10 Medicare Insights from Experienced Agents

10 Medicare Insights from Experienced Agents
  • January 30, 2023

Here are 10 key points from top Medicare insurance professionals to help clarify the often confusing world of Medicare:

  1. Shop around for options and pricing ahead of time.
  2. Research past rate increases.
  3. Consider dual residency and travel plans.
  4. Evaluate different drug plan options.
  5. Compare Medigap discounts, from 3% to 14%.
  6. Take advantage of free preventive screenings.
  7. Make the most of your Health Savings Account.
  8. Be prepared for changes and understand what is feasible.
  9. Timing is crucial in making Medicare decisions.
  10. Keep informed to make informed choices.

Options and Prices Can Be Misleading - Early Planning is Key

With numerous options available, it can be challenging to understand Medicare. Even if you think you can change plans later, it may not always be possible to get what you want. Zero-cost Medicare Advantage plans may have a high deductible, and a long hospital stay may end up costing more than a plan with monthly premiums. Medicare Supplement insurance premiums also vary widely. To avoid confusion and make informed choices, it's important to start planning at least 3 months before turning 65 and to compare options on your own or with help from an expert.

Inquire About the Insurance Company's Rate Increase History

When evaluating Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap), it's crucial to consider future rate changes as your rate today may not remain the same. To get a better understanding of this, ask the insurance company two questions: how long have they been offering Medicare Supplement insurance and what is their history of rate increases. A knowledgeable Medicare insurance agent can provide this information, as well as the insurance company's ratings, which indicate their financial strength.

Consider Dual Residency and Future Moving Plans

Your Medicare decisions can have immediate effects on your healthcare options, so it's important to think ahead. Many retirees move after retirement, sometimes to a more cost-effective location or to be closer to family. If you plan to divide your time between two locations, it's crucial to ensure that your Medicare coverage choices will meet both your current and future needs. Before making a decision, think about where you might be living 5 years from now and choose coverage that will be suitable for those future circumstances.

Consider Travel When Choosing Medicare Insurance

When selecting Medicare insurance, it's important to take future travel plans into consideration. Medicare Advantage plans may have restrictions on coverage outside of the local service area. To fully understand the coverage and limits, ask about specific travel scenarios such as cruises outside US waters and emergency treatment both domestically and abroad.

Consider Cost and Prescriptions When Choosing Medicare Drug Plan

The cost of prescription drugs is a significant concern for many seniors, making choosing the right Medicare prescription drug plan crucial. Many seniors take multiple medications, and cost can impact whether they fill a prescription. Work with a Medicare agent who can use systems to find the best drug plan options based on your current prescriptions, as the cheapest plan may not always be the best option. Be aware of when you can switch plans and start the process early.

Household Discounts on Medigap Insurance Plans

Medigap Household Discounts can save couples up to $700 per year and can range from 3% to 14%. Check with the insurance company if household discounts are available and what the rules are.

Sometimes Preventative Screenings are Free

Medicare covers a range of preventive screenings, including the "Welcome to Medicare" screening and breast and prostate cancer screenings. Check the Medicare website to see the list of covered screenings and take advantage of the "Welcome to Medicare" screening during the first year of eligibility.

Optimize Your Health Savings Account (HSA)

Upon reaching 65, changes in Medicare regulations will alter your HSA eligibility and the guidelines for withdrawals. The utilization of the funds saved in the account is actually broadened. You have the opportunity to use HSA funds tax-free and without penalty to pay for Medicare premiums.

UTILIZE YOUR HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT BALANCE EARLIER FOR BEST BENEFITS. With increasing age (70, 75, etc.), retirement income decreases and the possibility of incurring medical expenses increases, potentially resulting in a tax-deductible advantage.

Anticipate Changes, Know Your Options

Reaching Medicare eligibility (age 65) means changes are coming. Health care providers merge, go out of business, and close down. Medicare rules change, and plans that were available last year may no longer be an option for those turning 65. While it's impossible to plan for every outcome, it's important to work with someone knowledgeable about Medicare rules and options.

MEDICARE RULES VARY BY STATE, so be sure to consult with someone experienced in your state's rules when changes occur.

Time is of the Essence

Procrastination is not an option with Medicare's hard and fast rules regarding timing. Remember, every day 11,000 Americans turn 65 and there are not enough Medicare insurance agents to assist those waiting until the last minute, especially during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

START PLANNING AT LEAST 60 DAYS IN ADVANCE of the deadline, and aim to schedule an appointment even earlier.