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Shedding Light On Arizona’s Medigap Policies

In Arizona, medical beneficiaries who are in need of help for paying Medicare expenses must consider enrolling in a Medicare Supplement Plan known as Medigap Plan. It must be noted that Medigap plans are available through private insurance companies, not only in Arizona but in every state across U.S.

Medigap plans generally help with the expenses which are incurred under original Medicare plans which are Plan A and Plan B. Medigap plans are now almost same across all of the United States in terms of both policies and cost. For those of you who are not sure about the number of Medigap plans, just know that there are 10 standardized Medigap plans available in all of the states. The plans are labelled from A to N where Plan A and Plan B are the most basic plans which every state offers under the rule of federal administration.

If you are already enrolled original Medicare Plan A and B, then you are eligible to sign up for Medigap Plans. Not many people know but the best time to buy a Medicare Supplement plan is during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period starts as soon as you reach the age of 65 and is also enrolled in Medicare Plan B. Individuals can sign up for any Medigap plans during this time according to the plans available in their state. The important thing to keep in mind is that there are no additional enrollment periods besides each of theirs Medigap Open Enrollment Period.

In Arizona and across all of the United States, Medigap plans doesn’t include prescription drug coverage, so you have to enroll in a Part D plan for prescription for separate Medicare to cover the cost of medicines or drugs. Prescription drug plans for Medicare Part D in Arizona are available through private insurance companies.
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It has been observed through the survey that Arizona is the most famous destination to retire. Surprisingly, above a million residents of Arizona are dependent on the Medicare for their main source of health insurance.While no revolutionary changes in Medicare supplement insurance is scheduled for 2016, there are some things to keep in mind which may affect the safety and availability of certain plans.

Here is the possible increase in premiums and Part B deductible. For example, Plan C, Plan F, and high deductible Plan F covers Part B deductible, so if the increased rates for these popular supplements may also increase. In Arizona, all the Medicare Supplement Plans must conform to the standards set by the Medicare Organization. Supplement standards include names from A to N. Each supplement offers basic benefits like coinsurance and blood donations. The only thing to remember is that every supplement is identical from one or another insurance company. In order to determine rates, you must compare different insurers providing Medigap plans however there should not be a big difference because of the Arizona Medigap Policy.  It is important that you familiarize yourself before  with the Medigap plan as well as each and every plan before you make any purchase. 

Supplement Plan F is the most comprehensive among the 10 other plans, covering almost 100 % of Medicare related costs. But even for Medicare Supplement Plan F recipients in Arizona can still incur some out – of -pocket expenses such as Medicare Part B premium.

As soon as you reach the age of 65, you need only a phone call to buy Medigap policy and get excellent coverage without question. And if you buy a policy in the first six months of enrolling in Medicare, you do not have to answer questions about your health. Do not worry if your doctors are not in the network, because you will be covered if you see any doctor who accepts Medicare.

Many people don’t realize the fact that how much they will be spending if they will be selecting the plan which covers the entire Medigap plans. There are total of 10 Medigap plans and each one has its own benefit. The four most comprehensive plans are C, D, F and G which account for more than 60% of all the Medigap sales according to Kaiser Family Foundation research. Plan F, the most expensive among all of them and covers every Medicare gap represents 40% of all policies sold. If your health is good than you must consider a plan which is not much comprehensive for e.g. Plan N and L are good choices because they will save you around $200 to $400 a year.

Medicare and Medigap benefits are identical in all 50 states, however policies and pricing rules may differ (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have their own standardized plans). If you know the rules in your state,  this may save you money.  You can choose when to upgrade an existing plan to switch to another insurer or drop your current Medicare plan during the annual open enrollment to change Medigap policies.

Most of the people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65, although some beneficiaries can get Medicare even before if they have some kind of disability. You will automatically get Medicare as soon as you turn 65 if you are already receiving Social Security benefits. Otherwise, you will have to enroll in Medicare during the enrollment period.

