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Choosing a Medicare plan
Old 02-23-2013, 09:13 AM   #1
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Choosing a Medicare plan

I am feeling overwhelmed. I'll be 65 in June so I'm eligible for Medicare June 1 and the variety and types of plans are driving me nuts. OTOH I am currently on my state's high risk pool for insurance so anything will be better than that. Does anyone have a suggestion for how to approach this?

I am being bombarded with helpful insurance sellers' brochures. I never knew my birthday was so important to so many apart from myself Thanks!
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:25 AM   #2
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Having been where you are a couple of years ago, my advice is to throw all the "helpful" mail you're getting from insurance companies in the trash. I found the best source of information was Medicare.gov: the official U.S. government site for Medicare. There you can find very clear explanations about how Medicare works, the other types of insurance you should consider (Medicare Supplements, Part D, etc.) and even who you can contact locally to help guide you through the process.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:20 PM   #3
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thinker, good advice given to go to the medicare.gov web site and look around to get the feel of things. You can also go to the search bar above on the forum where this subject has been hashed and bashed for years. I would suggest you search all the sites mentioned and make notes as you go. Then come back armed to the teeth with your questions. Good luck.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:32 PM   #4
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thinker, good advice given to go to the medicare.gov web site and look around to get the feel of things. You can also go to the search bar above on the forum where this subject has been hashed and bashed for years. I would suggest you search all the sites mentioned and make notes as you go. Then come back armed to the teeth with your questions. Good luck.
Thanks to both responders. I have looked extensively at the medicare.gov site and it makes me crazy with too many choices and too many pages to go to to see what the real cost will be for me. It has to be less than I'm paying now ($941/month) so there's that to look forward to

I'll search for the older posts and see what I find there.

Specific questions include: Medicare Advantage vs Medigap - and which plan like G or F or whatever.... It took me forever to figure out what advantage meant

I know I need part D - and yet there are so many options for part D that it seems impossible to really get a handle on which is best for me. I do take a lot of prescription drugs and obviously want one that covers the expensive drugs. But the charts are comical - there's a drug at Walmart that is $4 a month that their chart lists as over $6, for example (and obviously that's a cheap drug).

The good news is I can change my plan effective 1/1/14 - I'm not locked into it forever...
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:53 PM   #5
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Thinker, a couple of threads you might find interesting and useful.
Medicare Enrollment Question
Selecting Medicare Options
Almost 65 and pondering medicare supplement/advantage policies

While you can change your plan in the future there still are some pre-existing conditions limitations. When you enroll you can choose any level of coverage but, one chosen, you cannot always increase it.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:28 PM   #6
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We are on a Medicare Advantage plan, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida. It's officially called Florida Blue. We like it but the one thing to be careful of is that if you join an Advantage plan, you just can't go back to Medicare and get a supplemental plan. You can go back to Medicare anytime (I mean annually) but you may not be able to buy a supplemental plan. The insurance company would have to accept you. Now, In 2014 I don't know what is going to happen. My sister and BIL stay with Medicare and they buy a supplemental plan F, which they say is the best plan (for them anyway). All you have to shop for is price because all Plan F's have to offer the same coverage. I can't vouch for that, I'm just talking.
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Old 02-24-2013, 08:50 AM   #7
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This old post of mine may help. (post #24 in this thread: Selecting Medicare Options ) I was very confused myself. Parts and Plans are two different things.

Cheers.
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:23 PM   #8
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Thanks to all - this is really helping. I thought it would be easy but... I need a good part D, that's easy. I think I need a good part F to get the most coverage. Sigh. I have had medical issues in the past so I want good coverage. TANSTAAFL. Damn!
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:27 PM   #9
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I think I need a good part F to get the most coverage.
+1

Consider the high deductible version as an option to save some $.
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Old 02-24-2013, 05:34 PM   #10
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+1

Consider the high deductible version as an option to save some $.
Thanks, will check into that one.
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:23 PM   #11
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I turned 65 last August. I bought AARP United Health care plan F. It cost me 124.95 per month. I pay no co pay for doctors.

https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/home.html
This is just one of the many that is out there. I just choose this one because it was recommenced by a friend who had it.

I have been to many doctors in the last 6 month and so far it has been great. It is well worth your money if you visit the doctors office a lot. I also had several very expensive tests and I paid nothing. Again I would suggest this if you have health problems. For someone who is blessed with good health then another plan would be better. I have a drug plan with another company and it is also good. I pay $24.50 a month for that one. If you have taking many drugs then you will have to choose a different plan than mine. I agree, it is very confusing as you approach 65. I still get mail about different plans and just throw them in the trash. oldtrig
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:44 PM   #12
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We went to a health insurance broker, she explained all the medicare parts and answered our questions and gave her recommendations based on my wife's medical history and preferences. Best part there was no charge and no pressure on our selection.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:06 PM   #13
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I had to make the Medicare choices for the first time this past October. What really simplified it for me was my decision to compare the various plan options based not on the premiums and benefits -- which can leave you dizzy -- but on the total annual worst case cost scenario I would have under each plan. I quickly realized that a high deductible Plan F for my Medicare Part B supplement was my way to go.

