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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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How Floridians Save On Medicare Supplement Insurance

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Save on Medicare Supplement PlansMedicare beneficiaries in Florida have the same Medicare Supplement and plan choices as seniors in most states.  However, because Medicare Supplement plans in Florida are priced “as issued” instead of by age, they are significantly more expensive than most other states.  This throws the pricing metric off so that plans that are the best value in other states are a poor value in Florida.  It’s also why only 30% of people in Florida turning 65 choose Medicare Advantage plans, a slightly higher percentage than the national average. In this article, we show some tips and tricks for How Florida residents save on Medicare Supplement insurance plans.

No matter where you live in Florida, there are three main Medicare Supplement plans that you should consider.  For each plan, the prudent consumer will compare the plan features as well as prices. Those plans are Medicare Supplement Plan F, Medicare Supplement Plan N and Medicare Supplement Plan F-HD (high deductible).

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Medigap Plan F-HD for Florida Seniors

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Which Medicare Supplement Plan?Whether you are just turning 65 and looking at your Medicare options for the first time, or you have been on Medicare for some time and want to lower your cost while keeping the service and benefits you are used to, seniors in Florida face the same tough decisions as seniors anywhere in this country.  However, the way Medicare Supplement plans are priced, the Medigap Plan F High Deductible makes sense for Florida Seniors.

A survey of insurance professionals in Florida revealed Medigap Plan F-High Deductible (Plan F-HD) as the plan they will or are using for their Medicare.  Shockingly, they admitted to not showing this plan to clients because the commission is too low. And yet, the annual maximum out-of-pocket limit on Medigap Plan F-HD is LESS than the required annual premium of Medigap Plan F or Plan for most Florida seniors.

With a Plan F-HD you can lower your monthly premiums to just $50-$70 and have an annual maximum out-of-pocket limit that is $2,180; less than the annual premium for most Medigap Plan F coverage!

Watch a 10-minute Video on Plan F-HD:  Watch Video Now

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Here is an example to illustrate the value of Plan F-high deductible:

A Medicare Plan F may cost a 65-year old in Florida $2,705 per year in annual premium.  It covers 100% of Medicare expenses not covered by Original Medicare Parts A & B. It has no deductible.

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