Tag: Kaiser Permanente

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:

  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 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.

Click here to receive and instant, online quote for a Plan G Medicare Supplement from Mutual of Omaha

Click here to enroll in your Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement

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

Charles Bradshaw is the President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

 

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)

“Benign” was a word I had just learned a few days earlier. I knew it was a good word. A word my father and mother were using with a sense of relief and comfort. It was almost like a friend.

When my mother, grandmother and aunts came to see me in that waiting room that morning, “benign” was nowhere to be found. A dark, foreboding, evil word had taken its place – “malignant”.

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

“When they operated on your father they saw the tumor was malignant.”

I did not need a dictionary. The look on their faces defined the word “malignant” better than Mr. Webster ever could.

I soon learned many new words that 12 year-olds should not know so young – radiation, chemotherapy, oncology, survival rate.

“First we’ll do radiation then we’ll do chemotherapy.”

For his radiation treatments, my father was tattooed with big dark lines to direct the radiation technicians where to direct the beams at his tumor. I remember the space between the lines contained most of his abdomen. Even at my age I knew those beams had to travel through a lot of healthy cells and organs to reach those malignant cells around his kidney.

The chemotherapy regimen that followed was a medical version of the Bataan Death March. My father had the beginning and end of the nausea attacks that followed his weekly chemotherapy treatment timed down to the minute.

The chemotherapy treatment ended at 11:00 a..m. on Tuesday, the nausea started at 2:15 p.m. that afternoon and ended around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. It did not pause for dinner, sleep or helping me with my homework.

I learned how hard a man will fight to be able to watch his only child grow up a little longer.

We have come a long way in fighting cancer in the 42 years since that snowy January day.

A few months ago the FDA approved for the first time cancer treatments based on the genetic makeup of a cancer instead of the location of the original tumor. You can learn more about this by clicking on the following link from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Click here for more information

This progress in fighting cancer may never apply to you but the odds are it will in the future either apply to you or someone you love.

When you first go Medicare, you make a decision about how you will receive your Medicare benefits and medical care the rest of your life. One choice will allow you to take full advantage of the wonderful breakthroughs we make every day against cancer.

This choice is staying with regular Medicare and enrolling in a Medicare Supplement that will cover your share of Medicare’s costs. With regular Medicare, if you have a serious health condition you can receive care at leading cancer treatment facilities such as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Mayo Clinic, or M.D. Anderson Cancer Treatment Center. With the Medicare Supplement that you can combine with regular Medicare, your costs are covered 100 percent from the best cancer doctors and hospitals in the country.

I call this choice the “benign approach”.

The other choice is to leave regular Medicare and assign your Medicare benefits to a private, for-profit, restricted-choice Medicare Advantage plan such as Humana Gold Plus or Kaiser Permanente.

With a Medicare Advantage plan, you can only receive care from a limited list of doctors and hospitals and you must receive care in your home area – even when the best treatment for your condition may be outside of the plan’s network or your home area.

Even worse, the ultimate decision concerning the type of cancer treatment a Medicare Advantage plan will approve will likely be made by a budget analyst who may consider the cost of your treatment rather than your likely health outcome. Medicare Advantage plans can, and very often do, say “no” to more expensive cancer treatments even when the more expensive treatment is likeliest to save your life.

They do this because the money they save by saying “no” to a more expensive treatment that may save your life goes to increase their profits, pay their salaries and pay bonuses based on reduced patient care costs.

And leading cancer treatment facilities such as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Mayo Clinic and M.D. Anderson do not participate in Medicare Advantage networks.

Imagine having to tell your loved ones in a few years that you unwittingly left regular Medicare for a private, for-profit, restricted-choice Medicare Advantage plan and now they will not pay for the cancer treatment you believe will give you the best chance to live.

For this reason I call the Medicare Advantage option the “malignant choice”.

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 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 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.

Click here to receive and instant, online quote for a Plan G Medicare Supplement from Mutual of Omaha

Click here to enroll in your Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement

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

Charles Bradshaw is the President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

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.

2017-08-09 Charles Bradshaw
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.

When I asked him who was the carrier for his existing Supplement, he said the name of a carrier I had never heard. He said someone had called him four years ago and said it was a new Medicare Supplement and had the lowest premium in his area.

Bruce had fallen into what I call the Medicare Musical Chairs Trap.

A Medicare Supplement carrier that may be the cheapest at age 65 may be much more expensive than other carriers just a few years later.

Here’s the biggest problem…when a Medicare Supplement’s premiums go up much more than is normal, healthy people can shop around and leave for a lower priced Medicare Supplement. However, people with health issues usually can not switch.

This means that a Medicare Supplement that was the least expensive just a few years earlier is now much more expensive and now has an overall less healthy pool of policyholders. This will cause the premiums to increase at an even higher rate in the future.

It is like the Musical Chairs game we all played years ago. When you develop a health issue, you may lose the ability to shop around for the lowest premium for a Medicare Supplement. The music figuratively stops and you are stuck where you are without a chair.

This can require you to spend hundreds of dollars a year more every year for your Medicare Supplement than you would with a more established Medicare Supplement carrier.

You can avoid the Medicare Musical Chairs trap by choosing a Medicare Supplement carrier who had provided policies in your area for at least 10 years and is highly-rated for financial strength.

In most states, I recommend Medicare Supplement carriers such as Mutual of Omaha. Mutual of Omaha has been providing Medicare Supplements since since 1966 when Medicare started, They have more than one million policyholders and are rated A+ for financial strength.

Other carriers you can trust to have stable premiums long term include AARP and BlueCross Blue Shield/Anthem.

I am happy to assist you in evaluating your Medicare Supplement options.

Simply click on the link below to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute appointment with me.

Also, if you know someone who has a Medicare Supplement that has increased its premium more than 5 percent per year please forward this email to them so they can understand why they may want to upgrade to a more stable carrier.

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.

Click here to enroll in your Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement

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

Charles Bradshaw is the President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

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…

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 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.

Click here to receive and instant, online quote for a Plan G Medicare Supplement from Mutual of Omaha

Click here to enroll in your Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement

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

Charles Bradshaw is the President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com

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.

These plans are very profitable for these companies at the expense of your health and financial well-being.

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 forsake 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” Medicare – or Humana’s “All-In-One Medicare” – really means is managing your care to spend less so a big 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 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.

Click here to enroll in your Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement

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

Charles Bradshaw is the President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com