I Received An Annual Notice of Change from My Part D Plan. What Now?

I Received An Annual Notice of Change from My Part D Plan. What Now?

Part D planIf you’re enrolled in Medicare Advantage or a Part D plan, every autumn, you can expect to receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) document from your carrier. It’s supposed to arrive not later than September 30th. If you haven’t received your ANOC in the mail by then, call and ask them to send it to you!

The day you receive your ANOC is a great day to begin shopping around for your new prescription drug coverage plan.

Your ANOC will tell you about any changes in your Part D plan for the coming year.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Your company may announce a price increase for some drugs. Sometimes prices can go up by hundreds of dollars for a single drug.
  • Your company may drop a drug from its formulary altogether.
  • It may become more difficult to get approved for certain drugs.
  • Your own medical situation may have changed, making your current plan a poor match for your needs.
  • You may have relocated, necessitating a change in network or pharmacy.
  • Your network may have changed, making access to pharmacies and other local providers less convenient.

Change is inevitable. But fortunately, you can do something to protect your own interests, too: You can shop around for a better deal.

The catch: You have to do your shopping around and choose a new plan during the annual open enrollment, which starts on October 15th and lasts through December 7th.  Indeed, it’s a great idea to explore your coverage options every year.

That’s where we come in.

Most parts of the country have a number of Medicare prescription drug plans for you to choose from. That’s a lot of information to process. But fortunately, we have tools available to help you select the best Part D plan for you.

You can use the Medicare Plan Finder, available on the Medicare.gov site, or you can just give us a call. For best results, have your Medicare Number available. For optimal results, have the names of any prescription drugs you are taking, plus dosages, ready when you call. We can drill down the very best Prescription Drug Plan available in your zip code using this information and provide you with the best recommendation possible for a Part D plan.

What if there’s little or no change to my existing plan?

Even if you believe you’re happy with your coverage, or if your ANOC doesn’t announce much change in your coverage at all, it’s still a great idea to shop around. Other plans may well have become more competitive than they were when you last signed up.

And it costs nothing to look!

My premiums are low. Is there anything else to look at?

Premiums are just one of many factors to consider. Other factors include the copay or coinsurance your plan charges, how it treats generics, and whether your plan adds restrictions that force your doctor to get special permission from your insurance company to prescribe certain drugs before your carrier will cover the prescription.

If you had to get some special authorization this year, you may want to call your carrier and see if your doctor will have to get a re-authorization in order for you to continue taking the drug and have your insurance company pay the benefit.

Tip. If your plan stops covering a drug you need, you can go through the ‘exception’ process, or change to another formulary drug prior to year-end. Your doctor may be able to help you with identifying an alternate drug. Your carrier must help you complete the exception process or make the change to another formulary. If they don’t, your plan must provide a 30-day supply of the drug during the first 90 days of the new year.

The Advantage of an Independent Insurance Broker

I’m Chad Cason, an independent Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Part D plan insurance broker. As an independent broker, rather than a captive agent or a captive call center at a single carrier, I can help you select the best Medigap, Medicare Advantage or Part D plan for you. I am not limited to recommending only “in-house” coverage.

For most people, calling an independent insurance broker is a much better option than calling every plan operating in your community. We can help you make an informed decision, and do it much faster and more efficiently than most people can on their own.

The worst thing you can do, though, is ignore your ANOC, or put it away planning to get to it later. When you receive your ANOC, collect your prescription information and Medicare number and call me right away. We can get the ball rolling, find the best plan for your situation, and very likely save you money in the process.

I’m located in Georgia, but I can help any Medicare beneficiary, anywhere in the country. 

What does it cost?

Nothing! Our services are always free to the client. If we find a better plan for you, the carrier pays us!

