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Now displaying: November, 2016
Nov 29, 2016

 

10 Days left in the Annual Enrollment Period. That's plenty of time to find the plan that fits your needs for 2017,

The one change that everyone is talking about is the increase to the Medicare Part B Premium.

Last month, Social Security announced a .03% COLA for Social Security beneficiaries in 2017.

With the COLA announcement, the hold harmless rule is in effect.                   This means if the social security COLA doesn’t cover the increase to the Medicare Part B base premium, those individuals who already have their Medicare Part B premium taken out of their Social Security benefit check will not see that deduction in their benefit check.

The hold harmless individuals, who make up about 70% of all Medicare beneficiaries, won’t even come close to covering the $134.00 base Part B premium in 2017.  The hold harmless protection will squeak out a Medicare Part B premium increase of about $109.00.

The hold harmless rule does not protect individuals who:

  1. Are enrolling in Medicare Part B for the first time.
  2. Haven’t started receiving their Social Security Benefits and are enrolled in Medicare Part B.
  3. Are directly billed for their Medicare Part B premium
  4. Make an annual income of $85,000.00 or more
  5. Are enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program (States pay the new Medicare Premium increase).
  6. Are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, the State pays for the individual’s Medicare premiums.

Individuals who are not protected by the hold harmless rule, and have an annual income of less than $85,000.00, will be paying a base Part B premium of a whopping $134.00 a month in 2017.

Individuals with an annual income of more than $85,000.00, but less than $107,000.00, will pay a Part B premium of $107.50 a month.

Individuals who earn an annual income between $107,000.00 and $160,000.00, will pay a monthly Part B premium of $243.60.

Those who earn an annual income between $160,000.00 up to $214,000.00, will pay $316.70 a month premium for Medicare Part B.

Finally, those individuals who earn an annual income of more than $214,000.00, will pay $389.80 a month.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is in full swing and allows Medicare Advantage enrollees the opportunity to voluntarily make plan changes, which are effective January 1, 2017.

Individuals can make the following changes during the Annual Enrollment Period:

  1. Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  2. Drop their Medicare Advantage Plan and go back to Original Medicare.
  3. Switch from a Stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan and vice versa.
  4. Go from Original Medicare onto a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  5. Stay with the Medicare Advantage Plan they currently have.
  6. Switch from a Medicare Supplement Plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  7. Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan (underwriting may apply).

But according to a brief published by The Kaiser Family Foundation in September of 2016, from 2007 – 2014, only an average of 10% of Medicare Advantage enrollees voluntarily switched plans each year. (https://goo.gl/KqmCXL)

In my experience, Medicare enrollees do not have enough resources to make informed decisions in selecting a Medicare plan for themselves. During the Annual Enrollment Period, people are bombarded with TV infomercials, newspaper ads, direct mail offerings and inaccurate advice from friends and family. Overwhelming information!

So what is the answer for over 31% of Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare Advantage Plans during the Annual Enrollment Period?

There are several options available.

  1. If you have a Medicare Advisor or Insurance Agent, who can offer you several different Medicare Advantage carriers in their portfolio – call them.

It wouldn’t be in your best interest to contact an insurance agent, who works for only one Medicare insurance carrier. These agents are only able to offer you Medicare Advantage Plans from their one carrier. They will not have your best interest in mind. If they don’t enroll you in one of their plans, they won’t get paid.

Using a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, who has different Medicare carriers available to you, will have your best interest. They will help find you a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs.  

If you don’t personally know a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, you can Google “Medicare Advisor + your town.” An example would be – Medicare Advisor Tampa, FL. 

  1. Each State has a Department of Aging, with volunteers to assist you with your Medicare questions.

Advise the representative that you’d like to speak with someone who is knowledgeable with the different Medicare Advantage Plans in your area and they will connect you with a person who is unbiased.

Many States have educational seminars on Medicare at community Senior Centers. Ask if any will be in your area.

 

  1. Individuals can go onto the www.Medicare.gov website and use the plan finder database, but understand the information is not 100% complete.

 When you are deciding between two plans, go onto the insurance plan's website to look at the plan details to compare out of pocket costs for each plan.

The Medicare Part B premium increase for 2017, is going to make many people anxious and frustrated.  It is in your best interest to plan ahead and research your Medicare plan options at least three to four months prior to turning 65.

If you are still employed and on an employer’s health insurance plan, compare your cost for your employer’s plan against Medicare plans.

Don’t forget to calculate the Medicare Part B premium into your comparison.

You can participate in a credible employer health plan and not have to enroll in Medicare Part B when you turn 65.

In my experience, I have found over 80% of the time, a Medicare Supplement plan is more cost effective than the employer’s plan. The Medicare Supplement plan also provides the freedom to choose any physician in the United States, who is contracted with Medicare. Take your time and do your due diligence.

 

 “A stitch in time saves nine.” Properly preparing for your initial enrollment in Medicare and choosing a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs, will save you the aggravation and possibly making a poor financial and health coverage decision.

