Jim also happened to be actively involved with the Medicare Plan Finder activities we were working on with CMS.
At the end of Jim's presentation, he surprised me with this award.
What an amazing honor from such a senior representative at Health and Human Services (HHS).
You can watch the video of the award in the LinkedIn post below.
On Monday Feb 24, 2020, I was given the opportunity to moderate a Medicare Panel with some esteemed Medicare experts:
We had a really interesting discussion touching on several topics:
It was a great honor to moderate this panel and I look forward to continued partnerships between NAHU (National Association of Health Underwriters), Better Medicare Alliance, National Coalition on Health Care, and Healthcare Leadership Council.
At the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) Capitol Conference, I was able to participate in a panel with some of our Medicare Advisory Group Members to discuss some of the key areas that our group has been working on.
The individuals on the panel are listed below:
Key Topics discussed on the Panel:
On the initial call, CMS agreed to have twice weekly calls throughout the Annual Enrollment Period to allow us to raise any key issues/requests with the Medicare Plan Finder and work through them with CMS. So, these calls continued through the Annual Enrollment Period (ending December 7, 2019).
A lot of key issues were addressed from these calls with CMS:
These calls proved to be a very successful Partnership with CMS as we were all striving to improve the Beneficiaries experience with the new Medicare Plan Finder.
At the end of the Annual Enrollment Period, we still had a number of open items that would improve the Beneficiary experience with the Medicare Plan Finder.
In January, we received an invite to a meeting with CMS (on Feb 19, 2020) in Maryland to discuss the open items and next steps with the Medicare Plan Finder.
Quick Recap of Meeting from Feb 19, 2020 with CMS
The 3-hour meeting included key stakeholders from a number of difference groups:
The room was setup into about 10 different working groups/tables with representatives from different groups at each table.
CMS kicked off the meeting with some background on the key drivers for creating a brand new Medicare Plan Finder tool. Then, we were given direction for the working groups to discuss a few key themes and come up with a list of "Things that are working well" with the Medicare Plan Finder and "Opportunities that are still open" with the Medicare Plan Finder.
One of the really interesting things that came out of this meetings is the feedback across the working groups was very similar. These are stakeholders from all different organizations impacted by the Medicare Plan Finder and the key themes overlapped significantly. Some of the highlights are below.
"What's Working Well" with the Medicare Plan Finder
Some key "Opportunities" that still exist with the Medicare Plan Finder
I really look forward to continued engagement and partnership with CMS as we look to improve the experience for Medicare beneficiaries going forward.
Two NJ Hospitals Get 5-Star Rating
CMS has recently released updated Hospital Star Ratings, and two NJ hospitals received 5-star ratings: Morristown Medical Center and Saint Clare's Hospital.
You can search for other hospitals ratings using this link: https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html
If you are interested in the Rating Methodology, you can find more information here: https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/About/Hospital-overall-ratings.html
Seminars at Morristown Medical Center
I am excited that I had the opportunity to present multiple Medicare Workshops at the Morristown Medical Center over the last couple of years, and look forward to additional seminars later this year.
Also, we wanted to extend an invite to a FREE seminar on a very important topic - Finding your Social Security Sweet Spot. The speaker for this Seminar is one of my close colleagues who is a Social Security expert, Ash Ahluwalia. If you haven't made your Social Security elections yet, I am certain you will find this Seminar useful and engaging. Details and registration can be found below.
Finding Your Social Security Sweet Spot
with Ash Ahluwalia
Thursday, March 5, 2020 I 12:00 to 1:30pm
Executive Conference Room, Third Floor
475 South Street
Morristown, NJ 07960
Navigating social security in our ever-changing financial climate can be daunting. Our guest speaker Ash Ahluwalia will break it all down to help you maximize your benefits. As president of National Social Security Partners and the 2016 National Social Security Advisor of the Year, Ahluwalia has helped over one thousand clients make the most of their social security benefits. Ahluwalia is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a Chartered Accountant (CA) with two designations in social security planning and an MBA from Wharton Business School. Lunch will be provided for all attendees.
Are you paying more than the base Part B Premium of $144.60/month?
