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Medicare coverage

What Really Is a “Medigap” Plan?

Many people confuse the term “Medicare Supplement Plans” with “Medigap Plans”. It should be noted that Medicare supplement plans fill in some gaps in coverage in original Medicare which is known as “Medigap”.

There are 10 standardized Medigap plans available for senior citizens, each marked with the letters A to N.  And these plans are only available through private insurance companies, and it is not necessary for the insurance companies to sell all the 10 Medicare supplement plans. Every insurance company selling Medicare Supplement policy have to offer at least Plan A and if they offer any other policy than they must also offer either Plan C or Plan F.

Please note that Medicare Supplement plans can be used only to pay Original Medicare expenses. These plans can be used to cover expenses that you may have in Part C Medicare. If you enroll in Medicare Advantage plan, you can keep your Medigap plan as long as you keep paying the monthly fee, but you will not be allowed to enjoy Medigap plans on the cost of Medicare advantage plans. There are few things that you need to keep in mind before going for Medigap plans.

First and foremost, the beneficiaries must be enrolled in Medicare Plan A and Plan B. Secondly, if the beneficiary has a Medicare advantage plan than they can apply for Medicare policy and you will have to leave Medicare Advantage plan before you can enroll in Medigap. These Medigap policies are only able to cover one person. If anyone from your family want to avail then they will have to enroll themselves.

Monthly premiums will have to be paid to private insurance companies in addition to monthly Plan B premium. You are not bound by any insurance company, you can select any insurance company you like that is licensed in your state. Each standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable, even when suffering from health problems. This means that the company cannot cancel Medicare Supplement insurance contracts as long as you pay the premiums. Medicare supplement plans allow you to use any provider that can accept Medicare. Among all the states of America, Arizona is considered as one of the best places to live after retirement. Arizona provides the best Medicare and Medigap help to senior citizens.

There are two specific Medigap plans (Plan k and Plan L) which are capable of covering out of pocket limits, because once your basic health care costs reaches the limit, your Medigap plan will cover 100% of all the expenses for the rest of your year. It is worth mentioning that original Medicare don’t have the ability to include a yearly out of pocket limit. Remember, Medicare supplement plan is meant to work side by side with your original Medicare coverage. You only need to remain enrolled in original Medicare to take the benefits of Medigap.

Although private insurers are required to offer the same benefits for each Medicare plan, these companies can change the costs of premiums they charge for this coverage. So if you are looking for Medigap coverage, you must contact different insurance companies to find a Medicare Supplement plan that is appropriate for your medical and financial needs. Remember that insurance companies use different methods to price their Medigap plans. Pricing method that company uses may affect the amount of premium you pay when you first enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, as well as your long-term costs.

Medigap can be used only by people enrolled in traditional Medicare only. It is not a Government-run program but you can buy private insurance to cover some or most of your expenses in traditional Medicare. Medicare advantage plans consist of variety of private health plans for every type of needs. HMOs and PPOs are the most commonly used among the beneficiaries. Most of the plans include drug prescription coverage at no extra cost. Some plans are capable of covering routine hearing and vision services but not all. By law, all plans have annual limits for out-of-pocket costs.

Another difference from the traditional program is that most plans require you to go to the doctors and hospitals within their network and if you want to go out of the network, you will have to pay extra.

If you enroll in Medicare Advantage health plan, you can’t use a Medigap policy to cover your expenses, and it is illegal to sell insurance Medigap policy if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you want to stay in traditional Medicare, you will need a separate Part D plan to get prescription drug coverage and pay an extra premium for it. A Medigap does not cover drugs outputs of- pocket.

Some states even offer Medigap plans for beneficiaries under 65 years of age who are eligible for Medicare because of disability or under certain conditions. Federal law doesn’t allow states to sell Medicare Supplement insurance for under 65 years, but depending on where you live, some states offer Medigap coverage for beneficiaries under 65 years of age. Every state can have its own eligibility criteria and terms. If you are a Medicare beneficiary under 65 years of age and interested in purchasing a Medicare Supplement insurance, contact your state insurance department to find out if you qualify for Medigap coverage in your state or not.

