Last week I met with a new client who recently moved to Arizona from Colorado. Jerry was enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in Colorado and was pleasantly surprised to discover that most Advantage plans in Tucson don’t have monthly premiums.
Jerry paid $115 per month in Colorado for a Medicare Advantage plan that was very similar to what he can get in Arizona for $0. So Jerry was pretty much set on enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan which would be an HMO with a network based in Tucson.
I told Jerry I needed to go over all of his Medicare options because he qualifies for a special enrollment period in a Medicare supplement due to his move. I told Jerry he could get a Plan F Medicare supplement for a bit more than he was paying for his Colorado Advantage plan. He would not have to answer any medical questions on the Medicare supplement application because he is “guaranteed issue” due to his move.
Medicare Advantage plans might have a $0 monthly premium, but they come with co-pays every time a person receives any medical service. I told Jerry he could get a Medicare supplement Plan F that would give him full coverage and no co-pays for medical care. That is because Medicare will pay first and his Plan F Medicare supplement will pay the balance of his bill.
I told Jerry he had two very different choices for his Medicare coverage: Medicare Advantage or Medicare plus a Medicare supplement. So we looked at the pros and cons of each.
After lengthy discussion and lots of questions, Jerry decided to go with a Medicare supplement. I told Jerry the only bad thing about Medicare supplements is that the monthly premium will go up over time. But, if he ever decides the supplement premium is too high, he can go back to Medicare Advantage.
Next, Jerry had to sign up for a Part D drug plan, which was a bit confusing for him because his Colorado Medicare Advantage plan came with a drug plan. I told him he had to get a “stand-alone” Part D plan, so I took a list of his drugs and set about to find him a Part D plan that covered all of his prescriptions and would give him the best deal on his drug costs.
After identifying the best Part D plan for Jerry (by using the Medicare.gov plan finder), I was going to have him just call the company to sign up over the phone. But trying to explain his Part D choices over the phone was too confusing for Jerry – and would be for anybody. So I spent an hour researching the best Part D plan for him and one hour explaining it to him in-person the next day.
As we concluded our meeting, Jerry pointed out how confusing Medicare and Part D are, and I agreed with him. But I had to acknowledge that the numerous and confusing Medicare choices make for a good business environment for an insurance broker like me. With numerous choices for Medicare coverage and far-too-many choices for Part D, seniors really need the help of insurance brokers – like me.
Next: Picking a Part D plan
For more information on Medicare choices, see my website.