Medicare Open Enrollment – comparing your options

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October 15 to December 7 is your window to select a Medicare plan. Let us help.

Medicare Open Enrollment for your 2017 plan is from October 15 to December 7, 2016.   Before you make a selection, here are some resources to help you compare your options.

Medicare provides a tool where you can compare options before you make a decision. You can find it at this link.

The information you need is:

  • Your Medicare number
  • If you have a Medigap or Medicare supplement plan, the name and type of the plan
  • Your zip code
  • A list of your medicines prescribed by each of your doctors
  • The name and location of your preferred pharmacy

You can search through options using your specific information or you can do a general search. I highly recommend you perform a search with your specific information at least once before you make final decisions. That will give you the best look at your anticipated likely costs.

The tool will walk you through step by step.

  1. It starts with your zip code and information from your Medicare card.
  2. Enter your current Medicare coverage type. Include whether you get extra help paying for your medication costs.
  3. Enter your prescribed medicines. Include the strength, whether you get your medicine every month or every 3 months, and whether you get your medicines from a local pharmacy or a mail order pharmacy.
    1. Be sure to include all of your medicines
    2. If your doctor has talked about maybe starting new medicine, include these, too. This will make sure the plan you choose will cover all of these medicines.
  4. Select your pharmacy. Note, if your pharmacy doesn’t show up at first, expand the number of miles from your home so that your pharmacy will be on the list.
  5. You can then choose whether you want to compare medication only Medicare D plans, Medicare Health Plans with drug coverage, and Medicare Health Plans without drug coverage.
    1. If you aren’t sure, select all three options
    2. If you know which you want to compare, select just that option
  6. A list of all options will appear on the next page. They appear in order of cost with the lowest annual cost option appearing first after Original Medicare. You have the option to select different sort options.
  7. Select three plans that you want to directly compare.
    1. The three options will be displayed side by side.
    2. You can compare three at a time as many times as you want.
    3. All costs for the year include deductibles, co-pays, gap payments, and other fees will be displayed.
    4. Look at your total annual cost
    5. Look at the deductible which is money you will pay at the first part of the year
    6. Look at the projected money you will pay in the coverage gap

To look at your options with Medigap plans, you can go to this link. This one will let you compare types of Medigap plans and their costs.

NOTE – A friend, and expert in the field, clarified that Medicare Advantage plans can be purchased at any time. Her comment: “Medicare Supplement policies do not have an annual open enrollment, but changes can be made based on your health after your original open enrollment or a special enrollment period.”

If you have any questions about how to use these tools or how to compare your options, please contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

For Medicare plan decisions, comparisons are good. They are key to making the best decision.

In the rest of your life, comparisons can be hazardous. How often do you compare yourself to someone else? You might not even realize you’re doing it.

Do you ever have negative thoughts about yourself when you see something you admire in someone else?

Do you ever feel extra good about yourself when you can do something that someone else can’t do?

In what sneaky ways can ENVY enter your thoughts?

I’ve read a couple of really good blogs about this from pastors recently. I know I’m guilty of comparison without ever intending for it to happen. I fall into a thought process of envy or comparison then catch myself and feel so ashamed.

Apparently I’m not alone. There are many Bible verses about the problems with envy.

Galatians 5:26 ESV

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

1 Peter 2:1 ESV

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

Instructions in the Bible can be very clear. It is clear ENVY is to be avoided. And if it’s mentioned this many times, it must be common.

Titus 3:3 ESV

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

James 3:16 ESV

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

The antidote to envy is to lay it all before the Lord. God has a very special, very specific plan just for you. Your gifts, your strengths, your weaknesses, your opportunities, your looks, your dreams are very UNIQUELY yours.

It doesn’t matter how other people are blessed. There are other blessings that are all for you!

Proverbs 16:9 ESV

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 ESV

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

This could be the week to turn your eyes from what everyone else has. Instead, look at what God has in store just for you. Ask, He’d be happy to show you all the good things you have and what is still coming you way!!

Blessings,

Michelle

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Medicare Open Enrollment – Which plan type for you?

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October 15 to December 7 is your window to select a Medicare plan. Let us help.

I find Medicare and Medicare Open Enrollment to be very confusing. Do you? Let’s spend the next two weeks trying to better understand your options and guide you through the Open Enrollment process. I highly encourage you to delay your final decisions until we walk through this process and you compare your options.

The first big decision is which TYPE of insurance coverage is best for you.

Main TYPES of insurance coverage options over age 65

Original Medicare – When you turn 65 and meet eligibility criteria (use this link), you can have Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, and Medicare Part D. Medicare has a list of items they do and do not cover at this link. Medicare covers part of the expenses, and you pay the rest through your copay and deductible.

  • Part A covers hospital, long term care, home care, hospice, lab tests, and surgery.
  • Part B covers doctor visits, other healthcare provider visits, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, some prevention, and home health care.
  • Part D covers medicines.

Medigap – This is a supplemental insurance to go with your Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Medigap will cover some of the copayments, coinsurance, and deductible expenses not covered by original Medicare. You purchase a Medigap policy through a private insurance company. You will pay a monthly premium for this co-insurance.

Medicare SELECT – Medicare SELECT is a managed care version of Medigap. It is the health maintenance organization (HMO) of Medigap plans. These plans contract with specific provider groups for a lower fee. So, they are typically less expensive. Be sure your provider or a provider with whom you are comfortable is participating before you select this type of plan.

Medicare Advantage – This is also known as ‘Medicare Part C’. Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance plans that you can select IN PLACE OF Medicare. They have similar coverage to Original Medicare and can have additional benefits as well. These have a wide range of prices.

A Medicare Medical Savings Account Plan is a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan with a bank account. The plan puts money from Medicare into the account, and you use that money to pay for Medicare-covered expenses. This limits your out-of-pocket expenses to meet your deductible.

NOTE: you cannot have both a Medigap and a Medicare Advantage plan. You can have one or the other.

Other – You might have insurance through your former employer, insurance through special programs, Tricare, Veteran’s benefits, Indian Health Service plans, or other unique plans.

Medicare resources to help you

The Medicare website has a list of eight questions to consider when you are thinking about changing plans. You can find them at this link.

Next week we will talk about the tool(s) available to you to help you compare your plan options. These will let you predict your costs over the next year. You can compare several aspects of the types of plans you want to consider. I encourage you to compare your options before making your final decision. I’ll walk you through it step by step.

For more information about your Medicare options, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact. If we can’t answer, we have some colleagues who are experts in the field.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Medicare is not the only area of life where there can be a lot of confusing messages. I have teens.   I know just a few of their areas of confusing message are:

  • What to wear
  • How to act

Many of my recent pharmacy students are working their way through messages about:

  • What job to choose
  • How much of their income to spend on houses, cars, vacations
  • When to start a family; or whether to start a family

Many of my peers are sorting through messages about:

  • Helping children with college and career decisions
  • How much independence to allow teen children
  • Preparing for empty nest and soon retirement

My patients are working through message about:

  • Living at home vs. a senior living community
  • Options to move in with children when assistance is needed
  • Activities that enhance quality of life and keep them active

And we know there are countless people struggling with even more life-altering decisions surrounded my many confusing messages.

So, where does the truth reside?

John 14:6 NIV

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Psalm 145:18 ESV

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Not to sound too pious, God is with you always. Whether you ‘feel’ His presence or not, He’s there…with you…always! When the messages from the many sources are confusing, you can just ask.

Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

When the messages are all confusing, ASK!

Blessings,

Michelle