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Medicare rate hikes in store for some in 2016


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Thanks for the heads-up, Kyle. We were already planning to review our plans for the next year since my former employer provides assistance to retirees in selecting the best supplemental plan for each one's situation. I believe that there are quite a few of us who have plan F now and so a review is definitely in order.

 

If you would, a brief explanation of the differences from F to G or N might be helpful.

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If you would, a brief explanation of the differences from F to G or N might be helpful.

 

In a nutshell...

 

Plan F fills all the gaps in Medicare at 100%.

 

Plan G is identical to F except it does not pay the Part B deductible ($147 in 2015).

 

Plan N is identical to G except you also have to pay: 1) $50 ER copay, 2) $20 Office Visit copay, 3) Excess Charges for providers not participating with Medicare.

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Kyle,

 

Does one need to go through underwriting to change a plan during open enrollment in a Medicare supplement? I was told it was by a third party agent last year. My mother has Plan F but a change to plan G might be worthwhile for her, however underwriting would pose a problem given her health. She has UHC in NY.

 

Michelle

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Michelle,

 

This is carrier-specific. Some carriers allow you to "step down" from a F to a G or N without underwriting while others require an underwritten application for any plan change. NY is Guaranteed Issue I believe so your mother should be able to make that change any time she wants to. Have her call UHC. UHC does not offer Plan G however...so she's probably looking at changing to a Plan N.

 

Open Enrollment does not apply to Medicare supplement plans. Medicare supplement enrollment is open all year. Of course, that does not mean the insurance company has to accept you when you apply...it only means you can apply any time of the year.

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Love the scare tactics some post. WE were going to review our plan like we do every year. For our location it Plan F goes up $11 and some change per month for me and my wife. The drug plan has tier 2 going up, tier 3 goes down a bit and two things I take will drop from 4 to 3.

 

So it is not as bad as the initial post leads you to believe ...for us any way. Before you go running off and making changes, check your plan.

 

 

Ken

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This is carrier-specific. Some carriers allow you to "step down" from a F to a G or N without underwriting while others require an underwritten application for any plan change.

 

 

Thanks Kyle. We'll check with UHC. The open enrollment issue is being imposed by the former employer as part of their retiree medical benefit (they provide a fixed stipend to be used towards premiums, but only if you use their "partner" to apply and enroll).

 

Michelle

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Where can one go to review what changes will take place in pricing for Medicare supplements? Is it on the Medicare website or the insurer's website?

 

Is there no open enrollment period for Medicare supplements? Really?

Your agent is the best one to tell you about any upcoming changes to your Medicare supplement plan premiums. Medicare.gov does not accurately show rates for Medicare supplement plans...only Medicare Advantage plans.

 

There is no federal Open Enrollment for Medicare supplement insurance other than your Initial Coverage Open Enrollment (the 7 month period surrounding your original Part B effective date).

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Your agent is the best one to tell you about any upcoming changes to your Medicare supplement plan premiums. Medicare.gov does not accurately show rates for Medicare supplement plans...only Medicare Advantage plans.

 

There is no federal Open Enrollment for Medicare supplement insurance other than your Initial Coverage Open Enrollment (the 7 month period surrounding your original Part B effective date).

Thanks for your response.

 

I don't have an agent, I bought a BCBS plan after going through the Medicare.gov site.

 

Not trying to dispute you, just confused. On the medicare.gov website, under "Supplements and Other Insurance", click on "When Can I Buy Medigap?", it clearly states that there is an Open Enrollment. see here https://www.medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap/when-can-i-buy-medigap.html

 

Another question for you. After studying the difference between Plan F and Plan G, the only difference I see is with Plan G the Part B deductible of $147 which Plan F pays for. Is that deductible per event, per visit, per test, or per year? If it's just $147 extra cost per year, why does it cost $600 or $700 more per year for Plan F over Plan G?

 

Thanks.

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Feel free to contact us if you would like assistance comparing chirakawa.

 

The Open Enrollment they are referring to on Medicare.gov is the Initial Coverage Open Enrollment I referenced. It's not an annual OE, but rather a one time OE. From that page you referenced:

 

Buy a policy when you're first eligible

The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period, because you can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems. This period automatically starts the month you're 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). After this enrollment period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy. If you're able to buy one, it may cost more.

 

You are correct in your understanding of the difference between F and G--only the Part B deductible, which is an annual deductible. Your last question is a wise one :) It's why I recommend G over F to most of my clients.

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I've been looking into this - those who are already on Social Security are exempt from this, but those who aren't, plus those who are just coming onto Medicare this year, and people who are above certain levels of income are the ones who are in line to see their part B go up around $50 a month.

 

However, there's already a bill in the Senate plus action in the House to fix this. Hopefully, those facing an increase of 1/3 will be spared.

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Feel free to contact us if you would like assistance comparing chirakawa.

 

The Open Enrollment they are referring to on Medicare.gov is the Initial Coverage Open Enrollment I referenced. It's not an annual OE, but rather a one time OE. From that page you referenced:

 

Buy a policy when you're first eligible

The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period, because you can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems. This period automatically starts the month you're 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). After this enrollment period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy. If you're able to buy one, it may cost more.

 

You are correct in your understanding of the difference between F and G--only the Part B deductible, which is an annual deductible. Your last question is a wise one :) It's why I recommend G over F to most of my clients.

