Open enrollment for Medicare Supplement So you are turning 65 or turning 65 soon and you are going on Medicare. Congrats! You may think that my saying congrats to you is cheesy. Ok maybe? At least you made it to 65. Some people don’t. Now, whats the process of signing up for Medicare, getting my Medicare card, and open enrollment for Medicare Supplement? Or do I even need a Medicare Supplement? Good question. My significant other has this saying. She says “we are only one sickness away from bankruptcy” That may sound harsh or a good scare tactic but it happens. Here is a true story. One of my Medicare supplement clients was asking me for a quote for his wife. So I gave them a quote and a lot of times people say Ok-we’ll get back to you. Well, they never did. So I thought nothing of it and then one day I received a phone call. The call was from her husband and he asked-Mitch my wife is in the hospital and not doing well. Wow, I hate getting those calls. He said she has a rare illness and is going to have to stay for more than just a few days. Gosh, I said I’m sorry. Then he asked a question that some people ask and He said Is there anything that you can do? I thought immediately about our conversation when he said we’ll get back to you. I said I am sorry, there is nothing I can do. He was in a tough spot. He is worried about his wife. He is worried about his finances. Wondering what the heck can I do? How did we get into this? Well, his wife pulled through, Thankfully He called me again and asked Mitch we have a $200,000 dollar hospital bill. Wow! He, of course, regretted not taking a policy out on his wife. He wanted to know what he could do to start paying it back. Did I have any ideas or connections to help him? I did what I could for him. Frankly, there is not much you can do. He had to start paying it back. Wow! Again. You may think well this I an extreme case. This would not happen to me! Some people think and determine the average hospital stay is only 3 days and most people can afford that. If you are using that kind of logic then you need to think again. Here are some stats Once you reach Medicare it is a 50/50 chance you are going to go into the hospital and possibly a rehab facility. The odds get worse as you get older. Do you really want to gamble on your health? When you get in a desperate situation like my client was in, many people start grasping at straws. Calling social workers, get donations at some local businesses. You’ve seen it. There is a jar for people to donate with a persons picture and a sad story to follow. I see those from time to time. Or if you go on the internet there are whats called go fund me account. It’s a story like the same one I told you but it’s an electronic version of the jar. This happens a lot. People get sick. They don’t have coverage. They put it off. Etc etc etc with excuses we all use as follows: I’ll do that next week. Yeah, I will think about it-getting coverage. Oh you know, I have a good bloodline in my family and we are all pretty healthy. Say what? Can you predict the future? If you can sign me up with whatever you’ve got!
Another excuse- oh well my kids will take care of me. Really? Folks I have a background in health care. Here what happens most of the time – kids have their own life with jobs, their children, wives, and friends. Yes, your kids love you and you may think they owe you something for raising them. Kids just don’t have time especially nowadays due to the cost of living, economy and so forth. If the kids do take care of you, it won’t be long until they just can’t. It’s a lot of work and stress to be a caregiver to an adult. I have seen it first hand. Sometimes the kids will hire caregivers and that has its own set of problems- i.e. there are strangers in my house now. Can I trust them? Are they going to steal anything? Can they meet the schedule and demands for Mom or Dad? Will they show up when I ask them too? Many people find that this is not easy. It’s hard finding someone dependable, qualified and trustworthy. The saying is its hard to find good help. Sometimes it’s sad when the children all get together and talk about placing Mom or Dad in a nursing home. Why, how did it come to this? Stop and think for a minute. You may have known someone that this has happened to. Is it really worth NOT getting a policy? I don’t want to be in that scenario. It takes its toll. So back to what you can do about not getting in a crisis. Step 1 is signing up for Medicare. IEP or initial enrollment period goes from 3 months before you turn 65 and includes the month you are 65 and 3 months after 65. Most people have signing up for Medicare on their radar. Usually, but not always you may be contacted by the Social Security Administration 3 months before you turn 65 to get you enrolled. Step 2 should be step 4 (get an experienced agent) – start looking at different Medicare Supplement plans to meet your needs. My advice is to steer clear of Medicare Advantage. There are stories out there about people who enrolled in that and things didn’t go so well.
