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Understanding Medicare

Understanding Medicare

Come your 65th birthday, and you’ll enter into a whole world of benefits, discounts and special deals. Whether you’re out to see a movie, looking for a meal or searching for insurance, you can be sure to find a specific deal just for you! Medicare is available to anyone 65 and older and who have worked full time while paying taxes for at least 40 quarters or the equivalent of 10 years. And while Medicare may be an unfamiliar topic to those approaching their golden years, here we have broken down and explained each part and every option available to you. Upon your eligibility for Medicare, do not hesitate to reach out for consultation in choosing the plan that is best for you.

What are the four parts of Medicare and what do they cover?

Medicare has four parts and two ways in which you can put your plan together. The first part, A, includes hospital coverage. Upon reaching retirement age, you will be automatically enrolled into part A, and it does not include a premium. Part B covers physician and outpatient medical care. Unlike A, you must select this option as this does include a premium, regardless of how much you’ve worked. This premium is a sliding scale, dependent on your income. You can find more info on this premium cost at Medicare.gov when you search for Plan B premium. In a nutshell, if you earn less than $85,000 a year in retirement or $170,000 as a couple, then your monthly premium for Part B in 2019 will be $135.50.

Understanding Medicare

Parts A and B do not cover everything, however. With these, you will still be responsible for paying for several other services. So, how can you supplement? One option is to opt for Part C which is referred to the Medicare Advantage Plan. This plan bundles together parts A, B and the fourth part of Medicare, Part D all into one package. This product is known as a Medicare HMO. If you decide to enroll in this plan, you’ll select a primary care physician who will direct your care and will refer you to any specialized care you might need.

The final option, besides the HMO, is a Medigap plan or a Medicare Supplement. This is a health insurance policy that you’ll buy from an insurance company with an additional premium. These vary quite drastically, typically ranging from $80-$150, depending on what coverage you require. The Medigap plan does not bundle in Part B which includes drug coverage. Therefore, you’ll have to buy drug coverage which generally costs anywhere from $12 to over $100 a month. This is all dependent on the type of coverage you need.

Understanding Medicare

So what’s best for me?

With so many options, it is often difficult to determine which plan is best for you. We suggest that you take a look at your budget as well as the sort of coverage you received before retirement. Consider what you can afford. For guidance, we suggest that those nearing age 65 on a fixed income and those that do not have a large income, opt for the Medicare Advantage Plan. This will require little out-of-pocket cost and no additional premium payment to the typical $135.50. For those with a higher income, which are used to a PPO health plan, Medigap or Medicare Supplement plan will be the best option. With this, you can expect to pay about $300 a month. This breaks down as: $135.50 + $145-150 for supplementary coverage + $20-30 for drug coverage. With any plan, you ought to refer to your income and health care needs. It is important that you enter into retirement with confidence in your health insurance plan.

As you approach 65, you will be presented with several options for health care coverage. Do not be overwhelmed however by the magnitude of this choice. There are simple ways to break down the decision and choose what is best for you. Please, give us a call with your questions and concerns. We’re here to assist you as you enter into the years of getting the best deals on just about everything!

Tracking Your Health

3 Tips for Tracking Your Health

One of the best ways to help with your health is to make it a priority. In our rushed society, it is easy to put your general health and well being on the back burner. Many people will instead settle into bad habits that will keep them from being their most healthy selves. But once you’ve resolved to put your health first, how do you keep it? One of the tools at your disposal is to keep track of your health. Often your motivator can be seeing over time how your efforts are working towards getting to your goal. Here are a few different ways that you can Track Your Health:

Tracking Your HealthKeep a Log

One of the most basic forms of Monitoring your Health is to write it down. This can look very different for people based upon what their health goals are. For some, they will keep a food journal to write down what they are eating and when. This log can help many find an association between eating habits and emotional connections to food. Others will write down measurements of their body to keep track of what areas are growing in muscle and what areas are trimming down from weight loss.

