Day: August 21, 2019

What Are Captive Medicare Agents? And Why you Should Avoid Them

As you go through the process of learning about Medicare and choosing a Medicare plan, there are different people you can talk to about your options.

It is an excellent idea to work with a Medicare agent who represents several different Medicare Supplement carriers. This agent will be able to focus on what is right for you.

A type of Medicare agent that you want to avoid is called a “Captive Agent”. A Captive Agent only represents one insurance carrier and usually can only offer one plan. They are almost always directly employed by an insurance company.

Unfortunately, Captive Agents will only be successful in the eyes of their boss if they convince you to enroll in the only plan they have to sell – even if it is not the right plan for your situation.

Captive Agents are often new to the Medicare Supplement business. They usually represent carriers who have higher prices, smaller policy holder bases and a higher likelihood to have higher than average price increases in the future.

A few even represent private, for-profit, restricted access Medicare Advantage which are almost never a good option.

2019-08-16 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

The carriers who employ these agents insist on them selling their product only for one reason – people who compare their product with major Medicare Supplement carriers such as Mutual of Omaha or AARP almost always choose the proven, more stable carrier.

Conversely, this is why carriers such as Mutual of Omaha and AARP are happy to have their independent agents offer products from other carriers.

If you are talking with a Medicare Supplement agent, the first thing you should ask her is who are all of the carriers with whom she has enrolled her clients in the last 30 days

If that list is only one carrier, you should politely thank her for her time and instead work with someone who represents many carriers.

At Medicare Answer Center we appreciate the privilege of assisting you with learning about your Medicare options so you can make the right permanent Medicare decision.

As you may have guessed, we represent all major Medicare Supplement carriers such as Mutual of Omaha, AARP, BlueCross/Anthem, Cigna and Aetna.

We will help you compare the different plan offerings and prices and well as the strengths and weaknesses of each company.

Once you make your selection, we will assist you with your Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D drug plan enrollments and well as be available for you going forward to answer any questions, deal with any problems or assist you with your yearly Medicare Part D drug plan evaluation.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation Medicare consultation

Click here to message us via Facebook Messenger

Click here to request a quote for your Medicare Supplement from Medicare Answer Center

Click here to immediately download – Ten Most Asked Questions By People Going On Medicare

You can also call me at (865) 851-1120 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

The Medicare Musical Chairs Trap

I received a call from Bruce in Ohio last week.

Bruce is 69 years old and was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation two years ago. He has only had two episodes of an irregular heart beat and feels he has the condition well-managed with a medication called Xarelto.

The reason Bruce was calling was the Medicare Supplement he had chosen when he turned 65 had increased its premium nearly 50 percent in four years.

Unfortunately, Bruce was now unable to leave this plan for a less-expensive Medicare Supplement because the Atrial Fibrillation caused him to be declined when he applied for a different Medicare Supplement.

When I asked him who was the carrier for his existing Supplement, he said the name of a carrier I had never heard. He said someone had called him four years ago and said it was a new Medicare Supplement and had the lowest premium in his area.

2019-08-16 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

Bruce had fallen into what I call the Medicare Musical Chairs Trap.

A Medicare Supplement carrier that may be the cheapest at age 65 may be much more expensive than other carriers just a few years later.

Here’s the biggest problem…when a Medicare Supplement’s premiums go up much more than is normal, healthy people can shop around and leave for a lower priced Medicare Supplement. However, people with health issues usually can not switch.

This means that a Medicare Supplement that was the least expensive just a few years earlier is now much more expensive and now has an overall less healthy pool of policyholders. This will cause the premiums to increase at an even higher rate in the future.

It is like the Musical Chairs game we all played years ago. When you develop a health issue, you may lose the ability to shop around for the lowest premium for a Medicare Supplement. The music figuratively stops and you are stuck where you are without a chair.

This can require you to spend hundreds of dollars a year more every year for your Medicare Supplement than you would with a more established Medicare Supplement carrier.

You can avoid the Medicare Musical Chairs trap by choosing a Medicare Supplement carrier who had provided policies in your area for at least 10 years and is highly-rated for financial strength.

In many states, I recommend Medicare Supplement carriers such as Mutual of Omaha has been providing Medicare Supplements since since 1966 when Medicare started, They have more than one million policyholders and are rated A+ for financial strength.

Other carriers you can trust to have stable premiums long term include Aetna and BlueCross Blue Shield/Anthem.

At Medicare Answer Center we appreciate the privilege of assisting you with learning about your Medicare options so you can make the right permanent Medicare decision.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation Medicare consultation

Click here to message us via Facebook Messenger

Click here to request a quote for your Medicare Supplement from Medicare Answer Center

Click here to immediately download – Ten Most Asked Questions By People Going On Medicare

You can also call me at (865) 851-1120 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

Medicare’s Enrollment Timeline

It is important when you are approaching the age at which you are eligible to fully understand Medicare’s enrollment timelines.

There are two primary parts of Medicare – Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part A covers you if you go into the hospital as an in-patient or if you go into a Skilled Nursing Facility for rehabilitation.

Medicare Part B covers you for almost all other health services such as doctor visits, outpatient surgery and services, Emergency room care, x-rays, laboratory work, physical therapy, sophisticated diagnostic testing such as MRIs and some medications if they are administered in a medical facility.

When you become eligible for Medicare you can enroll in Medicare Part A only or Medicare Part A and B.

Medicare Part A and B together generally cover approximately 80 percent of your health care costs.

