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This week’s questions from Don
As the Annual Election Period (AEP) is upon us, what advice can you give those who are already on Medicare?
Changing Plans on Supplements
Current clients of ours can just wait for their annual recommendation letter which has already been mailed to Supplement clients and will be going out next week to those on Advantage Plans. In it, we let you know which plan or plans will be best for you in 2023. If you’re not a client of ours, you should be proactive. Don’t assume you’re on one of the handful out of the hundred or so plans that are available in Western PA that provide the best overall value. I still estimate close to 50% of those on Medicare aren’t on the right plan. In other words, either paying too much in premium, exposing themselves to higher co-pays or Maximum Out of Pocket (MOOP) than necessary, and/or aren’t receiving enough ancillary benefits such as dental, vision, and Over the Counter (OTC) allowance the best plans provide. In a very short call with one of our licensed agents, we can let you know if you’re one of those or not.
As far as Supplements, no one who can pass medical underwriting should remain on Plans C or F. Only a select few should stay with Plan G as well. G has seen across the board rate increases year after year while N, which provides virtually the same coverage, has not. Those who’ve been on Plan G for four to five years are likely paying $600 or more annually in premiums. Five years from now, it will be closer to $1,000. And in 10, possibly $2,000. If you’re able to pass medical underwriting and move to N, that’s my recommendation. There is nothing to be fearful of. Stop overpaying for Supplement Plans, C, G, and F.
Get Your Part D Reviewed
Another mistake those on Supplements make is remaining on their Part D prescription plan without having it reviewed professionally, which should be done every year. Two of the most popular plans are almost doubling their premiums while not offering better coverage. It’s also common for drug tiers on plans to be moved from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and so on. Failure to change Part D plans can be extremely costly. Even if you didn’t buy your Supplement from The Health Insurance Store, we can review and recommend a plan for 2023, just like we do for all our active clients. If you’re interested, please contact us as soon as possible so we can get you the necessary form.
There aren’t many significant changes to Advantage Plans, but indeed some items worth mentioning. Probably the biggest news is the reduction of the MOOP by one of our three major companies. In 2021 they raised it significantly across the board on all their plans to the maximum allowable by Medicare. It stayed the same in 2022 and many members chose other carriers due to the increase. However, on a select number of plans, including what we feel is their best for 2023, it has been reduced by $3,000 and is now the lowest in the market for those that supply prescription coverage.
If you weren’t aware, there are no preexisting condition clauses with Advantage Plans. Anyone who has Medicare Parts A and B can change plans or companies regardless of their current or prior health, even those who have End Stage Renal Disease. All Advantage Plan companies must accept you and begin to pay claims the 1st day the policy goes into effect. In addition, all Advantage Plans must cover the same categories of benefits. As I’ve written on so many occasions, paying more in premium doesn’t get you any additional coverage for medical services! In fact, we will not be advising our current or potential clients to choose any Advantage Plan that will have a premium above $40 per month in 2023. If you are paying over $40 for your HMO or PPO, you should call or email us to set up an appointment and see side by side why paying more doesn’t equal more.
How will Inflation Affect AEP?
Lastly, due to inflation, we’re expecting this AEP, which begins on October 15th, to be the busiest we’ve ever had in terms of moving people from Supplements to Advantage Plans out of financial necessity. If there was ever a good time to do that, now is it because the most competitive plans have never been better in the 15 years I’ve been in the Medicare industry. For those who don’t like the thought of leaving a Supplement, there is some good news. You may not have to as it appears one of the biggest increases in the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is going to be announced soon. It’s estimated to be from 8.5% to almost 10%. And for once, the raise will not be eaten up by a large Part B premium increase. In fact, many people believe it’s going to remain $170.10.
AEP is right around the corner!
I’d like to remind readers that the Annual Election Period (AEP) is right around the corner. Pre AEP, when plan details are made public, starts October 1st and AEP, when changes to your plan lineup can be made and applications submitted, begins October 15th and runs through December 7th.
If you enjoy the columns, please consider using our no cost services when going on Medicare for the first time or looking at possibly making a change in plans as well as referring friends or family who are. Enrolling new clients in plans, which cost the same whether you use our free services or go directly through a company, helps us cover the expense of the articles so we can continue to run them every week. As brokers, we are appointed to provide plans from every competitive Advantage Plan and Supplement company in Western PA and West Virginia.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this column topic, or would like to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation, please feel free to give us a call – we would be happy to help. I’d like to remind everyone that I do a live call-in talk show called Medicare A to Z every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month on WMBS Uniontown, 590AM and 101.1FM, from 1 to 3 PM. You can listen in on their website, wmbs590.com.
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