Don’t Miss Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

Beginning October 1, 2014 Medicare eligible beneficiaries can start “shopping” for new Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDP).   Those who are in Medicare Supplement plans should be okay unless you have seen major rate increases and want to see if you can get a better premium price.

I highly recommend at least looking at the options available to you.  I have seen clients save up to $2000 per year by just changing to the best prescription plan for them.  The Part D plans are annual contracts and can change significantly from year to year.  In this area, there were 33 different plans available in 2014.  All of them vary in premium, deductible, formulary, tier levels and prices, and pharmacies that they prefer you use.

Yes, unfortunately, the “donut hole”, (also known as the gap in coverage) will still be in place for 2015.  It will not be until 2020 that you should expect not to pay more than 25% of the retail price for any medicine.  If you have a difficult time paying for your medicines, there is “extra help” available. I can connect you to someone who will see if you are eligible income-wise and will help you complete the necessary paperwork.

As in past years, all Medicare Advantage Plans (also known as Medicare Part C) will change also.  There are insurance companies that are “exiting the market” and a few new ones coming in.  The premiums, co-pays and co-insurance will likely go up. Be sure to check if your doctors are “in Network”. It does not cost anything but a little time, to be certain that you are in the best plan.

If you qualify for Medicare but are still covered under a work health plan, you may very well want to look at your options.  You should be able to get better coverage for a lower cost by utilizing Medicare and dropping your work insurance.  That can be a scary thing to do, but as long as you have a competent advisor, it may well save you money!

I consult for free.  Only if I put you in a new plan, am I paid a commission by the insurance companies. You do not have to pay anything extra to get the benefit of my years of knowledge and experience. Please don’t wait. This election period ends December 7th.

 

 

“I Sell Money.”

Yes, that is what I do.  Pretty plain and simple.  Twice this past week, I have been challenged to come up with a new elevator speech.  You know the one, where someone asks you “What do you do?”   So, I woke up at 4:30 A.M this morning to this realization.  I used to say, I am an insurance agent. But in reality, my end product is money.  Money from insurance companies when you or your family need it most.  When you get sick or hurt, it is your medical insurance that pays those big bills.  If you become sick or disabled, there is money to pay those pesky bills.  When you die, (notice I did not say if), your family will have money to take care of your final expenses.  And if your family depends on you financially, there is money so that they can go on with their lives.  And, if you are lucky enough to retire, I sell money so that you can never outlive your money.  Pretty good idea, right?

To get a bit more technical, I use insurance products to leverage money.  Not nearly as compelling is it?  How about, “I sell dollars for pennies?” That is an old one, but true.  Insurance is a great product.  But how do you know if you are getting a good deal?  That is where I come in.  I sell for a lot of reputable and financially loaded insurance companies.  But some have better products to meet your needs than others.  Some of them give you a better deal for your money. I can help you understand what it is that they are offering to do and help you shop for the one that is best for you and your family.

A Plan F is a Plan F, is a Plan F

A Plan F is a Plan F is a Plan F.  I say this often to my potential clients. It is true, but not the whole truth.  Because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have standardized all Medicare Supplement Plans (also known as Medigap Plans), it is true that the level of benefits are the same. All Plan F plans must cover Medicare deductibles and co-insurance, no matter which company you purchase from.

However, a Plan F from one company to another company can and does vary significantly.  I am an independent insurance agent who specializes in this. The following are ways that they can vary and you need to consider when choosing a Medicare Supplement Plan:

  1.    Rates can vary significantly.  In Virginia, as of this writing,( September 17, 2012) a Plan F rate for a 65 year old female can range from a low of $92.13 per month to over $300 per month.  (We are talking identical coverage!) These rates vary due to many factors such as the area in which you live.  For example, a person who lives in one zip code can pay $20/per month less than their neighbor who lives down the road but in a slightly different zip code.  A smoker may pay more with some companies.  Males may have a higher rate with some companies.  Some plans have rates which are guaranteed to increase every year as you get older.  Some plans level off their rates after age 75.  (Unfortunately, all of them can – and do- raise their rates on an across the board basis.)
  2. There are extra “Perks” and extra Costs.  For example, you must be a member of AARP to buy their Plan F from United Health Care.  Currently, this is an additional cost of $16 per year.  But on the Perk side, the AARP/UHC plan includes a Silver Sneakers benefit.  That alone, could save you over $50 per month if you are already paying for a fitness center membership.  Mutual of Omaha has a 7% couples’ discount.  And companies are adding more perks (benefits that are not required by law) every day trying to get your business.
  3. Ratings and Customer Service.  Have you ever had a question and had to talk to someone in India, or be put on hold for what seems like a lifetime?  This is a consideration when purchasing a plan you will probably keep for many years.  Though in my experience, this is usually not a big consideration because these plans (as long as they are from a reputable company) work like a dream.  It is rare to be dissatisfied with a Plan F as long as you can afford to pay the premiums.

So the bottom line is – Shop plans with a knowledgeable agent who can enroll  you into best plan for you.

 

 

MEDICARE

Medicare provides health insurance to those individuals age 65 and older and those who qualify because of a disability.  Medicare is a good basic insurance but does not cover everything. Medicare beneficiaries are highly encouraged to buy a prescription drug plan, also called Medicare Part D.  Most also want to purchase additional coverage to fill in the gaps that original Medicare does not cover. This coverage is also know as a Medicare supplement or a Medigap policy and can be purchased with varying levels of coverage and cost.  Those with Medicare can also choose to receive their benefits through a Medicare Advantage Plan.