In most situations you become eligible for Medicare the 1st day of the month in which you turn 65.

As an example, if your birthday is November 25, 1954, your eligibility for Medicare begins November 1, 2019.

2019-08-16 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

An exception to this rule is if your birthday is on the 1st day of the month. In this case, your eligibility for Medicare starts on the 1st day of the previous month.

For example, if your birthday is February 1, 1955, your eligibility for Medicare starts on January 1, 2020.

If you are collecting Social Security four months before your effective date, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to take effect on your eligibility date.

In this case, if you are collecting Social Security you will receive your Medicare card in the mail around three and a half months before your eligibility date. If your eligibility date is January 1, 2019, your card will arrive in your mailbox around September 10, 2019.

Your card will be in a 4 X 6 white envelope with a return address of the U.S. Department of Human Services. Because you receive so much junk mail about Medicare many people do not realize this piece of mail is important and they throw it away.

If you do accidentally throw your Medicare card away, you can get a replacement by registering for an online account at www.medicare.gov.

If you are not collecting Social Security four months before your eligibility date, you can enroll online for either Medicare Part A or both Medicare Part A and B at www.socialsecurity.gov.

For details on how to enroll in Medicare online, please click on the following link

Enrolling in Medicare online

If you have credible health insurance through an employer, you can choose to delay Medicare Part B without penalty until the time you leave that coverage.

In this situation, you should enroll in Medicare Part A only unless you are contributing to a Health Savings Account. Once you enroll in Medicare Part A you are no longer eligible to contribute to an HSA.

If you do have coverage through an employer, you have the option of either staying on the coverage or leaving that coverage and going on full Medicare. You should compare your monthly premiums and potential out-of-pocket costs with your employer coverage to your costs with Medicare.

Please click the following link to learn more about comparing your employer coverage to your Medicare options.

Employer coverage versus full Medicare 

When you start full Medicare – Medicare A and B – you will need a Medicare Supplement to pay your 20 percent share of Medicare and a Medicare Part D drug plan to help you pay for any medications you currently take or may be prescribed in the future.

At Medicare Answer Center we appreciate the privilege of assisting you with learning about your Medicare options so you can make the right permanent Medicare decision.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation Medicare consultation

Click here to message us via Facebook Messenger

Click here to request a quote for your Medicare Supplement from Medicare Answer Center

Click here to immediately download – Ten Most Asked Questions By People Going On Medicare

You can also call me at (865) 851-1120 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.

Choose the Medicare Supplement Company …Not the Initial Price

Almost every day I receive a request from someone who is about to go on Medicare to provide them with Medicare Supplement quotes for their area.

While I am happy to do this, I always feel the quotes I am providing to them are misleading.

The reason for this is there is virtually no relationship between the monthly premium you pay for a Medicare Supplement at age 65 compared to other carriers and what you will pay over the course of your lifetime.

In many situations, the Medicare Supplement carrier with the lowest premium at age 65 will cost much more than other carriers both in the near future and the rest of your life.

Many Medicare Supplement carriers have a business strategy of enticing enrollees with artificially low premiums at age 65. Later, when many policyholders can not change their carrier due to health reasons, these carriers increase their prices to higher levels than other carriers.

The reason they do this because once someone has been on Medicare Part B longer than six months, they must disclose any health conditions they have to enroll in a new Medicare Supplement. Medicare Supplement carriers at that time can and will decline applicants who have existing health conditions that are likely to present the carrier with above-average costs.

2019-08-16 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

There is one rule you should follow when choosing a carrier for your Medicare Supplement: Choose the carrier not the price!

Here are some qualities to seek in choosing a Medicare Supplement carrier:

1) Choose a carrier who has been providing Medicare Supplements for at least 10 years. Any carrier who has been in business shorter than this amount of time is likely to have a policyholder base weighted toward people who are new to Medicare and who will have sharp increases in health care costs as they get older. In this case the carrier will have to sharply increase their premiums to pay to higher claims cost.

2) Choose a carrier who allows independent agents who also represent other carriers to represent them. Carriers whose business strategy is to entice people new to Medicare with artificially low first-year premiums only to increase them later do not want agents who can offer other products. Agents want to avoid the dissatisfaction these carriers generate 4 or 5 years later when the premiums skyrocket. Agents will therefore recommend other carriers.

3) Choose a carrier whose name is familiar. A carrier whose name is unfamiliar is more likely to be trying to generate many enrollments with artificially low premiums and then sharply increase the premiums for the people it has trapped. Such a carrier may then change its name to confuse potential enrollees and not be associated with its price hikes on existing customers.

4) Choose a carrier with at least 500,000 Medicare Supplements policyholders. Such a carrier has proven it plans to offer Medicare Supplements on a permanent basis and it not relying on short-term pricing gimmicks to generate exorbitant profits at the expense of its policyholders.

At Medicare Answer Center we appreciate the privilege of assisting you with learning about your Medicare options so you can make the right permanent Medicare decision.

Simply click the following link to schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute Medicare consultation.

Click here to schedule your free, no-obligation Medicare consultation

Click here to message us via Facebook Messenger

Click here to request a quote for your Medicare Supplement from Medicare Answer Center

Click here to immediately download – Ten Most Asked Questions By People Going On Medicare

You can also call me at (865) 851-1120 or email me at charlesbradshaw@medicareanswercenter.com.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Charles Bradshaw is President and Founder of MedicareAnswerCenter.com.

p.s. If you know of someone who needs help with their Medicare, please share this with them.