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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.2018-05-31 Boss.jpeg

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.

Annoying Medicare 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.

2018-05-28 Annoying calls.jpeg

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.

A question from a reader about Medicare premiums

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

Charles Bradshaw

Today I received a question in Facebook that was very simple I realized I probably do not answer it enough in my blog.

A gentleman named Larry asked “How are Medicare rates calculated”.

The following was my answer”

There are 4 parts to Medicare. 

Medicare Part A covers you of you are in the hospital as an in-patient or in skilled nursing for rehabilitation. There is no monthly premium for Medicare Part A.

Medicare Part B covers you for just about all other health care services that are not covered in Medicare Part A such as doctor visits, outpatient services, x-rays, labs, MRIs, physical therapy and some medications if they are administered in a medical facility such as injections for Arthritis.

Medicare Part B has a monthly premium for most people of $134 but some people pay more if their income is above a certain level.

Medicare Part A and Part B together cover around 80 percent of your health care costs leaving you initially responsible for the remaining 20 percent as well as the cost of any medications you take.

I recommend enrolling in two additional policies to cover the 20 percent Medicare does not pay as well as the cost of any medications you currently take or may be prescribed in the future.

First, I recommend a Plan G Medicare Supplement. With a Plan G Medicare Supplement you will pay Medicare’s once-a-year Medicare Part B deductible which is $183 in 2018.

After you have paid this $183 deductible one time in a calendar year your Plan G Medicare Supplement will pay all of the cost Medicare does not pay for the remainder of the year.

The monthly premium for a Plan G Medicare Supplement varies by state and age but in most states the monthly premium will be between $115 and $135 at age 65. Of the hundreds of people I have helped in the last 12 months, the average premium for a Plan G Medicare Supplement has been $123.27.

Some states such as Florida and New York are more expensive than this but will not increase as much in the future.

In most states your Plan G Medicare Supplement will go up a small amount every year as you get older because health care costs increase on average as you get older. States such as Florida and New York do not increase you premium as you get older based on age.

However, Medicare Supplement premiums in all states can increase due to overall inflation and health care costs.

The premium for your Medicare Part D drug plan will depend on which Medicare Part D drug plan covers your medications at the overall lowest cost including monthly premium, annual deductible (if any), which drugs the plan covers and how much the plan requires you to pay for your drugs.

Most Medicare Part D drug plans have a monthly premium between $20 and $30.

I would appreciate the opportunity to help you with your Medicare choices.

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.

Charles Bradshaw is the Founder and President of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

 

How does Medicare work with dental care?

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

Charles Bradshaw

As you likely know, dental care can be expensive.

However, Medicare does not cover routine dental care.

This includes preventative cleanings as well as regular dental work such as fillings or major dental work such as root canals or crowns.

The only situation in which Medicare will pay for dental work is in the event of an accident reconstruction or an issue resulting from a larger health issue such as oral cancer.2018-05-26 Dentist and Senior Female.jpeg

People on Medicare can purchase dental insurance that will cover routine cleanings as well as some of the costs of regular and major dental work.

A good dental policy will cost around $40 to $50 per month and provide up to $1,500 in coverage per calendar year.

Routine cleanings will usually be covered 100 percent while regular work such as fillings will be covered at 80 percent and major work such as crowns and root canals will be covered at 50 percent.

Importantly, most individual dental policies have a 12-month wait period before they will cover major work. Insurance carriers do not allow you to enroll in the plan on a Tuesday and suddenly need a root canal on Wednesday.

Mutual of Omaha has just launched a Dental Insurance policy designed for people on Medicare to help manage the costs of routine dental care and share the costs of expensive and often unexpected major dental costs.

Please click on the following link to see the details of this dental policy

Click here to review dental policy brochure

If you would like us to email a quote to you for this Mutual of Omaha dental policy, please click on the following link

Click here to request your dental insurance quote

As always, we are also available to assist you with your Medicare needs.

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.

Charles Bradshaw is the Founder and President of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

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“OK, but how do you get paid?”

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw

Charles Bradshaw

I can almost always tell when the question is coming from the uncomfortable pause and tone.

I have just spent half an hour explaining to someone who is about to go on Medicare how Medicare works, what their options are with Medicare when they turn 65 and, most importantly, how a bad Medicare decision can quickly become permanent.

“Okay, you’ve helped me understand this more than anyone else I’ve talked to but why are you doing this? How do you get paid?”

I love the question.

When I first started helping people with Medicare many years ago, I very quickly realized many people going on Medicare do not fully understand the importance of the decision they make when they first go on Medicare.

This is understandable.

Most people are accustomed to an insurance situation with their employer in which they can choose every year what their insurance will be. They assume they can always change next year if they regret their decision this year.

Medicare does not work this way.

After someone has been on Medicare for only 6 months, their ability to change their Medicare coverage is limited by whether they have any health problems. If someone has health problems when they first go on Medicare or develop health problems anytime after that, their original Medicare choice will likely be the one they will have the rest of their life.

When I realized how many people were trapped in private, for-profit Medicare Advantage plans that limited their access to health care when they became sick and needed care the most, I decided to make it my life’s work to help as many people as possible understand their Medicare options and avoid making a permanent Medicare mistake.

I therefore focus most of my time on writing blogs, making videos, writing books and writing emails such as this to help people learn about Medicare from a neutral source.

I also talk with 5 or 6 people every day who are about to go on Medicare to help them understand their options.

Once someone has learned about Medicare and decided what type of Medicare plan they want and which company they want to provide that plan, I can assist them in enrolling in that plan.

I enroll around half of the people I help in a Medicare plan. Many of the people I do not help enroll are people who I advise to stay with their employer coverage because they are still working.

Some of the reasons I advise them to stay with their employer coverage are because it may be a better option financially, they may need to stay on their employer coverage to provide coverage to a spouse not yet eligible for Medicare or their employer coverage may provide expensive medications they take at a lower cost than Medicare would.

Many people I talk with have already talked with an agent who has recommended a plan and they ask me whether it would be a good choice. If the agent has done a good job and recommended a plan with a proven company that will provide the person with maximum access and choice in health care if they become sick without having to pay thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected costs, then I encourage them to enroll through that agent.

When I enroll someone in a Medicare Supplement, I am fairly compensated by the Medicare Supplement carrier for providing this service. The person going on Medicare does not pay me anything nor do they pay any more for working with me.

Enough people enroll through me that I am able to provide a nice living for my family.

I consider it a win/win situation. I make a decent living while helping as many people as possible make good Medicare decisions that will help them get the health care they need the rest of their life at a reasonable and predictable cost.

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

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 this email to them.

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.

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.

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