds of mail and phone calls about Medicare and was having a hard time keeping up.

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

Charles Bradshaw 

I told him to take every piece of mail he had received about Medicare from anyone except the government and put it in the nearest recycle bin. I also told him to stop taking calls from anyone he did not know. 

Nearly 100 percent of the mail or phone calls you receive about Medicare when you are about to turn 65 is from a company wanting to make a lot of money off of your hard-earned Medicare benefits.

These companies such as Humana and United Healthcare are not trying to help you learn how Medicare works and what your options are with Medicare. They are mainly trying to steer you toward their private, for-profit, restricted-choice Medicare Advantage plans that can be catastrophically bad for both your health and finances.

They are literally attempting to get you to permanently sign over your Medicare benefits so they can divert your Medicare dollars away from spending on your health and to their profits.

Trying to learn what you need to know about Medicare from Humana is the same as getting diet advice from McDonald’s.

When you sign over your Medicare benefits to a private, for-profit Medicare Advantage Plan such as Humana Gold Plus, you are giving Humana full control over your health care. Humana will make decisions about the health care you receive and the doctors you can see based on the cost rather than what gives you the best chance for the best health outcome.

The less Humana spends on your health care the more money they make as a company and the higher salaries and bigger bonuses they can pay to themselves.

When you are approaching the time you first go on Medicare, it is critical that you learn how Medicare works from an unbiased source. You need to fully know and understand your Medicare options so you can make the right decision for you both now and in the future.

I started MedicareAnswerCenter to help as many people as possible fully understand their options with Medicare so they can make the right decisions for them. We do not enroll anyone in any Medicare plan until we know they fully understand their options and have decided on a Medicare plan based on what is right for them.

I would appreciate the chance to personally work with you to help you understand your Medicare options so you can choose the Medicare plan that is right for you.

I will make sure you fully understand how the choices you make when you first go on Medicare can impact your access to health care and finances the rest of your life. I will also explain to you how the choices about Medicare you make when you turn 65 may become permanent only a few short months after your Medicare coverage begins.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

You can also call me at 888-549-1110 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Improving your Medicare Part D Drug Plan

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period is from October 15 until December 7.

During this time, you can take the following actions to improve your Medicare coverage

  1. Leave a for-profit, restricted-access Medicare Advantage plan to return to regular Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Supplement and stand-along Medicare Part D drug plan.. You may be required to answer health questions to qualify for the Medicare Supplement.
  2. Improve your Medicare Supplement by switching from a Plan F supplement which is being phased out beginning on 2020 to a more cost effective Plan G Medicare Supplement.
  3. Improve your Medicare Supplement from a Plan N which may require you to pay 15 percent of your medical bills to a Plan G Medicare Supplement that pays all of your cost after a once-a-year Medicare Part B deducitble of $183.
  4. Improve your Medicare Part D drug plan to one which will provide your medications at a lower cost and not have an annual deductible of up to $405.

Today, I want to share with you how to improve your Medicare Part D drug plan.

Most states have around 20-25 options for Medicare Part D drug plans. These plans vary in the following ways:

  • How much is the monthly premium
  • Whether the plan has an annual deductible or not
  • If there is a deductible how much it is
  • If there is a deductible to which drugs does it apply
  • Which drugs does it cover
  • How much it requires you to pay for the drugs you take

Medicare provides a wonderful tool to help you identify which Medicare Part D drug plan will provide your medications at the lowest overall cost.

You can access this tool by clicking on the following link:

Click here to access Medicare’s Part D Plan Finder Tool

You can click on the following links to view 5 short tutorials for using this system”

Medicare Plan Finder Lesson 1: Getting Started

Medicare Plan Finder Lesson 2: Entering Your Prescription Drugs

Medicare Plan Finder Lesson 3: Selecting Pharmacies

Medicare Plan Finder Lesson 4: Refining and Sorting Your Plan Results

Medicare Plan Finder Lesson 5: Comparing Plans

Please note the Plan Finder Tool will create a Drug ID list and a Password so you can recall your drug list later. Please write these down or print them out.

I strongly recommend Medicare Part D drug plans with a 4-Star rating or higher. This rating reflects the satisfaction members have had with this plan.

I also recommend a Medicare Part D drug plan with no annual deductible. Having no annual deductible will save you money if you currently take or are prescribed expensive medications.

Overall, I recommend SilverScript Choice if your drugs are covered under this plan.