 

Yes, you're right, of course. I re-read it about five times. Basically, you're pretty much stuck with whatever company/policy you pick when you first sign up if you have any kind of pre-existing condition which would make you unattractive to other companies. So, better make a good choice.

 

So, under what conditions would Plan F ever be preferable to Plan G?

 

Thanks again.

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So, under what conditions would Plan F ever be preferable to Plan G?

For us, the cost of plan F was about $9/month more than the premiums for plan G. If you do some math, you will find that means that plan G would cost us less per year as long as we met the deductible of Medicare. It is pretty easy to figure out since you just subtract the annual premium cost of plan G from the annual cost of plan F and compare the result to the annual deductible. And plan N might be best for those who have very few doctor visits, but certainly not for most of us older members who have multiple doctor visits each year.

 

One question for Kyle....... When a couple sign up, is there are reason that both must choose the same plan? Could Pam select plan G and myself plan N, since I rarely see a doctor other than my annual physical?

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Yeah in some places in the country Plan F might be only slightly more than Plan G and then it might make sense to go with F.

 

Kirk, since Medigap is individual coverage a married couple certainly can each have different plans. It is often advantageous to keep those plans with the same carrier though as many give a 5-12% spousal discount for doing so.

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  • 2 weeks later...

:blink: It was sure as heck easier before I was eligible for Medicare! I get full health coverage from the VA; Dental being the exception; which can be purchased separate. This Medicare has always been a pain ever since the 1960's when my dad had it. If I could i would just drop it and go back to just the VA. When I heard this year that one could also purchase dental services; knew thier was a catch-22.

:( We always get to bite the bullet and pay the piper!!!!

 

Moderators just hope this is not to political and if so just delete! -_-

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Dental has NEVER, EVER been part of Medicare. I'm not sure why no one ever explained that to you, but that is just a fact of life. We didn't bother with dental insurance because the amount that they pay versus the premiums wasn't cost effective. We get a discount for paying cash for our cleanings at our dentist and stick the amount that we would have paid in premiums in the bank - so far that has easily covered the work that we needed to have done on our teeth.

 

Barb

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I find it difficult to find fault in having folks that have substantial incomes paying a little more for benefits so that the money does not run out for those not as fortunate. Chuck

 

Always a tough one to discuss:)! Where the line is drawn to account for 'substantial incomes'? Is it adjusted based upon a regions total cost of living? ($100K a year in some states and cities, a person can live like a king. That same fund in say San Francisco, and you might qualify for public assistance:)!). And then should it just be on medical related items, of should people with 'substantial incomes' also pay more for food, gas, air plane tickets, golf, electricity, etc., etc.)

 

I've always been in favor of a society helping those that can not help themselves. For example, my 46 year old BIL is very low functioning Down Syndrome. He can not feed himself, dress or tie his shoes, communicate other then basic hand to mouth for wanting food. He is a love, and if he gets you in a bear hug, expect a good bath as he loves to tongue the top of your head, and as many Down Syndromes, his tongue is rather substantial in size:)! This is an example of a person I feel society should do their best to help. And of course others with other conditions that make it so they cannot take care of themselves. I also do not mind a society helping those in a temporary need. Helping someone up and forward. But, after a period of time, again the devil is in 'how long' - Weeks? Months? Years? (I personally can see several months, but draw the line on years and or several years.)

 

So not a easy subject, with many varying opinions.

 

I personally feel except for the example of a person whom is not able to take care of themselves, that we are 'all equal' - and thus should pay a equal amount. Feel that way on taxes too, and recognize that that is not the way it is.

 

Good subject to sit around a campfire and solve all of the problems of the world... Need a big campfire, and need a big space for all the chairs.

 

And Chuck - My response was not intended to argumentative, but I do feel that having one person pay more then another, for these kinds of things, Is not fair. Just my opinion, and respect yours as being different:)!

 

Best to you, and all,

Smitty

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And this is my issue with "substantial incomes" or "substantial wealth" as well. One of my in-laws would have told anyone who asked that we were wealthy. Because the cost of living in their area was substantially below ours. They had a larger house, bigger vacations, basically access to more of everything than we did at that time. But lower income. So are we penalized for living in an area with high cost of living? Or for saving aggressively all our lives? How can this determination be made objectively? And maintained over the changes of time?

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I personally feel except for the example of a person whom is not able to take care of themselves, that we are 'all equal' - and thus should pay a equal amount. Feel that way on taxes too, and recognize that that is not the way it is.

 

Good subject to sit around a campfire and solve all of the problems of the world... Need a big campfire, and need a big space for all the chairs.

Free men are only equal at the moment of birth. As soon as you start to do anything yourself the mental and physical abilities you were born with and the environment you were born into begin to separate us into different levels.

 

I have learned that not only does each person's abilities and family ties impact what we are able to earn in life but the money management skills of the person cause people with equal incomes to have very different lifestyles supported by that income. We have some friends that have gotten us to assist them in filing their taxes so we know that their income exceeds ours by a considerable amount, yet they believe that we are independently wealthy because we travel a lot and even sometimes foreign travel while they struggle to pay their daily living costs. Because of poor management and record keeping, neither they nor I have any idea where much of their money goes and I have no intention of sharing with them the fact that our income is actually only about 60% of theirs. But there is more to a level playing field than just simple numbers. Perhaps we need a law requiring that every person receive the same pay for equal effort? :huh:

 

If we were to be truly equal, my neighbor would be able to live as well as we, without regard to any difference in skill sets!

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