Step 4 Find an agent- this is imperative that you find an experienced agent. Some action plans say call the insurance company and directly enroll that way. Big mistake
The insurance company will gladly help you and take your money. You will get all the attention you deserve when you are signing up. So jump ahead a few months after you have bought your policy directly from an insurance company. Now that they have our business. You may not get the expected attention you deserve. You may have trouble with a claim? When I get a rate increase, what can the company do for me not to pay so much? After all most people have a fixed income. Can I speak with the same person that I bought the policy directly from an insurance company each time? If I have questions? Who am I speaking to-an actual agent or broker? Heres what NOT getting an agent/broker for your open enrollment for Medicare Supplement: You don’t get to talk to the same person each time you call. Some are NOT agents. You could be speaking to someone that really doesn’t give a flip about you. Those are the people that only care about getting paid $8-$9 dollars an hour as an assistant or phone operator. There is no continuity. When you get a rate increase- that company who you directly bought a policy from has little to no options for you. Can you help me with a claim? Good luck. Your agent/broker is a middle man. He or she does most likely care about you. They don’t want to lose business or have a word of mouth out there that my agent would not help me. You
do have a personal one on one contact. Agents most likely are going to take the time because YOU are important. At least that’s the way it is in my practice. You get personal service. You have options to change if you get a rate increase and qualify. So let me explain about what I can do for you in my practice. You turn 65 go onto Medicare. I go into some education about a plan suited for your needs. I explain the differences in the plans available and make a recommendation, I have different companies available. You are not just stuck with one. I can offer you options. I am a Medicare expert or guru. In fact, my twitter handle is @medsuppguru. I know Medicare, remember what I wrote earlier. I have a background in health care. I use that to YOUR advantage. I know the health questions on applications. I know medications when a client tells me what they are taking. I have actually billed Medicare for my services as being co-owner of a Physical Therapy practice. I know claims, codes, drg groups etc. You won’t get that with a typical agent/broker. I know my stuff! So its is vitally important to pick an experienced agent. When you turn 65 you are on whats called Open Enrollment. Please don’t blow this. Open enrollment for Medicare supplement means you can sign up for a Medicare Supplement 3-6 months in advance. Or if you wait until your birthday the clock starts ticking for 6 months. This is important. In fact according to Medicare. When turning 65 its the best time to purchase a Medicare Supplement. Plus you don’t have to answer ANY health questions!!!!
Meaning- if you have some illness or per- existing condition, the insurance company by law must accept you. Most people understand that this is critical. Becacuse if you wait after you 6 month open enrollment period and don’t sign up, you may not be able to get coverage. Your options are limited. You may not be able to answer all the health questions on a companies application. This happens! People wait until the last minute to sign up and they have missed that open enrollment for Medicare supplement period. So here is my advice and most agents/brokers would agree. Don’t wait and don’t wait until the last minute! This is not a game. You don’t get to have a do over. Its important to lock in your price on a particular plan. We as agents/brokers sometimes don’t know when a certain company will implement a rate increase. Get this over with! Procastination- wont help. Get the “monkey off your back”! Most people don’t want this thing on their plate. Medicare is confusing and so are the ins and outs of Medicare Supplements. It’s scary not to make the right decision. The good news is on open enrollment you have options. So lets say you find an agent and you enroll in a plan before you 6 months are gone, You think hmmm. I might want to change to a different company or a different plan. You have a 30 day free- look period where you can change your company your plan. Now after the 6 months of open enrollment, you still have that 30 day free look period with your Medicare Supplement. However, if you have health problems, your choices get narrowed. So what the point is – you have a way out during open enrollment if you think you have not picked the right company or plan. Now, hopefully, you get a good/agent/broker that places you with the right company and plan so you do not have to worry and ask yourself –did I make a mistake? Thankfully most of the time that doesn’t happen. So after you purcahased your Medicare Supplement you can be at peace and don’t have that monkey on your back. You don’t wait until the last minute. Its now time usualy to talk about Part D prescription drug coverage and Long term care. In my practice, I will help you find the right Part D plan. I don’t mean to scare you but if you think Medicare and Supplements are confusing you havenet seen nothing yet. The inner workings of Part D plans have so many moving pieces. All plans and companies have different prices, deductibles, co pays, restrictions. Whats really not fair is if you don’t sign up for a Part D plan after you enroll in Medicare then you will get penalized 1% each month that you don’t have one. Really? This is not fair. So say you don’t enroll because hey, you are not on any medications or only taking a few and they are generic you don’t feel the need to pay a premium for a plan. So you wait 3 years and now, unfortunately, you have an illness. You need a plan now because now you have to take a pricy drug. The prices when you could have enrolled in A Part D plan were$24.00 monthly. Now you have been penalized for 36 months- your premium is around $33.00 dollars. That might not be too bad. It’s the people who wait 5-6 years that are now forced into a plan because of an illness that really pay the price-no pun intended. Here is what an agent told me and it’s a good point. You are not sick now at 65. However, is your health likely going to get better or worse when you get older? I think you know the answer to that. For most of us, it’s not going to get better. So the moral to the story is don’t procrastinate. Better to make a decision rather than waiting. Myself, I couldn’t wait or just not take a plan. The odds are against you. Most people will take out life insurance, homeowners insurance and auto insurance. A couple of these you have to get coverage by law. But they don’t get health insurance/ Medicare Supplement. This usually is no reward in this case for taking a risk and then getting an illness or have an accident take you down financially. Again the odds are not on your side. I hope you have enjoyed this article even though some of it deals with reality. I do my best to help people because I do still have a conscious. If you have any questions about this blog or anything insurance related, my toll-free number is 866-598-8170 Monday-Friday. 9am-5pm Eastern time. Contact Mitch Winstead. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is www.allstarseniorbentfits.com My Facebook page is : https://ww.facebook.com/medsuppguru.