Saving Money on Medicare Plans

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1 Saving Money on Medicare Plans Tips for making the most of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period Oct Dec All rights reserved. Longevity Alliance, Inc. does business under the name Longevity Alliance Insurance Agency in CA. Longevity LTC, Inc. does business under the name Longevity LTC Insurance Services, Inc.

2 2 Table of Contents Introduction...3 Chapter 1 - All About Deadlines...4 Chapter 2 - Tips for Medicare Advantage...5 Chapter 3 - Tips for Prescription Drug Plan...6 Chapter 4 - Before You Buy...7 Chapter 5 - About Medicare Supplement...8 Chapter 6 - Compare and Save...9 About iquote by Longevity Alliance...10

3 Introduction If you are a Medicare beneficiary, every October your mailbox fills with Medicare health plan information and it seems that the TV ads for Medicare plans are constant. What s going on? It s the Medicare Open Enrollment Period - often referred to as AEP or the fall enrollment period. The Medicare Annual Enrollment period is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. This is the time of year when most anyone can join, switch or drop their Medicare Advantage plan or Part D Prescription Drug plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan (that s a plan that uses a network of doctors and facilities) or a Part D Prescription Drug plan, this is the time to review your current plan and your options for next year. Here s what you need to know in a nutshell. Don t wait! Dec. 8 is too late!

4 Chapter 1 About Open Enrollment If you have been in Medicare a while, you can remember a time when there wasn t this barrage of advertisements. This new enrollment period came in with the launch of Medicare Part D plans in 2006 and it is now a staple of the Medicare enrollment process. Insurance companies that sell Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans are regulated by CMS (Medicare). The companies, and their agents, follow very strict guidelines about marketing Medicare plans. Here are 3 tips about the AEP deadlines: 1. Medicare approves benefit and rates for each Medicare Advantage and Part D plan in the summer. So there is no reason to wait until later in AEP to see if the rates or plans change. Compare plans early in AEP and make your decision without worrying that the rates will change. 2. Your Notice of Plan Changes. In September, you will receive a notice of change mailing from your insurance company. It will identify your rate and plan changes beginning January 1 of the coming year. Read it carefully. 3. Beginning Oct. 1 insurance agents can speak with you about your plan and options for the coming year. On October 15 they can begin to accept plan enrollments. The last day they can accept plan enrollments is December 7. Miss the rush and compare your plan options before Thanksgiving. 4

5 Chapter 2 Medicare Advantage Tips If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, do a thorough review of the plan changes. If you just look at the monthly premium, you may miss some important changes. Here are 6 tips for assessing your plan changes. 1. Co-pays and deductibles. Look for any increases that may increase the out-of-pocket cost of your healthcare. 2. Your monthly premium. Has it increased or decreased and how does that impact your health insurance costs over the year? 3. Doctor and Facility Network - Is your doctor still in the network (call your doctor s office to check)? What about your preferred hospital? If your plan includes prescription drugs, is your favorite pharmacy still participating in your plan? 4. Benefits. Your Medicare Advantage plan must cover the same benefits as Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). But what about those extras, such as vision or health club membership? Any new benefits? Any benefits you liked that are now gone? 5. Maximum payment. What is the maximum amount of out-of-pocket expenses you could incur in a year? This will help you determine how much financial risk you have which can be important if you end up in the hospital. 6. If your plan includes drug coverage, has the drug list (formulary) changed the cost of the drugs you are taking? It is wise to look up each of your prescription drugs and compare it to your current coverage so you won t face a surprise at the pharmacy

