New Medicare Number As of April 2018

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2018 will mark one of the biggest events in Medicare since the Modernization of Medicare supplements in 2010 — and no one is talking about it to the consumer yet!

What’s happening?

Everyone on Medicare will get a new Medicare number and card as of April 2018.  Yep, an entirely new, random  Medicare claim number.

This is big and we will have the details in this article.

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Costliest Mistakes You Can Make When New to Medicare


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Nine Costliest Mistakes You Can Make When New To Medicare

I have been helping seniors with insurance and financial decisions since 1984.  In that time I have spoken with seniors of all ages; both new to Medicare and people who have had Medicare of some form for many years before I came into their life.  I have witnessed or been privy to just about every Medicare horror story you can imagine.  All of the stories are heartbreaking and, in many cases, preventable.  In this article, I will present the costliest mistakes you can make when new to Medicare, based on my experience.

Costliest Mistakes New To MedicareThe most frustrating point from my perspective is that many, if not most of the heartbreaking occurrences I have seen or heard could have been avoided with proper guidance and decision making early on.  If people knew the risks and potential pitfalls of their decision ahead of time, they may have chosen a Medicare different path.  Unfortunately, too many people don’t make the effort to research or understand Medicare and then talk about their choices with a person who is both experienced and knowledgeable.   Too many people make decisions about their Medicare/healthcare without being fully informed of their all their options.  My goal, with the free educational videos on my website and the articles I write, is to help you make an informed decision about your Medicare.   Because of my experience, I can provide insight you may not have even considered. I hope the articles and videos I provide are helpful and educational. 

When you are just starting out with Medicare you have some important decisions to make.  These decisions and the amount of effort you put into making the right decision for your needs and your budget will set the stage for the quality of healthcare you receive for the rest of your life.

My company motto is to “Help you to make an informed decision.” An informed decision about which Medicare plan is right for your needs and your budget is critical.  There is no true right or wrong as long as you are informed ahead of time about the pros and cons of each decision.  No one likes surprises when it comes to their healthcare.   

To help you make an informed decision I have produced a full library of educational videos on Medicare.  These are offered free and without obligation.  You can find them here: https://medigapseminars.org/on-demand-webinar/  All the videos linked in this article can be found on that page.

In addition, here are the Nine Costliest Mistakes you can make when new to Medicare (in no special order).  Yes, this is a long article.  Print it out if you must.  This is important information that can save you both money and heartache. 

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The Best Medicare Plans for Florida Residents.

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     Every state is unique in how Medicare Supplement plans are priced and the quality of Medicare Advantage plans that are available.   In this article we will discuss which Medicare plans you should consider of you are researching the best Medicare Supplement Plans for Florida residents. 

Watch Our Video of This Article Here

When it comes to Medicare,

Florida is unique in three ways.

  1. Florida is one of just four states that require Medicare Supplement policies is be priced using “Issue Age” standards. That means that your Medicare Supplement cannot increase in price every year just because you are older.  However, it can still go up in price due to inflation.  Expect your policy to increase in cost by 3% to 4% per year in most cases.
  2. On average, across the country, only three out of ten seniors choose a Medicare Advantage plan over keeping their Original Medicare and adding a Supplement. However, that statistic is skewed by population concentrations and average income.  Most people who choose a Medicare Advantage plan do so because they are on a limited fixed income.   Florida is one of those states with a higher than average Medicare Advantage enrollment. Still, four out of ten Floridians choose Medicare Advantage over Original Medicare.  The reasons for this are simple.
    • Medicare Advantage plans do not offer as much insurance coverage as Original Medicare plus a Supplement. So those that can afford a Supplement get one because of the better insurance coverage and
    • Medicare Supplement plans are standardized to offer the exact same coverage from state to
      Medigap Buyers Guide state and insurance company to insurance company. You are not limited to a network, you can go to any doctor.  You are not required to have a Primary Care Physician that has to approve you seeing a specialist and your maximum financial risk can be limited to zero or just a few $100s.   Medicare Advantage plans are not standardized.  They are only regulated to provide a minimum coverage that approximated Medicare Part A & B without a supplement.  You will be limited to a network and you will have a higher co-pays and deductibles with a higher total financial risk (your maximum out-of-pocket expense) when you get ill and need medical services.  Still, when you compare the quality of Medicare Advantage plans across the country, Florida has some of the best available.
  1. The third point that makes Florida unique is that the pricing structure of Medicare Supplements is very different from any other state. It is almost as if Florida Medicare Supplement prices defy the laws of economics.  In short, the plans that are priced best is Florida are Medigap Plan F, Medigap Plan N and the Medigap Plan F-HD or High Deductible.  Everyone new to Medicare in Florida should understand and price at least those three plans.