So there’s no downside. Call me when you get your ANOC letter, and let’s find your plan. (888) 901-4870

5 Reasons Why You Should Have Your Own Independent Medigap Insurance Agent

5 Reasons Why You Should Have Your Own Independent Medigap Insurance Agent

Enrolling in Medicare and making Medigap decisions can be daunting. There is just so much information to process! And the open enrollment clock is ticking, which means there are a lot of important decisions that need to be made in a fairly narrow window of time.

This is where an independent Medigap insurance agent can help you and it doesn’t cost you anything to have them work for you.

Medigap insurance agent1.) Agents are advocates for clients

Medicare is a vast government bureaucracy – and large insurance companies often become vast bureaucracies of their own. They have to, just to be able to deal with the vast Medicare and healthcare bureaucracies they interface with.

When you have your own agent, who knows you and your family personally, you aren’t just a number – you have an advocate within the system who knows you, personally, and who knows to call when there is a problem. Remember – Insurance is a competitive industry. To be successful in the insurance business, your agent relies on his or her ability to keep customers happy and provide sound, timely and effective advice and assistance when it’s most needed. After all, that’s where referrals come from!

2.) Agents provide more options

When you call the insurance company directly, chances are the carrier operating the call center won’t be able to speak with you about all of the Medicare Advantage and Medigap options available in your county. They have just that particular company’s insurance products, at their rates. When you speak with a Medigap insurance agent, you are much more likely to be able to get information on all the options available to you and with multiple companies.

3.) Agents screen underperforming carriers and providers

Yes, the menu of coverage in Medigap plans is standardized. But everything else can vary substantially. When you sign up for Medigap insurance through an independent agent, your agent can help you sort through carriers with history of rate increases, stability in the marketplace, poor “star quality ratings” for Medicaid Advantage providers, and, of course, high premiums.

4.) Agents keep you posted with changes

The health insurance industry, Medicare and Medigap insurance world is constantly changing. New plans are rolled out, other plans are discontinued, or networks modified almost every day, somewhere in the country. Medigap agents make a point of staying up to date about the changes in the industry – and keep you current.

A good agent will be in touch with you periodically, via letters, emails or phone calls, or periodic insurance reviews, to let you know of any recent changes that might affect you, or provide you with a better value. When you work with a Medigap insurance agent, you don’t have to worry about whether you are still in the best plan, years after signing up – and you don’t have to worry about whether you have the latest, most up-to-date information.

That is, your agent can help you rest easy, knowing you’re getting current information not just this year, but every year in the future.

5.) It’s free!

That is, the agent’s services and recommendations are free to you, the customer. The agent is paid a commission, of course, based on what you sign up for. But it is the insurance carrier that pays the commission, not you. You would pay the same rate working with an independent Medigap insurance agent as you would going directly to the insurance company. Unlike with some other forms of insurance coverage, there are no premium savings to be had by going ‘direct,’ via a website or 1-800 number to a switchboard.

About Me

I’m Chad Cason, owner of Lifelong Insurance, LLC, and I specialize in helping people with their Medicare, Medigap and Medicare Advantage decisions. As an independent health and life insurance broker, I’m not tied to any one carrier. Instead, I’m free to walk you through any of the major reputable carriers in your area and help you make the right decision for your individual circumstances.

Medicare Supplement Plans

Owner/Agent

And best of all, our services and expertise at Lifelong Insurance are always free to you. Don’t let your open enrollment period slip by: Call me today at 888-901-4870. I look forward to serving you.

Signing up for Medigap: Why You Must Act Fast

Signing up for Medigap

If you are turning 65 this year, you have some decisions to make about your Medicare coverage. But don’t dilly-dally! To get the best deal, and to preserve your Medigap plan options, most of you must take action within a narrow time period. For example Medicare Part B imposes a penalty for late enrollment in many cases.*

Signing up for MedigapYou also need to act quickly when it comes to buying Medigap, which is also known as Medicare Supplement insurance. Again, you only have a limited amount of time to sign up.

