Updates & Info

New Medicare Cards to be Issued

Medicare will mail new Medicare cards to all Medicare beneficiaries between April 2018 and April 2019. Your new card will have a new number that’s unique to you using a combination of eleven letters and numbers, replacing your Social Security number. The new card will not change your coverage or benefits.
This change in ID numbers is required by a law enacted two years ago and will help to reduce identity theft. You do not need to take any action to get your new Medicare card. Until you receive a new card in the mail, you should take steps to protect your current card. Do not carry your Medicare card unless you are on your way to a health care appointment. Instead, make a copy and black out all but the last four digits.
Be wary that scammers may devise ways to take advantage of you during the transition to the new cards. Do not be fooled if someone calls or visits you demanding you allow them to switch out your card. Medicare will not send someone to your home or phone you asking for personal information such as your Medicare number. Other points to remember:
• Medicare does not email or visit homes unannounced to “update’ or “verify” data that it already has.
• Medicare will never threaten you with a loss of your benefits for not making an immediate change.
• If you receive a phone call about this, ignore that your caller-id may show that the call is from Medicare or CMS. This is likely a phony caller-id that helps the scammers look more believable.
• When in doubt, contact the Medicare helpline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-633-4227.

If you would like to learn more about Medicare, please join me for my class, Getting Started with Medicare. You will find a list of upcoming classes at www.mutskoinsurance.com/seminars. For all other questions on insurance, including life, health, dental, vision and Medicare Advantage plans, contact me at 440-255-5700. I look forward to helping you.

An Agent or an 800 Number?

It is as predictable as the season’s changing. Your mailbox will soon be overflowing with letters and brochures on all the different Medicare Advantage Plans. You will see television ad after ad, each claiming their Advantage plan provides the most comprehensive coverage. Most will ask you to go online or call an 800 phone number to sign up. The question is, how do you know which plan to choose?
There is a better way. Before you decide, talk to an independent insurance representative who can sit down face-to-face with you and help you find the right plan for you. Independent brokers represent a number of companies and can explain how coverage differs. They will look for a plan that suits your needs and budget.
Best of all, you will not pay any more for your insurance if you purchase your Advantage Plan or Part D Prescription Drug Plan through an independent broker instead of an 800 number. Brokers and agents are compensated by the insurance company, not the customer.
As an independent agent and broker, I provide my clients with many other services as well, including:
Unbiased Advice: I help my clients choose a plan covering their preferred doctors, hospitals and prescription drugs. I also have a good idea of which companies have the best track record when it comes to pleasing their customers.
Help with questions: My customers have me to turn to when they have questions. That’s a lot better than an 800 number where you may reach a different customer service representative every time you call.
Help with claims: I help my clients navigate the rules and regulations and provide assistance if they need help filing a claim or an appeal. It is personal service that sets the independent representative apart from an 800 number.
No charge for service: There is never a charge for any of these services. They are all a part of the ‘package’ you get when you choose Mutsko Insurance Services. Call me, Laura Mutsko at Mutsko Insurance Services at 440-255-5700 before you decide on a Medicare Advantage Plan for 2017. Information on new plans will be available after October 15 when Open Enrollment begins.

Look who’s eligible for Medicare this year

What do Bob Costas, Liam Neeson and Roseanne Barr have in common?  They will all be celebrating their 65th birthday in 2017, making them eligible for Medicare.  Here are some others who will turn 65 before the end of the year.

March 22 – Bob Costas, journalist

April 10 – Steven Seagal, actor

May 2 – Christine Baranski, actress

May 15 – Chazz Palminteri, actor

May 18 – George Strait, country music singer

May 21 – Mr. T, actor and professional wrestler

June 7 – Liam Neeson, actor

June 18 – Isabella Rossellini, actress, and Carol Kane, actress and comedian

June 20 – John Goodman, actor

July 1 – Dan Aykroyd, comedian and actor

July 17 – David Hasselhoff, Baywatch actor

Sept. 9 – Angela Cartwright, The Sound of Music actress

Sept. 25 – Mark Hamill. actor

Oct. 22 – Jeff Goldblum, actor

Nov. 3 – Roseanne Barr, comedian and actress

Nov. 8 – Alfre Woodard, actress

Nov. 30 – Mandy Patinkin, actor, Homeland star

Please explain more about the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS).

The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) is a survey of people who currently have Medicare. It is used to provide feedback to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on how people get their health care, the rising cost of health care, and how satisfied people are with their care. The information is used to help CMS better understand the needs of Americans on Medicare.
You may be selected to be a part of the sample group of 16,000 individuals who are asked to participate in this survey each year. Letters from Medicare go out to potential participants in late summer explaining that someone from NORC at the University of Chicago will be in touch to set up an interview.
A professional interviewer will contact you in person or by phone to setup a visit. If you agree to participate in the study, the interview will take about one hour. Your participation in the survey is strictly voluntary.
Those selected to participate represent thousands of other people similar to them. If you are selected, literally no one else can take your place in the study. All of your information will be strictly confidential as prescribed by The Federal Privacy Act of 1974. Your participation is voluntary and your Medicare benefits cannot be affected in any way by the answers that you provide, or by whether or not you choose to participate.
If you are invited to participate and would like to verify your selection in this study, please contact NORC toll free at 1-877-389-3429. You can also visit the respondent website at www.mcbs.norc.org for more detailed information.
The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey is important to the future of Medicare. Please consider helping in this national effort to improve your Medicare program.

