Author: Charles Bradshaw

I help people understand how Medicare works and what their options are with Medicare. I also help people understand the need for Long Tern Care insurance. I assist people in enrolling and maintaining both of these types of coverage.

Managed Care Medicare? Avoid At All Costs

Doctor giving medicine to senior woman for arthritis pain

As you probably know by now, when you are about to turn 65, you receive a large amount of unwanted mail trying to persuade you to enroll in a specific Medicare plan.

At first, it can be very confusing. Prior to becoming eligible for Medicare, Medicare seemed like a simple program. You turn 65 and go on Medicare.

Unfortunately, Medicare has become more complicated as the government has allowed private, for-profit companies such as Humana to steer you into Managed Care Medicare Plans that can provide far less access to the health care you need and require you to pay far higher costs than you should.

These plans are very profitable for these companies at the expense of your health and financial well-being. The high profits these companies make from these plans are the reason they spend so many millions of dollars advertising them on television and in your mailbox when your are about to turn 65.

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

It is important that you understand how Managed Care plans work with Medicare.

Medicare consists of two primary parts – Medicare Parts A and B.

Medicare Part A pays most of the costs if you are an in-patient in the hospital or a rehabilitation patient in a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Medicare Part B pays around 80 percent of the cost for most other health care services such as doctor’s visits, outpatient services, x-rays, lab work, physical therapy and sophisticated diagnostic testing such as MRIs.

When you have Medicare Parts A and B as your primary, the government pays your health care costs. With this coverage, you can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare as almost all do.

With Medicare Parts A and B as your primary insurance you can also get a Medicare Supplement that covers all or almost all of your share of Medicare which is around 20 percent.

This is wonderful coverage that gives you the best chance for the best health outcome possible if you have a serious health situation.

Unfortunately, for-profit companies such as Humana want you to waive this wonderful coverage and sign your Medicare benefits over to them.

If you enroll in the for-profit managed care plans Humana advertises so much – also called Medicare Replacement or Medicare Advantage plans – the government no longer pays your medical bills and instead sends around $800 per month to Humana to pay your medical bills.

Humana in turn requires you to only use their network of doctors and hospitals as well as requiring you to contribute in most situations up to $6,700 per year for the cost of your care if you become sick.

But this is not the worst part of this scheme.

If you sign your Medicare benefits over to Humana, Humana will decide what medical care they will cover. And they often will say “no” to expensive care in order to spend as little as possible on your care and maximize their profits.

You see, Humana gets the $800 per month from the government whether they spend it on your care or not. And most of whatever they do not spend they keep as net income which goes toward exorbitant executive salaries and bonuses.

In 2017 Humana made $2.4 billion dollars as a company and most of that money came from profits from the Medicare Advantage program.

All of these profits from Humana’s Medicare Advantage scheme came from spending less and providing less health services for its members than those members would have received on average had they stayed on regular Medicare.

You see, what “Managed Care” really means is managing your care to spend less so an insurance company can make a lot more money.

You have worked hard all of your life to pay into a Medicare system that promises to give you the best chance for the best health outcome without forcing you to spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected costs if you become sick.

You should never give up this hard-earned benefit to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that will increase profits at a big insurance company at the expenses of your financial well-being and your 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.

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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

When a Stranger Calls

Retro detective man calling with vintage telephone at night in office. Lit by light through venetian blinds.

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.

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

Medicare choices today may matter more later

Carer with senior citizen
Carer with senior citizen

I have been privileged to help several thousand people who were going on Medicare understand their Medicare options so they could make the right Medicare decision for them.

While many people I help understand the long-term implications of the choices they make when they first go on Medicare, I often talk with someone who does not yet realize the Medicare choices they make when they first go on Medicare are often long-term rather than short-term decisions.

The conversation will often go something like this…

“Hi Charlie…this is Robert. I am turning 65 and going on Medicare next month. I need to decide what Medicare plan I need. I am in good health, take no medications and only see a doctor once or twice a year.”

If I were helping this same person with his property insurance, the same logic would go something like this…

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

Hi Charlie…this is Robert. I just bought a new house and I need to choose a property insurance policy. I just looked out the window and my house is not on fire and it is not raining so I’m not worried about floods.”

The choice you make about how you receive your Medicare and which insurance company you trust with you health and finances can and often is a permanent decision that will impact you the rest of your life.

It is a decision that should be made not based on what your health happens to be today but what it could be in the future.