Senior Healthcare Insurance Plans in Arizona

There is no doubt that everyone needs medical attention at some point in their life. The younger generation has the ability to stay strong and fight small medical issues. Older people don’t have the stamina and persistence and power to fight back. They need proper medical attention and if they don’t insure themselves, then, they may be spending plenty of money on medical bills. old-660831__180

Federal government has already introduced Medicare Plan A and Plan B long time ago, now for people older than 65 there are variety of supplement plans which add to traditional Medicare. Basically Medigap or Medicare supplement insurance plans covers the gap between the traditional Medicare and your medical costs. These Medicare supplement plans are sold by private companies separately. These plans are perfect for senior citizens who have expenses that will not be covered under traditional Medicare Plan A and Plan B. If the original Medicare does not cover your medical needs, you may want to look to supplement that coverage with a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan. Both of these plans can be further supplemented with Part D drug coverage.

 Different insurance companies are allowed to sell the same Medigap plan for different amounts. Therefore, you will have to look around a little to get the best offer. If you are looking for a Medigap than you must already have Medicare Plan A and Plan B. It should be kept in mind that drug coverage is not a part of Medigap insurance plan. You will have to get the Medicare Part D separate to cover you drug prescriptions. Regarding Medicare, you must know that only Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) count as minimum essential coverage. If you have the minimum essential coverage you will not owe a fee for not having health insurance. Medigap itself is nothing, but it provides a lot of benefits when combined with original Medicare Part A and Part B.

In Arizona, there is a wide range of senior health insurance plans readily available. There are many options available which include health insurance plans for people who have certain health conditions, health insurance plans for people who like to travel in the US and abroad, health insurance plans for those who want to seek the best treatment from doctors in the United States accepts Medicare and health insurance plans for people with low incomes.

Arizona is the only state where majority of the people like to retire and it has the best senior citizen health insurance, Medicare, life insurance and retirement planning options. Not many people know that if you are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, you will be automatically eligible for Part A of the Medicare as soon as you turn 65 years of age. If you receive a pension of social security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B at the time you became entitled to Medicare Part A. All the Medicare Advantage plans are approved by Medicare but they are all offered through private insurance companies within the state. Sometimes these plans can be more beneficial, but might cost you a little more than the original Medicare plan.

These plans vary widely in costs and benefits from state to state, so go through your options carefully before you plan to choose one.Benefits of Medicare Plan A include hospital stays, skilled nursing and home health care. Medicare advantage plans also cover all Medicare Part B benefits, including doctor visits, outpatient care and preventive services. Many of them are also benefits as a routine hearing and vision care, fitness program, wellness service or helpline.If you plan to enroll Medicare advantage prescription drug plan than you will also get Part A and Part B coverage along with this combine in one plan. This plan is a good choice for many of the prescribers. In order to get fully insured, you may want to supplement your Medicare coverage to Medicare supplemental insurance i.e. Medigap, which generally pays the deductibles and extra payments which are not covered by Medicare Part A or B.

Medicare allows a small network of doctors but Medigap provides access to a broader network of doctors. In short, Medicare is recommended for those on a tight budget and if your pocket allows you to go for Medigap.Medigap policies are sold by private insurance companies to fill gaps in original Medicare plan. Most states have already adopted legislation restricting the sale of Medigap insurance for no more than a standard policy. The main difference between Medicare advantage and Medigap is that Medigap is used to supplement the original Medicare. These advantage plans are used to get more Medicare benefits, while a Medigap policy is only used to supplement the cost of your original Medicare benefits. Choosing the right Medigap plan depends on your medical needs and costs. If the original Medicare does not cover the actual cost of medical expenses and you have plenty of options. In most countries these options indicated by the letters A through N.

Each standardized Medigap policy must offer the same basic benefits, regardless of the insurance company selling. Cost is usually the only difference between Medigap policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies. According to the latest research, Medigap plans are typically more expensive than Medicare Advantage plans. Medigap offers a number of additional coverage for Medicare while Medicare and Medicare Advantage are almost the same. Medicare allows a small network of doctors but Medigap provides access to a broader network of doctors. In short, Medicare is recommended for those on a tight budget and if your budget allows you to go for Medigap.