Specifically, if you want Medigap protection through your first year of eligibility, you must enroll during your open enrollment period. This means means you must act within six months after the first day of the month in which you are 65 years old or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.

 

Now, if you don’t enroll in Part B right away, you can push off your window a few weeks. But once the first of the month arrives in which you turn age 65 and you are enrolled in Medicare Part B, that clock is ticking, and there’s no way to stop it.

I can’t afford Medicare Part B 

If you think you can’t afford to sign up for Part B, call us. Depending on your state, there are programs that may to help you pay your Part A and Part B premiums, or both. Remember you must sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B in order to sign up for Medicare Supplement insurance.

Why you must act fast

Medicare Supplement insurance is available to anyone enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Medicare, regardless of your medical condition – provided you sign up within the Medigap Open Enrollment Period.

If you miss the deadline, then you won’t qualify for guaranteed enrollment. Meaning, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may not qualify health-wise for a Medigap plan. To ensure you receive the Medigap protection you need, and preserve all your other options, start the process as soon as your open enrollment period begins. 

Don’t Allow A Break in Coverage

While the insurance company can’t make you wait for your coverage to start, it may be able to make you wait for coverage related to a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition is a health problem you have before the date a new insurance policy starts. In some cases, the Medigap insurance company can refuse to cover your out-of-pocket costs for these pre-existing health problems for up to 6 months. This is called a “pre-existing condition waiting period.” After 6 months, the Medigap policy will cover the pre-existing condition.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you buy a Medigap policy during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, and you’re replacing certain kinds of health coverage that count as “creditable coverage,” it’s possible to avoid or shorten waiting periods for pre-existing conditions. Prior creditable coverage is generally any other health coverage you recently had before applying for a Medigap policy. If you have had at least 6 months of continuous prior creditable coverage, the Medigap insurance company can’t make you wait before it covers your pre-existing conditions.

*Part B Late Enrollment Penalty 

Remember that you have to be enrolled in both Part A and Part B to sign up for Medicare Supplement coverage. If you fail to sign up for Part B during your limited initial open enrollment period, your premium may go up by 10 percent for each year you qualified for Part B coverage but didn’t sign up for it. You may also have to wait until 1 January of the following year to sign up for Medicare Part B at all, as that’s when the general open enrollment period commences.

Your Next Steps…

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If you any have questions about Medigap plans, including what the rates are in your area, please call us at (888) 901-4870. You can also enter your email in the box above and we will answer all your questions and assist you in finding the right plan for your situation.

Medicare Supplement Plans

Owner/Agent

Chad Cason

Licensed Agent/Agency Owner

Do I Need Medigap?

Do I Need Medigap?

Medigap InsuranceMedicare does a good job of protecting millions of older Americans against the financial catastrophe of high medical bills. But it doesn’t cover everything. Even if you sign up right away for both Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (physician’s costs, lab fees and durable medical goods), an illness or injury – or even just the routine costs associated with maintaining your health with a pre-existing condition – can saddle you with significant out of pocket costs. These costs can significantly derail your retirement plan. This is where a Medigap plan can help.

For example: Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) are essentially just bare-bones 80-20 plans that also have significant copays and coinsurance amounts. If you have an injury or illness that results in $100,000 in medical bills, and you don’t have Medigap coverage, you may well find yourself looking at a $20,000 bill – that you must pay out of pocket.

That’s where Medigap comes in. Medigap, or Medicare Supplement Insurance, may  help prevent or control significant and possibly unpredictable health care costs that you would otherwise have to pay out of pocket.

These plans aren’t government plans, per se. Rather, they are standardized plans issued by private carriers designed to work in conjunction with Medicare, and provide coverage for medical treatments and services that Medicare Part A and B do not cover.

