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What about those who are satisfied with their Medicare plans?

If you are happily enrolled in your Medicare plan, then the Medicare Open Enrollment period does not affect you. If you do not wish to make any changes to your plan, then you do not have to.

Medicare Open Enrollment for those that like what they have and do not want to changes is as simple as doing nothing. If you do nothing to make changes during the Open Enrollment period your coverage will move forward as is. In other words, your coverage under the traditional Medicare continues into the next year.

Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018. Filed under Medicare.

Can a spouse of a Medicare beneficiary enroll in Medicare during the enrollment period?

The ability of a spouse of a Medicare beneficiary to enroll in Medicare depends on age. If a spouse of a Medicare beneficiary is over the age of 65, then they can enroll in a Medicare plan. The situation changes for spouses who are below the age of 65.

If for example, a spouse is 62 and their partner is 65 with Medicare, then the younger spouse cannot enroll in plans during open enrollment. Even though a spouse has Medicare, the younger one does not qualify for Medicare until they turn 65.

So, if the younger souse does not have health insurance now, it may be worthwhile to explore other options to obtain it. Check health insurance plans available for purchase through the official insurance Marketplace. If your joint income is less than $66,000, then the younger spouse might qualify for premium tax credits. If your joint income is below $22,700, then the younger spouse may be eligible for Medicaid if you live in a state with an expanded Medicaid program.

Talk to a knowledgeable insurance agent if you have any concerns or questions about open enrollment or the available insurance options for you and your family.

Posted on Friday, December 28th, 2018. Filed under Medicare.

Where do you find Medicare options and review them?

Remember that Medicare plans are not Marketplace plans and are not sold through the state or federal Marketplace websites. So, you can compare and review your considered choices on the Medicare Plan Finder. The plan finder allows users compare to Medicare plan options, including Medicare Part D plans, Medigap supplemental policies and Medicare Advantage plans.

If you would rather speak directly to an insurance agent, then call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Another alternative is to reach out and connect with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) located in your state. SHIP are able to assist you by offering personalized, local counseling to get you the right insurance for your family.

If you do not know the SHIP phone number in your state, then call 877-839-2675 and ask for your state SHIP phone number. Choosing the right health insurance plan is easy once you find out what you need to know from an insurance agent or SHIP. Always remember, that Medicare and Medicare Advantage representatives are there to help you make choices that suit your budget and lifestyle.

Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2018. Filed under Medicare.

Open enrollment for Medicare is going to be different in 2019

In 2019 there will be two different open enrollment dates for Medicare and Medicare Advantage. The usual Medicare open enrollment runs from October 15 through to December 7 every year. In 2019, however, Medicare Advantage will get its own open enrollment period which will begin January 1 and end March 31. Those already in an Advantage plan have a chance to swap plans to a different one or drop Medicare Advantage and go back to original Medicare.

There are a number of beneficiaries that may find that option attractive in addition to the fact that 2019 Medicare Advantage plans are offering lifestyle support services including home safety fixtures, home meal delivery and transportation from home to medical appointments and back. Always double check your insurance policy to check if you qualify for what is being offered in 2019. If for any reason something does not make sense or feel right, contact an experienced Medicare Advantage insurance agent.

Posted on Friday, December 21st, 2018. Filed under Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Changes Coming in 2019

Medicare Advantage is popular, just about one third of all beneficiaries are enrolled in it nationally. That means roughly 20 million seniors are enjoying the benefits of Medicare Advantage, which is offering more plans every year.

Medicare Advantage is the equivalent of Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers as an alternative to traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage includes, PPOs and HMOs and covers the same health care services as Medicare Part C. Vision, dental and hearing coverage options in Medicare Advantage plans are often more affordable. This is what beneficiaries love.

The good news do not stop there for beneficiaries. More changes are coming in 2019. Beginning in January, there are going to be extra options that range from adult day-care programs, home health aides to assist with daily living tasks and safety features such as a wheelchair ramps. The new enhancements are intended to help people “age in place.”

While the enhancements are being added they are not going to be available to everyone across the board. The new, added benefits must be prescribed/ordered by a licensed provider for a patients who have specific health care needs that require them. Put another way, Medicare Advantage subscribers cannot decide to get a grab bar for the bathroom just because they would like one. They must have a specific need that mandates a grab bar, such as a high risk of falling or mobility problems.

As with any other change to a Medicare Advantage plan, it is best to ask an insurance agent what would work for your circumstances. It is confusing to figure out what you are able to apply for and what you are not. With 10,000 people turning 65 each day, the number of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries is rising. Know what works for you.

Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2018. Filed under Medicare.

New Medicare Cards Do Not Prevent Scams

Sixty million new Medicare cards are in the mail to U.S. beneficiaries.

The new cards, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are intended to curtail identity theft. It is anticipated that the new cards will significantly reduce, but not likely fully eliminate, senior identify theft.

The old Medicare cards listed a recipient’s Social Security Number (SSN) and their signature. What is more, the SSN on the old cards functioned also as a Health Insurance claim Number (HICN). Because of this, fraud and identity theft was common. The new card was created to curb senior identity theft and fraud. The new Medicare cards, as mandated by a Congress issued deadline, should be delivered to all recipients by April 2019.

What Seniors Need to Know About the New Medicare Cards
The most important point to note about the new cards is that they are being mailed out in waves to all recipients across the country. That means that if you live in California and do not get your card when your relative in New York did, wait for it to show up. It is on its way. The wave mailings started in the spring of 2018 and since that time 15 states have been covered. Next on the list are South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Did not get your card even after the mailing for your state is designated as being complete? Not a problem. Go to your “MyMedicare” account and check to see if your card was mailed. There are instances where cards have not been mailed to addresses that were not clear or Medicare felt were not trustworthy. Beneficiaries only need to contact Medicare and offer updated information to ensure they receive a card. Once you do receive your new card shred your old one to guard against identity theft.

The new card does not change your benefits. They stay the same. For example, if you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Drug Plan, keep using that plan’s ID card. The new card is still very recognizable — red, white and blue, with black print — but the design is different.

These new credit-card sized Medicare cards have a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) consisting of 11 numbers and letters. The cards use numbers 0 through to 9 and all letters except—S, L, O, I, B and Z—which will never be used on the new cards. The Social Security number is not listed the new cards.

New Medicare Cards Mean New Scams
Seniors need to stay aware of scams and con artists trying to obtain their personal information for illegal uses. Two scams in particular are of concern: callers stating they are Medicare representatives calling to verify a recipient’s SSN or stating the new card needs to be paid for. The second popular scam tries to tell beneficiaries that there is a balance on their current Medicare card and they want to refund that money into their bank account, once the target gives them bank account details.

Even with the new changes to Medicare cards, scammers have been known to be extra vigilant and creative in finding ways to con people out of their personal information. It is best, despite receiving a new card, to be extra cautious about how it is used. Be safe. Be alert. Be aware. Protect your identity.

Posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018. Filed under Medicare.