There are also many private Medicare options available if you are a Medicare beneficiary in Arizona. Medicare coverage like drug prescription and supplemental coverage are only available through private insurance companies. Your private Medicare options will depend on where you live and the plans available in your area. We hope you found this article helpful as we shed light on Arizona’s Medigap policies. If you are an Arizona resident, feel free to contact www.azmedicare.info for further details. 

Medicare Advantage Premiums To Decrease For 2011

In something of a surprise announcement, Donald Berwick, Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says that premiums for Medicare Advantage plans will decrease slightly in 2011. Berwick says that the monthly costs for MA plans for more than 11 million enrollees will drop by about 1%. In addition, enrollees should see some relief from the cost of prescription drugs and the continuation of certain no-cost preventative health care services.

In 2009, premiums for Medicare Advantage plans increased by an average of 15%. Berwick and other Medicare officials say that the health care reform act has provided the Medicare and Medicaid Service with additional negotiating power. Initially, officials used their newfound clout to drop about 300 previously approved Medicare insurance plans offered by private providers. According to Medicare officials, the rejected plans increased out-of-pocket costs without increasing benefits or covered services.

Most of the insurers then modified the plans to provide additional services at reduced costs. Upon reconsideration of the new offers, Medicare approved most of the 300 rejected plans. Fewer than ten of the original 300 rejected plans did not modify their initial proposed coverage, improve their benefits or reduce beneficiaries’ proposed out-of-pocket expenses. Upon review, these plans were rejected a second time and will not be offered in 2011.

Some analysts say that insurance providers are more willing to negotiate with Medicare because they are more dependent now upon Medicare premiums than they had been in the past; a large number of new enrollees are expected in the next decade; and the new health care legislation will open new opportunities for providers in the coming years.

Seniors who have elected Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) can also expect to see some decreases in their out-of-pocket expenses if they have significant prescription costs in 2011. The relief comes as part of the Obama Administration’s effort to eliminate the “donut hole” gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage. Reduced out-of-pocket expenses for Part D benefits will not translate into lower Part D premiums, however. Part D premiums are expected to rise in 2011 for most prescription drug plans.

Medicare’s Star Ratings May Change Medicare Advantage Plans

Under new federal regulations, Medicare Advantage (MA) providers that earn a 4- or 5-star ranking from the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services will receive cash bonuses from the federal government. Star ratings are based on 33 independent criteria for health care plans and an additional 19 criteria for prescription drug plans (PDP).

This approach is likely to have an impact on all MA plans. Currently, the government pays MA providers about $8,800 per beneficiary, about $1,150 more per person, than it spends on traditional Medicare coverage. Although they are not required to, MA providers often use the extra funds to offer additional covered services, reduce premiums, co-pays or deductibles. These extras tend to make the MA plans more attractive to some seniors.

Beginning in 2011, however, this payment disparity will be eliminated. Instead, the extra cash will be used to fund the cash bonuses for MA plan providers. This will likely translate into some significant changes in the services provided under MA plans, and may also increase beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket expenses. MA plan providers will likely have to raise monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles, or eliminate services currently being provided.

Initially, the star rating was designed to help seniors find high-quality plans from among potentially dozens of MA plan choices. Studies conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, however, indicate that about three-fourths of seniors choose a MA plan that is rated at 3.5 stars or less; and that only about 15 percent of MA enrollees live in a service area where a plan awarded four or more stars is available. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s analysis showed that the cost of a Medicare Advantage plan is a beneficiary’s primary consideration rather than a plan’s overall service rating.

The new rules will grant MA plans that receive four or five stars a bonus of 1.5% on top of their regular Medicare payments, beginning in 2012. The bonus amount will rise to 5% by 2014. Bonuses tied to a provider’s star rating have raised a few questions, since many plans currently approved by Medicare, including new plans and small plans, have no star ratings.

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