Here are some of the reasons you may want or need to sign up for Medigap insurance:

  • You want to protect your pension income or other sources of income against the costs of health care.
  • You want to preserve and protect your financial legacy against the possibility of a serious medical issue – or series of issues.
  • You have assets to protect against the risk of medical-related bankruptcy.
  • You can afford Medicare premiums, but cannot afford a catastrophic hospitalization or expensive dread disease, even with Medicare coverage.
  • You want to be able to use your benefits at any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, without worrying about insurance provider networks.
  • You want help with co-insurance costs or copays for Part A and Part B.
  • You want or need help with hospice care costs.
  • You want to travel outside the United States and want to be able to access benefits abroad.
  • You want help paying skilled nursing facility care coinsurance payments.
  • You have pre-existing medical conditions or you have a family history of medical issues.
  • You are not already enrolled in Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) or you are unhappy with your plan.
  • You looked at available Medicare Advantage plans but you don’t want to be confined to their network.
  • You don’t want prescription drug coverage or you are getting prescription drug coverage from another source.

If any or all of the above considerations apply to you, Medigap coverage – also known as Medicare Supplement insurance – may be worth considering. But the clock is ticking: To preserve your options, it’s critical that you complete any enrollments during your open enrollment period. That means you must generally sign up for Medigap within three months of the beginning of the month in which you turn age 65 and you have signed up for Medicare Part B. You can actually ‘lock in’ your Medigap rate beginning at age 64 1/2. It would then be locked in for 18 months.

To get the ball rolling and for more personalized service, please contact me today at 888-901-4870, or fill out the contact form below and we’ll respond promptly. We will answer your questions and assist you in finding the right Medigap plan for you.

Your Next Steps…

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Lifelong Insurance

Owner/Agent

Chad Cason

Licensed Agent/Agency Owner

 

 

Tips for Getting the Help You Need on Medicare Purchasing Decisions

SeniorsWhen it comes to making purchasing decisions about how you will get your Medicare coverage, it can be very confusing. It’s not uncommon for seniors to need a helping hand through the process.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to do just this. From free resources to trained & licensed professionals, there are many ways for seniors to find high-quality information about Medicare. Here are some tips for getting the help you need with your Medicare decisions.

Consult free resources

One great place to start is Medicare.gov’s annual “Medicare & You” handbook. This valuable, free PDF resource offers plenty of helpful information about programs, options, and what may be best for you. On that same note, the Medicare.gov website also offers a convenient “Plan Finder” feature that allows seniors to compare plans, drug plans, and supplemental policies according to their geographical location. This can be a helpful way to get state-specific information that will assist you in making a purchasing decision.

Talk to friends

If your friends have recently qualified for Medicare, it’s likely that they have some helpful information to offer. Look to them for tips on what to do and what to avoid. Listening to other people’s personal stories can go a long way toward helping you decide which Medicare options are right for you. Be careful though, what’s right for your family member or friend may not be right for you. For example, if you like the freedom to choose your own doctor and hospital, you would want to go with a Medigap plan, also known as Medicare Supplement insurance. You need to know the difference between Medigap and Medicare Advantage before you decide.

Contact a professional

If you’re still having trouble navigating Medicare after consulting the free resources available to you and talking with your social circle, consider enlisting the help of a professional- as our services are free as well.

One of the best ways to do this is to work with an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents generally have the time and expertise needed to do a comprehensive walk-through of your Medicare eligibility with you, which translates into better information and care.

Another benefit of working with an independent insurance agent is that these agents generally have up-to-date knowledge about what’s happening in the Medicare industry and can provide you with real-time information that pertains to your care, your costs, and your plans.

Conclusion

While navigating Medicare for the first time can be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. There are dozens of free, high-quality resources you can consult to get acquainted with the system and, if that doesn’t cut it, you always have the option of contacting an insurance agent to help you. Independent agencies provide a free service for you by shopping and comparing your options among the leading Medicare Supplemental insurers- to find you the best deal.

Medicare is important and it’s imperative that you get the information you need to make good decisions. To learn more about your Medicare options or to speak with us further regarding our services, contact Lifelong Insurance, LLC today.