   

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Ten Things You Need To Know To Get The Best Medigap Plan

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Whether you are new to Medicare and want to be sure you make the right choices from the start, or you have been with Medicare for years and simply want to be certain that you are getting the best coverage and value for your money, this article is for you.   In this article, I will go over the ten things you need to know to get the best Medigap plan coverage at the best price and value available to you.  

ONE

Free Government Resources

There are free resources available to you that will help you better understand your Medicare coverage and make better decisions.  The two publications that every person on or shopping for Medicare should have are the current Medicare & You guide and the guide Choosing A Medigap Policy.

The Medicare & You guide includes details on what is covered by Medicare, how and when to enrol and information about your Medicare rights.  A new Medicare & You guidebook is published each year with information to help you understand Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C (aka Medicare Advantage plans) and Part D.  If you are new to Medicare, you can access an online copy from the links provided and order a hard copy from Medicare.gov. 

Choosing A Medigap Policy is also an important publication and one most forgotten by Medicare beneficiaries.  This publication goes into detail about Medigap (aka Medicare Supplement) policies that is not found in the Medicare & You guidebook. 

Lastly, the Medicare.gov and Social Security websites are great resources full of information you need.  In fact, the Medicare.gov website offers the only tool allowed to compare and shop for the best Part D prescription plan.

Want to learn more?  Visit our index of links and articles for more resources.

Two

Standardised vs. Regulated Medicare plans

Medicare supplement plans are standardised, Medicare Advantage plans are not. 

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Medicare Supplement Table

Share This: This table describes the benefits of each of the Medicare Supplement plans.   Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) (more…)

How To Choose A Medicare Plan-Part 2

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In Part 1 of How To Choose A Medicare Plan we explored the pros and cons of Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement plans.  In Part 2 we explore the other path, Medicare Advantage plans.  If you are new to Medicare, you must choose one of these two paths.  With these two articles, our intent is to give you enough information to decide for yourself which path is right for you.

Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage plans are health insurance plans that replace your Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B with a private insurance policy from a private, for-profit insurer.  They come in many different forms but are usually either HMO’s or PPO’s.  They often include a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan as part of the Medicare Advantage package.  Medicare Advantage Plans are also referred to as Medicare Part C.

If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan you must still pay your Medicare Part B premium that is automaticallyMedicare Enrollment Maze deducted from your Social Security check.  However, instead of those funds going to Medicare, they are redirected to your Medicare Advantage insurer. 

Medicare Advantage plans are required to be actuarially equivalent to Medicare Part A plus Medicare Part B.  What that means is that over large groups of people the medical expenses of the population in total should be approximately equivalent to the medical expenses of those people with Original Medicare Part A & B.  Simply put, “actuarially equivalent” means very little to the individual as individual experiences will vary greatly depending on the plan and their medical needs.  In addition, Medicare Advantage is not equivalent to Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan.  Original Medicare plus a supplement (any supplement) offers more coverage and freedom of choice but comes with a higher premium.

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How to Choose A Medicare Plan-Part 1

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    Rather than present this How to Choose A Medicare Plan guide in one large article, this will be a two-part series.  This, the first article, will review how you should approach learning about Medicare and a process to follow in making your choices. We will also review Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement policies.   In part 2 we will look at Medicare Advantage plans, including some basic features of Medicare Advantage and the pros and cons of choosing a Medicare Advantage plan over Original Medicare.

     In each part we have linked to other articles we have written that provide more detail on the subject. Readers are encouraged to at least peruse those links for more information. By the end of this two-part guide, you will have a good grasp on Medicare and the choice within Medicare that is best for you.

How to Choose A Medicare Plan – Part 1

It is estimated that 10,000 people turn 65 every day in this country, and that staggering pace will continue until the year 2030.  While not everyone needs to deal with Medicare at age 65 because they maintain employer healthcare and delay retiring, the number of people who must learn how Medicare works and make decisions regarding their Medicare choices is the highest it has been since Medicare began back on July 01 of 1966.  This article is meant to help those new to Medicare learn how to choose a Medicare plan and be comfortable with their decision.

Whenever I give webinars about Medicare, one of the first subjects I talk about is how to choose a Medicare plan, or any health insurance plan and be confident in your decision. The process doesn’t start with picking up the Medicare & You guidebook to study all the features Medicare.  It doesn’t start with learning about the pros and cons of keeping Original Medicare vs. moving to a privately run Medicare Advantage plan.  No, the first step in finding the right health insurance plan for you is much more personal.  The first step is answering for yourself and your spouse a simple question; why do you have health insurance? Or, what do you want your health insurance to do for you?

This is a personal question.  There is no right or wrong answer.  Every one of us, or every couple will respond differently to the question.   Those people who start this process with their own answer to that question tend to have a much easier time and be more confident in their decision than those who start by trying to understand the details of Medicare.

