10 Days left in the Annual Enrollment Period. That's plenty of time to find the plan that fits your needs for 2017,
The one change that everyone is talking about is the increase to the Medicare Part B Premium.
Last month, Social Security announced a .03% COLA for Social Security beneficiaries in 2017.
With the COLA announcement, the hold harmless rule is in effect. This means if the social security COLA doesn’t cover the increase to the Medicare Part B base premium, those individuals who already have their Medicare Part B premium taken out of their Social Security benefit check will not see that deduction in their benefit check.
The hold harmless individuals, who make up about 70% of all Medicare beneficiaries, won’t even come close to covering the $134.00 base Part B premium in 2017. The hold harmless protection will squeak out a Medicare Part B premium increase of about $109.00.
The hold harmless rule does not protect individuals who:
Individuals who are not protected by the hold harmless rule, and have an annual income of less than $85,000.00, will be paying a base Part B premium of a whopping $134.00 a month in 2017.
Individuals with an annual income of more than $85,000.00, but less than $107,000.00, will pay a Part B premium of $107.50 a month.
Individuals who earn an annual income between $107,000.00 and $160,000.00, will pay a monthly Part B premium of $243.60.
Those who earn an annual income between $160,000.00 up to $214,000.00, will pay $316.70 a month premium for Medicare Part B.
Finally, those individuals who earn an annual income of more than $214,000.00, will pay $389.80 a month.
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is in full swing and allows Medicare Advantage enrollees the opportunity to voluntarily make plan changes, which are effective January 1, 2017.
Individuals can make the following changes during the Annual Enrollment Period:
But according to a brief published by The Kaiser Family Foundation in September of 2016, from 2007 – 2014, only an average of 10% of Medicare Advantage enrollees voluntarily switched plans each year. (https://goo.gl/KqmCXL)
In my experience, Medicare enrollees do not have enough resources to make informed decisions in selecting a Medicare plan for themselves. During the Annual Enrollment Period, people are bombarded with TV infomercials, newspaper ads, direct mail offerings and inaccurate advice from friends and family. Overwhelming information!
So what is the answer for over 31% of Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare Advantage Plans during the Annual Enrollment Period?
There are several options available.
It wouldn’t be in your best interest to contact an insurance agent, who works for only one Medicare insurance carrier. These agents are only able to offer you Medicare Advantage Plans from their one carrier. They will not have your best interest in mind. If they don’t enroll you in one of their plans, they won’t get paid.
Using a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, who has different Medicare carriers available to you, will have your best interest. They will help find you a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs.
If you don’t personally know a Medicare Advisor or insurance agent, you can Google “Medicare Advisor + your town.” An example would be – Medicare Advisor Tampa, FL.
Advise the representative that you’d like to speak with someone who is knowledgeable with the different Medicare Advantage Plans in your area and they will connect you with a person who is unbiased.
Many States have educational seminars on Medicare at community Senior Centers. Ask if any will be in your area.
When you are deciding between two plans, go onto the insurance plan's website to look at the plan details to compare out of pocket costs for each plan.
The Medicare Part B premium increase for 2017, is going to make many people anxious and frustrated. It is in your best interest to plan ahead and research your Medicare plan options at least three to four months prior to turning 65.
If you are still employed and on an employer’s health insurance plan, compare your cost for your employer’s plan against Medicare plans.
Don’t forget to calculate the Medicare Part B premium into your comparison.
You can participate in a credible employer health plan and not have to enroll in Medicare Part B when you turn 65.
In my experience, I have found over 80% of the time, a Medicare Supplement plan is more cost effective than the employer’s plan. The Medicare Supplement plan also provides the freedom to choose any physician in the United States, who is contracted with Medicare. Take your time and do your due diligence.
“A stitch in time saves nine.” Properly preparing for your initial enrollment in Medicare and choosing a Medicare plan that fits your unique needs, will save you the aggravation and possibly making a poor financial and health coverage decision.
Medicare Advisor Senior Advocates For Medicare & Medicaid, LLC 855-855-7266