On an annual basis, I now pay $1260 to Uncle Sam for Medicare Part B, $636 for a High-Deductible Plan F Medicare Supplement policy (that's just $53 a month), and $222 for a Plan D (prescriptions) plan. So that's a total of $2118 annually in premiums.

Then this is the worst case scenario on my deductibles: $2110 for the Plan F and $325 for the Plan D policies. So that's a total of $2435 in deductibles before the insurance company actually has to start covering the 20% of expenses that Medicare does not, and begins covering some of the drug costs I might have.

That brings my total annual worst case scenario on the first $10,550 of health expenses -- if I get sick enough -- to $4553. After that, all my medical and hospital costs are covered. Prescription out-of-pocket costs are something I can't predict without knowing what the drugs might be.

I'm pretty happy with that arrangement. It sets up a $5000 per year all-inclusive cap on potential medical expenses for me (at age 65).

Alex in Virginia

P.S. -- For my geographical area, Humana was my best choice for the above coverages.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:17 PM   #14
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That brings my total annual worst case scenario on the first $10,550 of health expenses -- if I get sick enough -- to $4553. After that, all my medical and hospital costs are covered. Prescription out-of-pocket costs are something I can't predict without knowing what the drugs might be.

I'm pretty happy with that arrangement. It sets up a $5000 per year all-inclusive cap on potential medical expenses for me (at age 65).
I don't disagree with choosing Plan F. DH went on Medicare last October and for much the same reason he chose Plan F.

That said, I would suggest that you might consider budgeting for more than $5000 per year, depending on what you consider medical expenses. That is some things that are general not covered: hearing exams and hearing aids, glasses and eye exams, dental care, some foot care. Also, while perhaps not likely to occur there could be instances when Medicare would not pay for care that you might consider necessary. For example, your doctor thinks you need to be in the hospital 8 days and Medicare will pay for only 6. There are limits in Medicare and supplemental plans for how many hospital days that will be paid for, as well. Most will never bump up against the limit but something to be aware of.

Here is the brochure on things not covered:

http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Educ...tICN906765.pdf
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:41 AM   #15
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With respect to part D, prescription drugs, consider the following which my wife and I practice to keep our cost down. We buy allmost all of our generic prescription drugs at WalMart. Most fall into the $6 or $10 range for 90 day supplies. This method keeps those costs out of the "donut hole" calculation. If I get the generics through my prescription drug pharmacy, our copay PLUS their cost goes toward the donut hole. However, I'm not sure how this thinking would work with the new law taking affect in 2014.
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Old 02-25-2013, 09:37 AM   #16
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I turned 65 last August. I bought AARP United Health care plan F. It cost me 124.95 per month. I pay no co pay for doctors.
...(snip)...
I signed up for this one too. Costs probably vary depending on where you live. I've been with UniteHealthcare for some years and it's been OK. Will start this on March 1 and am looking forward to the lower costs.

You have to also join AARP for some nominal fee to get this plan.
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:32 PM   #17
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We went to a health insurance broker, she explained all the medicare parts and answered our questions and gave her recommendations based on my wife's medical history and preferences. Best part there was no charge and no pressure on our selection.
I "may" be a little slow in understanding this stuff. How did you find a health insurance broker that you thought would offer good advice?

I don't know how to get started in this new-to-me area.

Edited to add: I just noticed the no charge part. I of course would like free but am willing to pay for good advice.

Thanks,
Mike D.
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:50 PM   #18
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I "may" be a little slow in understanding this stuff. How did you find a health insurance broker that you thought would offer good advice?

I don't know how to get started in this new-to-me area.

Edited to add: I just noticed the no charge part. I of course would like free but am willing to pay for good advice.

Thanks,
Mike D.
i would check out the medicare advantage plans in your area. get a 4or5 star one
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:00 PM   #19
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I "may" be a little slow in understanding this stuff. How did you find a health insurance broker that you thought would offer good advice?

I don't know how to get started in this new-to-me area.

Edited to add: I just noticed the no charge part. I of course would like free but am willing to pay for good advice.

Thanks,
Mike D.
My company had a mass layoff in 08 and one of my ex-coworkers recommended the insurance broker that had saved their family a lot of money since they couldn't afford cobra. When we went off cobra we went to the broker and they were very helpful to transition me to HD HSA and the state high risk pool for my wife. When my wife turned 65 they took care of us for medicare as well. We expect to go back next fall to see if I should switch to Obamacare or stick with my HD HSA. They do a great job advising and you don't have to pay any fees.
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:57 PM   #20
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I tend to work out the worst case scenario too - although I hadn't done it on Medicare (yet).

I am on lots of drugs. There are some cards that give discounts - and yes, taking all the WalMart generic deals off the insurance is a good idea. Also apparently taking my most expensive drugs and buying them with a discount card - not through medicare part D - might keep me out of the donut hole.... and might cost less.

rxreliefcard.com is one I've checked out.

(Off topic - I am trying to play Castleville on one computer and this forum on the other - I must be insane!)
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