The costs of medicare supplements in Phoenix AZ

Health services in Arizona and the rest of the U.S. are expensive and most people cannot afford to pay the full costs out-of-pocket. Health insurance allows people to receive medical care without incurring huge expenses. Medicare is the federal health insurance program which primarily serves the needs of elderly and disabled people, as well as adults with certain medical conditions. The program has limited coverage, so make sure to check out the medicare supplements in phoenix az before deciding how to cover healthcare costs outside the Medicare coverage scope.

How are medicare supplements in Phoenix AZ structured?

The Medicare program has 4 parts (A to D), each providing different benefits. Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical insurance) are also known as Original Medicare (check out this 2015 guide before choosing the right plan).

Part C (Medicare Advantage) is an enhanced alternative to Original Medicare supplied by private insurance companies. Part D (prescription drug insurance) covers prescription drug costs through private insurance companies contracted by the government.

On average, Original Medicare covers about half of your healthcare costs. The rest is covered by supplemental insurance or other forms of personal (out of pocket) payment.

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is automatically available (premium-free) to people aged 65 and over who have been employed for at least 10 years and have paid social security taxes during that period. Adults aged 18 to 65 with work-preventing disabilities, dialysis and kidney transplant patients, people with an end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are also eligible for Medicare.

Senior couple choosing Medicare

Individuals who aren’t eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A can still enroll by paying a certain premium. Beneficiaries who postpone enrollment beyond the eligibility window may be subject to a late enrollment penalty after sign-up.

What does Medicare Part A cover?

  • Hospital services – covers inpatient care (semi-private accommodation, meals, intensive and coronary care, nursing services, medications and supplies) in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, long-term care and mental care facilities. The first 60 days of your hospital stay are fully covered, after which you are charged a considerable copayment, unless you have supplemental insurance.
  • Home healthcare – Medicare covers skilled healthcare services, such as occasional nursing care, physiotherapy, and occupational or speech-language therapy, when provided by a Medicare-certified agency. If your needs include durable medical equipment, you have to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount.
  • Skilled nursing facility – covers inpatient care in a Medicare-certified facility for a minimum of 3-day inpatient stay. Medicare Part A covers up to 100 days of your inpatient stay. Days 1-20 are covered 100%. For days 21-100, you will be charged a daily copayment of $157, unless you have a supplemental insurance plan.
  • Hospice care – includes palliative care and pain relief for terminally ill patients with life expectancy of six months or less, delivered at home or in a hospice facility. To qualify for hospice care, patients must waive curative treatment, but they reserve the right to terminate hospice care and resume curative treatment.

What Is Medicare Part B?

Medicare Part B is available to Medicare Part A policyholders, at a monthly premium. Higher-income seniors may be required to pay more. If you delay enrollment in Part B for 12 months, you are required to pay a 10-percent premium penalty.

Once you turn 65 and join Medicare Part B, you have a six-month window (open enrollment period) during which insurance companies are obligated to sell you any Medicare Supplement Plan that you choose (Medigap), irrespective of your current health condition or past issues. These companies are not allowed to charge you anything extra. Keep in mind that this is a one-time opportunity.

Medicare enrolment application form

If you have employment-based coverage, you can delay Part B enrollment. In this case, you can sign up later, during a special enrollment period, without paying a late enrollment penalty.

To receive Part B benefits, you must first pay the Part B annual deductible ($147). When you receive healthcare services, Medicare covers 80% of the approved amount and you pay the remaining 20%.

Part B covers outpatient care, preventive services (flu and Hepatitis B shots, cardiovascular, cancer and diabetes screenings), ambulance services, durable medical equipment, as well as occasional home-based health and rehab services that are deemed necessary by your doctor.

Medicare at the doctor’s office

Don’t forget to use the services of healthcare providers that always accept assignment (the Medicare-approved amount). These providers are referred to as participating providers and their contract with Medicare obligates them to accept the amount paid by Medicare for healthcare services as “full payment”. In this case, you only pay the deductible and the coinsurance amount. The doctor directly submits the claim (request for payment) to Medicare without charging you in the process.

