Don’t be fooled by Medicare teaser rates

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

I received an email from Charles in Charlottesville, Virginia last week.

Charles was a very smart guy who had throughly researched his Medicare Supplement options.

In the email, he told me he had read my blogs in which I said I usually recommend Medicare Supplements from Mutual of Omaha . However, in looking up premiums from different carriers in his area, he noticed that Anthem Blue Cross was $23.77 less than Mutual of Omaha.

At first glance, Anthem Blue Cross was $90.00 per month for a Plan G Medicare Supplement and Mutual of Omaha was $113.77.

My initial reaction was to take a closer look and see if this was a real cost savings.

From my experience helping people with Medicare all over the country, I have seen several situations in which BlueCross had pulled some gimmicks to make their pricing appear better than it really was or had promoted Medicare Supplement types that had potential gaps in their coverage.

As an example, BlueCross Blue Shield in Alabama promotes a Plan B Medicare Supplement instead of Plan G. The major difference with Plan B is it does not cover your costs if you go into a Skilled Nursing Facility for rehabilitation while Plan G covers all costs other than Medicare once-a-year Part B deductible.

This lack of full coverage can cost you more than $10,000 if you have a prolonged stay in a rehabilitation facility.

By using this sleight of hand, BCBS of Alabama offers rates that are comparable to carriers such as Mutual of Omaha Plan G but offers far less coverage.

The most frustrating part of this is the typical person selecting this plan will not realize their coverage is not complete until they are actually in a skilled nursing facility and find out they are not covered and will have to pay thousands of dollars out of their pocket.

Similarly, BlueCross BlueShield in Florida – Florida Blue – promotes a “Medicare Select” plan that has at first glance attractive premiums. Unfortunately, unlike Mutual of Omaha Plan G, Florida Blue’s Medicare Select plan only allows you to receive care at certain hospitals.

This can be a huge problem if you have a serious health issue and need to receive care at the hospital you believe has the most expertise and experience for your specific health condition.

By being forced to receive care at a hospital different than the one you believe is best for you, you may have a lower chance for the best health outcome.

So I was a little skeptical of the Anthem BlueCross pricing in Virginia.

When I went to their website, it took me a couple of minutes but I found the answer.

To get the answer I had to click around their website until I found their “Outline of Coverage.” The “Outline of Coverage” is a document that shows pricing by age.

Virginia is an “Attained Age” state which means people with Medicare Supplements from Virginia pay a premium which is based on the age to which they have reached.

Most states are “Attained Age” states though some states have pricing based on the age at which you enroll in the plan and other states have the same pricing for everyone regardless of age.

In an Attained Age state such as Virginia, it is critical to see how much premiums increase every year as you get older.

In Virginia, Anthem BlueCross’ premiums increase sharply every year. By age 70, the premium increases from $90 per month to $120 per month.

Mutual of Omaha was a far different story. First, because he was married, Charles would receive a 12 percent discount for his coverage with Mutual of Omaha. Unlike most carriers, Mutual of Omaha provides this discount even if you spouse is not on the same plan or is not even eligible for Medicare.

This discount would bring Charles premium for Mutual of Omaha’s Plan G down to $100.12 per month.

However, Mutual of Omaha’s Outline of Coverage showed they would increase their premiums much less than Anthem BlueCross as Charles got older.

In fact, Mutual would not even increase their premiums based on age at all until Charles reached age 68.

By the time Charles was 70, his premium with Mutual of Omaha would be $105.91 while his Anthem BlueCross premium already would have increased to $120.00 per month.

By the time he was 75, Charles’ premium with Mutual of Omaha would be $123.14 while his premium with Anthem BlueCross would be $153.00.

Based on his life expectancy of living well into his 80s, Charles would spend much less during his lifetime with Mutual of Omaha even though the first year’s premium for the same coverage was a little lower with Anthem BlueCross.

When you are evaluating a Medicare Supplement carrier, it is critical to always compare premiums at different ages such as 70, 75 and 80 rather than simply looking at the rate at age 65.