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Medicare and the Cost of Cancer Treatment

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This article is for both the person facing cancer today, wanting to know what to expect from their Medicare insurance as well as for the person turning 65 and weighing the pros and cons of staying with Original Medicare or moving to Medicare Advantage. Medicare and the cost of cancer treatment is written to help everyone on Medicare.  If you find this article helpful, please share.  We have also included a link to a printer friendly version so that you may save this article for your files.

For those who prefer video:  Medicare & the Cost of Cancer Treatment

I realise the article is a bit long, but the subject matter is critically important.  When first diagnosed with cancer, there is a lot going through your mind. One small part is the question of “What is this going to cost me?”  The battle with cancer can be emotionally draining without worrying or wondering about your health insurance and how it works.  This information on how Medicare handles the cost of cancer treatment is much more difficult to find and piece together than it should be.  I believe the information in this article can be a great relief, benefit, and resource for anyone about to embark on a very tough personal battle.  The information has been compiled from numerous sources including Medicare.gov and the National Cancer Society.

For those new to Medicare, this information will help you decide if you are more comfortable with Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.  For the person who has cancer or a history of cancer, we hope the information will ease any financial uncertainty of not knowing what part of your treatment may or may not be covered by your current Medicare plan and how much out-of-pocket expense can be expected from you.

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Medicare for Florida Snowbirds

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……tips and information on Medicare for seniors that spend part of the year in Florida; our Florida Snowbirds

There are literally millions of Florida Snowbirds; people who come from all over the U.S. to spend the winter months in comfort of a warm Florida winter.  At last count, there are nearly 1.5 million Snowbirds that live part of the year in Florida and Sunbirds that move north (back to a home state) in the summer.  Palm Beach County was home (or half home) to 143,000 Florida Snowbirds and Jupiter, my home town, home to over 56,000.

Florida snowbirds are people who can live a life many others only wished, spending part of their time in a home state and moving to Florida in the winter to avoid the northern freezing temperatures and snow.  South Florida has a sub-tropical climate where we can measure the cold moments in hours, not days.  Central and Northern Florida are not as warm, but compared to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Indiana and other northern states, it’s a warm winter paradise.

Unfortunately, with two homes comes some confusion when it’s time to sign-up for Medicare. We hear the same very important questions time again; can I get Medicare from any state I live in?  Does Medicare cover me in both states?  If Medicare Supplements in one state are cheaper, can I purchase my supplement there and use it in Florida?  How does Medicare Advantage work when you live in two states?

With this article I will answer those questions and more on Medicare for Florida Snowbirds.  There are multiple features and rules with Medicare that are critically important to those who live the life of a seasonal nomad.  Unfortunately, few agents and brokers have the experience of working with Snowbirds and I have seen and heard of incorrect information and advice that has caused harm to the people who look to an insurance professional for advice and guidance.

Why Are Florida Medicare Supplement Plans So Expensive?

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Do I Need An Insurance Agent For Medicare?

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With approximately 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the United States, there is a lot of interest in Medicare.  Every day people are searching the internet or opening the 150 page Medicare & You handbook to learn about the rules, the features, the benefits and the choices they have when it comes to Medicare.  One of the first questions people often ask of themselves is “Do I need an insurance agent for Medicare?”  Well, Medicare is not complicated, although the new terms can be confusing at first.  It does take time to learn, especially for those that do not work with insurance every day.  And it is easy to miss important information and to make wrong choices that cost thousands of dollars down the road.  The right insurance professional can help save you time, reduce confusion or the frustration of learning something new and can save you thousands of dollars in medical expenses that you may not be considering when wading knee-deep in Medicare regulation.  This guide to finding an insurance agent who will represent your best interest will help.

 Read this article or watch our updated article in video format!

 

Help with MedicareWhat we have found in our many years of experience in the industry is that most people who choose not to seek the help of a professional agent do so because they fear being sold something.  It’s like how I feel when I walk into a car dealership.  I want a car, and I wouldn’t mind some honest help in considering what to purchase, but I don’t want to be sold a car.  I understand. 

A second reason for not seeking advice from a professional is the belief that you can get all the information you need on their own.  Well, that is true, the information is available. However, as a wise man once told me; “Knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not experience.”  Anyone can get the knowledge they need from the Medicare & You handbook and the Choosing a Medigap Policy publication.  You can even call Medicare or other government services.  But, none of those sources can pass along what a good professional has learned from experience.

If you are concerned that an insurance professional will try to sell you something, this article is for you.  This is a guide to finding an insurance professional who will represent your best interest and will add value to your process in learning about Medicare and making the right choice in plans at the best price available.

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