Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs. To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps.
Protect Your Health and Your Card
Making the most of Medicare Open Enrollment
(Family Features) Eating well and regular exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is making sure you have the right health care coverage. Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs.
During Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2017, you can enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018. If you miss the deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your plan.
To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps:
1. Review your current plan notice. Read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.
2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medication? Does another plan offer the same coverage at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.
3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums (through Medicare Savings Programs), your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs (through Extra Help). Visit Medicare.gov or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more.
4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting each October, you can use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:
If you find your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.
For more information, visit medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language. You can also get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your local SHIP by visiting shiptacenter.org. More information about Medicare is available on the Medicare Facebook page and by following @MedicareGov on Twitter.
Protect Your Medicare Card
Protect your identity as well as your health by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card. Medicare is aiding in the fight against Medicare fraud by removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards and replacing them with a new, unique number for each person with Medicare. Medicare will mail the new cards with unique numbers between April 2018-April 2019. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft:
If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.SOURCE:
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
(BPT) - If you’re turning 65 in 2017 or 2018, you’re one of 10,000 people who become Medicare-eligible each day. Choosing Medicare prescription drug coverage can be confusing, especially for the first time. You may have questions about which plan fits your healthcare needs and budget or how to enroll. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you know these four rules.
Rule #1: Lower premium plans may mean higher costs. Plans with a lower premium may end up costing more in the long run if they have higher drug copays, which can really add up.
Rule #2: Not every plan covers every drug. Drug lists (formularies) can change every year and so can the drugs you take. Be sure to check your plan’s formulary each year to make sure any medications you take are covered.
Rule #3: Check that there are pharmacies close to you. That way, it’s easier to fill your prescriptions. Select a plan with a wide range of “preferred” pharmacies, which typically offer lower co-pays than standard pharmacies in the network. Also, see if using a home delivery pharmacy or a 90-day supply could lower your costs even more.
Rule #4: Look for 24/7 access to pharmacists and Medicare experts who can answer questions about your medicines and offer drug safety tips, money-saving alternatives and expertise in drugs to treat specific conditions.
Also, remember to check the Medicare Part D plan’s Star Rating. This is the overall quality and performance rating (out of 5 stars) based on member satisfaction surveys and other measures by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
For more information, please visit www.Medicare.gov or www.RoadmapForMedicare.com. To talk to an Express Scripts Medicare adviser, call 1.866.544.3794, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week (TTY users: 1.800.716.3231).
Every day, Medicare fraud affects people with Medicare and their families across the U.S. – regardless of background – robbing them of hard-earned money and peace of mind. By remembering some simple but effective tips, you can protect yourself against scams, including identity theft and prescription drug fraud.
3 Steps to Protect Yourself from Medicare Fraud
Scammers know the ins and outs of the Medicare system and their attempts can be well thought-out enough that it’s not always easy to know when and where fraud is occurring. By remembering some simple but effective tips, you can protect yourself against scams, including identity theft and prescription drug fraud. Remembering to protect, detect and report fraud helps everyone, including you.
Protecting your personal information is your best line of defense against health care fraud. Treat Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security numbers like credit card numbers. Never give them to a stranger and don’t carry your cards unless you need them for appointments. Medicare doesn’t call or visit to sell you anything. Outside of a trusted health care setting, never give this information to anyone who asks for it.
No matter how careful you are, you may be targeted for fraud. Always review your Medicare statements closely. Things to look for include charges for something you didn’t purchase or receive, duplicate charges and charges for services not ordered by your doctor. Compare these documents to your personal records and receipts. Recording medical visits and procedures in a journal or on a calendar can help you keep track of what happened at each appointment and make it easier to spot inaccuracies.
If you suspect you’ve been a target of fraud, report it. This can help you and others at risk for fraud. If you have questions about your Medicare statements, call your health care provider.
If you’re uncomfortable calling or are not satisfied with the response, help is available through your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). SMP volunteers work with Medicare beneficiaries and their families and caregivers to stop health care fraud, errors and abuse. You can also report suspicious calls and direct general questions through this resource. You can find your local SMP program by calling 1-877-808-2468 or at SMPresource.org.
Suspected fraud can also be reported to 1-800-Medicare or by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS.
Don’t hesitate if you need help
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Administration for Community Living
No matter how diligent you may have been about saving for retirement, unexpected life changes and economic realities can negatively impact your retirement budget. Many retirees are surprised to learn that one of the most valuable assets in their portfolios may be something that they no longer need.
Maximizing Your Assets in Retirement
(Family Features) No matter how diligent you may have been about saving for retirement, unexpected life changes and economic realities can negatively impact your retirement budget. Sustained low interest rates have suppressed yields on income from bonds and rising health care expenses have affected retirees of all ages.
Many retirees are surprised to learn that one of the most valuable assets in their portfolios may be a life insurance policy that they no longer need.
It’s not uncommon for people to outlive their need for life insurance, and if you no longer need the policy or can no longer afford the premiums, you could consider selling the policy through a life settlement. This is a financial transaction in which a policy owner works with a company, such as Coventry Direct, to determine if they qualify to sell their life insurance policy. The policy seller receives an immediate cash payment while the buyer assumes all future premium payments. Most life insurance policy types qualify, even convertible term life policies.
Consider this story about a financial advisor who recently retired from a long, successful career. He decided the money he was spending on the rising premiums for his $799,975 life insurance policy could be used to help fund his retirement. After some research, he called Coventry Direct and was happy to learn he had an option other than just letting the policy lapse. He sold his policy through a life settlement for $25,000, which was more than four times the value he would have received if he surrendered the policy back to the insurance company.
If you don’t own a life insurance policy or still need your coverage, you may want to evaluate the real estate you own. Think about downsizing to a smaller home or selling other property you no longer need. Many retirees discover that they have significant equity tied up in real estate – equity that could be used to help fund expenses.
Another useful exercise is reviewing your investments. If your retirement income is failing to produce the amount needed to maintain your lifestyle, you may need to rebalance your portfolio in order to meet your changing needs.
If you find your retirement income is insufficient, there are options available to maximize your assets. For many retirees, an existing life insurance policy may be a hidden asset that can be utilized to generate cash. To learn more about life settlements, visit coventrydirect.com/lifesettlements or call 888-858-9344.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
As autumn progresses, it’s important to keep your health in mind. Maybe you have a new prescription that is not covered by your current drug plan or you have a new health condition. To ensure you get the most from Medicare in 2017, you should research your Medicare plan options during Medicare open enrollment.
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