The reason for this is that after you have been on Medicare for only six months, your ability to change your decision is dependent on you not having any serious health issues. Of course, none of us knows what our health may be in the future.

A few years ago, I received a call from a lady in Tennessee who had enrolled in a private, for-profit Medicare Advantage plan. She wanted to pay less than she would by staying with regular Medicare and having a Medicare Supplement.

Though she had no health issues when she made this decision several years earlier, she had been diagnosed that year with Multiple Myeloma and had been forced to spend more than $10,000 out of her own pocket for medical treatment and medications.

She had called me to ask me to help her return to regular Medicare and get a Medicare Supplement that would pay her share of Medicare. I had to explain to her that because she now had a serious health problem she would be declined if she applied for a Medicare Supplement.

Her only choices were to stay with a Medicare Advantage plan and pay more than $10,000 a year out of her pocket or return to regular Medicare but pay her full 20 percent share of her medical costs. Either choice would require her to pay money that she simply did not have.

She told me that because she had chosen to leave regular Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, she would likely have to sell her house and move in with her daughter in another city in order to afford her costs with the Medicare Advantage plan.

When you first go on Medicare, you have the opportunity to secure your financial future and ensure the maximum access and choice in your health care for the rest of your life by simply staying with regular Medicare and enrolling in a Medicare Supplement that will pay your approximately 20 percent share of your Medicare costs.

If you choose instead to leave regular Medicare and enroll in a private, for-profit Medicare Advantage plan, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars more if you become sick and have limited choices of doctors.

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.

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

I will assist you with every part of your transition to Medicare including:

  1. Fully understanding how Medicare works
  2. Understanding your Medicare options if you are still working
  3. Enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B
  4. Identifying the right Medicare Supplement for you
  5. Identifying the right Medicare Part D Drug plan for you
  6. Assisting you with enrolling in the Medicare plans you choose

Simply click on the following link

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

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

For immediate assistance, please feel free to call me at (888) 549-1110 or email charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

Charles Bradshaw is Founder and president of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

Managed Care? Avoid At All Costs

Doctor giving medicine to senior woman for arthritis pain

As you probably know by now, when you are about to turn 65, you receive a large amount of unwanted mail trying to persuade you to enroll in a specific Medicare plan.

At first, it can be very confusing. Prior to becoming eligible for Medicare, Medicare seemed like a simple program. You turn 65 and go on Medicare.

Unfortunately, Medicare has become more complicated as the government has allowed private, for-profit companies such as Humana and Kaiser Permanente to steer you into Managed Care Medicare Plans that can provide far less access to the health care you need and require you to pay far higher costs than you should.

These plans are very profitable for these companies at the expense of your health and financial well-being. The high profits these companies make from these plans are the reason they spend so many millions of dollars advertising them on television and in your mailbox when your are about to turn 65.

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

It is important that you understand how Managed Care plans work with Medicare.

Medicare consists of two primary parts – Medicare Parts A and B.

Medicare Part A pays most of the costs if you are an in-patient in the hospital or a rehabilitation patient in a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Medicare Part B pays around 80 percent of the cost for most other health care services such as doctor’s visits, outpatient services, x-rays, lab work, physical therapy and sophisticated diagnostic testing such as MRIs.

When you have Medicare Parts A and B as your primary, the government pays your health care costs. With this coverage, you can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare as almost all do.

With Medicare Parts A and B as your primary insurance you can also get a Medicare Supplement that covers all or almost all of your share of Medicare which is around 20 percent.

This is wonderful coverage that gives your the best chance for the best health outcome possible if you have a serious health situation.

Unfortunately, for-profit companies such as Humana want you to waive this wonderful coverage and sign your Medicare benefits over to them.

If you enroll in one of the for-profit managed care plans Humana advertises so much – also called Medicare Replacement or Medicare Advantage plans – the government no longer pays your medical bills and instead sends around $800 per month to Humana to pay your medical bills.

Humana in turn requires you to only use their network of doctors and hospitals as well as requiring you to contribute in most situations up to $6,700 per year for the cost of your care.

But this is not the worst part of this scheme.

If you sign your Medicare benefits over to Humana, Humana will decide what medical care they will cover. And they often will say “no” to expensive care in order to spend as little as possible on your care and maximize their profits.

You see, Humana gets the $800 per month from the government whether they spend it on your care or not. And most of whatever they do not spend they keep as net income which goes toward exorbitant executive salaries and bonuses.