Use Your Phone

Another way that many people are now using to track their health is to utilize their smartphones. The apps that come standard on your phone may be helpful as one utilizes the notes feature or even a way of counting your steps. But there are additional apps that can help you as well. There are ones that can use your GPS to track your routes when you run or walk. There are even apps that can use your phone’s camera to measure your heart rate. This industry has blown up, and a simple search will yield plenty of results about apps that you can use to track your health.

Health Tech Gadgets

Outside of your phone, you can use other gadgets that are specifically designed to help track your health. Fit bit, Jawbone, or Spark are all tools which capture your steps and can let you know when you have reached your step goals for that day. You can also look into a heart rate monitor. Many people with high blood pressure will have a monitor like this available so that they can keep track of their hourly or daily needs.

There are many more possibilities when you are keeping track of your health to reach your New Health Goals. We hope that this blog gave you some ideas on ways that you can be a healthier version of you today!

Medicare Advantage Insurance

One of the options you will be considering when looking at Medicare is if you will want to receive original Medicare Insurance (Parts A and B) and Medicare Advantage (part C). So what is the advantage to Medicare Advantage, if there is an advantage at all? Both of these options will cover many of the same services; it is a matter of deciding what will be the best for you and your health.

What is the Advantage of Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage is an insurance option that is run through private organizations. These are organizations that you would recognize like Blue Shield, United Health Care, and Kaiser Permanente. Medicare Advantage includes what you would find in Original Medicare with the doctor and hospital care. But it also may include things that you would not find. These additional offerings will depend upon which plan and organization that you go through. But you can expect these offerings to include things like prescription drug coverage, vision, dental, and gym memberships. Medicare Advantage Insurance is also considered a less expensive option. The premiums that you pay in Medicare Advantage can be less expensive that the premiums in Plan B especially if it is combined with the premiums for a Medigap policy which many do include if they go with Original Medicare. Also, Medicare Advantage includes a Maximum Out-of-Pocket Expense which is a limit to the amount you pay out of pocket. The cap varies between plans, but after you reach the limit, all of your services are covered.

Of course, with every plan, there are also drawbacks. Because the program is run through private companies, there may be stricter rules and more limited options for care available. If you are not satisfied with Medicare Advantage Insurance, you can switch to Original Medicare, but it will be difficult to add Medigap at that time. Your Medigap options may be limited or even nonexistent. So it is important when looking at your options that you know exactly what you are signing up for. If you need information or have any questions, please call us. We have extensive knowledge and have helped countless others before you make the best decision for them.

Medicare Health Insurance

What is Medicare? Medicare is a federal government funded program aimed to help adults over the age of 65 to receive Medicare Health Insurance. It also provides health insurance for disabled adults under 65 and anyone who has been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure).

Medicare has four different parts:

Part A is hospital insurance which includes help paying for inpatient hospital care, a skilled nursing facility, limited home health and hospice care.

Part B is medical insurance which contributes toward doctor services and outpatient care such as diagnostic tests, ambulance rides, and preventative care. Preventative care includes things like pap tests and mammograms as well as medical equipment and supplies. You will pay a premium each month for Part B. The cost will either be taken out of your social security if you are getting those benefits or you will receive a bill.

These two offerings make up what is called original Medicare. And where this can cover a significant portion of your medical insurance needs, this will not cover all of your medical costs. With the extra cost, some people want to consider how to get those additional costs covered through Medicare Parts C and D

Part C which can also be called Medicare Advantage plans. Part C includes what is covered in Medicare A and B and may help lower your costs and get additional benefits.

Part D helps you manage the costs of your prescription drugs because original Medicare did not include any coverage for this need.

While parts A and B coverage is the same across the United States, there is a large difference in the cost and coverage of parts A and B throughout America. Many healthcare providers actively work to keep those costs down by offering preventative services, provider partnerships, and wellness programs.

History of Medicare in America

Every day we hear more and more about America’s health care system. But this is not new. You may be tempted to think that in the wake of Obamacare and Trumpcare that this wave of health talks is the first time America has been swept up. But that is just not the case with the History of Medicare in America. Did you know that when Teddy Roosevelt ran for president in 1912, his platform included a national health insurance system? But that message never really got much steam until the presidency of Harry S. Truman.