This is especially true because, once you have been on Medicare Part B for only 6 months, your ability to change Medicare Supplement carriers depends on you not having any costly health issues.

It can be very expensive – and unnecessarily so – to be stuck in a Medicare Supplement plan the rest of your life that has much higher premiums because the carrier set their age 65 premiums artificially low and then increased them sharply every year.

I am happy to help you compare your Medicare options – including what costs will be as you get older.

Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation 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.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

What Your Employer Cannot Tell You About Medicare

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

When someone is about to turn 65 and is still working and eligible for health insurance through their employer, they will often ask for guidance from their employer’s Human Resources department about whether they should enroll in Medicare.

While this is understandable, there are two things you should know when seeking Medicare information from your employer.

First, your employer is prohibited by federal law from encouraging you in any way to leave the coverage you have through them and enrolling in full Medicare.

The reason for this is if you leave employer coverage to go on full Medicare, this shifts much of the cost of your health care from your employer to the federal government.

Purely for budget reasons, the federal government wants your employer to continue to pay for your health care.

Unfortunately, this is true even when it is in your best interest – both financial and health – to leave your employer’s coverage and go on full Medicare.

Second, you have the right to leave your employer’s coverage at any time to go on full Medicare beginning the first day of the month in which you turn 65 – or the first day of the month before if your birthday is actually on the first day of the month.

You do not have to wait for your employer’s yearly insurance open enrollment period. Your right to go on the Medicare you have earned through your lifetime of work overrides your employer’s election period timetable.

Also, you do not have to make this choice only when you turn 65. Once you are eligible for Medicare you can leave your employer coverage at any time to take full advantage of your Medicare – whether your are just turning 65 or at any time past your 65th birthday.

Why you may want to leave you employer coverage and go on full Medicare

There are several reasons leaving employer coverage and going on full Medicare may be your best option.

First, you may pay less every month with full Medicare than you pay for your employer coverage. This is often true because once you go on full Medicare the government subsidizes your health care by around $700 per month. At the same time, an increasing number of employers have reduced how much they subsidize their employee coverage.

In most states the cost of full Medicare is around $275 to $300 per month, This includes Medicare Parts A and B as well as a Plan G Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Part D drug plan. The costs are a little higher in some states such as New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida.

The second reason leaving your employer coverage and going on full Medicare is your annual deductible and out-of-pocket maximum is likely much less with full Medicare than it is with coverage from your employer.

Most employer coverage now has an annual deductible of at least $1,500 and some employers have much higher deductibles of as much as $4,000 or more.

The annual out-of-pocket maximum with most employer coverage is usually at least twice as much as the annual deductible – usually $3,000 to $6,000.

With full Medicare – including a Plan G Medicare Supplement, the annual deductible and out-of-pocket maximum are both $183.

After you pay the once-a-year Medicare Part B deductible of $183 all of your costs are covered 100 percent for the rest of the year.

The final reason leaving your employer coverage to go on full Medicare may be a good choice is with full Medicare you can go to any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country that accepts Medicare – as almost all do. With most employer coverage, you are either limited to a certain network of doctors and hospitals or you may have to pay more if you use a doctor or hospital outside of the plan’s network.

The restriction to having to use a doctor or hospital from a network can affect your health outcome if you have or develop a serious health issue.

In today’s information-rich world, you have the ability to research and identify the doctor or hospital you believe gives you the best chance for the best health outcome regardless of where they are in the country.

Full Medicare allows you to go to that doctor or hospital with all of your costs being covered 100 percent after the once-a-year $183 deductible.

This is not the case with most employer coverage.

Please click on the following link to read a blog I recently wrote about comparing your employer coverage to your Medicare options.

Employer Coverage or Full Medicare? How to Decide

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 on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation 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.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

When a Stranger Calls

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

As you probably already know, when you are about to reach the age of 65 and become eligible for Medicare, you are bombarded with junk mail, unwanted phone calls and even unsolicited knocks on your door by strangers desperate to enroll you in whatever Medicare plan someone is paying them to sell you.