Search for Unclaimed Funds

The Department of Commerce has released a new list of unclaimed funds accounts.  You may have hundreds, even thousands of dollars waiting for you to claim.

Unclaimed funds are accounts that have gone dormant. They may be a forgotten insurance policy, an uncashed check or a forgotten rent, phone or electricity deposit.  More than 53,000 claims were paid out in 2013, with each one averaging $1292.

An updated list of unclaimed funds accounts is available on the Department of Commerce’s Online Treasure Hunt at http://www.com.ohio.gov/unfd/.  The website also has forms for individuals and organizations to use in claiming their money.

Anyone with questions about unclaimed funds can call the Division toll free at 1-877-644-6823 (OHIO UCF).

Getting the best buy on prescription drugs

Don’t automatically use your insurance for prescription drugs.  

Hundreds of commonly used generic medications can be purchased for as little as $10 for a three-month supply at grocery stores, major drugstores and club stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. You may find some drugs usually covered by your insurance might be less expensive if you pay cash instead using your insurance.

 

 

The Positive Side of the Affordable Care Act

Let’s face it. Health Care Reform got off to a rocky start. For months, we have been hearing all the negatives about the program. But, in spite of all the negative publicity, there are a lot of good things about Health Care Reform that will be life-changing for you and your family.

Let’s take a few moments to put aside everything we’ve been hearing and take a look at some of the positive aspects of Health Care Reform.

Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions

Health insurers can no longer raise your premiums, refuse to cover you or drop you from your plan because you have cancer, asthma, diabetes, arthritis – – – or any other medical condition.  You will be able to get health insurance coverage regardless of any pre-existing conditions.

Coverage will Include Preventive

Diabetes and cholesterol screenings, mammograms and immunizations are all covered. This means you can catch the little things before they turn into bigger problems. Your coverage will also include services like flu shots, and smoking cessation and diet counseling to make staying healthy a lot easier. Under the law, children under age 19 will be able to get their teeth cleaned twice a year, as well as receive X-rays, fillings and medically necessary orthodontia. In addition, children under age 19 will be entitled to an eye exam and one pair of glasses or set of contact lenses a year.

Lifetime Dollar Limits are Gone

In the past, health insurers could set a limit on how much your plan would pay over a specified period of time. If you had a bad year or an expensive illness, your coverage might run out. This dollar limit will be fully phased out by 2014. 

Financial Help with Tax Credit or a Subsidy

Many people will qualify for a tax credit or a subsidy if they purchase coverage through the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Not everyone will qualify for this help, but if your earnings are below a certain level and you don’t have access to other affordable coverage through an employer-sponsored plan or state assisted plan like Medicaid, you may qualify for this financial assistance.

The plan you select will determine your premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Call me at 440-255-5700 to learn more.  I’ll help you choose the coverage that makes the most sense for you, your family and your budget. Let’s get started today.

What To Do If Your Advantage Plan Is No Longer Available

Is your plan still available in your county?

Some popular Medicare Advantage Plans are being discontinued in Lake and other Ohio Counties. Please read your Annual Notice of Change carefully to make sure yours is not one of these.
If it is, there is no need to panic. Call me at 440-255-5700. I’ll help you find a comparable plan to suit your needs. You have until December 7 to shop around and switch to different Advantage plan.While you’re checking, look to see if your current plan has made significant changes in other areas of coverage including:
–       Co-pays
–       Out of Pocket Costs
–       Prescription Costs & Formularies
–       Doctors in your networkIf you find changes, call me and we’ll figure out if there’s a plan that’s more suitable for you.
As an independent agent, I represent many of the most respected insurance companies in Ohio and I will shop around and help you find the best plan, premium and company based on your needs. You never pay a dime for my services.

Please review your Annual Notice of Change, today. If you have elderly family members or friends, please help them review their plans, too. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call me if you have questions and we’ll set up an appointment to do a Medicare review together.

Are You Baffled By Medicare?

Got questions on Medicare?
Find health insurance baffling?Please join me for:Getting Started with Medicare
Morley Library
Thursday, October 17, 2013
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
814 Phelps St., Painesville, OH 44077

We will spend an hour and a half delving into Medicare and what going on Medicare will mean for you.

This class is free, but we request you pre-register by calling 440-255-5700 to make sure we have enough materials for everyone who attends.

Click here for other class dates, times, and registration information http://www.mutskoinsurance.com/seminars

(These events are only for educational purposes and no plan specific benefits or details will be shared.)

What will happen if I don’t get health insurance?

The deadline to sign up for a healthcare is March 31. Anyone who has not signed up for health coverage by then will be charged a penalty. The penalty in 2014 will be calculated one of two ways . . . either 1 percent of the annual household income or $95 per person for the year, whichever is higher. If there is a child in the home under the age of 18 the penalty will be $47.50 for that child. The penalties increase next year to 2 percent of the yearly household income or $325 per person. The penalty for children will be $162.50.

Choosing to pay the penalty may not save you as much as you think. Many consumers are eligible for insurance plans at surprisingly low rates. Those who choose to pay the penalty will receive nothing for it, and will still be responsible for the full bill for any of their routine or emergency medical expenses. A one-time trip to the emergency room can run into thousands of dollars making insurance the smarter choice.

Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act ends March 31st so time is running out for you to get signed up. To learn more, call me at Mutsko Insurance Services, LLC at 440-255-5700 to discuss your options. Let me help you choose the coverage that makes the most sense for you, your family and your budget.