Truman wanted to address many issues in the healthcare industry. He had concerns about the lack of availability of health professionals in rural areas, he wanted to bring more attention to public health services to help curb the spread of infectious diseases, he wanted to invest in medical research, and finally, he wanted to provide a national health insurance plan. What?! Sounds familiar doesn’t it? There was a strong attack against the bill, and with the start of the Korean War, Truman was forced to drop the bill.

America’s health care system

However, that was not the end of it. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed a health insurance bill for the elderly and needy. This bill is what we know today as MediCare. In an unusual twist, former President Harry Truman and his wife Bess were the first recipients of MediCare. But Medicare was to go through many more changes. The next few decades brought the change past Medicare Parts A and B. We saw the additions of Medigap and the addition of hospice care were included in the benefits. In the nineties, Medicare C was added, and in 2003 President George W. Bush signed Medicare D into law. And we have continued to see changes as the Affordable Care Act was enacted. It seems there are no easy answers when it comes to healthcare but we can expect to see more changes coming our way. We will have to wait and see what changes are around the bend for Medicare in the next few years.

That time of the year is coming up again! The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is just around the corner. Each year from October 15 to December 7th you have the ability to enroll for Medicare. But as you prepare to enroll, now is an excellent time to go over what plans there are and more importantly than that, to look over what is important to you so that as you look through plans you can find the one that will meet your needs. You won’t want a plan that will keep you in a compromising position all year long. Make sure that you are well informed and take the time to know what you really want. For example, If you know that you are going to be on a fixed income you will want to make sure that you are looking at plans that will have low out of pocket costs. Or if you want to ensure that you are maintaining the best health possible then you may want a plan that is very proactive in prevention care.

When you are looking at you coverage make sure that you read the fine print to see what is covered in your care. You may be surprised at what you find there. Many health plans offer extras that are included in their plans such as wellness check ups, 24 hour hotlines to speak to nurses and discounts on fitness and nutrition plans. There is also often preventative care available to you. And the easiest way to prevent expensive out of pocket costs is to make sure that you are catching things before they really blow out of control. In fact, the Center for Disease Control has made an estimation of about 100,000 lives could be saved each year if they received the recommended preventative care. You will also want to know not only what doctors and hospitals are covered but what specialists and specialized medical facilities will be available to you.

We hope that these tips will help you prepare for open enrollment, but if you have any questions about Medicare, please let us at Bernardini & Donovan help you.

There are some people in the world that just know things. They are the mavens that can rattle off facts, dates and details that the rest of the population just never grasped. This blog post is not for them. This post is for those of us who don’t know the first thing about Medicare and the deadlines needed to sign up.

So first things first. You become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. But the deadlines for signing up extend to the months that surround you birthday. However, there is an exception if you already are receiving Social Security benefits you are automatically enrolled in Medicare A and B. But if that is not the case then you need to sign up yourself. You have a window of enrollment that last seven months. The seven month window begins three months before your birthday month, goes through your birthday month and continues on for the next three months after your birthday. So if your birthday was in June you could sign up for Medicare starting March 1st and it would end September 30th. If you miss this deadline you can join during open enrollment from January 1 to March 31 each year.

The reason that you will want to make sure that you sign up during these seven months is so you will avoid any fees that come with signing up late. The monthly Part B premiums will be raised by 10% for each 12 month period you wait to sign up for Medicare. “The idea behind the penalty is to give people a financial incentive to enroll in insurance from the get-go as opposed to waiting until they have some kind of negative health event,” says Mark Duggan, an economics professor at Stanford University.

It is important to note that if you or your spouse are still working for an insurance providing company when you or your spouse turn 65 it is not mandatory to enroll at that time, you can stay with your current provider. However, once the household member that they insurance is provided through retires then you will need to enroll. You will have an 8 month period enrollment time. The 8 month time period starts the month after the employment ends or when your insurance coverage from that job ends.

We hope this information helps, but if you have more questions please feel free to contact us at Bernardini & Donovan