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Enriching your life; informing your health. Life insurance, and other topics.


Signs You Might Need Medicare Supplement Insurance
Signs You Might Need Medicare Supplement Insurance

Medicare is an amazing program, covering preventative costs, emergency visits, short-term care needs and more. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2013, 6 in 10 Americans believe the program is working well, with 8 in 10 seniors giving it a positive review.

Despite its popularity, however, Medicare does not offer exhaustive coverage. Gaps exist in areas like traveling abroad and prescription drug coverage.

In order to rectify these short-fallings in essential health benefits, several Medicare Supplement insurance plans, or Medigap insurance, exist to help.

Below are reasons you may want to consider Medigap insurance:

If You Have Cancer
Cancer is a very difficult disease. It is especially difficult on the finances of the family. With Original Medicare, most of your inpatient and certain outpatient procedures may be covered; however, you may still experience a hefty co-payment on many necessary procedures.

Medigap insurance can help alleviate some of that burden, covering some of your co-pays and allowing you more options for the sort of medical attention you want.

If You Plan To Travel Abroad
For many seniors, retirement is the reward for a life of working and contributing to society. The so-called golden years are your chance to focus on your loved ones, see the world, pursue a passion, or generally relax. That said, if you do plan on seeing the world, it is important to know that your Medicare will not cover many medical expenses abroad.

The six standard plans that offer coverage for emergency care while traveling abroad are: Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N. These plans will ensure that you are covered in the case of an extreme emergency, but you still must plan ahead for your prescriptions.

Medicare Supplement options can go a long way to ease the burden of certain medical conditions and broaden your coverage but they are by no means the end all be all in managing health care expenses. Talk to your insurance agent to see what programs might be best for you. 

https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11034.pdf

Disclaimer: Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. 

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Medigap Misconceptions: Setting the Record Straight
 Medigap Misconceptions: Setting the Record Straight
Understandably, seniors often have a lot of questions concerning their medical insurance options. There are so many plans to choose from that it's hard to know which will be right for you. Most seniors will find that they require a combination of a few different plans to ensure full coverage. Some folks find that Medicare Parts A, B, and D work just fine for them, but others discover that the health insurance plans they can afford still have a lot of gaps (like the infamous prescription donut hole), leaving them with no coverage for important prescriptions or medical services. Many seniors find that Medicare Supplement insurance, also known as Medigap insurance, is the best solution.

But in choosing your Medicare Supplement policy, you may have encountered some common myths and urban legends pertaining to Medicare Supplement insurance. If you take these fictions as truths, they could severely impact your insurance policy choice and could lead you to falsely believe you're covered in certain situations. To help you choose the best Medicare supplement for your needs, we've revealed the realities of the most common Medigap misconceptions below.

MYTH: Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans are the same thing.

Reality:
 Medicare Advantage plans are not supplemental insurance policies. Rather, these plans will actually serve as replacements for original Medicare Part A and B. Technically, Medicare Advantage is considered to be Medicare Part C, so it's actually a primary insurance plan rather than a supplemental plan that fills in the gaps.

MYTH: My spouse and I can use a Medigap plan for prescription drug coverage.


Reality: This one's incorrect for two reasons. One, Medicare Supplement insurance plans cover only a single person. If both you and your spouse want to obtain more coverage through a Medigap plan, each of you will have to buy your own policy. Two, Medigap plans do not provide coverage for prescription drugs. Even if you have Medicare Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (medical coverage), and a supplemental plan, you will not be covered for these prescriptions. To get that coverage, you'll need to sign up for yet another policy --Medicare Part D (or, alternatively, a Medicare Advantage plan to replace parts A, B, and D).

If you're feeling confused, that's pretty normal when trying to learn the Medicare ABCs.

MYTH: There are only certain times of the year when you can change Medigap plans.

Reality:
 You actually have the ability to change your Medigap plan at any time of the year. However, it's possible for an insurance carrier to medically underwrite you, which could potentially cause you to be declined for coverage if you have certain conditions. However, if you're in overall good health and don't have any preexisting conditions, you probably won't have any problems changing plans.

MYTH: Purchasing a Medigap policy from an agency is an unnecessary expense.

Reality:
 Using an agent to purchase a plan will probably end up saving you money because you'll actually find the plan that works best for your medical needs and your budget. Rather than paying for services you don't need and being stuck with out-of-pocket expenses, an agent can help match you with the right Medigap plan. Because this process can be so overwhelming, that peace of mind can go a long way.

Still have questions about Medigap plans? If you're a senior in need of better Medicare coverage or Medicare Supplement insurance, Bankers Fidelity is here for you. To find out more, contact us today.

Sources:

  1. Medicare.gov


3 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Medicare Plan
3 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Medicare Plan

If you're a senior, it's important to have comprehensive medical insurance coverage. But with so many options available to you, it's hard to know if you're making the right choice. Since around 10,000 Americans over the age of 65 enroll in Medicare for the first time every single day, it's important to be armed with accurate information about these plans. Otherwise, you could be stuck with an expensive plan that doesn't cover what you really need.

