Medicare Supplements are the best Medical Coverage you will ever have.
Check out this email we received on Friday from one of our clients who is VERY happy we helped him enroll in the right Medicare Supplements.
Even though there were no obvious medical conditions ("You never think it can happen to you..."), he was very glad he had the right Medicare Supplement insurance for him and his wife.
Two years ago, I reviewed the 2016 Medicare Trustees Report in detail and the 2018 report continues to use the same boilerplate template. Some big changes in this year's report are:
Motley Fool wrote a good article about the 2018 Trustees report which discusses a couple of potential solutions that are highlighted in the report.
Obviously further details would need to be hashed out (e.g. for people born in what year would the new Medicare qualifying age begin?), but I believe both of these are viable options and I hope that our government acts quickly and proposes some changes to help sustain the Medicare system for the long-term since it is such a great form of Health Insurance.
I am very excited to announce a new weekly Q&A session that we will be starting this coming Monday, June 4 at 10:30am ET.
We will be using a technology on Facebook which allows us to present Live.
The format of the weekly presentation will be pretty simple:
Facebook Live Agenda Topics
Each weekly session is scheduled to go about 15 minutes, but we will certainly extend the session if there is enough quality Q&A in a particular week.
It's been years since I have worn a full suit and tie to a business meeting. It's 2018 after all.
(On some occasions, I will wear a suit but no tie.)
I predict neck ties will be extinct by 2030 :-)
But, I am still wearing a suit and tie in my current headshot photo.
I figure it's time for a change.
Vote below which headshot I should use going forward... please don't pick #5.
About a month ago, I received a call from one of the financial advisors that refers Medicare Clients to me. One of his client’s friends (Pam) was having issues understanding her Medicare premiums and coverage. I told him that he could provide Pam my contact information to see if I could assist.
On my first phone call with Pam (age 75), she explained her situation and seemed very confused about her Medicare coverage and why her bank account was being charged ~$260/month from Insurance Carrier.
Pam had trouble explaining whether she had a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage Plan. In our guide about “Avoiding the Top 5 Mistakes People Make on Medicare” the #3 biggest mistake is people that don’t properly understand the difference between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements.
After she sent me a copy of her card, I could see it was an Advantage Plan. I did a reverse look-up on Medicare.gov and found out she had the Advantage Plan since Jan 1, 2012. We did a conference call with the Insurance Company so we could dig a little deeper. Apparently she had signed up for a Plan J Supplement when she turned 65, and never canceled the supplement when she went on the Advantage Plan on Jan 1, 2012.
We had to escalate from there and took several calls and emails, but we just heard back last week that the Insurance Company issued a refund of ~$20,000 to Pam’s bank account! Obviously, Pam is ecstatic and forever grateful for the support she got from Senior Advisors!
There is no reason why you should NOT be using a broker, like Senior Advisors, for your Medicare Planning needs. You will pay the same premium if you go directly to an insurance company versus if you use a Broker. You will basically be getting a free service by using a broker like Senior Advisors.
If you are turning 65, retiring, or just looking to save money on your Medicare Supplements, give us a call now - 908.272.1970
On March 1, 2018, a court ruled in favor of Home Depot in a lawsuit that was filed by a former employee who left work and enrolled in the Cobra health coverage, but did not sign-up for their Medicare Part A & Part B. This Medicare-eligible employee experienced "disruptions in their treatment schedule" and "unpaid medical bills".
If you are on COBRA Insurance coverage and over 65 years old, Medicare is the Primary Insurance for you. This means that your Cobra insurance carrier is not required to pay the first portion of your claims that should be covered by Medicare. Thus, you could owe up to 80% of your costs for Medical Expenses...
This Cobra Trap issue is one of the top priorities we are working as part of the Medicare Advisory Board for National Association of Health Underwriters. We worked closely with Rep. Shrader (Oregon) to get a bill drafted last week, HR5104, which will start to fix the Cobra Trap problem. This bill does not fix the entire issue, but is a step in the right direction by eliminating penalties and delays for those who wait the full 18 months of Cobra coverage to sign-up for their Part B coverage.
On February 9, 2018, the budget bill HR1892 was passed. We sent out an interpretation on February 12, 2018 regarding the new income brackets for Part B Premiums. We received some updated information & interpretation of the language in HR1892 and have adjusted the Income tables accordingly.
Specifically, the new top income bracket for 2019 for joint filers will be $750,000, not $500,000. Read more about the new income brackets here.
We are always trying to balance expediency with accuracy of information. We apologize for the confusion of the February 12 interpretation that was sent out.
This week, we had our annual Capitol Conference in Washington D.C. for the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU). There were over 1,000 Healthcare brokers in attendance for the conference, making it the largest conference ever held by NAHU. Douglas Lubenow has been attending the conference for over 20 years (this was my 3rd year attending) and he has been a key contributor driving some important legislative changes over the passed few years.
Doug meets with Congressman MacArthur
There were several issues discussed this year at the conference and in meetings with our local Congress representatives. Two of the most important issues were also topics last year at the conference:
Meeting with the House Ways & Means Committee
Members of the NAHU Medicare Advisory Board get to meet with House Ways & Means to discuss key Medicare issues. From left to right: Yolanda Webb, John Greene, Cheryl McCarthy, Justin Lubenow, Dwane McFerrin, Erin Fisher, John Parker, Nicholas Uehlecke - House Ways & Means, Bob Fitzgerald, Mychal Walker, Margaret Stedt
As a member of the Medicare Advisory Group of NAHU, Justin Lubenow had the opportunity to meet with the Ways & Means Committee. Three of the key Medicare topics we discussed were:
We will continue to lobby on behalf of protecting Healthcare benefits for Group Insurance, Individual Insurance, and Medicare Beneficiaries.