In 2017 Humana made $2.4 billion dollars as a company and most of that money came from profits from the Medicare Advantage program.

All of these profits from Humana’s Medicare Advantage scheme came from spending less and providing less health services for its members than those members would have received had they stayed on regular Medicare.

You see, what “Managed Care” really means is managing your care to spend less so an insurance company can make a lot more money.

You have worked hard all of your life to pay into a Medicare system that promises to give you the best chance for the best health outcome without forcing you to spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected costs if you become sick.

You should never give up this hard-earned benefit to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that will increase profits at a big insurance company at the expenses of your financial well-being and your 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.

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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

Do You Really Need a Medicare Drug Plan?

2018-07-02 Man with pharmacist.jpeg

I am often asked the following question “Charlie, I don’t think I need a Medicare Part D drug plan. I don’t take any medications. Can’t I just add that later if I ever need it?”

Regardless of whether you take several expensive medications or take no medications at all, almost everyone on Medicare needs to enroll in a Medicare Part D drug plan.

There are three primary reasons you need a Medicare Part D drug plan even if you take no medications:

  1. You can only enroll in a Medicare Part D drug plan to take effect when you first go on Medicare or on the first day of a calendar year. If you do not have a Medicare Part D drug plan and are prescribed an expensive medication during the year, you will have to pay the full cost of the medication until the beginning of the next year. This could be $400-$500 per month or more.
  2. During the last few years, a large percentage of cancer treatments have become Part D medications in the form of a pill you take at home instead of an IV that is administered in a medical facility. The cost for this type of chemotherapy is usually $10,000 per month or more. If you do not have a Medicare Part D drug plan you may have to pay the full cost up front not be able to take these drugs when you need them.
  3. If you do not enroll in a Medicare Part D drug plan when you are first eligible and have no other credible drug coverage, you will pay a higher premium the rest of you life if you enroll in a drug plan later.

Most states have 20-25 Medicare Part D drug plans. These plans can differ in the following five ways:

  1. What monthly premium you will pay
  2. Whether you will pay a deductible and how much the deductible is
  3. Whether the deductible applies to your medications
  4. Whether the plan covers all of your medications
  5. How much the plan requires you to pay for your medications

Medicare provides a Planfinder website where you can enter your medications and the website will tell you which Medicare Part D drug plan will provide your medications at the lowest overall cost for the year.

You can click the following link to access this website

Click here for Medicare’s Planfinder Tool

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

Please be sure to note and keep the Drug List ID and password that is created. You should print out and keep a copy of your results. This will tell you your costs by drug by month as well as allow you to retrieve your results later and modify your drug list if your medications change.

Very importantly, you can change your drug list once a year during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. This will allow you to always make sure you are paying as little as possible for your medications.

We are happy to assist you with every part of your transition to Medicare including:

  1. Fully understanding how Medicare works
  2. Understanding your Medicare options if you are still working
  3. Enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B
  4. Identifying the right Medicare Supplement for you
  5. Identifying the right Medicare Part D Drug plan for you
  6. Assisting you with enrolling in the Medicare plans you choose

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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

Choose the Company Not the Price

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

Almost every day I receive a request from someone who is about to go on Medicare to provide them with Medicare Supplement quotes for their area.

While I am happy to do this, I always feel the quotes I am providing to them are misleading.

The reason for this is there is virtually no relationship between the monthly premium you pay for a Medicare Supplement at age 65 compared to other carriers and what you will pay over the course of your lifetime.Seniors at home receiving a bad message

In many situations, the Medicare Supplement carrier with the lowest premium at age 65 will cost much more than other carriers both in the near future and the rest of your life.

Many Medicare Supplement carriers have a business strategy of enticing enrollees with artificially low premiums at age 65. Later, when many policyholders can not change their carrier due to health reasons, these carriers increase their prices to higher levels than other carriers.

The reason they do this because once someone has been on Medicare Part B longer than six months, they must disclose any health conditions they have to enroll in a new Medicare Supplement. Medicare Supplement carriers at that time can and will decline applicants who have existing health conditions that are likely to present the carrier with above-average costs.

There is one rule you should follow when choosing a carrier for your Medicare Supplement: Choose the carrier not the price!

Here are some qualities to seek in choosing a Medicare Supplement carrier:

1) Choose a carrier who has been providing Medicare Supplements for at least 10 years. Any carrier who has been in business shorter than this amount of time is likely to have a policyholder base weighted toward people who are new to Medicare and who will have sharp increases in health care costs as they get older. In this case the carrier will have to sharply increase their premiums to pay to higher claims cost.

