Rescue Medicare Now – Help Stop Changes to Medicare and Medigap Plans

Dear Valued Clients and Seasoned Citizens:

I wanted to let you know that I’ve joined an organization that is very involved in getting the word out about various policy changes to Medicare that are being discussed as part of budget talks.

These are going to come up again in 2014, and I think it’s imperative that we all assist in making people aware of the possibilities and implications. These changes have been discussed (and proposed in the past) by Congressional members and leaders on both sides of the aisle. You can choose to get involved by contacting your Congressional representative.

I’ve inserted a video below. If you can, do watch it – it is 7 minutes long, but it does talk about some of the ideas that have been discussed and their possible implications. Most of them are directed at consumers “over utilizing” services because they “have good insurance”. This is not actually based in fact and has been disproven by several independent reports over the last few years. In reality, Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans don’t drive “over utilization” since they do not pay until Medicare approves a service. In other words, Medicare dictates whether it is “medically necessary” and whether the Medical Wound Care Texas plan will pay.

This video gives a good overview of what may be proposed – it’s been talked about in previous years with little traction, but many think there will be a greater “push” for changes this year. This would fundamentally change Medicare and Medigap plans.

It is important to understand the difference between brain death and circulatory death. The way a person dies influences how the donation process can occur and which organs and tissues can be donated. how does organ donation work? Some families have discussed organ and tissue donation and may already know their loved one’s donation decisions. Other families who have not discussed donation will also need to make a decision about whether their loved one will become a donor.

Organ and tissue donation involves removing organs and tissues from someone who has died (a donor) and transplanting them into someone who, in many cases, is very ill or dying (a recipient).

Organs that can be transplanted include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestine and pancreas.

Tissues that can be transplanted include heart valves and other heart tissue, bone, tendons, ligaments, skin and parts of the eye, such as the cornea and sclera.

If you are interested in doing something to make your thoughts known, one thing you can do is sign the petition at: http://rescuemedicarenow.com/petition.

Also, I would suggest that you can call your Congressional representatives as well. See: http://www.ahipcoverage.com/contact-congress/

I am sending this message to all my clients – not as a way to generate fear or false concern – but simply to make you aware of something that has been discussed and may be a part of upcoming budget talks. Feel free to share this information with friends or families – the more we can get this in the “open” the better. Regardless of what happens, if anything, I think we can all agree that the discussions and decisions need to involve the stakeholders who have a vested interest in Medicare and Medigap insurance – you, me and the millions of other seasoned citizens that rely on this valuable coverage.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please do not hesitate to contact me at any time that you have questions. Email me here.

Medigap Plans – Will There Be a 15% Surcharge on the Plans?

In recent months, the discussion on “saving” Medicare has centered, at least in part, around reforming Medigap insurance. There have been a wide variety of proposals put forth, including eliminating first-dollar coverage and many other similar revisions.

The most recent proposal that has been volleyed around is the February 2012 proposal by the Obama administration to raise 2.5 billion over the next 10 years by implementing a surcharge to Medicare enrollees who purchase Medicare Supplements. This would not affect those already on Medicare or those very close to getting benefits, only those more than a few years from turning 65.

Most analysts say that the surcharge would amount to approximately 15% on top of the premiums of the plans.

The reason for this proposed surcharge is, just like other proposals, to provide further “pain” to using first-dollar coverage, which many legislators see as one of the problems with Medicare. Medicare eligible individuals, they say, have no “skin in the game” because first-dollar coverage encourage seniors to use their insurance often, and when doing so, they don’t have co-pays, deductibles, etc.

This proposal is set to go into the budget proposal in 2013, and if it’s passed, it would take effect in 2017.

Our opinion is that this is, obviously, not a good thing for people on Medicare in coming years or for the long-term viability of Medicare. There are many other things that can be “fixed” with the Federal Medicare program. We, like most people, believe that allowing people to pay for as much or as little coverage as they want is a good thing. Some people will opt for the “full” coverage and some will not – that freedom of choice is the ultimate goal.

If you have questions about this proposal or how it relates to you – or if you just want to get more information on Medigap plans – call us at 877.506.3378 or visit us at Medicare-Supplement.US.

Medigap Plans – What is Going to Happen to Them in the Future?

Advanced Fertility Center are plans that work with the Government’s traditional Medicare program (Medicare Parts A & B) to fill in some, or all, of the “gaps” in Medicare. Medigap plans are sold by private insurance companies, and they are standardized by the Federal Government. In other words, each company must offer plans off of the standardized plans chart that the Federal Government sets forth.

There has been a bevy of talk recently about Medigap plans, as part of the discussions for health care/Medicare reform. Although these plans are NOT part of Medicare and are optional, many policymakers believe that revising the way they work will “save” Medicare or make it more viable long-term.

