Are you turning 65 soon and wondering how to navigate the Medicare maze?
Not sure what to do with all the daily Medicare Enrollment mailings, phone calls, and solicitations? For starters, recycle the mailings.
Don’t disconnect your phone—instead sign up for the do not call list by calling 1-888-382-1222.
As promised, here are our Top 10 Tips for cutting through the clutter and making this process far less painful than a trip to the dentist.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
Chances are you know someone who is already Medicare eligible. Buy them a cup of coffee and pick their brain. What resources did they use? Are they happy with their current coverage? What problems have they had? Are they satisfied with their current insurance agent or broker? Have their rates changed since they first became Medicare eligible? Does their broker routinely review their prescription drug coverage?
- GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME
Medicare enrollment can be a lengthy process and often takes longer than you anticipate. A good rule of thumb is to start the application process for Medicare Supplemental or Medicare Advantage coverage 8-12 weeks before your Medicare begins. Typically, Medicare begins on the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on June 27th ,then Medicare begins on June 1st. If your birthday is on the first of the month, July 1st, then Medicare begins the first day of the previous month, June 1st.
- CHOOSE AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY TO HELP
With so many variables, it can be scary to go at this alone. An expert in this field can alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety in having the correct coverage. All Medicare plans are regulated at a state and federal level. An agency should not charge you a dime to assist in finding the correct Medicare Advantage, Part D, or Supplemental plan. Ask your friends and family for references and check out the agency’s office and reputation online. How long have they been in business? Do they offer Supplemental, Medicare Advantage, and Part D options? Are they licensed with multiple carriers? Agents must go through rigorous annual training to offer Medicare Advantage and Part D products. A comfortable relationship with an independent agent and agency can make this process easy and have you feeling confident that you made the correct decision. Steinlage Insurance Agency is licensed with every Medicare Advantage, Part D, and all top-rated Medicare Supplement companies in Missouri.
- DECIDE: MEDICARE ADVANTAGE OR ORIGINAL MEDICARE WITH A MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT AND PART D
As you learn about your choices, you will find that all your options fall into two different categories: Original Medicare with a Supplement and Part D or Medicare Advantage. Utilizing our services can alleviate the stress that may come with deciding. Visit Steinlage Insurance Agency’s website for informative blog/news articles, FAQ, and our 45 minute Free on Demand Medicare 101 Video covering everything from enrollment to red flags to avoid!
- IF YOU CHOOSE MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT BE SURE TO ASK ABOUT RATE ADJUSTMENTS AND THE FINANCIAL STATUS OF THE COMPANY
Since Medicare Supplements are priced at your age of enrollment there are significant benefits to enrolling and maintaining coverage through one carrier. As you switch, your price is based off of your new age and you will be asked health questions. Believe it or not, insurance companies know you are turning 65 and have all kinds of sneaky ways to give you a low initial price. Rate. adjustments in the Medicare Supplement industry vary wildly, from 3-5% per year, up to 40%, depending on the insurer. You should ask about and probe into previous rate adjustments as well as looking at financial ratings from companies like A.M. Best. With over 50 years of experience in the Medicare industry, our agency knows which companies tend to have higher rates increases than others.
- REVIEW YOUR DRUG/PART D/Medicare Advantage Part C COVERAGE ANNUALLY
The easiest way to select your drug coverage is to use the Medicare Drug Plan Finder. This online tool makes choosing the best drug plan simple. It uses your location, prescriptions drugs, and pharmacy to rank all available plans from lowest to highest cost. Choose your plan from the top three listed and you will be set. If you need help, we can do this for you in under five minutes! In Missouri, Part D drug plan premiums range from $6-$110/month depending on your specific prescriptions. Due to volatility in the pharmaceutical industry, it is very important to review your prescription plan each year during Annual Enrollment, October 15th-December 7th. An annual review is something we do with clients each and every year, at no cost. Join our AEP webinar each Fall for up to date information for the new year.
- TALK TO YOUR DOCTORS AND PROVIDERS BEFORE CHOOSING A PLAN
If you choose a no premium Medicare Advantage plan you MUST make sure your doctor or hospital is in-network. If you choose a Medicare Supplement, you can choose any doctor or hospital in the country that takes Medicare. Ask the doctor at your next appointment which Advantage plans they accept and what issues, if any, they have experienced with different insurance companies.
- ASK YOUR DOCTOR FOR GENERIC DRUGS
When you are in Medicare, there can be drastic differences between the costs of generics versus brand-name prescriptions. For example, the generic for Lipitor is Atorvastatin, a common high cholesterol drug, has a $0 co pay at the pharmacy with some Part D plans. Crestor, a competing brand name high cholesterol drug has a $50 copay. Again, I can’t emphasize the importance in reviewing your Part D plans each year during Annual Enrollment, October 15th-December 7th. Check out our website for additional tips on Prescription Drug savings. Mark Cuban’s Cost-Plus drugs website and Goodrx.com are also super helpful in keeping your drug costs low.
- EVEN IF YOU PLAN ON CONTINUING FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT WITH BENEFITS, MEDICARE MAY BE A BETTER DEAL
What is your current deductible on your employer plan? What is your copay when you see the doctor? Now think of your monthly or bi-weekly contribution. For many people, this is a lot more expensive than what it was three years ago. As healthcare costs increase, many employers pass larger shares of the health coverage expense on to the employee. If you are 65 and still working, you have the right to drop that coverage and enroll into Medicare A and B and pick up a Supplement or Advantage Part C plan. A snapshot of what your costs look like with Medicare and a Medicare Supplement: Part B $164.90/month + Supplemental G Plan $100 + Part D $7 = $271.90/month. With this route, you have no deductible, no copay to see the doctors, and small copays on drugs. Our rule of thumb: if your employer plan costs you $200/month or more, you should take a closer look at your Medicare options. Some clients may have extra Medicare costs due to their high-income earning status. At Steinlage, we review all costs associated with Medicare IRMAA.
- ASK FOR HELP
If your monthly income and assets will be lower than $13,630 as an individual or $30,240 for a married couple living together you may qualify for Extra Help. Extra Help will pay for all or most of the monthly premiums and annual deductibles and lower the prescription co-payments related to your plan. To find out if you are eligible, Social Security will need to know your income and the value of your savings, investments, and real estate (other than your home). Apply for extra help on Social Security’s website here.
You may also be eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. More on Medicaid here.
Make Medicare painless and easy!
636 – 561- 5060