2) Choose a carrier who allows independent agents who also represent other carriers to represent them. Carriers whose business strategy is to entice people new to Medicare with artificially low first-year premiums only to increase them later do not want agents who can offer other products. Agents want to avoid the dissatisfaction these carriers generate 4 or 5 years later when the premiums skyrocket. Agents will therefore recommend other carriers.

3) Choose a carrier whose name is familiar. A carrier whose name is unfamiliar is more likely to be trying to generate many enrollments with artificially low premiums and then sharply increase the premiums for the people it has trapped. Such a carrier may then change its name to confuse potential enrollees and not be associated with its price hikes on existing customers.

4) Choose a carrier with at least 500,000 Medicare Supplements policyholders. Such a carrier has proven it plans to offer Medicare Supplements on a permanent basis and it not relying on short-term pricing gimmicks to generate exorbitant profits at the expense of its policyholders.

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.

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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

Who is managing your health?

by Charles H. Bradshaw

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

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 a budget analyst more concerned about the profits of a big insurance company 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 ClinicJohns Hopkins 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 best decisions for your health.

On the other hand, if you choose to receive your Medicare through a 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 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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

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.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

Medicare choices today may matter more later

 

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

I have been privileged to help several thousand people who were going on Medicare understand their Medicare options so they could make the right Medicare decision for them.

While many people I help understand the long-term implications of the choices they make when they first go on Medicare, I often talk with someone who does not yet realize the Medicare choices they make when they first go on Medicare are often long-term rather than short-term decisions.

The conversation will often go something like this…

“Hi Charlie…this is Robert. I am turning 65 and going on Medicare next month. I need to decide what Medicare plan I need. I am in good health, take no medications and only see a doctor once or twice a year.”

If I were helping this same person with his property insurance, the same logic would go something like this…

Carer with senior citizen

Hi Charlie…this is Robert. I just bought a new house and I need to choose a property insurance policy. I just looked out the window and my house is not on fire and it is not raining so I’m not worried about floods.”

The choice you make about how you receive your Medicare and which insurance company you trust with you health and finances can and often is a permanent decision that will impact you the rest of your life.

It is a decision that should be made not based on what your health happens to be today but what it could be in the future.

The reason for this is that after you have been on Medicare for only six months, your ability to change your decision is dependent on you not having any serious health issues. Of course, none of us knows what our health may be in the future.

A few years ago, I received a call from a lady in Tennessee who had enrolled in a private, for-profit Medicare Advantage plan. She wanted to pay less than she would by staying with regular Medicare and having a Medicare Supplement.

Though she had no health issues when she made this decision several years earlier, she had been diagnosed that year with Multiple Myeloma and had been forced to spend more than $10,000 out of her own pocket for medical treatment and medications.

She had called me to ask me to help her return to regular Medicare and get a Medicare Supplement that would pay her share of Medicare. I had to explain to her that because she now had a serious health problem she would be declined if she applied for a Medicare Supplement.

Her only choices were to stay with a Medicare Advantage plan and pay more than $10,000 a year out of her pocket or return to regular Medicare but pay her full 20 percent share of her medical costs. Either choice would require her to pay money that she simply did not have.

She told me that because she had chosen to leave regular Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, she would likely have to sell her house and move in with her daughter in another city in order to afford her costs with the Medicare Advantage plan.

When you first go on Medicare, you have the opportunity to secure your financial future and ensure the maximum access and choice in your health care for the rest of your life by simply staying with regular Medicare and enrolling in a Medicare Supplement that will pay your approximately 20 percent share of your Medicare costs.

If you choose instead to leave regular Medicare and enroll in a private, for-profit Medicare Advantage plan, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars more if you become sick and have limited choices of doctors.

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.

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

I will assist you with every part of your transition to Medicare including:

  1. Fully understanding how Medicare works
  2. Understanding your Medicare options if you are still working
  3. Enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B
  4. Identifying the right Medicare Supplement for you
  5. Identifying the right Medicare Part D Drug plan for you
  6. Assisting you with enrolling in the Medicare plans you choose

Simply click on the following link

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

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

For immediate assistance, please feel free to call me at (888) 549-1110 or email charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

Charles Bradshaw is Founder and president of MedicareAnswerCenter.com