Please click the following link for more information about SilverScript Choice :

Click here for information about SilverScript Choice

Please email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com if you would like to enroll in SilverScript Choice.

Improving Your Medicare – Part 1

Avoiding high Plan N out-of-pocket costs

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

Charles Bradshaw President  MedicareAnswerCenter

The Plan N Medicare Supplement was created in 2010 with the Medicare Modernization Act of 2010.

With a Plan N Medicare Supplement, the policy holder can usually save $10 to $20 per month compared to a Plan G Medicare Supplement.

However, the policy holder must potentially pay the following three additional costs – one of which can have a significant impact on accessing the best care

 

 

 

 

  1. A $20 copay for any doctor visit that is not an annual checkup or well woman exam. This is the same for both primary care doctors and specialists
  2. A $50 copay if the policy holder goes to an Emergency Room and is not admitted as an in-patient
  3. All Medicare Part B Excess charges.

What is Medicare Part B Excess?

Some medical providers elect to not accept Medicare’s regular payment schedule so they can collect an extra 15 percent for the services they provide to people on Medicare. This is called Medicare Part B Excess.

As you can expect, the medical providers who choose to charge this extra amount are ones in such high demand they can afford to be selective in choosing who will be their patients.

Prominent medical providers such as Mayo Clinic charge Medicare Part B Excess as well as many prominent cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, oncologists, rheumatologists, endocrinologists, opthamologists and more.

The percentage of medical providers who charge Medicare Part B excess is increasing every year in all areas of the country.

Even though Medicare Part B Excess applies only to services under Medicare Part B, hospitals have increasingly shifted services that were formerly under Medicare Part A to Medicare Part B. The majority of services received at a hospital such as MRIs, chemotherapy and outpatient surgery are now billed under Medicare Part B.

There are even many situations where a patient who may be in a hospital facility for 3-4 days is billed as “under observation” (Medicare Part B) rather than as an in-patient (Medicare Part A).

Depending on the type of care you receive, this 15 percent additional cost can result in you having to pay several thousand dollars or more out of your pocket.

This extra charge may unfortunately cause you to choose a lower cost provider rather than the doctor or hospital you believe provides you with the best chance for the best health outcome.

Fortunately, a Medicare Supplement Plan G – which is usually only a few dollars more than Plan N – fully pays all Medicare Part B Excess charges. Many people can even obtain a Plan G Medicare Supplement for less than they are currently paying for Plan N.

If you currently have a Plan N Medicare Supplement, it is a very smart move to upgrade to a Plan G Medicare Supplement.

Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute appointment with me to enroll in a Plan G Medicare Supplement. Depending on how long you have been on Medicare, your eligibility to enroll in Plan G may be dependent on your current health.

Click here to schedule your appointment 

You can also call (888) 549-1110 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com

Also, if you know someone who has a Medicare Supplement Plan N please share this with them so they can understand why they may want to upgrade to a Plan G Medicare Supplement.

 

Who is managing your health?

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

Charles Bradshaw   MedicareAnswerCenter.com

There is only one acceptable answer to this question and that answer is “you.”

 
However, if you make the wrong decision about how to receive your Medicare, your health could be managed by an insurance company’s budget analyst more concerned about the profits of his employer than your best health outcome.
 
When you first go on Medicare – usually at age 65 but often later if you are still working – you can choose to receive your Medicare benefits through regular Medicare combined with a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Part D drug plan. Or, you can instead assign your Medicare benefits to a private, for-profit, restricted-choice Medicare Advantage plan such as Humana Gold Plus or Kaiser Permanente.
 
When you choose to stay with regular Medicare, you can go to any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country that accepts Medicare as almost all do. This includes such noted medical facilities as Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, M.D. Anderson and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
 
Importantly, with regular Medicare combined with a Medicare Supplement, all or almost all of your costs are covered 100 percent regardless of your health situation now or in the future.
 
This scenario allows you, along with the doctors you choose, to make the best decisions for your health.
 
On the other hand, if you choose to receive your Medicare through a private, for-profit restricted-access Medicare Advantage plan, your health care decisions are often made by a budget analyst who is focused on managing the costs of your care.
 
With a Medicare Advantage plan, you have a limited choice of doctors and hospitals and you are not fully covered when you travel. Even worse, because a Medicare Advantage plan is focused on its own profits, it will often say “no” to treatments and tests your doctor may think is right for you when regular Medicare would have said “yes.”
 
In today’s internet content-rich world, you have access to a wealth of information about your health and the health care providers you can choose with regular Medicare. You have more control and input into the decisions about your health than any generation before.
 
