The Senior Insider

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

Look who’s turning 65 in 2017

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

Oct. 22 – Jeff Goldblum, actor

Nov. 3 – Roseanne Barr, comedian and actress

Nov. 8 – Alfre Woodard, actress

Nov. 30 – Mandy Patinkin, actor, Homeland star

Are you insured through a Union or Former Employer?

If you are insured through a former employer or union please read all mail concerning your insurance coverage as soon as you receive it. Your dates for making changes may not be the same as Medicare’s open enrollment. Always talk to your benefits administrator before making changes because it can be difficult to get this type of coverage back once it is dropped.

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.

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.

Can I have a Health Savings Account if I’m on Medicare?

An HSA (Health Savings Account) is a practical way to save for medical expenses and reduce your taxable income. It’s like an IRA for your health care costs. To be eligible for an HSA, you must have a qualifying HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan).
The 2016 annual HSA contribution limit for individuals with HDHP coverage is $3,350 (no change from 2015), and the limit for individuals with family HDHP coverage is $6,750 (a $100 increase from 2015). If you are 55 or older, you can make “catch-up” contributions, meaning you can deposit an additional $1,000 per year. If your spouse is also 55 or older, he or she may establish a separate HSA and make a “catch-up” contribution to that account. You have until the tax-filing deadline (generally April 15) of the following year to make allowable contributions.
Once you are on Medicare, you no longer can contribute to an HSA, however you can use funds already in your account to cover some Medicare costs, including deductibles, copays, vision and dental care. Those on Medicare can also use HSA funds to reimburse themselves for money that’s deducted from Social Security to pay Medicare Part B premiums. Although HSA funds cannot be used for Medicare Supplement insurance plan premiums, they can be used to pay Medicare Part D premiums, Medicare Advantage plan premiums and a portion of long-term-care insurance premiums.
Unlike other Flexible Spending Accounts, money you do not spend each year stays in your account providing you with a tax-advantage. Your money goes in tax-free, grows tax-free and comes out tax-free when you use it for qualified medical expenses.
Once an HSA reaches a certain threshold, the funds can be invested in mutual funds. The earnings from these funds are tax free as long as they are eventually used for qualified medical expenses.
If you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and are interested in setting up an HSA, talk to your employer or contact a local bank for details.

 

For answers to your other questions on Life, Health, Dental, Vision, Annuities or Medicare Advantage Plans, please contact me at 440-255-5700 or email me at Lmutsko@mutskoinsurance.com. I look forward to serving you.

How do I pay for my Medicare premiums?
If you are like most Medicare beneficiaries, you do not pay a premium for Medicare Part A.  Medicare Part B premiums are deducted from your benefit payments if you are on Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. If you are not receiving
Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you will be billed monthly and will be responsible for paying your premiums using one of the following options.
1. Pay by check or money order by mailing your Medicare premium payments to:
Medicare Premium Collection Center
P.O. Box 790355
St. Louis, MO 63179-0355
2. Pay by credit or debit card by completing the bottom portion of the payment coupon on your Medicare bill and mailing it to the Medicare Premium Collection Center address listed above. You’ll need to provide the account information and expiration date as it appears on your card.
3. Set up online banking. Contact your bank or go to their website to set up online bill payment services. You will need to provide your bank with your Medicare account number, your monthly premium, the biller name which will be CMS Medicare Insurance, and a remittance address which will be the same address listed above for payment by check or credit card.
4. Sign up for Medicare Easy-Pay, a free service that automatically deducts your premium payments from your savings or checking account each month. You will need to complete an authorization form available online at www.Medicare.gov. Mail the completed Authorization form to:
Medicare Premium Collection Center
PO Box 979098
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000
5. If you are billed by the Railroad Retirement Board, mail your premium payments to:
RRB, Medicare Premium Payments
P.O. Box 979024
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000
If you are a Civil Service retiree and NOT entitled to Social Security, you may have your premiums deducted from your Civil Service annuity. To do this, send an email to OPMMailbox@cms.hhs.gov.
Please keep in mind that you risk losing your Medicare benefits if you fail to pay. If your premium is late you will get a Second Notice. If you don’t pay the premium by the due date for the Second Notice, you’ll get a Delinquent Notice. If you get a Delinquent Notice and you don’t pay your premium by the 25th of the month, you’ll lose your Medicare coverage.

If you have questions concerning premium payments call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. For all your insurance questions including Life, Health, Vision, Hearing or Medicare Advantage Plans, contact me at 440-255-5700

Why do I need Medicare if I’m covered at work?