None of these marketing ploys do anything to help you understand how Medicare works and what your options are with Medicare. They do not help you make an informed Medicare choice.

The most frustrating of these unwanted intrusions into your privacy are the non-stop phone calls you receive from call centers.

These call centers are usually staffed with inexperienced, lightly or poorly-trained 20 somethings who only make money by convincing a lot of people to blindly enroll over the phone in the Medicare plan they are paid to sell.

These are not bad kids and, in time, some may become effective Medicare consultants.

However, I am 53 years old and have helped thousands of people with their Medicare. I take what I do very seriously and learn something new about Medicare every week.

When I was in my 20s I did not have the life experience to recommend to someone approaching 65 years old how they should make critically important decisions affecting their access to health care and financial well-being for the rest of their life.

Like me 30 years ago, these kids in their 20s working in call centers rarely have the life experience and Medicare experience and knowledge necessary to be an asset to you in making your Medicare choices. Most have been working in these call centers less than a year and most will be doing something else a year from now.

Almost every day I talk to someone who has been given bad information from a call center employee.

Many call center employees tell people who are still working and have health insurance through their employer that they will be penalized if they do not enroll in Medicare Parts A and B at age 65.

This is wrong and acting on such bad information can cost the person turning 65 thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs.

I have heard from many other people on Medicare that they do not have a Medicare Part D drug plan because someone in a call center told them they did not need one if they were not taking any medications. This advice is terribly wrong and can force the person on Medicare to have to pay the full price for expensive drugs they may be prescribed as well as pay a penalty the rest of their life.

A lot of times I do not believe giving out such bad information is deliberate or malicious. It seems these call center employees are trained to say whatever is most likely to lead to a sale and they often do not understand why what they are trying to sell is the absolutely wrong choice for the person their computer just dialed.

When you are about to go on Medicare, your job is to fully learn how Medicare works and what your options are with Medicare. The Medicare choices you make when turning 65 can be permanent and the wrong choice can negatively impact your access to health care and finances the rest of your life.

It is critical that anyone you trust with helping you with Medicare be fully knowledgeable about Medicare, experienced and focused on helping you understand Medicare rather than meeting their daily call center sales quota.

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your 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.

What Are Captive Agents? And Why you Should Avoid Them

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

As you go through the process of learning about Medicare and choosing a Medicare plan, there are different people you can talk to about your options.

It is an excellent idea to work with a Medicare agent who represents several different Medicare Supplement carriers. This agent will be able to focus on what is right for you.

A type of Medicare agent that you want to avoid is called a “Captive Agent”. A Captive Agent only represents one insurance carrier and usually can only offer one plan. They are almost always directly employed by an insurance company.

Unfortunately, Captive Agents will only be successful in the eyes of their boss if they convince you to enroll in the only plan they have to sell – even if it is not the right plan for your situation.

Captive Agents are often new to the Medicare Supplement business. They usually represent carriers who have higher prices, smaller policy holder bases and a higher likelihood to have higher than average price increases in the future.

A few even represent private, for-profit, restricted access Medicare Advantage which are almost never a good option.

The carriers who employ these agents insist on them selling their product only for one reason – people who compare their product with major Medicare Supplement carriers such as Mutual of Omaha or AARP almost always choose the proven, more stable carrier.

Conversely, this is why carriers such as Mutual of Omaha and AARP are happy to have their independent agents offer products from other carriers.

If you are talking with a Medicare Supplement agent, the first thing you should ask her is who are all of the carriers with whom she has enrolled her clients in the last 30 days

If that list is only one carrier, you should politely thank her for her time and instead work with someone who represents many carriers.

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your Medicare.

As you may have guessed, we represent all major Medicare Supplement carriers such as Mutual of Omaha, AARP, BlueCross/Anthem, Cigna and Aetna.

We will help you compare the different plan offerings and prices and well as the strengths and weaknesses of each company.