If you have any questions or would like more information about Medicare, or Medicare Plans, you can give us a call at the numbers below.
ARTICLE UPDATED ON 3/9/18 BASED ON NEW INTERPRETATION OF JOINT FILING INCOME BRACKETS IN HR1892.
On Friday, February 9, 2018 the government passed H.R.1892 - Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. If you need help falling asleep, you can read the entire text of the bill here.
The main reason for the bill was to extend funding for government agencies.
However, there were also other provisions inserted in this bill.
Specifically, for Medicare some of the key impacts are summarized below. This is not an all-inclusive list but intended to capture the key changes.
1. Part D Donut hole reduced to 25% cost in 2019 (not 2020) – the ACA (The Affordable Care Act) introduced a gradual reduction in the drug cost percentage that the individual has to pay for their drugs while in the donut hole by 5% per year for brand name drugs and 7% per year for generic drugs. For example in 2017, the cost of brand name drugs in the donut hole was 40% and generic drugs was 51%. In 2018 the cost of brand name drugs in the donut hole is 35% and generic drugs is 44%. The ACA had a continual progression to 30% brand , 37% generic in 2019, and then plateau in 2020 at 25% for brand name and generics. With the HR1892 Bill that was passed on Friday, this reduction to 25% has been accelerated to 2019 (rather than 2020). This is a good thing for those individuals that reach the donut hole since they will pay 25% the cost of their drugs in 2019 rather than 30%. For a general overview of Part D and the donut hole, you can review these prior articles/videos:
2. Part B / D Premium Increases for Higher Income earners
For more information about the IRMA changes in 2018, you can review this prior article / video.
We don't have actual Premium values for 2019 yet, but Illustrative impacts of HR1892 are below.
3. Improved Coordination of Services – per the National Association of Health Underwriters, “The package includes key Medicare provisions that will improve coordination of healthcare services. These provisions include improving home healthcare benefits and expanding supplemental benefits specifically for those with chronic conditions, increasing telemedicine benefits, and extending the value-based design model to all states. NAHU has long supported value-based design initiatives in both the over- and under-65 healthcare markets. Allowing for new options and tools for Medicare beneficiaries and their doctors not only improves seniors' healthcare, but also creates financial incentives that will bring down costs and increase consumer choices. These reforms will help transition from a payment system rooted primarily on the volume of healthcare services provided to a system based on the value of these services, which will help improve the quality of medical care.”
Happy belated New Year! (I think the rule should be you can’t say "Happy New Year" after January 7, but I am taking the liberty here because this is our first newsletter of 2018.)
Most of the changes coming in 2018 have already been announced in 2017 and written in our blog, but I wanted to take the opportunity to REMIND everyone of some of the changes coming in 2018 since the holidays tend to wipe out some of our memories from the prior year :-)
(1) New Medicare Cards are Coming starting in April! - don't worry if your new card doesn't arrive in April. The whole mailing process will take up to 12 months (until April of 2019) to mail out the updated 60 million ID cards. You can read more about the new Medicare cards here.
(2) Part B Premium and Deductible in 2018 - Most people will remain at $134/month for the Part B Premium, but there are some individuals and couples that are getting a SIGNIFICANT increase in 2018. Also the Part B deductible remains at $183 in 2018. So, if you have a Medigap Plan G, your ONLY medical out-of-pocket cost will remain at $183 in 2018. Read more here.
(3) Part D and the Donut Hole - The donut hole keeps "shrinking" each year until 2020, so in theory this should help reduce your RX costs in 2018 if you reach the donut hole. Unfortunately, the reduction in donut hole % cost seems to be outweighed by the increase in RX costs each year. Read more here.
(4) Social Security and Medicare Withholding - Per a recent article in Forbes, "Remember that in addition to income tax withholding, your pay is also subject to withholding for FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes. For 2018, the employee portion of Social Security tax is 6.2% with a taxable wage base of $128,400 (wages over that amount are not subject to Social Security tax) while the employee portion of Medicare tax is 1.45% with no wage base limit (all wages are subject to Medicare tax). There is an additional Medicare surtax (.9%) tacked on to wages which exceed $200,000, or $250,000 for married taxpayers." Read more here.
Upcoming Free Medicare Workshops
We present about 40-50 Medicare Workshops per year to help educate individuals on Medicare. We provide public workshops at libraries, community centers, 55+ communities; and we also provide Private workshops to corporations with large populations of employees age 64+ , We also teach CE and CPE classes on Medicare to help educate professional insurance agents and CPAs regarding the complexities of Medicare.
You can find more information and sign-up for a Free Workshop or Request a Workshop for your location from our website.
If you would prefer, you can actually watch the workshop video which was aired by a local TV station back in 2016. There have been some changes to the content since 2016, but they are minor.
"Lauren was very thorough and informative..."
Last week, I received a letter from one of our happy clients and I wanted to share with you - this is exactly why we do what we do here at Senior Advisors. It is extremely rewarding to know that we are truly helping people navigate the Medicare maze! Great job Lauren!
Are you Turning 65? Do you have a Medigap Plan F? Retiring?
A quick 5-minute call will help you determine if you qualify for a Medicare Supplement Plan G.
Call Now to get a quote and see if you qualify:
Also - you can watch this short 4-minute video which explains the ONLY difference between Plan F and Plan G and the upcoming changes coming in 2020
We hope you have started your 2018 with a bang and continue to have a great year!
See bio here