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New Medicare Cards are Coming Soon!

Have you heard the news? Medicare beneficiaries will soon be receiving new Medicare cards with a new Medicare number. A 2015 law requires CMS to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019 and replace them with a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The new cards will be sent out over a 12-month period beginning this April.

Medicare Premiums Vary By Income

If you sell Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage plans, or Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, you’ve probably been asked on multiple occasions how much Medicare Part B costs. If you’re like a lot of agents, you may have answered with the standard Part B premium amount, which is $134 per month in 2018. This can be dangerous.

Medicare Part D Notification Requirements for Your Group Clients

If you sell group health insurance, there are a couple Medicare notification requirements your clients need to be aware of. The law requires that companies whose group health plans include prescription drug coverage to notify Medicare-eligible policyholders whether their prescription drug benefit is “creditable,” which means that the coverage is expected to pay on average as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage.

Medicare 101

In just a few weeks, the Annual Election Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans will open, and when it does agents who had intended to start selling Medicare products this year, perhaps because of the instability in the individual market, but who failed to get certified to sell those products will have missed their opportunity. Sure, they can still sell supplements all year long, but the big opportunity that comes only once a year will be behind us and they’ll have to wait until October, 2018 for their next chance. To help those of you who are still deciding whether to expand your portfolio to include Medicare-related products or not, we thought we’d provide a short “Medicare 101” tutorial. And for those of you who already sell Medigap policies, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, this should serve as a nice refresher. Since it’s often necessary to educate clients and prospects about what they currently have before explaining what their options are, knowing how to do that in concise terms may prove helpful. Here we go... What is Medicare? Let’s start off with the basics – what, exactly, is Medicare? Put simply, Medicare is a government-run health insurance program for people over the age of 65, people receiving Social Security Disability payments, and people with End Stage Renal Disease (kidney failure requiring dialysis). Medicare was signed into law back in 1965 and was originally created for older Americans who had trouble qualifying for insurance at the time. Over the years, Medicare has been modified on a number of occasions. In 1972, for instance, it was expanded to include the disabled and people with ESRD. In 1997, President Clinton signed the Balanced Budget Act, which created the Medicare + Choice program (now called Medicare Advantage). In 2003, President Bush signed the Medicare Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, which created the Medicare Part D drug program and expanded funding for Medicare Advantage. And the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010 by President Obama, added a number of new preventive services to the program and began to close the unpopular Part D donut hole. While many lawmakers believe Medicare needs some serious improvements, others would like to expand the program to include those age 55 and older or even to cover all Americans. The government program does have a high approval rating among those who receive Medicare benefits.

Reminder: You Can Sell Supplements All Year Long

A lot of the agents we work with at AHCP sell both individual and Medicare products. While they may have originally focused their attention on one of these two market segments, they realized somewhere along the way that there’s a lot of overlap in the way the products are sold. Agents who are successful selling individual health plans, for instance, catch on pretty quickly when they make the decision to sell Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, and vice versa.

One Last Chance to Sell Medicare this Fall

The Annual Election Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans has started (October 15th) and runs through December 7, which means you have very little time to get certified to sell these products if you haven’t already. And maybe that is your plan—to leave this market to agents who don’t mind the one-on-one nature of Medicare sales and are comfortable navigating a government website to find the best solution for their clients. Fair enough. But before you completely dismiss selling Medicare products, we wanted to share a few last-minute thoughts with you.

Preventive Services for Medicare Beneficiaries

In a recent post, we discussed the preventive services that are covered on all non-grandfathered health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Since many of you have recently started selling Medicare products—either in addition to or in lieu of individual health insurance—we thought it would also be a good idea to take a look at the preventive care available to Medicare beneficiaries.

2017 Marketplace and Medicare Registration and Training

Remember the good old days when agents took a test, got licensed, and then simply had to complete a few continuing education classes each year to maintain their license? Not anymore. If you sell in either the individual or the Medicare markets, the government requires agents to complete annual training to remain certified to sell through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). And guess what? It’s that time of the year again.

Medicare and Job-Based Coverage

More and more people these days are working past age 65, so many of them have a tough decision to make: should they stay on the company’s group health plan, drop the group coverage and enroll in Medicare, or sign up for both the group health plan and Medicare? The answer, like many in the insurance world, depends on the employee’s own unique situation. This post, while not comprehensive, will point out some of the things people need to consider when evaluating their coverage options.

A Medicare Tutorial for Insurance Agents

If you’ve heard Bernie Sanders speak, you know that he would like to expand the Medicare program to all Americans. “Medicare for All” is the proposal, and the idea is that the government’s Medicare program works well for seniors and would be a good replacement for the Affordable Care Act. For brokers who have been selling individual plans through or one of the state-based exchanges, it may come as a surprise that any health care program in which the government is involved could run smoothly, but this one has been around for 50 years now and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. For that reason, and because agents are looking for an alternative to the ACA plans they’ve focused their attention on for the past couple years, we’ve received a lot of requests recently for information about Medicare-related products, so we thought a short tutorial might be in order.

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