Once you make your selection, we will assist you with your Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D drug plan enrollments and well as be available for you going forward to answer any questions, deal with any problems or assist you with your yearly Medicare Part D drug plan evaluation.

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.

Delaying Medicare…Penalty or No Penalty

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

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.

Don’t give them your phone number!

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

Just about every day I talk to someone who is about to go on Medicare who has been bombarded with phone calls from people trying to get them to enroll in whichever Medicare plan someone is paying them to sell.

The story is almost always the same.

“Charlie, they call all the time – usually 15 to 20 times per day. I tell them to stop calling and take me off their list but the calls keep coming.

“We have stopped answering our phone”.

I will explain to you why this is happening and why you should never give your phone number to a website that is supposedly offering to help you with Medicare.

Most of the websites about Medicare that you find on the internet are nothing more that “lead collection” websites. These sites make you think they will provide you a quote if you provide your contact information including your phone number, address and email.

Unfortunately, instead of then providing you the information they told you they would provide, they sell your information to 15 to 20 different agents and call centers around they country who usually each pay $15 to $20 for each lead.

Almost from the minute you click “submit” your phone begins to ring repeatedly as each agent who has paid for your information tries to be the first to contact you.

Most of these agents work in call centers so they continually pass your information around to different agents.

By providing your contact information one time, you may literally have as many as 100 of more separate agents trying to call you.

Even worse, many agents will drive to your home and knock on your door uninvited. This is a very intrusive and dangerous practice. When someone knocks on your door saying they want to talk about Medicare you have no idea if they are a legitimate – albeit rude – Medicare agent or someone who was just paroled from the state prison last week.

At MedicareAnswerCenter, we do not ask you to provide your phone number. When we provide you with reports such as 10 Facts You Must Know When Going On Medicare, we only ask for your email address so we can send the report to you along with other information about Medicare, Social Security and Retirement Planning you may find useful.

At any time, you can click “unsubscribe” at the bottom of our emails and you will never hear from us again.

The only time we call you is if you schedule an appointment with us and at that time you will provide your phone number so we can call you at the time you request.

So remember, whenever you go onto the internet to research your Medicare options, that website requesting your phone number is likely not doing so to help you learn about Medicare. They are doing so to be able to sell your information and you will likely pay a big price in terms of hundreds of unwanted calls because you gave them your number.

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your Medicare.

 

Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation 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.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

Are Medicare Supplement carriers all the same?

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

I received a question in an email recently I wanted to share.

The question was as follows:

<Charles, I have decided on Original Medicare and supplemental plan G. I did not fall for all the advertising for Advantage plans that promise a lot and deliver little. I have read in your emails and newsletters about those for profit companies that profit highly from Advantage plans.

I understand that Original Medicare is the same to the subscriber no matter the insurance company. But is there a difference between companies such as Supplemental Plan G through Humana or through Mutual of Omaha, other than price?>

This is a great question and an answer I spend a lot of time discussing with my clients when they are choosing a Medicare Supplement carrier.

Here was my answer:

Your objective when choosing a Medicare Supplement carrier should be to select a carrier with the likeliest rate stability going forward.

The reason for this is simple.

Once someone has been on Medicare Part B for more than 6 months, their ability to change their Medicare Supplement requires them to have fairly good health.

If a carrier has an unusually high rate increase, it will cause healthy policy holders to look around for a less expensive policy. This migration of healthy policy holders to other plans will mean the percentage of policy holders with health problems in the original plan will increase.

This will cause the ratio of health care costs per person to increase which will lead to another rate increase and the cycle starts again.

There are two key variables that predict rate stability.

The first variable is how long a carrier had been providing Medicare Supplements.

The reason this is a predictive variable is Medicare Supplement policies cover people from age 65 until their 90s and even into their 100s. However, the health care costs are very different for people in their 80s and 90s than in their 60s and 70s.

For a carrier to have acceptable rate stability, they must be able to accurately forecast what their claims will be.