If so, this is most likely because your income is above the base level amounts for the Part B Premiums ($87,000 / year for single, or $174,000 /year for joint filers).
These Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts (IRMAAs) are intended to have higher income earners pay a higher portion of their Part B (and Part D) expenses to the government.
Here is a short video that helps explain the IRMAAs as well.
Since we haven't filed our 2019 Tax Returns yet, the government uses the 2018 Tax Return to determine the 2020 Premiums. For some individuals, they may be eligible to appeal the IRMAAs if they had a qualifying event since 2018. The types of life events that could qualify for an appeal are below:
Here is a link to the form SSA-44 that you can use to Appeal the IRMAAs if you had one of the key qualifying events in a prior year's income that was used to determine your IRMAA.
You must start the appeal process within 60 days of receiving the letter from the government about the IRMAA, so if you received the IRMAA letter in December, your appeal window may be running out.
You can give us a call if you have any questions and/or if you would like to review your Medicare Supplement Plans to make sure you have the most cost-effective options.
Call now -
908-272-1970 (Cranford Office) or
856-866-8900 (Moorestown Office)
2019 was another great year for us at Senior Advisors. We continued to help thousands of Medicare Beneficiaries with the Medicare Planning Needs and we look forward to making 2020 our best year ever!
Each year, we like to give back with our Holiday Charity Challenge.
This year we have tried to simplify the rules a little to hopefully raise more money for some important charities.
The rules (above) are pretty straightforward - basically it's a simple matching program.
We will match up to $100 per person or $2,500 overall for the Challenge this year.
That means if we get $2,500 in donations sent to us, we will submit $2,500 in matching donations for a total of $5,000 raised for these important charities.
The Challenge starts now (December 17, 2019) and will run through 12pm EST on December 24, 2019.
If you want your donation matched, you need to send me the receipt before we reach the $2,500 match amount.
Nancy Pelosi recently introduced a bill to lower the cost of drugs in the United States.
There are several key section to this bill.
The $2,000 out of pocket limit would be great for Medicare Beneficiaries since there is currently No out of Pocket Maximum. However, we do have some concerns with the proposed solution which would put most of the financial burden on the Part D Plans. The concern is that the Part D Plans will need to increase Part D Premiums to offset the increased financial burden above the $2,000 maximum. Currently about 4% of Medicare Beneficiaries reach the Catastrophic Phase of Part D. This $2,000 cap on Part D would definitely help those individuals, but the concern is that the other 96% of beneficiaries would see significant premium increases to their Part D Plans to offset this new Cap. Conceptually we are fully supportive of reducing drug costs and a cap on Part D would be great, but we believe it should be more of a shared burden with the Government so it doesn't negatively impact the other 96% of Medicare Beneficiaries.
This bill will likely go to a Vote in the House in the next 1-3 weeks.
Since the government released the new Medicare Plan Finder on August 27, our frustration and stress level has been very high.
As a member of the Medicare Advisory Group of National Association of Health Underwriters, I was given an opportunity to have twice weekly calls with the CMS Requirements & Technical teams to discuss a list of key open items with the new Medicare Plan Finder.
In the last couple of weeks there have been significant improvements to the new Medicare Plan Finder including the addition of the Total Cost Calculator & Sort, and the fix for Mail Order Pricing Costs as well.
Click here to listen to the NAHU Happy Hour Podcast where I joined as a Special Guest discussing the ongoing process working with CMS.
I will continue to work with CMS to review key open items for resolution.
When the new Medicare Plan Finder was launched on August 27, 2019 we had several concerns with missing functionality.
Our biggest concern was the fact that the new Medicare Plan Finder tool did not include the Total Cost Calculator and Sort function (Premium + Drug Cost). The function allows a user to quickly understand the Total Projected annual cost for each of the ~30 different Part D Plans available in each state, and thus enroll in the most cost-effective option.
On October 10, 2019 the Total Cost Calculator and Sort was added to the new Medicare Plan Finder. This is a significant milestone which allows us to complete the Part D Plan Analysis for our clients.
Below is a short video that shows how to use the new Medicare Plan Finder.
See bio here