Evaluating your Prescription Drug Plan During Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period

If you have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, chances are you know what’s coming to your mailbox in the coming weeks…  That’s right, the “Annual Notice of Change”.  Wait, you don’t know what this is?  Perhaps you refer to the it as one of our client’s did last year, “that big book my prescription drug plan sends out…”  OK, now you know what’s I’m talking about!

Regardless how you refer to the “Annual Notice of Change” you should expect it in the coming weeks, if you haven’t already received it.  The booklet will outline any changes in coverage, costs, or services that will take effect on January 1, 2018 with your prescription drug plan.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to review your prescription drug plan annual during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period that takes place between October 15 – December 7.  Even if you’ve been absolutely ecstatic with your prescription drug coverage, these plans are calendar year contacts and can change; and unless you evaluate your plan each year, you’ll never know if the upcoming year’s changes affect you or the medications you’re taking.

Important:  During Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7) is the only time you can change your Part D prescription drug plan for the following year.

As our team arrived in the office this morning, many of our agents had voicemails from current clients requesting their annual Part D prescription drug plan reviews.  (This is a free service we offer to all of our clients during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment).  When we heard the messages we knew our clients had already started to receive their “Annual Notice of Change.”   I love the fact that prescription drug plans are allowing ample time for clients to review their plans upcoming changes for 2018.  (That’s assuming you want to read a couple hundred pages of formularies in small print)!  However, we won’t be able to truly evaluate the Part D prescription drug plans for 2018 until they are uploaded to Medicare’s website beginning on October 15.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period:

For Medicare Instructors Clients:  Our trained seasonal staff will start calling clients on Monday, October 16 to remind you of the free annual Part D prescription drug plan reviews our agency offers.  If you receive a message from one of our team members, you’ll want to call them back at your earliest convenience.

For Non-Medicare Instructor Clients:  If your insurance agent isn’t already reaching out to you to offer a review, you can evaluate Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plans on your own by visiting www.medicare.gov or calling 1-800-Medicare.

In closing, we don’t want you to be someone that discovers in January that your medication is no longer covered or has a higher co-payment when you pick it up at the pharmacy.  Taking the 10-15 minutes to review your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for next year can be a lifesaver to your pocketbook.

 

When Low Medicare Insurance Premiums Are Too Good To Be True

As a habit of my chosen profession, I receive daily email alerts on just about everything Medicare and Social Security related.  In today’s email of roughly 50+ articles, one stood out to me.  Humor me while I stand on my soap box for a few minutes.

The article was regarding another new insurance company getting into the Medicare market.  While I love competition, particularly when reputable companies join the Medicare space, I’d like to offer a word of caution.  Be very cautious of enrolling in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan with a new carrier offering rates that seem too good to be true!

Rates can be extremely competitive when a new company enters the Medicare market because they are “buying business.”  We use this term when a new company with little to no name recognition enters the market place offering a low monthly premium in hopes to attract clients.  (Think about those “low introductory rates” offered through cable companies or newspapers when you’re a new subscriber.  Similar tactic). Let me share what we witnessed in one of the states we conduct business in:

A well known group health insurance company entered the Medicare market roughly four years ago with a competitive rate of roughly $5 – $10 less a month than their competitors.  People flocked to this company, after all, many people in the state knew the name of this company because they are quite large in the group insurance market.  Fast forward 2.5 years later, the price increased 40% on their Medicare Supplement Plan G; over the last few years, a typical Plan G annual increase is 3-7%.

Did you know in the Medicare market, a new company is allowed to operate at a loss for two years before they are required to operate at a profit?  Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m OK with that!  I’ll just change policies in a couple of years when the rates change.”  That could theoretically work…. if you knew for an absolute fact that you wouldn’t become ill or become unable to health qualify for another plan during that time.  We talk to seniors around the country that ask us if they can switch their plan for a variety of reasons.  I never look forward to the calls when I need to inform a prospective client that I’m unable to move them to a plan that could work better for them because they can’t health qualify.

I’m going to get off my soap box only after offering these final thoughts:

Would you buy the cheapest parachute if you were jumping off a plane?  I’m going to guess your answer is ‘no’.  Knowing the first plan you select when starting Medicare might be the only plan you’ll ever be on, what company and plan would you want to be “stuck” with?

The Truth About Health Qualifying After Age 65

The video excerpt below comes from a presentation given to a Rotary Club where agency owner, Todd Stevenson discusses misconceptions about health qualifying when on Medicare.  While there are a few states in the US with variations to this rule, it is best to check with us should you have questions about changing your Medicare Supplement carrier after age 65.