Carriers are able to much more reliably predict their claims – and thereby set their rates at a level to cover those claims – when they have sufficient claims experience from all ages of policyholders.

Conversely, many newer carriers – who have primarily younger policyholders – will set their rates artificially low in order to attract business but, in doing so, subject their policyholders to high rate increases in the future when premiums collected may not be sufficient to pay claims as policyholders age.

You are likely to pay much less long term with a Medicare Supplement carrier that has stable rates that do not cause healthy customers to leave in order to avoid high premium increases.

The second variable that is a predictor of rate stability is the size of the policy holder base.

A carrier with a large number of policy holders is better able to absorb higher than projected health care costs among segments of its customer base than a carrier with a smaller number of customers.

This variable is also related to the first variable because the carrier with a large policy holder base is going to have a more diversified base in terms of age than a smaller, and likely newer, carrier.

Mutual of Omaha has been providing Medicare Supplements since 1966 when Medicare began. To put this in perspective their first Medicare Supplement policy holder was former President Harry Truman.

Mutual of Omaha has more than 1.5 million Medicare Supplement policy holders. As a comparison, according to their 2016 Annual Report Humana only had 219 thousand Medicare Supplement policy holders.

With the exception of a handful of states, I almost always recommend Mutual of Omaha.

In addition to the variables described above that lead to rate stability, Mutual in most states offers a 12 percent discount to policy holders who are married or live with someone aged 60 or older even if their spouse or roommate does not have a Medicare Supplement with Mutual of Omaha.

And based on the experience of the many clients I have with all Medicare Supplement carriers, the customer service with Mutual of Omaha is unsurpassed by any other carrier.

You can also go online to get a quote for a Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement policy and even apply online by clicking the link below.

Remember, Plan G is the plan I recommend.

Click here to apply online

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your Medicare. Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation 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.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

Call Centers and Medicare

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

As you probably already know, when you are about to reach the age of 65 and become eligible for Medicare, you are bombarded with junk mail, unwanted phone calls and even unsolicited knocks on your door by strangers desperate to enroll you in whatever Medicare plan someone is paying them to sell you.

None of these marketing ploys do anything to help you understand how Medicare works and what your options are with Medicare. They do not help you make an informed Medicare choice.

The most frustrating of these unwanted intrusions into your privacy are the non-stop phone calls you receive from call centers.

These call centers are usually staffed with inexperienced, lightly or poorly-trained 20 somethings who only make money by convincing a lot of people to blindly enroll over the phone in the Medicare plan they are paid to sell.

These are not bad kids and, in time, some may become effective Medicare consultants.

However, I am 53 years old and have helped thousands of people with their Medicare. I take what I do very seriously and learn something new about Medicare every week.

When I was in my 20s I did not have the life experience to recommend to someone approaching 65 years old how they should make critically important decisions affecting their access to health care and financial well-being for the rest of their life.

Like me 30 years ago, these kids in their 20s working in call centers rarely have the life experience and Medicare experience and knowledge necessary to be an asset to you in making your Medicare choices. Most have been working in these call centers less than a year and most will be doing something else a year from now.

Almost every day I talk to someone who has been given bad information from a call center employee.

Many call center employees tell people who are still working and have health insurance through their employer that they will be penalized if they do not enroll in Medicare Parts A and B at age 65.

This is wrong and acting on such bad information can cost the person turning 65 thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs.

I have heard from many other people on Medicare that they do not have a Medicare Part D drug plan because someone in a call center told them they did not need one if they were not taking any medications. This advice is terribly wrong and can force the person on Medicare to have to pay the full price for expensive drugs they may be prescribed as well as pay a penalty the rest of their life.

A lot of times I do not believe giving out such bad information is deliberate or malicious. It seems these call center employees are trained to say whatever is most likely to lead to a sale and they often do not understand why what they are trying to sell is the absolutely wrong choice for the person their computer just dialed.

When you are about to go on Medicare, your job is to fully learn how Medicare works and what your options are with Medicare. The Medicare choices you make when turning 65 can be permanent and the wrong choice can negatively impact your access to health care and finances the rest of your life.