For many folks, Medicare supplement insurance is a must. Also referred to as Medigap insurance, there are several Medicare supplement insurance options available to you. But whether you go with an original Medicare plan or choose to work with a supplement insurance company in addition to your base policy, there are certain mistakes you need to avoid making. Here are just three of them:

  1. Not understanding the differences between plans

    If you're new to Medicare, grasping the differences between certain types of plans can be a challenge. But original Medicare is quite a bit different from a Medicare Advantage plan. With an original Medicare plan, you'll be signing up for a fee-for-service type of policy. Some seniors will cover the gaps in this type of plan with a Medicare Advantage or Medicare supplement insurance plan. Original Medicare plans will allow you to visit any doctor who takes this type of insurance, but a Medicare Advantage plan will typically let you visit only a certain network of doctors. The Medicare website is a very helpful source in dissecting the differences between the plans available to you.

  2. Picking a random plan out of frustration

    Granted, picking a medical insurance plan can be overwhelming. But the last thing you want to do is choose a plan at random just to get the process over with. Make sure you give yourself enough time to really compare plans and choose one that makes the most sense for your needs. If you're too hasty in choosing a plan (or choose one just based on cost), you'll likely end up paying more and won't have the coverage you really need. To reduce stress, start the process early and ask for assistance if you need it.

  3. Assuming you're covered

    Medicare plans may cover a lot of services, but they may not cover exactly what your specific circumstances require. The majority of original Medicare plans won't cover dental or vision, and long-term care and assisted living expenses aren't usually covered either. To fill in the gaps, most people find it worthwhile to get a Medicare supplement insurance plan, which can be particularly helpful for copayments and deductibles. Be sure to do your research and know exactly what your plan covers (and what it doesn't). Otherwise, you may be stuck with medical bills that are higher than they need to be.

If you're a senior or soon-to-be senior in need of supplemental Medicare insurance plans, Bankers Fidelity is here to help. We can help you choose a supplement plan that works for your financial and wellness needs. For more information, contact us today.

Sources:

Medicare.gov

Grandparents.com, via Huffington Post


4 Simple Ways to Manage Your Health Care Expenses
4 Simple Ways to Manage Your Health Care Expenses

Even if you live an extremely healthy lifestyle, you may still have to visit the doctor once or twice a year. Most people seek medical help more frequently than that, though, and those costs can add up quickly. According to The Commonwealth Fund, about one in five Americans paid out-of-pocket health care expenses upwards of $2,000 in 2014. That is money that, with the right health insurance and a few smart strategies, you shouldn’t have to pay.

Four Tips for Managing Health Care Expenses

1) Select the right health insurance policy for your needs

Bronze plans look good from afar because of their low monthly premiums, but what you may not think about right away is the inconvenience of these plans’ high deductibles, coinsurance, and copays on top of the overall lower level of coverage. This type of plan might be ideal for someone who rarely visits the doctor (and therefore deals with fewer copays), but if you have a medical condition or must purchase monthly prescriptions, you may want to choose a plan with better coverage and lower copays. Basically, it is important that you read through the plans carefully and choose the one that is best for you.

 

This can be especially important for seniors. While Medicare provides a great deal of benefits, a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy may also need to be added depending on your needs.

2) Make sure your doctors are in network

Health insurance plans change from year to year, which means that they don’t always cover the same physicians and medical facilities. Always review your plan for changes and check with your doctor ahead of time to make sure that they accept your specific insurance plan.

3) Stick to generic drugs

Speaking of prescriptions, remember that there is usually more than one choice when it comes to most drugs. Brand-name prescriptions will often cost more than generic brands, so shop around and compare prices. Talk to your doctor about prescribing brands with lower costs.

4) Take advantage of free services

ACA-compliant health insurance plans offer a number of important screenings with no copay, and you can always find medical facilities in your community that offer free tests for conditions like diabetes, HIV, and other STDs. By law, insurance companies must cover preventative care, so get your free flu and shingles shots.

These are just a few of the many ways you can save money on health care this year. Do you have any other tips or suggestions? Feel free to post in the comments section below.


Increased Coordination: A Medicare Experiment

Over the last eight years, there has been a concerted effort to reinvent Medicare. The direction the program is currently being steered towards is focused on increasing quality through a coordinated effort. With a new President poised to begin his term, there are definitely some questions facing the country right now, but Medicare seems to be continuing in the direction it has been pointed over the last eight years; at least for now.

In 2017, Medicare will be implementing two new experiments to test the way hospitals and rehab centers are coordinating their efforts to offer the highest quality service and to contain costs. The experiments will be focused on cardiac and hip surgeries.

Statistics show that an estimated 168,000 Medicare beneficiaries are treated for heart attacks a year, while 109,000 undergo surgery to treat broken hips.

The experiments devised by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation are designed to test whether more coordination between clinicians, hospitals and rehab centers can lead to better recoveries for patients and prevent hospital re-admissions.

To do this, Medicare will pay regular rates to the doctors, hospitals and rehab centers, but hospitals will be given responsibility for the quality and cost. Compared to benchmarks set by Medicare, the hospital will be given a financial bonus for exceeding goals and may have to pay the government for falling short on the goals.

While the experiments are designed to continue the reinvention effort of Medicare, there are some unknowns with the incoming of Donald Trump as President. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation itself could be abolished by Trump, which could mark the end for the push to reinvent how Medicare operates.

The experiments, which also include earlier efforts that tested the care for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and knee replacement, are designed to improve Medicare and the way the system currently operates. 

To read more about the Medicare experiments, click here.