If you are looking to get yourself into a Medicare Advantage plan sometime in 2013, it’s time to find out about the new Medicare Plans for the upcoming year will be released. Even if you are going for Plan D, or wondering what kind of changes your current Medicare will see in 2013, this is the one-stop place for you to park your car and kick back.
You’re probably waiting anxiously, consistently pressing the “refresh” button on medcare.gov to see if any new information is posted. Well, knowing about which dates are related to Medicare enrollment can save you a lot of time and energy.
Here are some important dates highlighted for your convenience, so no more excuses as to why you are standing in the dark when the bright light of information is shining right on you. To make things even easier, you have the option of memorizing the following so you won’t have to keep coming back to review it.
December 31st is right around the corner. That means your Medicare Part C or Part D plan is coming to an end – and even though it can be renewed for the following year, there are zero guarantees on that matter.
Plan sponsors can do any of the following in preparation for 2013:
- Renew the plan (and change the benefits, or leave them alone)
- Renew the plan with an entirely new premium
- Different benefits and different premiums upon renewal
- Decide not to renew the plan
- Leave the service area
All plan sponsors have to mail a notice called the ANOC (Annual Notice of Change) as required by CMS. You absolutely must review the notice cover-to-cover and take all action necessary. You can opt into a special enrollment period if you aren’t renewing your plan, which happens to be more open-minded than the standard open enrollment period.
Having the Annual Notice of Change as early as September lands one ample notice to any changes that may occur, October 1st will follow, and that’s when plans are made public, so you’ll be able to see your plan options and compare plans as well. The early bird gets the worm, and you’ll want to be as early as you can so you can snatch up the juiciest worm there is.
As the age of sixty five creeps around the corner, many people choose to opt out into cushy retirement, while others view their job positions from a veterinary standpoint and continue to add a few more years of experience. When the big birthday comes around and the candles are blown out, it is advisable to sign up for Part A of Medicare (original) right when it becomes available. For those who are wrapped up in active employer grip insurance, the option of enrolling in Medicare Part B until retirement (or current coverage is lost).
These original Medicare plans don’t include prescription drug coverage, so if your employer group insurance plan doesn’t cover that, it would be advisable to enroll in Part D. A monthly premium is the price tag to pay, but it can be a well discounted sale for those taking prescription drugs anyhow.
On the back of your insurance card, you can find a phone number which upon dialing will connect you to your employer group plan (to find out more about how Medicare works in conjunction with your plan).
A few tasty facts from the bakery of Medicare Part D which will more comprehensive insight on what goes on in the kitchen are as follows:
- Your employer group plan won’t stop assuming the role of the primary payer for any services and benefits received under the premise of you retaining active employer group insurance and being eligible for Medicare.
- Medicare Part B comes with a premium due every month, and in 2012 the minimum was set to $99.90. It makes perfect sense for somebody to play patient and not start up Plan B until retirement or the loss of employer group insurance coverage.
- A majority of the population is exempt from paying a premium every month when it comes to Medicare Part A, so enrolling within this is typically A-O-K.
- There are exceptions to every rule. Always double-check with a representative of your employer group insurance plan before following through with any action. Again, you can find a phone number which upon dialing you will be directly connected to the hotline for your employer group plan on the back of your insurance card.
Although the general guidelines and suggested outlined above can be extremely helpful, coupling it with advanced research and financial advisors is always the safest route to travel upon.
Private insurance companies provide Medicare-approved coverage plans labeled “Part C.” Also referred to as “Medicare Advantage Plans,” these exclusive policies are available in six different forms. One of these forms is an MSA (Medicare Medical Savings Account), which were introduced to eligible participants five years ago.
There are two parts within an MSA plan, one being the medical savings account, and the other being a high-deductible plan. The answer to the common question of “how does the savings account work within an MSA structure?” is simple – a medical savings account is a bank savings account which is qualified to be used for eligible health care expenses. This is how it’s done:
- 1. Get yourself into Medicare by enrolling into an MSA plan.
- 2. Prepare a special bank savings account through a bank chosen by the plan. Just like any other
- bank savings account, an MSA’s saving account is managed by whom the name is under.
- 3. You’re provided a portion of money for your plan from Medicare, which takes that money and
- deposits it straight into your MSA bank account. It’s common to find that the money in the
- account have tax-free interest.
- 4. Keep your personal money away from your MSA – it can’t be deposited into the account.
- 5. Use the money available in your MSA account to pay for any health care expenses that qualify
- within the guidelines of IRS enforced rules.
- 6. Keep in mind that the guidelines include whatever’s covered by Part A and Part B Medicare, as
- well as a handful of unrelated-to-Medicare health expenses.
- 7. If you pay for any health care expenses covered by standard Medicare, these count towards
- your yearly deductible.
- 8. You will not be taxed for funds within your MSA account used to cover medical expenses, but in
- the event the account is used to cover non-medical expenses, income tax and a 50% penalty will
- be inflicted on those withdrawals.
- 9. Using all of the money in the MSA account means you have to pay from your own wallet for any
- extra health care expenses up until your yearly deductible has been reached. At that point, your
- plan will then pay for all Medicare-related expenses.
- 10. Unused money in the MSA can be used the following year – by the new year, a deposit
- containing the new allowance is placed into your MSA and thus begins a fresh new cycle.
This explains start-to-end how everything works regarding MSA funding, but what about part two – the high deductible plan? How does that work within an MSA plan? The answer to that question is just as simple.
First, it is important to be aware of what a deductible actually is. A deductible is the fixed quantity one must contribute to meet a point at which the plan then takes over to pay for the expenses. MSA plans are known to have extremely mountainous deductibles in comparison to other Part C Medicare plans.
In fact, the deductibles are so high that they usually surpass the amount Medicare put into your MSA in the first place. You will be responsible for paying for the health costs from your own wallet until you can meet the deductible. After that ship is ported, the standard coverage starts to sail.
MSA plans must minimally cover all services that are covered under Part A and B. Sometimes, you will come across an MSA plan that offers even more coverage. This compensates for the fact that Part D prescription drug coverage will never be found within MSA plan coverage, so joining a standalone Part D plan is the best you can do if you want coverage within that area.
MSA plans are available to anybody who is already enrolled within Parts A and B, but when you take on an MSA plan, you continue to pay Medicare your Part B premiums every month. There are no additional charges for Medicare Part C plan premiums.
For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have any more questions see this resource on Medicare.gov or start a search with us.