It is critical that anyone you trust with helping you with Medicare be fully knowledgeable about Medicare, experienced and focused on helping you understand Medicare rather than meeting their daily call center sales quota.

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your Medicare. Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation Medicare consultation.

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

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation 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.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

Medicare Costs in the Future

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw President

I have received several emails recently from people who are either about to go on Medicare or are already on Medicare who are concerned about whether the Medicare Part B deductible will go up dramatically in the future.

The answer to this is “no”.

In almost all cases, the right option for someone on Medicare is to stay with regular Medicare and combine that with a Plan G Medicare Supplement.

Why Plan G Instead of Plan F

With a Plan G Medicare Supplement, the person on Medicare pays Medicare Part B’s once-a-year deductible of $183 and after paying that just once all of their costs are covered 100 percent for the rest of the calendar year.

From 2005 until 2018, Medicare’s Part B deductible increased from $110 to $183. (see chart below)

2018-03-31 Historicaland Projected Medicare Part B Premiums and Deductibles #4

That’s not too bad for 13 years – an average of $5.66 per year.

According to the 2017 Medicare Trustee’s Report, this deductible will likely remain at $183 in 2019 and will gradually increase to $266 by 2026.That’s an average of $10.38 per year over the next 8 years.

So the concern that Medicare’s Part B deductible – the only out-of-pocket cost you have with a Plan G Medicare Supplement – may go way up is not based on either history or expert projections.

2017 Medicare Trustees’ Report Appendix E

In addition to the Medicare Part B deductible, the Medicare Trustees’ report also projects future Medicare Part B premiums. This premium is currently $134.00 for most people.

In 2005, the Medicare Part B premium was $78.20.

In 2026, the Medicare Part B premium is projected to be $190.20.

During a 21 year span, this is an average increase of $5.33 per year.

While it would be ideal if Medicare costs remained the same throughout our retirement years, it is wonderful to have an outstanding health care system that is solvent and is projected have only modest increases in the future.

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your Medicare. Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation Medicare consultation.

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

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation 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.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please forward share this with them.

What is High-Deductible Plan F?

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles H. Bradshaw

This email is going to make a lot of Medicare Supplement sales people angry.

There is a Medicare Supplement called a High-Deductible Plan F that has a higher deductible than Plan G but also has a much lower premium.

Because High-Deductible Plan F has a much lower premium than Plan G and because most Medicare Supplement sales people are paid based on a commission that is a percentage of the premium, many agents do not tell their clients about this option.

Here is how a High-Deductible Plan F works:

The two primary parts of Medicare are Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part A covers you if you are an in-patient in the hospital or if you are a patient in a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation.

Medicare Part B covers you for almost all other types of medical care such as doctor visits, outpatient services and surgery, sophisticated diagnostic testing such as MRIs, physical therapy and even some medications if they are administered in a medical facility.

If you have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B only with no Medicare Supplement, you still will be responsible for a share of your costs for services covered by Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

For example, under Medicare Part A, if you go into the hospital you will pay a deductible of $1,340 whether you are in the hospital for one day or 50 days.

If your go into a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation Medicare will pay for the first 20 days of your care but for days 21-100 you will pay a daily co-pay of $167.50.

Under Medicare Part B you pay a once-a-year Medicare Part B deductible of $183.  After you have paid this Medicare Part B deductible one time in a calendar year, Medicare pays 80 percent of your Medicare Part B expenses and you pay the remaining 20 percent.

With a High-Deductible Plan F Medicare Supplement, you are responsible for all of the costs that Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B does not pay until you have paid a total of $2,240 during a calendar year.

After you reach the $2,240 amount, your High-Deductible Plan F Medicare Supplement will pay all of your out-of-pocket costs for the remainder of the year.

I actually do not like the name “High-Deductible Plan F” because the $2,240 you may pay is not a “deductible” in the most commonly used form of the word.

When traditional insurance policies use the word “deductible” is refers to an amount you must pay before the policy pays anything.