Health Qualifying on Medicare

Meet the Medicare Instructors Team

Medicare Instructors has continued to expand our team to better serve our clients.  From left to right:

 

Laura, Client Relations Representative

Gina, Licensed Agent

Alex, Licensed Agent

Chris, Licensed Agent

Todd, Licensed Agent/Agency Owner

 

To reach any of our team members, call 1-888-287-3303.

New Addition to the Medicare Instructors Team

We are pleased to announce the addition of Chris Sewell to our team of licensed Medicare Instructors.  Chris comes with decades of exceptional client relations and customer care experience.  An avid runner, you can often find him competing in races throughout the Portland metro area.

Chris will be based out of our Camas, WA office beginning the week of June 19th and joins our ever growing team of agents.  He can be reached by calling 360-637-6688 or 1-888-267-3303.

 

 

 

Medicare Instructors New Location

Medicare Instructors is pleased to announce their new location in the heart of downtown Camas, WA.  Moving to this new location has allowed us to expand our team so we can better serve our clients from around the country.  We invite our local clients as well as any clients in visiting the Portland metro area to stop in to say hello!

Our new address is 528 NE 4th Avenue, Camas, WA. 98607

Medicare Updates for 2013

We have updated our web site to reflect the Medicare updates for the 2013 policy year.

We updated the Medicare Part A & B chart for 2013.

We updated the Medigap F,G, and N chart to reflect the changes for 2013. This chart shows our most popular Medigap plans.

We also found a mistake on our 10 Medigap Plans at a glance chart. One of the checkmarks was out of place for Medicare Part B excess coverages.  Thank you to one of our great customers that saw this and notified us. We appreciate you!

If you prefer to read a short summary of the Medicare updates for 2013 check out this short article.

I think that’s all the changes for today.  Thanks for visiting our web site and be sure to contact us with any questions you have.  We’re working to build a Frequently Asked Questions page and we need your questions!

Have a great day!
Todd
Medicare Instructors

New Medicare Instructors Website Sheds Light on a Confusing but Necessary Process for Today’s Seniors

Idaho Falls, Idaho November 07, 2012 Business News
(PRLEAP.COM) November 7, 2012 – On October 15, 2012, the Medicare Open Enrollment period officially began, bringing with it a confusing barrage of options, rules and guidelines for seniors to wade through in their effort to procure federal health insurance coverage. Senior Market Partners, LLC is timing the launch of their new website, http://MedicareInstructors.com, to help simplify the process and assist Americans age 65 and over in obtaining any necessary supplemental insurance at the most competitive rates possible.

Designed to help seniors navigate the ever-changing landscape of Medicare health insurance options, http://MedicareInstructors.com takes a purely educational approach. With experience in the Medicare Supplemental Insurance business for more than 13 years, company owner Todd Stevenson is confident in his ability to provide quality health guidance to his clients aged 65 and over. His company seeks to help clients understand the details of their insurance coverage as well as supplement the parts of their healthcare that Original Medicare may not cover.

Today’s seniors want to know what their options are and the ‘why’ of one product or company over another. Says Stevenson of his company’s re-launch, “We take the approach of educating our clients to help them understand all their options. The Medicare Instructors web site will contain a lot of information on Medicare and Medicare supplements. We’ll also have a free medigap quote engine for people to request quotes on Medicare Supplement plans.”

He continues, ” The advantage to working with a broker like us is we’re not captive to any one company. Our goal is to match the provider to our client’s needs. We try to take a complicated and overwhelming experience and simplify it for our clients, in order to help them make a more informed buying decision.”

Sections of the website include, but are not limited to: general Medicare overview; a guide to Medicare Parts A, B, C and D plus coverage details; an explanation of the Medicare Advantage plan; helpful calendar of Medicare enrollment periods for 2012; Part D prescription drug coverage, and information about the Part D late enrollment penalty.

Of particular interest to Medicare recipients is the information clarifying prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D). Medicare has the ability to match their current prescriptions to the drug plans in the area and run a formulary comparison against every company that offers a drug plan in any given zip code/county. This lets clients of MedicareInstructors.com know which company will have the total lowest estimated out-of-pocket expenses for the year. The company does not advise comparing drug plans on the monthly premium, deductible or co-pay, but rather on the total estimated out of pocket expenses for the year. Stevenson concludes: “When it comes down to it, the thing that really matters is what a Medicare recipient pays out-of-pocket for the entire year.”

For more information and to request a quote on supplemental insurance, visit http://MedicareInstructors.com

Todd Stevenson
Medicare Instructors
208.538.2292