 

Diane Daniels

Medicare Advisor                                                                                           Senior Advocates For Medicare & Medicaid, LLC                                                 855-855-7266

Nov 11, 2016

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has recently announced the costs for Medicare in 2017. 

The one change that everyone is talking about is the increase to the Medicare Part B Premium.

Last month, Social Security announced a .03% COLA for Social Security beneficiaries in 2017.

With the COLA announcement, the hold harmless rule is in effect.                   This means if the social security COLA doesn’t cover the increase to the Medicare Part B base premium, those individuals who already have their Medicare Part B premium taken out of their Social Security benefit check will not see that deduction in their benefit check.

The hold harmless individuals, who make up about 70% of all Medicare beneficiaries, won’t even come close to covering the $134.00 base Part B premium in 2017.  The hold harmless protection will squeak out a Medicare Part B premium increase of about $109.00.

The hold harmless rule does not protect individuals who:

  1. Are enrolling in Medicare Part B for the first time.
  2. Haven’t started receiving their Social Security Benefits and are enrolled in Medicare Part B.
  3. Are directly billed for their Medicare Part B premium
  4. Make an annual income of $85,000.00 or more
  5. Are enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program (States pay the new Medicare Premium increase).
  6. Are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, the State pays for the individual’s Medicare premiums.

Individuals who are not protected by the hold harmless rule, and have an annual income of less than $85,000.00, will be paying a base Part B premium of a whopping $134.00 a month in 2017.

Individuals with an annual income of more than $85,000.00, but less than $107,000.00, will pay a Part B premium of $107.50 a month.

Individuals who earn an annual income between $107,000.00 and $160,000.00 will pay a monthly Part B premium of $243.60.

Those who earn an annual income between $160,000.00 up to $214,000.00 will pay $316.70 a month premium for Medicare Part B.

Finally, those individuals who earn an annual income of more than $214,000.00 will pay $389.80 a month.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is in full swing and allows Medicare Advantage enrollees the opportunity to voluntarily make plan changes, which are effective January 1, 2017.

Individuals can make the following changes during the Annual Enrollment Period:

  1. Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  2. Drop their Medicare Advantage Plan and go back to Original Medicare.
  3. Switch from a Stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan and vice versa.
  4. Go from Original Medicare onto a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  5. Stay with the Medicare Advantage Plan they currently have.
  6. Switch from a Medicare Supplement Plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  7. Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan (underwriting may apply).

But according to a brief published by The Kaiser Family Foundation in September of 2016, from 2007 – 2014, only an average of 10% of Medicare Advantage enrollees voluntarily switched plans each year. (https://goo.gl/KqmCXL)

In my experience, Medicare enrollees do not have enough resources to make informed decisions in selecting a Medicare plan for themselves. During the Annual Enrollment Period, people are bombarded with TV infomercials, newspaper ads, direct mail offerings and inaccurate advice from friends and family. Overwhelming information!

So what is the answer for over 31% of Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare Advantage Plans during the Annual Enrollment Period?

There are several options available.

  1. If you have a Medicare Advisor or Insurance Agent, who can offer you several different Medicare Advantage carriers in their portfolio – call them.

It wouldn’t be in your best interest to contact an insurance agent, who works for only one Medicare insurance carrier. These agents are only able to offer you Medicare Advantage Plans from their one carrier. They will not have your best interest in mind. If they don’t enroll you in one of their plans, they won’t get paid.

Using a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, who has different Medicare carriers available to you, will have your best interest. They will help find you a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs.  

If you don’t personally know a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, you can Google “Medicare Advisor + your town.” An example would be – Medicare Advisor Tampa, FL. 

  1. Each State has a Department of Aging, with volunteers to assist you with your Medicare questions.

Advise the representative that you’d like to speak with someone who is knowledgeable with the different Medicare Advantage Plans in your area and they will connect you with a person who is unbiased.

Many States have educational seminars on Medicare at community Senior Centers. Ask if any will be in your area.

 

  1. Individuals can go onto the www.Medicare.gov website and use the plan finder database, but understand the information is not 100% complete.

 

The Medicare Part B premium increase for 2017 is going to make many people anxious and frustrated.  It is in your best interest to plan ahead and research your Medicare plan options at least three to four months prior to turning 65.

If you are still employed and on an employer’s health insurance plan, compare your cost for your employer’s plan against Medicare plans.

Don’t forget to calculate the Medicare Part B premium into your comparison.

You can participate in a credible employer health plan and not have to enroll in Medicare Part B when you turn 65.

In my experience, I have found over 80% of the time, a Medicare Supplement plan is more cost effective than the employer’s plan. The Medicare Supplement plan also provides the freedom to choose any physician in the United States, who is contracted with Medicare. Take your time and do your due diligence.

  “A stitch in time saves nine.” Properly preparing for your initial enrollment in Medicare and choosing a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs, will save you the aggravation and possibly making a poor financial and health coverage decision.

 Need help with understanding Medicare?

Call SAMM is available throughout the Annual Enrollment Period to help educate you about Medicare plans.

Call 855-855-7266 for more information.

You can also send an email to Support@TheMedicareNation.com

 

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