The deductible in a High-Deductible Plan F Medicare Supplement does not work this way.  For example, after you have paid the Medicare Part B deductible of $183, Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of your cost.

In this situation, though you have not reached the $2,240 out-of-pocket maximum you may pay each year, Medicare is already paying 80 percent of your costs.

In most situations, you will have to incur more than $10,000 in Medicare Part B costs before you will reach your share of $2,240.

If you are an in-patient in the hospital or skilled nursing you can reach this out-of-pocket maximum faster because of the $1,340 hospital deductible or $167.50 skilled nursing co-pays but in these scenarios your overall care costs including what Medicare pays are likely far more than $10,000.

The following is why High Deductible Plan F can be an attractive option.  The monthly premiums are much lower – particularly in areas where Medicare Supplement premiums are high such as South Florida or Connecticut.

As an example, in Miami a Plan G Medicare Supplement for a female with Mutual of Omaha is $253.34.  The premium for a High-Deductible Plan F is $113.98.  This is a difference of $139.36 per month.

Over 12 months, this difference of $139.36 multiplies to $1,672.32.

Now compare this annual savings of $1,672.32 to what your total out-of-pocket costs can be each year.  The out-of-pocket maximum is $2,240.  However, with a Plan G Medicare Supplement you still would pay the Part B deductible each year of $183.

So the total amount more you potentially pay with the High-Deductible Plan F compared to Plan G is $2,057.

However, if you are in reasonably good health in most years you will not incur more than $10,000 in medical costs so your share of the cost of your health care under a High-Deductible Plan F compared to if your had a Plan G Medicare Supplement will be far less than $2,057.

In fact, in most years your out-of-pocket costs will be likely be less than $300.

So, in this example, you would start off saving $1,672.32 in your annual premium savings for having High-Deductible Plan F instead of Plan G and will probably spend less than $300 of the savings in out-of-pocket costs.

In this situation you save more than $1,300 for the year.

The potential savings are not as large in areas where Medicare Supplement premiums are less.  Let’s look at the situation for a male living in Chicago.

The monthly premium for a Plan G Medicare Supplement for a male in Chicago with Cigna is $133.25.  The premium for a High-Deductible Plan F is $45.57.  This is a savings of $87.68 per month or $1,052.16 per year.

In this Chicago example, the savings each year in a normal health situation are likely closer to $700.

There are three very important points to keep in mind when considering a High-Deductible Plan F versus Plan G.

First, if you already have health issues that make it likely that you will incur significant health care costs every year, the potential savings may not be as significant and in fact you may be likely to pay more with High-Deductible Plan F.  In this case Plan G may be a better choice for you.

Second, unlike with Plan G, with a High-Deductible Plan F you must be able to pay as much as $2,240 out-of-pocket every year.  While is may be unlikely you will have to pay this much in most years, it is possible and depending on your specific health conditions you may have to pay this every year.  If unexpectedly having to pay as much as $2,240 in any year would be financially difficult for you, Plan G may be the right choice for you.

Finally, and very importantly, if you choose a High-Deductible Plan F, you may not be able to change to Plan G later if your health situation changes and Plan G becomes a better option financially because of the lower out-of-pocket maximum.

The reason for this is after you have been on Medicare six months your ability to change Medicare Supplements – even with the same company – depends on you not having any health issues that make it likely you will need higher levels of medicare care.  In other words, you can be declined based on your health.

The same health issue that can make you want to switch to Plan G because of the cost you are having to pay out-of-pocket with a High-Deductible Plan F will likely cause you to be declined if you apply to switch to Plan G.

While a High-Deductible Plan F can be tempting for the near-term cost savings, you should carefully consider how this decision can look very different later in life – particularly if your health changes.

The savings you may have in your sixties may seem like a distant memory and not very comforting when you are in your eighties and are having to pay the higher out-of-pocket costs with a High-Deductible Plan F.

I would appreciate the chance to help you with your Medicare. Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation Medicare consultation.

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