All of these choices and options can be confusing to those looking for coverage.  Paula is a subject matter expert in Medicare and represents many insurance companies that sell Medicare Plans.  She can help you figure out what is the best for you.  The insurance companies pay her a commission.  Therefore, there is no cost or obligation to use her consulting services.

Paula is contracted or authorized to sell from the following companies.

Medicare Supplements/Medigap Policies

  • AARP/United Health Insurance
  • Aetna
  • American Continental/Aetna
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • Gerber Insurance
  • Medico
  • Omaha Insurance Co/Mutual of Omaha
  • United American
  • Woodmen of the World/Assured Life

Medicare Advantage Plans

  • AARP/Secure Horizons/United Healthcare
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Today’s  Options/Universal American/Pyramid

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)

  • AARP/United Healthcare
  • Aetna
  • Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • First Health/Coventry
  • Silver Scripts
  • Wellcare

 

Long Term Care Insurance

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The cost of paying for care of those unable to independently care for themselves can be a high price.  The cost is much more than financial. Individuals and families can protect themselves by looking ahead and making a plan.  This plan is generally funded with insurance.  Medicare and most health insurance plans only pay for the care of those who are getting better. Because of age, infirmity, or mental decline, a person may need help performing the activities of daily living (ADLs). A comprehensive Long Term Care Insurance will help pay for the assistance needed. Care can be utilized in the home, assisted living facility, adult day care and nursing home.   The insurance will also pay for home modification (ie. Wheelchair ramp), respite care, and medical transportation.  Most insurance companies provide a Care Coordinator for no cost.

Buying Long Term Care insurance is a big decision and is somewhat complicated with lots of unfamiliar terminology and lots of options.  Because a traditional Long Term Care policy is not for everyone, there are combination products available that provide Long Term Care coverage along with annuities and life insurance. Paula has the education and experience to take you comfortably through the process of getting the right plan for you.

Paula represents the following highly rated Long Term Care Insurance Companies:

  • Genworth Life
  • John Hancock
  • Prudential
  • Allianz
  • Mutual of Omaha/United of Omaha
  • MedAmerica Insurance Co.
  • Massachusetts Mutual Life

Life Insurance

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This product is only for those individuals who love someone.   Whether death occurs prematurely or later in life, those left behind will have financial challenges.  You can protect your loved ones from that chaos.  In addition, a life policy is a great deal.  You pay pennies on the dollar for financial protection for your loved ones.  If your policy accrues interest, it is not taxed and you can borrow from it. The death benefit creates an instant estate, again tax free.  Essentially there are two types of life insurance; term and permanent.  They are called by a variety of other names and each fulfills a different need.  Paula can help you evaluate your individual needs and tailor a plan to insure your family’s future.

There are many factors that determine the premiums (cost) of a policy.  The process of determining your specific risk is called underwriting.  The insurance company takes your age, gender, health, build, smoking status and more, plus how much coverage you want, into consideration to determine your exact rate.  However, Paula can give you good estimate by just asking her.  The insurance companies pay her a commission, so there is no cost, obligation or pressure to consult with her.

Paula represents many reputable insurance companies including:

  • Genworth Life/First Colony
  • Prudential
  • AIG
  • American General
  • West Coast Life
  • Met Life
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Monumental Life
  • Royal Neighbors of America

Individual/Family Health Insurance

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Medical care is very expensive.  If you are unable to have health insurance through your employer, then an individual or family plan is essential.  Health insurance premiums can vary widely depending on your age, gender, build, tobacco status and pre-existing health conditions.  Premiums also vary widely depending on the type and level of coverage.  Almost all plans have deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance that you pay in addition to a monthly premium.  The more you expect your insurance policy to cover, the more you pay for that plan.

Paula can help you understand your options and help find the best plan for you that fits your needs and budget.  Paula can meet with you individually or you may utilize the links to directly get a quote and even apply online if you are so inclined.

Paula is contracted with and represents the following reputable insurance companies:

  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Optima Healthcare
  • Golden Rule/United Health One
  • Aetna
  • Cigna

Fixed Annuities

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A fixed annuity is a type of life annuity . Annuities are financial products sold by insurance companies that makes a series of future payments to a buyer in exchange for the immediate payment of a lump sum (single-payment annuity)  or a series of regular payments (regular-payment annuity), prior to the onset of the annuity.  When the annuity is annuitized, the insurance company makes guaranteed payments to the buyer (annuitant ) for the life of the buyer.  This is a great tool to use for retirement since the buyer can never outlive his income stream from the annuity.

There are two phases to an annuity, the accumulation phase and the distribution phase.  It is possible to structure an annuity contract so that it only has a distribution phase.  This is called an immediate annuity.

Annuities that make payments in fixed amounts or in amounts that increase by a fixed percentage are called fixed annuities.  Variable annuities, by contrast, pay amounts that vary according to the investment performance of a specified set of investments like the stock market.

Paula can shop for the best products from many reputable insurance companies including:

  • Genworth Life and Annuity
  • Allianz
  • Prudential
  • Mass Mutual
  • Met Life
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Prudential
  • Jackson Life

Final Expense Insurance

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Final Expense Insurance is another name for life insurance.  It is designed to pay the expenses of a funeral and burial or cremation and to pay off some final bills of the deceased.  Usually, these policies are purchased with a payout of $1,000 to up to $30,000.  They are ideal for those people who are older or not in such great health.  In general, most anyone who applies can get the policy because there are fewer or no health questions taken into consideration by the insurance company. Though not all policies are equal!  The policy premiums can vary extensively as can the waiting period before it pays out.  I can help you find the best plan for you from the following companies who specialize in this type of insurance.

  • Monumental Life
  • Royal Neighbors of America
  • Motorist’s Life
  • United American