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Maximize Your Medicare Newsletter
May 18, 2020


 
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ZOOM Videoconference at OLLI - SVSU

Registration is required, and you can find information here: svsu.edu/olli

If your organization/location would like to host a video session, please send me an email (click here).
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE CMS
This is Entirely NEW
The CMS has clarified its announcements about what people on Medicare can do during its COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period. The deadline is June 30, 2020. 
  • Change Medicare Advantage plans without restriction. This is possibly VERY IMPORTANT to someone, as Medicare Advantage carriers, in certain cases, waived copays for COVID-related and NON COVID-related office visits to primary care physicians. It is a huge development for those that have not seen a doctor, when they think they should have, due to worry over financial costs.
  • Cancel your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Part A and Part B alone. This also means that you can purchase a Part D plan, if you had a Medicare Advantage plan that had prescription drug benefits. The implication here is that if you want to enroll in Medigap, then you need to find out NOW if you can be accepted. Note that in certain states, there are open enrollment rules regarding Medigap (e.g. New York), and this can be done during this period. It is VITAL to FIRST secure Medigap acceptance before cancelling a Medicare Advantage plan, or you will have no out-of-pocket limit in that instance.
  • Enroll in Medicare Part B, if you have not done so correctly in the past.
There are times when you need careful handling, and this definitely fits that description. 
Beginner's Corner
Medigap or Medicare Advantage Under COVID-19?
The right to switch from Medigap to Medicare Advantage, and vice versa, is very important.
You can:
  • Switch from Medigap to Medicare Advantage, no restrictions.
  • Switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap, with restrictions. This means that the carrier has the right to decline your application if you have a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch to Medigap
COVID-19 Reveals Why Medigap is More Expensive
You can see that the two points are definitely not equal from the buyer's point of view. It is still too early to tell whether or not the billing/handling of COVID-19 will be handled well by the Medicare Advantage carriers. Further, it is also not clear how much more difficult Medigap underwriting will be in the future.

Because those uncertainties exist, you can see that Medigap should be more expensive than Medicare Advantage: the option to be flexible alone is worth money. 

We definitely have a private opinion here on the approach for those turning 65 throughout the end of 2020.
Enrollment Problems Worse Under COVID-19
Medicare Enrollment Problems Increasing
The bottom line is do not delay enrolling for Medicare. You can only do this online now, and that is leading to problems. Here is the official link to enrollment (click here).

This becomes complicated for those that are over 65, and applying for Medicare. The reason is that there are other forms to submit, and the handling of those forms, and the information from those forms, is highly prone to error. The result of these errors can be that the wrong dates are appearing on your Medicare card. 

Since the insurance carriers rely SOLELY on the information in the Medicare system, that means your "cut off dates" for enrolling in Medicare Advantage, Medigap, and Part D are ALL affected. And, you can presume that getting this corrected will take months.

There has been NO delay to approval of Medicare Advantage, Part D, or Medigap. The problem starts with enrollment into original Medicare (the federally-issued card).
 
This Happens
 
NEW: Social Security’s fax number is 1-833--914-2016, and these forms can also be mailed to your local Social Security office. We are assisting clients in forwarding these documents on their behalf.
Coronavirus Update
Medicare Part B will cover COVID-19 testing at no charge.
This means:
  • If you have Medicare Part A and Part B, and Medigap: $0.
  • If you have Medicare Part A and Part B only: $0.
  • If you have Medicare Advantage: check your Medicare Advantage carrier.
Individual and Group Health Insurance Update
COVID-19 testing at no charge, part of preventative healthcare screening: $0, BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE AN ACA-COMPLIANT PLAN. For ALL other plans, COVID-19 testing may expose you to the upfront out-of-pocket costs for the test.

This means:
  • Private insurance purchased on the federal or state-specific exchange: $0.
  • Employer-sponsored plan that is ACA-compliant: $0.
  • Religious organization/group share/short-term health insurance: NOT EXPLICITLY COVERED, you need to check your plan. You may be subject to the deductible that governs your plan. You need to check this for yourself.
IMPORTANT Special Enrollment Periods Announced
Certain states have created a Special Enrollment Period, which will allow individuals (pre-65) to enroll in individual health insurance. Those states are (as of this writing): A, CO, CT, DC, MD, MA, MN, NV, NY, RI VT & WA.

PLEASE PASS THIS INFORMATION TO SOMEONE YOU KNOW.
We are in a position to assist in plan selection in most locations.
Never Should You Ever
Our dystopia has led to the use of words that I haven't written here: never is one of those words.

You should never be one of the 6MM that has no supplemental coverage (Medigap or Medicare Advantage). Why? Part A and Part B have no annual out-of-pocket limit. 

We can discuss the rules, limitations, etc: none of that matters compared to the unlimited financial downside inherent when you have Part A and Part B alone. 

Never.
Media
YouTube & Podcast Simulcast

Click on the image to watch
MedicareResources.org

My first article as expert contributor to MedicareResources.org is here (click). 
Podcasts
Please subscribe and give the Maximize Your Medicare Podcast a 5-star review: it helps other people discover what you already know (hopefully).
 

Be sure to listen, subscribe, rate, review etc...
  • #AskJae: It's a Mailbag Episode (link)
  • Medicare Plus COVID-19 Equals Complications (link)
  • Beginner's Corner: Deductibles, Networks & Surprise Billing
  • I Got Into a Knife Fight (how to understand Medicare Billing): (link)
This is Included in GH2 Unfiltered
You can exclusively see the presentation slides that I will deliver to the public on GH2 Unfiltered.

There are limits to what can be put into a book. Do I have professional opinions about carriers, the way they are handling enrollment matters, customer service matters, etc? Of course I do, they are compiled after many, many interactions with clients and carriers. 

Can I tell you in public what those biases are? No chance, someone will distort those private statements.


The list of topics where I walk the fine line between fact, and professional opinion, on a wide variety of financial topics, is long. At library systems, nope. In private, of course, that is how we are compensated, because in the end, we don't control the pricing or compensation (some people wrongly believe that this influences our advice, impossible because the differences are so slight, I cannot even tell you what they would be. We are too busy for that, I am flogging books in an irrational business, and have countless other distractions. Oh (pun intended), there is also our fiduciary responsibility in every instance.

The place where you can get insight on this type of stuff? GH2 Unfiltered.
A copy of the book is part of the $19.99/year subscription. We'll ask for your address, we'll send you your copy.
Subscribe to GH2 Unfiltered
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