Providers that haven’t signed a contract to accept assignment (non-participating providers) are not obligated to see you, but can choose to do so. In this case, you pay the entire cost of the service immediately and get reimbursed by Medicare later. These doctors cannot charge you more than 15% above the Medicare-approved amount (limiting charge). The limiting charge doesn’t apply to durable medical equipment and medical supplies.

Visiting a doctor

Some providers choose to opt out of Medicare and not accept any Medicare payments. Consequently, they are free to charge you whatever they want, they don’t submit a claim to Medicare and you pay the entire cost of the service out-of-pocket. As an exception, Medicare will cover treatment expenses if you have been admitted as an emergency patient.

What is not covered by Original Medicare?

Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs (except immunosuppressive drugs and oral anticancer drugs), cosmetic surgery (except for reconstructive purposes), routine checkups, most immunizations, healthcare outside of the United States, hearing aids and exams, eyeglasses and contacts, dental care and dentures, etc. Some of these services are covered by supplemental insurance plans, such as Medicare Advantage and Medigap.

Remember

It is up to you to do your research, and decide which supplement suits your needs best. The main thing to remember here (again) is that your “optimal plan” will change with time. As you get older, you might have to change to a more expensive supplement, in order to (ironically enough) save money.

Who’s Eligible For Medicare Coverage?

Medicare eligibility is a big question, especially among those newly eligible for Medicare. Generally speaking, a person is eligible for Medicare when s/he turns 65 years of age after having worked at least ten years, and is a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States. There are exceptions for persons who are completely disabled and unable to work, and for persons who have been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease.

Medicare is not like a private insurance plan, where a policyholder can add dependents. When a sole provider becomes eligible for Medicare at age 65, his or her spouse and/or minor children do not become eligible for benefits under the program. Each person who qualifies for Medicare coverage must do so independently, so the 60-year old spouse of a Medicare beneficiary may not collect Medicare benefits.

For newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries who may still be working and have minor children living at home, Medicare will not provide any coverage of any kind for dependents unless they independently qualify for Medicare by virtue of disability. If you have private health insurance through your workplace, you may extend those benefits to your minor child for up to three years through the COBRA statute. You pay all premiums for this coverage out of pocket. There is no reimbursement for this kind of coverage.

If you have minor children or dependents who are not eligible to collect Medicare on their own, talk with your benefits advisor prior to separating or retiring and enrolling in Medicare. Your benefits advisor can help you determine how much your premiums will be and what coverage will be available to your Medicare non-eligible dependents.

Medicare Advantage Plan v. Medicare Supplement: Which One Is Right?

Medicare InsuranceIf you are new to Medicare, or will be joining the ranks of the Medicare-eligible in 2011, you may not know much about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplemental Insurance, also known as Medigap.  In addition, you’ll probably want to take a crash course in Medicare Part D plans, just to be on the safe side.

Traditional Medicare coverage is designated as Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.  Part A coverage, which pays for hospitalization, has no additional premium, provided that you are age-eligible for Medicare.  Part B coverage has a premium attached to it. In 2010, the monthly premium was about $111, and is deducted from your monthly Social Security check, Railroad Retirement or Office of Personnel Management payment. If you receive none of these payments, you’ll get a quarterly bill in the mail for your Part B premiums.

You can choose some other Medicare options, including a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C), an optional Medicare Part D plan for prescription drug coverage, and a range of Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, collectively known as Medigap insurance.  Medicare Advantage plans take the place of Medicare Part A and Part B coverage and operate much like an HMO plan does.  Medicare Advantage plans generally offer some additional coverage that traditional Medicare plans do not.

You may also be required to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan if you choose to go with Medicare Advantage coverage.  With Medicare Advantage, you’ll still pay your Medicare Part B and Part D premiums. You may also have to pay additional premiums for a Medicare Advantage plan, depending upon the level of coverage you choose.

You can also choose to enroll in one or more Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans. Medigap plans are designated by letter (e.g., Medigap A, Medigap B, etc.) Each letter plan offers a different level of coverage but all Medigap letter plans are the same, regardless of the insurer that provides them. For example, all Medigap A plans have identical coverage; all Medigap B plans also have identical coverage, etc.) Insurers are not required to offer all Medigap insurance plans, and the premiums among insurers can vary.

