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Your Most Important Medicare Goal

You have one goal when choosing a Medicare plan that far outweighs any other goal.

That goal is as follows:

At some point in your life - and I hope it never happens - you may be diagnosed with a serious health condition for which you want to use the doctor or hospital with the most experience and expertise for your condition and who therefore gives you the best chance for the best health outcome. If this happens, you should be able to get this care as soon as possible with little or no cost.

Being a doctor is a noble profession. But a doctor is not a commodity. Some doctors simply have more experience and expertise for certain conditions than others.

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Choose the Medicare Supplement Company …Not the Initial Price

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.

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.

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Employer Coverage Or Full Medicare? How To Decide

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

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

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

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Do I Really Need a Medicare Drug Plan?

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:

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Will Your Medicare Plan Be On Your Side Against Cancer?

I hate cancer.

I vividly remember as a 12 year-old being in the surgery waiting room at Baptist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee on a snowy January day. My dad - my best friend, my baseball coach, my golf teacher and playing partner, my fellow history buff and my hero - was undergoing surgery for a supposedly benign tumor in his kidney. (The picture above is my dad and me from around 1969)

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Do I Really Need a Medicare Drug Plan?

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:

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The Medicare Musical Chairs Trap

I received a call from Bruce in Ohio last week.

Bruce is 69 years old and was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation two years ago. He has only had two episodes of an irregular heart beat and feels he has the condition well-managed with a medication called Xarelto.

The reason Bruce was calling was the Medicare Supplement he had chosen when he turned 65 had increased its premium nearly 50 percent in four years.

Charles Bradshaw
Unfortunately, Bruce was now unable to leave this plan for a less-expensive Medicare Supplement because the Atrial Fibrillation caused him to be declined when he applied for a different Medicare Supplement.

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Medicare choices today may matter more later

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...

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Enrolling In Medicare Online

In today's internet-savvy world many people prefer to make their own decisions about Medicare without feeling pressured by someone on the phone or even a stranger sitting at their kitchen table.

The good news is you can do just that with all four major parts of Medicare - Medicare Parts A and B, your Medicare Supplement and your Medicare Part D Drug Plan.

To enroll in Medicare Parts A and B - or Medicare Part A only - all you need to do is go to www.socialsecurity.gov.

You can click on the following link to get detailed instructions on how to enroll

Click here for instructions for enrolling in Medicare online

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The Most Important Fact To Know About Medicare

If you do not enroll in a Medicare Supplement when you first go on Medicare, you may never to able to get one.

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Choose the Medicare Supplement Company …Not the Initial Price

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.

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.

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Why Humana Spends So Much Advertising Its Private Medicare Plans

During this time of year, you see what seems like non-stop television advertising trying to persuade you to enroll in a for-profit, restricted access, Managed Care Medicare Advantage plan.

One of the companies that seems to spend the most is Humana touting its "All-In-One" Medicare Advantage plan.

After a while, it becomes obvious these companies must be making a lot of money off of their for-profit, managed-care Medicare plans to be able to spend so many millions of dollars advertising them.

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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

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

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.

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