In most cases, once you become eligible for Medicare, most retiree policies from an employer or union will require you to sign up for Medicare. In general, retiree insurance plans act as supplemental insurance and pay after Medicare, filling in some of the gaps in Original Medicare’s coverage.
How your specific retiree group health plan coverage will work will depend on the terms of your plan.  It’s best to talk to your human resources staff or your health insurance plan administrator to find out how Medicare and your plan coordinate. Here are a few things for you to ask about:
1.      Find out if you are required to sign up for Medicare Part A, Part B or both to get the full benefits from your retiree coverage. Some retiree coverage might not pay your medical costs during any period in which you were eligible for Medicare but didn’t sign up for it.
2.    Ask what your plan covers that’s not covered by Medicare. Does it cover deductibles or co-insurance? Can you see any doctors you choose or are you restricted to a network of doctors and health care providers? Does it cover extra days in the hospital? Does it include coverage for vision, dental or prescription drug coverage?
3.    Don’t assume that your coverage and costs as a retiree will be the same as an employee. Verify this. If you have a spouse, check whether he or she will also be covered. Employers aren’t required to cover retirees, and they may provide different benefits, premiums, or even cancel coverage.
4.     Find out if your retiree plan provides ‘creditable coverage’ for prescription drugs. If it is not creditable coverage (as good as, or better than Medicare Part D) you will be charged a penalty should you need to enroll in Medicare Part D(drug coverage) in the future.

 

Your decisions about health care coverage are some of the most important choices you’ll make in the retirement planning process. I invite you to learn more about Medicare and the options you have. Please join me for my class, Getting Started with Medicare, presented at local colleges, libraries and community centers. For a complete list of upcoming dates and times for classes, you can click here to visit my website. . I look forward to seeing you in class.

Does Medicare cover rehab after a heart attack?

While heart disease is the leading cause of death every year in the U.S. for men and women, it can often be prevented when people manage their choices and health conditions.

If you have already had a heart attack, you and your physician should discuss a comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program (CR) that includes exercise, education, and counseling. This program is covered by Original Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part B also covers Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation (ICR) programs that, like regular Cardiac Rehabilitation programs, include exercise, education, and counseling. ICR programs are typically more rigorous than CR programs. These programs may be provided in a hospital outpatient setting (including a critical access hospital) or in a doctor’s office.
People with Medicare Part B are covered, but must be referred by their doctor and have had any of the following conditions:

• A heart attack in the last 12 months
• Coronary artery bypass surgery
• Current stable angina pectoris  
• A heart valve repair or replacement
• A coronary angioplasty or coronary stent  
• A heart or heart-lung transplant
• Stable chronic heart failure

Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation (ICR) programs are also covered if your doctor orders it or if you have had any of the conditions listed above, with the exception of stable chronic heart failure, which applies only to CR programs.

Those with Original Medicare will be responsible to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount if you get the services in a doctor’s office. If you receive care in a hospital outpatient setting, you will be responsible to pay the hospital a copayment. The Part B deductible applies.
     
Your doctor or other health care provider may recommend you get services more often than Medicare covers. Or, they may recommend services that Medicare doesn’t cover. If this happens, you may have to pay some or all of the costs. It’s important to ask questions so you understand why your doctor is recommending certain services and whether Medicare will pay for them
.
If you have questions concerning insurance including Life, Health, Vision, Hearing or Medicare Advantage Plans, contact me at 440-255-5700 or Lmutsko@mutskoinsurance.com. I look forward to assisting you.

Do you really know how Medicare Supplements work?

A Medicare Supplement plan, sometimes referred to as a Medigap plan, can be purchased at any time throughout the year. You must already have Medicare Parts A and B to purchase a Medicare Supplement. People who have a Medicare Advantage plan cannot purchase a Medicare Supplement.
Here’s how Medicare Supplements work:
Medicare Parts A and B provide basic medical coverage. But they only cover about 80% of your costs. They do not pay for everything. Medicare Supplement plans are insurance plans sold by private companies to help close this gap in coverage.
Supplements pick up many of the out of pocket costs not covered by Medicare Parts A and B such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Medicare supplements also give you the freedom to see any doctor of your choice who accepts Medicare patients rather than being locked into a specified network of doctors, hospitals and providers. Some Medigap policies also offer coverage for services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like medical care when you travel outside the U.S.  
When you have a Medicare Supplement, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs and then your Medigap policy pays its share. Medicare Supplements do not cover long-term care, vision, dental, hearing aids, or private nursing. Plans sold today do not cover prescription drug coverage.
Supplements are identified by letters A – N and each standardized Medicare supplement plan must offer the same basic benefits, no matter which insurance company sells it. Cost is usually the only difference between Medicare supplement plans with the same letter sold by different insurance companies.
If you are considering purchasing a Medicare Supplement plan, the best time to do so is during your six month Medigap open enrollment period. This period automatically starts the month you turn 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this time, you can buy any Medigap policy at the same price a person in good health pays even if you have health problems. If you buy a Medicare Supplement policy outside this window, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to get coverage or that your rates won’t be higher if you do get covered.
If you have group health coverage through an employer or union because either you or your spouse is currently working, you may want to consider waiting until you enroll in Medicare Part B. When your employer coverage ends, you can enroll in Part B which means your Medigap open enrollment period will start when you’re ready to take advantage of it. 
 
Please call me for more information on Medicare Supplements. We’ll review your options and I’ll help you find a plan that suits your needs. Contact me at 440-255-5700