Broker Check

Navigating Medicare

Navigating Medicare has been identified as one of the biggest stressors our clients face as they prepare for retirement. We’ve heard time and time again that the process can be confusing, and as they near their enrollment window, oh do the salesmen come knocking! The avalanche of mailings, sales calls, and information overload can cloud the decision-making process. So, what can you do? Find a trusted advocate to walk you through the process.

We recently had a Medicare Lunch-and-Learn with guest speaker Denise Dias. Denise is a Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) counselor, so she was able to provide helpful information on the enrollment process. Our crowd came eager with questions, and the discussion was a great mixture of Denise’s guidance, attendees’ first-hand experiences, and group brainstorming.

There’s no way to adequately explain the ins-and-outs of Medicare in one short blog post, but here are a few changes coming to Medicare in 2020:

  • Medigap Shifts – Policies C, F, and High-Deductible F will no longer be available for new enrollees beginning in 2020. You will not be forced off one of these plans if you’re a current participant, but it may be worth looking to see if another supplemental plan can save you money while still offering similar benefits.
  • Medicare Website Improvements – Medicare’s online browsing tool has implemented some major cosmetic updates, which makes browsing and comparing plans much easier. However, the new system requires login credentials to save search results and drug lists.
  • Drug Coverage Changes – Two big changes this year in regard to drug coverage. First, starting in 2020, Part D plans can choose which disease a specific drug is covered to treat. This means even if a drug can be used to treat multiple illnesses, Part D plans now have the ability to approve coverage for only one of those illnesses. Second, the expenses incurred in the coverage gap for prescription drug coverage, A.K.A. the “donut hole” is continuing to decrease. Last year, you were responsible for paying 25% of name brand and 37% of generic sticker price. In 2020, it will be reduced to 25% of the sticker price, regardless if the drug is generic or name brand. You will be responsible for paying this amount in the “donut hole” period, which is the gap between the maximum benefit amount ($4,020) and the out of pocket spending limit ($6,350).

Here are some general suggestions to anyone navigating the Medicare process:

  • Know Your Enrollment Period – This can be a 7-month window when you’re turning 65, between January 1 – March 31 each year after becoming eligible, or during a Special Enrollment Period. Visit medicare.gov to learn more.
  • Educate Yourself on Medicare Plans – There are multiple options when building the Medicare plan that’s right for you. Learn the details of each option and make an educated decision upon enrolling (this is one place a trusted advisor can provide knowledge and resources).
  • Understand the Deadlines and Adhere to Them to Avoid Penalties/Delayed Coverage – If you delay enrolling in coverage, you may be subject to coverage gaps and/or penalties.
  • Work with a Trusted Medicare Advisor to Navigate the Enrollment Process – You don’t have to go through this alone! Find a Medicare Advisor to educate and guide you through the enrollment process.
  • Each Year, Review Your Medicare Coverage to Ensure You’re on the Right Plan – Coverage and prices can change each year, so it’s important to stay informed of these changes to ensure you’re on the best plan that fits your needs. This is especially true if you take prescriptions, as prescription plans can change which drugs they cover, thus creating a larger out of pocket expense for you.

Have questions? Feel free to reach out to our team. We’re here to help you through decisions big and small when it comes to preparing for and thriving in retirement.

Steph Whitehill

Steph is our Office Administrator at BridgeQuest. She's your main point of contact for scheduling, email and phone correspondence, and general customer service. She has an innate attention for detail and an organized mindset that provides a solid foundation for the team to operate efficiently and effectively.