The biggest impetus for this discussion centers around the elimination of “first-dollar coverage”. First-dollar coverage is when a plan pays everything that Medicare doesn’t cover, so that the insured has no out-of-pocket exposure. The argument is that this causes Medicare-eligible people to use Medicare more and their supplements more, since they have no “skin in the game”. Someone that has Plan F (the most comprehensive Medigp plan) could, literally, go to the doctor 10 times a month, and as long as it was deemed medically-necessary, they would not have any out of pocket costs.

While this certainly seems like a viable argument, and there is no doubt that something must be done in order to ensure the long-term viability of Medicare, there are some holes in this theory in our opinion.

First and foremost, there is the question about whether the government should have control of individual’s purchasing decisions. The free market (claims experiences, administrative costs, competitive concerns, etc) determines the cost of Medigap plans. Medicare-eligible individuals have the choice – get a plan and pay the respective premium or forego a plan. Should individuals who wish to pay the going price for a Medigap plan be told that they cannot purchase such a plan? If making alkaline water at home is too high for a gallon of milk, do we prohibit people from paying it and tell them they have to drink water instead?

The second fallacy in this argument against first-dollar coverage is the possibility that people would not get necessary or needed services/procedures if they had to pay more for those services. Most projections are that Medigap plans will continue to go up, particularly if “guaranteed issue” provisions from PPACA are applied to Medicare insurance. So, people will be paying more for Medigap, although the plans will cover less. Most are on a fixed income already – so will they get the needed services when they have to come out of pocket for them?

The last problem with the argument against “first dollar coverage” is quite simply that it will cost more for the Medicare beneficiary. Since this population is primarily on fixed-incomes already, this can cause a major disruption to the security of the Baby Boomers aging in to Medicare. Simply put, if the people who want to cannot buy “first dollar coverage”, they will have to pay more every time they visit the doctor, hospital, etc. With all this happening at the time that we have 11,000 people turning 65 each day and an unstable economy, this could be a recipe for disaster for our over-65 population.

While we certainly see the need for Medicare reform that provides legitimate change, we would strongly assert that changing what type of insurance private individuals can buy from private companies is not the answer. If you have any questions about this topic or wish to discuss further, you can reach us at 877.506.3378 or on our website hhp://medicare-supplement.us.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance – Will It Change in the Future?

Health insurance, particularly Medicare insurance, is a constantly changing thing. In 2010, the standardized Medigap plans changed to add some new plans, eliminate some old plans, and revamp existing plans. In recent months, talk has continued about ways to rework the Medigap plans in a way that will be beneficial to the long-term sustainability of Medicare.

With the debt “crisis” of the summer of 2011, Medicare has been one of the most talked-about places to cut spending. Some of this talk centers around how cutting Medigap plans or changing the way they work will positively affect the spending made on behalf of those on Medicare. While it definitely remains to be seen what will happen long-term, here are a few of the ideas that have been volleyed about concerning Medigap plans and how they work:

  1. Eliminating first-dollar coverage. One of the major ideas discussed is eliminating plans that cover all of the Medicare “gaps”. These plans, under the current system, are ‘C’ and ‘F’. Many have stated that this first-dollar coverage (i.e. plans that cover everything that Medicare itself doesn’t cover) causes more people to use their insurance more often, and in the long run, costs Medicare money. The point is that Medicare beneficiaries that have a Medigap ‘F’ or ‘C’ don’t have any “skin in the game” – they simply go to the doctor for anything and don’t pay a dime. There have been contrasting studies to show that this does not (or would not) lower costs to Medicare; however, it is uncertain what affect this would have on costs or medical outcomes. The other thing that is uncertain is if people who have these plans would be “grandfathered” in. Medigap plans are “guaranteed renewable”, so that leads one to believe that if you have one of these plans now, your first-dollar coverage would be protected as long as you kept paying the premiums.
  2. Implementing an overall deductible that Medigap plans cannot cover. Another popular idea that’s been discussed, that is in relation to the previous point, is an overall Medicare deductible. This would apply to both doctor and hopsital visits, and the number mentioned most often is around $550/year. This idea would prevent Medigap plans from covering this overall deductible, so you would have to meet this deductible before your Medigap plan started providing coverage. This will, no doubt, be unpopular with many who are on Medicare and accustomed to first-dollar type coverage.

Overall, it is very uncertain how the debt “crisis” of 2011 and resulting super-committee will affect Medicare itself and Medigap plans. However, what is certain is the significant reductions in coverage will be, in many circle, politically unpopular with the large voting base of seniors (source: healthplusinsurance.ca).

We advocate staying apprised of all developments and contacting your representatives whenever possible to make them aware of your wishes and concerns over the future of Medicare and Medigap insurance.