You should never give up this benefit by assigning your Medicare benefits to a private, for-profit, restricted-choice Medicare Advantage plan.
 
I would appreciate the chance to personally work with you to help you understand your Medicare options so you can choose the Medicare plan that is right for you.
 
Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation
 
You can also call me at (888) 549-1110 or email charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

Who do you trust with your Medicare?

2017-09-04 Labor Day.mp4

I hope you are having a wonderful Labor Day weekend with your family and those who are special to you.

One of the most important decisions you make when you first go on Medicare is who you trust to help you understand your Medicare options and help you choose you receive your Medicare.

There is only one answer to that question and it is a great answer – YOU.

You are the only person you can trust to make sure you know what you need to know about Medicare to make the right decision for you.

Trust your instincts. A stranger who knocks on your door uninvited trying to get you to sign an application for the only Medicare plan they sell may not be the best choice. A telemarketer who calls you – often violating the Do Not Call list to which you subscribed – is also likely not the right choice.

I have made it my life’s work to help as many people as possible fully understand how Medicare works and what their options are with Medicare so they can make the best Medicare decision for them.

I would appreciate the opportunity to help you learn about your Medicare options and help you enroll in the Medicare plan you decide is right for you.

Please click on the following link to schedule your free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation with me.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation Medicare consultation

You can also call me at (888) 549-1110 or email charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

Thank you for allowing me to help you with your Medicare and I look forward to talking with you soon.

Schedule your free Medicare consultation with Charles Bradshaw

2017-08-31 Medicare Consultation.mp4
At MedicareAnswerCenter.com, we take our job of helping you understand your Medicare options very seriously.

Because the choices you make when you first go on Medicare can make a big difference in your health and finances later, it is critical that you fully understand your Medicare choices so you can make the right choice for you both now and in the future.

I would appreciate the opportunity to help you learn about your Medicare options and help you enroll in the Medicare plan you decide is right for you.

Please click on the following link to schedule your free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation with me.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation Medicare consultation

You can also call me at (888) 549-1110 or email charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

Thank you for allowing me to help you with your Medicare and I look forward to talking with you soon.

Totality and Medicare

2017-08-21 Eclipse

I take very little time off this time of the year. Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period is coming up soon and there is a lot of annual training and testing that is required by Medicare for those of us who help people with Medicare.

However this past Monday was pretty special with the solar eclipse and my family and I tried to take in this event the right way. While we live just inside the totality zone in which the sun was completely blocked by the moon, we decided to take advantage of the extensive lakes here in East Tennessee and take a boat closer to the center of the totality zone so we could experience a longer eclipse.

By doing so we saw around 2 minutes and 30 seconds of the total eclipse. It was an experience I will remember the rest of my life.

I recorded the video above just after the total eclipse began.

Please make sure the volume is turned up when you watch this. You can hear crickets who are mistaking the eclipse for dusk.

Also, please note what is called the 360 degree sunset as there is light all the way around the horizon.

We heard the word “totality” a lot concerning the eclipse. It is one of my favorite words.

The first time I remember hearing the word was around twenty years ago when I was taking a personal security class related to a job I had at the time. The instructor repeatedly said we always needed to make decisions based on the “totality of the situation.”

I have since applied that advice and phrase to many situations in my life.

I have often used the word “totality” when discussing the choices one makes for their Medicare.

When you first go on Medicare, it is tempting to think about your health at the present time and choose the least expensive option or a private Medicare Advantage plan that gives you a gimmick such as a free health club membership.

Likewise, enrolling in a Medicare Supplement from an unfamiliar company that may be new to your area and have starter teaser rates may cost you a lot more down the road.

The choices you make for your Medicare can be permanent. You are choosing the Medicare plan that will impact your access to health care and finances in your 60s as well as your 70s and hopefully your 80s, 90s and maybe even longer.

The less expensive Medicare choice at 65 when you have few if any health issues can be the most expensive choice in later years when you may have health issues. The wrong Medicare choice at 65 can also keep you from getting the care you need at 75 or 85.

It is very important to understand and make your Medicare decisions based on the totality of the situation.

Whether you are about to go on Medicare or are already on Medicare and want to make sure you have made the right choices, I would appreciate the chance to help you.

To schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation, simply click on the link below

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation Medicare consultation

You can also call me at (888) 549-1110 or email charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

Thank you for allowing me to help you with your Medicare and I look forward to talking with you soon.

Charlie

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