6 Chapter 3 Prescription Drug Tips What can seem like small changes in your Part D Prescription Drug plan can mean more money at the pharmacy. So take the time to check how each of your prescriptions are covered in the coming year. Here are 5 tips on what to watch for if your Prescription drug plan changes: 1. Are you in the same plan? There has been some consolidation among the Part D insurance companies. Even if your plan has the same name, make sure you compare benefits and rates very closely. 2. The monthly premium and deductible. Have they gone up, down or stayed the same? 3. Co-pays. It is smart to check each of your prescriptions to see what your co-pay will be next year. The drug list (formulary) will list drugs in tiers - Tier 1, Tier 2, etc. The higher tier numbers usually mean more out of pocket cost to you. 4. Pharmacy network - Check to see that your favorite pharmacy is still in the network. Or what the cost is to have your drugs mailed to you each month. 5. Total drug plan costs - This is a calculation to help you understand the big picture and includes premium, deductible, copays, the donut hole, catastrophic coverage - all of it. It is this calculation that is helpful in more accurate and true comparisons of available plans. 6

7 Chapter 4 Before You Buy 1. Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans have star ratings awarded by Medicare. The star ratings give you a sense of how the plan does in terms of service and benefits in comparison to other plans. The highest star rating is 5, but there are very few. Watch for plans that are ranked 3 or higher. 2. If you are unhappy with your current plan, the more specific you can be about why you are dissatisfied, the more effective the health plan advisor can be in helping you find a better plan. 3. If your financial situation has changed and you have limited income and resources to pay for your prescription drugs, the Extra Help program may be of assistance. Call Social Security ( ) to find out if you qualify for any of the several subsidy programs. 4. If you did not sign up for a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, AEP is the time to sign up for a plan. Unless you had creditable coverage - through an employer or union - you may face a late enrollment penalty for waiting. But future savings on prescription drugs may well be worth it! 5. Remember that Medicare plans are individual plans. You and your spouse do not have to get the same plan or use the same insurance company. Find the plan that best fits your health care needs

8 8 Chapter 5 About Medicare Supplement If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, you don t have to worry about the Medicare Open Enrollment period. You can generally switch Medicare Supplement plans anytime during the year, though you will be subject to some medical questions to see if you qualify for a new plan. Medicare Supplement plans come under a different set of rules. They are regulated by the state insurance department which approves rate increases. Medicare Supplement plans are standardized which means the benefits are the same no matter which insurance company you buy from, but the rates can vary by quite a bit. If you feel your monthly premium is squeezing your budget, you can consider a different letter plan from the same company (less benefits) or compare prices at different companies. A Longevity Alliance health plan advisor can compare rates and plans for you. Make sure you ask whether you will have to answer medical questions and don t cancel any policy until you have a new one in place. Several states have special rules for Open Enrollment periods for Supplements, such as California s Birthday Rule that allows guaranteed issue each year around your birthday. Be sure to ask your Longevity Alliance plan advisor.

9 Chapter 6 Compare To Save The best way to make sure you have the right Medicare plan at the right price is to compare plans from different companies. Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans can change every year: different rates; new benefits; removal of benefits; new drug tiers and co-payments to name a few. And, new plans may come into the market that weren t available last year. Don t just compare plans at one insurance company - compare plans of several Medicare companies to find the best fit. So take advantage of AEP to get a review of your current plan and see if there are other options in the market this year that might be a better fit. Maybe you can save money or maybe not, but only by comparing plans can you find out! Get a review of your plan early in AEP. If your plan is still the right fit for you, keep it and forget about AEP. But if there is a better plan in the market, go ahead and enroll early in AEP and be confident that you ll have your new plan information in hand when 2013 begins!

10 iquote by Longevity Alliance This iquote Medicare AEP Quick Guide provides you with a few basics about Medicare AEP. You can find more information at our website or speak with an iquote Medicare health plan advisor at You ll also find information in the Medicare and You handbook and at or by calling Medicare at Remember, plan rates and benefits can change every year. Your iquote by Longevity Alliance advisor can scan plans in the marketplace for you and help you compare and find the right plan for you. Of course, there is no cost or obligation for the consultation and plan review. We never visit your home. All of our business is conducted by phone, and mail. So, don t let AEP go by without checking your Medicare health plan! It is an easy way to see if you can save on your Medicare health plan Longevity Alliance, Inc. a licensed insurance agency certified to sell Medicare products. Longevity Alliance is not associated with or endorsed by Medicare, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, (CMS) the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or any other government agency. AEP Guide Booklet 9/

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