Educational posts about Medicare and advertisements for events, products and services targeting Medicare population.
Friday, January 15, 2021
Advantage Plans Deductibles
Original Medicare Deductibles
What's that? How much? Isn't there usually only one deductible?
A deductible is the amount you pay for covered healthcare services and treatments before the insurance starts to pay. Private health plans will usually have only 1 deductible. More working Americans get to choose some version of a High Deductible Plan before the plan picks up the costs. The deductibles are often $1500 - $4000. Sometimes there are deductible tiers (or multiple deductibles) related to specific conditions, such as having a baby.
Medicare has 2 deductibles. One for Part A and one for Part B.
Part A (2021) - $1484
Part B (2021) - $203
After the deductible is met, Medicare picks up 80% of assignment or contracted payment. Medicare-approved doctors can charge up to 15% over assignment, which means Medicare isn't pay 80% anymore but only 73.5% and the consumer pays the rest, called co-insurance.
Part A-Hospital, hospice, skilled nursing facility and home health.
Part B-Out-patient, labs, medical equipment, limited medications, and mental health.
An individual on Medicare or a private health insurance is still covered by the terms of the plan. This means a few things. 1) Only money paid towards covered healthcare services and treatments will count towards the deductible. 2) The doctors and medical professionals need to be Medicare approved, or "take" the private insurance, and 3) the doctors will charge prices based on agreements with Medicare or the hypothetical insurance company.
Medicaid plans don't have deductibles. They are designed to be zero-cost to super-low cost for needy individuals. If someone isn't "needy enough," but their Medicaid starts to pay after they pay a certain amount for covered healthcare, that's called spend-down. This may sound like a deductible, but because folks with spend down aren't restricted to the terms of Medicaid, doctor networks, etc, it's not a deductible. This means the doctors will charge patients with spend-down more than they would normally get paid by Medicaid. If the person with spend down is also on Medicare or a private insurance, the doctors have to charge based on the terms of the primary plan. Usually, only state-approved treatments and spending counts towards the spend-down, but not always. Medicaid can get really tricky, so it's best to get confirmation of coverage from the doctor's office and Medicaid office.
On Medicare, the doctors must treat you if you haven't met your deductible. On private insurance, or with a Medicaid spend down, the doctors might (but not always) refuse to treat you until they receive payment.
There is a lot to cover with deductibles. In a future post I will talk about ways to eliminate the Part A and Part B deductibles. There are supplements, cost plans and MAs available that eliminate these for the consumers. Thank you for reading. Take care.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Medicare vs. Medicaid
What's the difference? Is Medicaid the worst and Medicare the 2nd worst?
MediCARE vs. MedicAID
Pronunciation and spelling are the first major differences. They are both government health insurance administered by the federal agency known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Part B Rebate
The standard premium for Part B in 2021 is $148.50. There are 3 ways to pay less:
- Qualify for Medicaid and the state will pay all or some of your premium
- Get a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan that includes a rebate
- Cancel your Part B enrollment.
If you want to try to get your state to pay your Part B premium, you will have to be approved for medicaid. This is a state benefit that is usually for the low-income, but not always. Some states accept anyone over 65. Some states will never pay the Part B premium. It's worth exploring if are living check-to-check. If order to apply, search your state's websites. In a later post, I will detail some of the general differences between Medicare and medicaid.
If you need to keep major medical insurance and Medicare is your best option, then there *might* be a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan in your area that offers a Part B "premium reduction" or "rebate." Most of the premium reduction or rebates are $15-$40. The plan may or may not include prescription drug coverage. If you have VA benefits, look for MA-only plans. Most areas have them, but not all. You can continue to get your prescriptions thru the VA pharmacies and still get the Part B reduction from the MA plan. Most of the MA-only plans have a Part B premium reduction or rebate upwards to $40. These plans are marketed towards Veterans and have names like Patriot or Honor. The reduction will usually come thru your monthly Social Security check.
For those who need creditable prescription drug coverage, there are MA (MAPD) plans with prescription coverage that offer a monthly rebate or Part B reduction. They will be based on where you live so not everyone, who see this, will be able to enroll in one.
Yes. Unfortunately, Medicare plans are designed for local markets and plans change if you move counties/major cities. These are called service areas. Sometimes nearby service areas have such similar plans no one know the difference.
There is a link below that will take you to Medicare.gov where you can search for local plans without logging in.
From there, you will be asked other questions and eventually get a list of potential plans. There is no easy way to filter for plans that pay towards the Part B premium, but most of them are high deductible plans. Also, the MAPD plans tend to send a "rebate check," and the $148.50 (or more) will still get deducted from your Social Security check.
You will be redirected.
Select Medicare Advantage Plan.
Enter your zip code.
Select "Plan Details" box for potential plan.
For for "Overview."
Look to see Row 5 "Part B premium reduction" Yes or No
Now you will have to search elsewhere or call the carrier for the exact amount.
The last option to save on the Part B premium is to cancel Part B. I only recommend this if you or your spouse currently have coverage thru a group employer plan.
This has been a longer post. Future posts will unwrap some of the generalities like some differences between Medicare and medicaid, or even - What's an Advantage Plan? Thanks for reading this far and please comment or subscribe.
Original Medicare - Part A and B
What is it? How much does it cost?
...Let's jump in.
Part A- Inpatient hospital stays, hospice care, and provides limited "skilled nursing" facility and home health benefits.
Part B- Professional services such as those provided by a doctor, and standard supplies that are needed to diagnose or treat medical conditions. It also covers ambulance, durable medical equipment like wheelchairs, limited out-patient drugs, and psych treatments.
Beneficiaries are said to be "entitled to Part A" and "Enrolled in Part B." This is because generally, most people get Part A at no cost and have to pay a monthly premium for part Part B. The standard premium in 2021 is $148.50.
Don't freak out.
The money is drafted before you get your cut of Social Security. It's the almost the same premium for most retirees and disabled people, and a good majority will never realize or care that they "paid" a premium for Part B.
Now maybe you heard you get can get a reduction or a refund of your Part B premium. There are ways to pay less for Part B, and I will cover that in future posts.
I will eventually post a deep dive into Part A premium and why it's "usually no cost" but sometimes a cost, and the deductibles and co-insurance for Original Medicare, as well as some of the most common limits like the ones for nursing homes and out-patient drugs.
Thank you again for reading. Please leave any comments and come back often.
Sunday, January 10, 2021
What is Medicare? Who has it? How much is it? How do you enroll?
Medicare is a government health insurance administered by the federal agency known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS for short. Unlike the IRS, they are easy to get a hold of on the phone. The customer service agents are friendly and knowledgeable. HOWEVER, they only help partners and people enrolled in Medicare.
Medicare is available to citizens of the United States and most legal permanent residents who are age 65 or older and those under 65 with certain disabilities, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and Lou Gehrig's disease.
Yes! Medicare costs money. For most people, in 2021, the monthly premium for Part B is at least $148.50/month.
To enroll, you must apply through your local Social Security Benefits office. It's usually next door to the office issuing social security cards and dealing with your identity. It's best to call for an appointment.
Why do I said "at least"? And what's this about Part B?
Those questions will be answered in later blog posts. If you aren't already fluent with Medicare jargon, hopefully this blog will get you comfortable. Leave an encouraging comment. The more comments, the more motivated I'll be to keep posting. Thanks for reading and commenting.
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