Tag: how to enroll in medicare part b

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.

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.

“I Wish I Had Talked With You Sooner”

I talk with many people every day about their Medicare situation.

In most situations, the people I talk with are about to go on Medicare so they still have the opportunity to choose a Medicare plan that will give them maximum access to the health care they may need now or in the future while having their costs paid 100 percent.

However, I often talk with people who are already on Medicare and who may not have realized the fact that bad Medicare choices can be permanent and irreversible.

Such a situation happened last week. A gentleman named Roger called me from Atlanta who had left regular Medicare when he turned 65 two years ago and enrolled in a private, for-profit Medicare Advantage plan from Humana.

2019-08-16 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

He had recently experienced a health scare with his heart. Because Roger was proactive with his health, he was anxious to have whatever tests were available to learn the details of his heart condition. Roger told me he was willing to take any actions necessary to improve his health and his longevity with his wife, his two grown children and his one-year old granddaughter Abigail.

Unfortunately, because Humana’s Medicare Advantage plan is a private, for-profit insurance plan, they would not pay for the types of tests that Roger knew would allow him to learn what he needed to know about his heart condition.

When Roger called me, he told me he wanted to leave his Humana Medicare Advantage plan and return to Regular Medicare as soon as possible and get a Medicare Supplement that would pay everything Medicare does not pay.

Unfortunately, I had to tell Roger that although he could leave Humana’s for-profit Medicare Advantage plan and return to regular Medicare on January 1, he would be declined for any Medicare Supplement because of his recent heart issue. This would mean he would have to pay an unlimited 20 percent of his health care costs.

Roger was furious. He was adamant that the Humana sales agent who convinced him to leave regular Medicare had not told him about the possibility he would not be able to return to regular Medicare and get a Medicare Supplement in the future. I am sure the Humana agent did not do this. They are not required to disclose this and usually do not.

However, I could not help him.

Roger then said the words I hear too often – “I wish I had talked with you sooner.”

Roger is going to return to regular Medicare even though he will likely be responsible for an unlimited 20 percent of his health care costs the rest of his life. He will have to reallocate much of his retirement planning to pay these costs and he will still be at risk of spending tens of thousands of dollars a year if he needs expensive care in the future.

That is the price Roger is willing to pay to give himself the best chance for the longest and highest quality life with the family he loves.

The sad part is if Roger had simply enrolled in a Medicare Supplement when he first went on Medicare two years ago, all of his health care costs would have been covered the rest of his life by paying a affordable monthly premium of a little more than $100 per month.

When someone first goes on Medicare, they can enroll in a Medicare Supplement that will pay their share of Medicare without answering any health questions. They can keep this policy the rest of their life regardless of any health conditions they have at the time or develop in the future.

And by being with regular Medicare, they will be much less likely to be denied the health care they desire and need than with a for-profit, private Medicare Advantage plan.

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.

What Does “Covered” Mean?

Every year I go through training for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.

It usually takes around a week to take the courses and pass the tests required to verify that I know what I need to know to help people who are going on Medicare understand how Medicare works and what their options are with Medicare.

This year one phrase in the training stood out because it discussed a very deceptive part of Medicare Advantage plans.

As you probably know if you have read any of my writings, I strongly believe Medicare Advantage plans are one of the most deceptive and harmful ideas the government has ever allowed to be perpetrated on the American people.

2019-08-16 Charles Bradshaw
Charles Bradshaw

Medicare Advantage plans such as Humana Gold Plus and Kaiser Permanente are private, for-profit, restricted access plans in which the managers of the plans have a fundamental conflict between providing the health care their members need and minimizing health care costs in order to maximize their profits.

Medicare Advantage plans routinely say “no” to expensive but needed health care services such as MRIs, skilled nursing stays, expensive cancer treatments and joint replacements when regular Medicare would say “yes”.

The phrase that stood out to me said

“Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover all health services available under Medicare Parts A and B.”

In this case, the word “cover” is the key.

What does “cover” mean in this situation?

It does not mean that a person on Medicare who has left regular Medicare for a Medicare Advantage plan will have the same access to expensive treatments they may need as they would with regular Medicare.

The reason for this is Medicare Advantage plans use a much more restrictive set of guidelines before they will approve expensive care.

If two people have identical degenerative bone disease conditions and need a hip replacement – but one is on regular Medicare and the other has left Medicare for a Medicare Advantage plan – the one on regular Medicare is much more likely to be approved for the hip replacement than the person on the Medicare Advantage plan.

The only way Medicare Advantage plans make a profit is by spending less on their members’ health care than if those members were still on regular Medicare. And they make a lot of profit!

Every time a Medicare Advantage plan says “no” to expensive medical tests such as an MRI, they are saying “yes” to more income for the Advantage plan and more bonuses for their executives.

It is somewhat like the old question “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, does it make a sound”.

Accordingly, if a Medicare Advantage plan “covers” MRIs, joint replacements and expensive cancer treatments but says “no” when they are needed, do the plan’s members really have the health care they need?

Unfortunately, the answer is “no”.

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.