Medigap supplemental insurance is designed to provide coverage for certain services that Medicare Part A, Part B and/or Part D don’t pay for, or don’t cover completely.  To take advantage of a Medigap insurance plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. You will pay additional premiums for these services to a private insurance provider, and the additional insurance is strictly optional.  Many Medicare beneficiaries choose not to buy supplemental coverage either because they don’t need it or can’t afford it. Also, each recipient must have his or her own Medigap plan. Your Medigap insurance will not provide benefits to your spouse.

Since each beneficiary’s situation is different, your best strategy is to read all information about Medicare prior to enrolling in a plan. When you become eligible, you will receive a Medicare information booklet in the mail. This document has all of the basic information you’ll need about Medicare. You can also visit the Medicare Web site if you have Internet access to find out more information about Medicare coverage, Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplemental Insurance.

Choose the insurance options that offer the best combination of coverage and cost, based on your income, your current health, and the coverage you’re likely to need in a given year. As you age, you may want to review your coverage and make changes to meet your evolving health needs.

Medicare Will Now Pay For Smoking Cessation Counseling

Medicare says it will now extend smoking cessation counseling to its recipients citing the cost of providing health care to smokers as one reason for adopting the benefit. A study commissioned by Medicare found that the agency will spend about $800 billion on smoking-related health care over the 20-year period between 1995 and 2015.

Effective immediately, Medicare will pay for up to eight counseling sessions per year for smokers who want to kick the habit. In 2011, the counseling sessions will be offered under Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B at no cost to interested seniors. Medicare already pays for pharmaceutical interventions and counseling for those who have developed smoking-related illnesses, but did not pay for smoking cessation counseling for seniors who simply want to attempt to quit. Studies show that senior smokers are less likely to try to give up smoking, but those who do try are more successful at quitting than younger smokers.

Research has also shown that counseling is highly effective in helping seniors give up a tobacco habit – even a long-term one.  Seniors who undergo smoking cessation counseling are more likely to quit successfully and are more likely to live longer, even after having acquired smoking related illnesses like heart disease.

Only about 10% of seniors are regular tobacco users, compared with 20% of the general population. Despite this, tobacco-related illnesses remain the number one preventable cause of disease and death among Americans. Because many more smokers are not yet Medicare-eligible, the agency expects to see a larger number of smokers and smoking-related illnesses among newly eligible recipients.

Right now, Medicare estimates that about 4.5 million senior Medicare recipients smoke along with another one million disabled Americans younger than age 65 who receive Medicare coverage. The new coverage is part of the Affordable Health Care Act and is extended to all Medicare recipients, regardless of their age.

Medicare Proves To Be Driving Issue In Midterm Elections

Planned cuts to Medicare spending are driving senior citizens to rethink their support of some candidates in the November election. Republicans wasted no time in trumpeting the fact that Democrats have “cut $500 billion from Medicare.” In reality, the plan calls for a reduction in the increase on federal Medicare spending. The increase has been trimmed from 6.8% to 5.5% annually.

Does this really translate into cuts for Medicare? Overall Medicare spending is expected to reach nearly $1 trillion by 2020. Currently, the federal government spends about $520 billion on Medicare annually. Over the next decade, the cuts will reduce anticipated Medicare spending from $7.6 trillion to $7.1 trillion, but annual spending on Medicare is still expected to increase.

The annual increases are due in part to the number of newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries. As the number of eligible seniors increases, more money must be made available to cover new participants in the program. Some participants will also be covered by private health plans, so seniors may actually receive better coverage.

Where are the reductions coming from? Right now, seniors are most likely to see reductions in coverage or coverage options if they’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program. New rules prevent health care insurance organizations from offering multiple plans that substantially duplicate each other. Instead, the number of Medicare Advantage plans will be reduced, as will some benefits.

This reduction in Medicare Advantage benefits is designed to equalize government spending on persons enrolled in traditional Medicare and those enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs. Seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans may be able to keep some of their benefits (like vision, dental care and some preventative health benefits) by paying higher premiums than they have in the past.

The new regulations on Medicare Advantage plans will take effect January 1, 2011. Seniors who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that is being withdrawn must choose new Medicare coverage during the Open Enrollment period to maintain Medicare coverage.

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