Decoding Medicare’s Alphabet Soup – Turning 65? New to Medicare?

It is almost October 15th!  Medicare Enrollment is just a few days away.  So here is so useful information for you. Of if you know anyone turning 65 or 65 years and older. Send them this great article.

Have a wonderful day!

George Litchfield
CA Lic# OB56846


Welcome to Countdown to OEP! This is the first part of a two-part series of posts designed to help you navigate the 2013 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Countdown to OEP articles give you key information that can help you get ready for OEP.

In case you missed it, here’s the last Countdown to OEP blog post:

  • The Medicare Two-Step: The Path to Your Enrollment Choices

The second part of our series, OEP Boot Camp, will start in October. We’ll take you through specific steps to review your Medicare coverage. Then you can look at  your 2013 plan choices, and take action before the OEP ends on December 7.

Part A, Part B, OEP, SNP—learning about Medicare can sometimes feel more like looking at a bowl of alphabet soup. But it’s important to understand the letters and acronyms that make up Medicare. To help you or your loved one understand the language of Medicare, check the information below.

The ABC and Ds of Medicare

Let’s start with the basics: our ABC and Ds. Medicare has four different “parts.” Each part is labeled using a letter of the alphabet.

  • Part A – Hospital insurance.
  • Part B – Doctor and outpatient insurance. Together, Part A and Part B make up Original Medicare.
  • Part C – Medicare Advantage plans. Offered by private insurance companies, these plans give you the benefits of Original Medicare and may offer extras, like dental coverage or wellness services.
  • Part D – Medicare prescription drug coverage. You can get this in a standalone plan or included in a Medicare Advantage plan.

For more detailed information about the parts of Medicare, visit Medicare Made Clear.

KYA: Know Your Acronyms

The most important acronyms to consider when you’re preparing to enroll in a Medicare plan fall into two main categories: enrollment period acronyms and plan type acronyms.

Enrollment Period Acronyms 

IEP – Initial Enrollment Period. Your IEP might fall during the Medicare OEP (see below). If you’re “aging into” Medicare, your IEP will center on your 65th birthday. If you qualify for Medicare because of a disability or other special circumstance, your IEP might depend on a different date, like the date you started receiving disability benefits.

OEP – Open Enrollment Period. The Medicare OEP happens each year from October 15 – December 7. At this time, Medicare beneficiaries can generally add, switch or drop their coverage. You might also see the acronym AEP (Annual Enrollment Period). This is just another way of saying OEP.

SEP – Special Enrollment Period. This is an enrollment period outside of “regular” enrollment periods like the IEP or OEP. You must meet certain requirements to qualify for a SEP.

Plan Type Acronyms 

MA – Medicare Advantage plan

MAPD – Medicare Advantage plan with Prescription Drug coverage

Also called Medicare Part C, these are Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies. They give you all the coverage of Original Medicare, and may offer extra benefits, too. The main types are:

  • Coordinated care plans:
    • HMO – Health Maintenance Organization. With an HMO, you usually have to use doctors and hospitals within the plan’s network to make sure the plan covers your care.
    • POS – Point Of Service. This is a type of HMO plan that lets members go outside the network for some covered services. You might have to pay a higher copayment or coinsurance for those services.
    • PPO – Preferred Provider Organization. With this type of plan, you can use doctors and hospitals inside or outside of the network. If you go outside the network, you may pay a larger share of the cost of your care.
    • SNP – Special Needs Plans. A type of Medicare Advantage plan that serves people with special health care needs, like ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) or diabetes.
  • Other plans:
    • PFFS – Private Fee-For-Service. Allows you to visit any Medicare-eligible doctor, hospital or health care provider who accepts the plan’s payment terms and conditions.
    • MSA – Medical Savings Account. Combines a special medical savings account with a high-deductible Medicare Advantage plan.

PDP – Prescription Drug Plan. Also called Medicare Part D, this is a standalone plan that helps you pay for prescription drugs.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear

For more information visit about Medicare, Health Insurance or Life Insurance
Or feel free to call us at (888) 891-5557 today!

Medicare Open Enrollment is just around the corner!

Hi everyone!

Below is some useful information that you can use if you are not sure about the Medicare coverage changes
you can make, as well as open enrollment beginning October 15 through December 7

Have a great day!

George Litchfield


You can change your Medicare coverage once a year.

Current Medicare beneficiaries can change their coverage choices once a year during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP). The OEP starts on October 15 and ends on December 7 every year. It is sometimes called the Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP.

During OEP, you can switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, change your Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan and more.

What you can do during the Medicare OEP

The Medicare OEP is similar to open enrollment for health care insurance you may have had through an employer. Each year, you get to explore all your Medicare choices to make sure that you have the right coverage for you going forward. If what you already have is working for you, then great. You can relax and let the Medicare OEP pass by. However, if your health status or life circumstances have changed, then you may need to change your Medicare coverage, too.

It’s a good idea to assess your current coverage in the weeks leading up to the Medicare OEP. Then you can be ready to take action as needed to ensure that you have the coverage you need for the coming year.

Here’s what you can do during the Medicare OEP.

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to one that does.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that offers drug coverage to one that doesn’t.
  • Join a Medicare prescription drug plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare prescription drug plan to a different Medicare prescription drug plan.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear – Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. The Litchfield Insurance Agency assists everyone. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. We will find the right plan for you. Serving Redlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire.

Caregiver Corner: Helping your loved one prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

Caregiver Corner is designed for those who are helping their loved ones make informed health care decisions. Whether you’re a main care provider or decision maker, Caregiver Corner can help you help your loved one.

Every year from October 15 – December 7, people who are eligible for Medicare can add, switch or drop their coverage. This is called the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Whether you’re officially a caregiver or just helping a loved one make Medicare decisions, it’s important to make sure your loved one will be ready once AEP rolls around. Here are some tips to help you help your loved one.

Are You Authorized?

Are you are going to help a loved one make Medicare decisions? Will you need access to their personal health information? If so, an important first step is to make sure you have the proper authorization. This usually requires you to fill out a form. Your loved one’s plan may have its own form, which you can usually find on the plan’s website. You might also need to use the Medicare Authorization form (PDF) on Contact your plan for more information.

Can We Talk?

As a caregiver, it’s important to maintain a good line of communication with your loved one and the health care professionals involved in their care. Talk openly and honestly about your loved one’s health status and care needs. Have these changed over the past year? Is their current coverage meeting these needs? Will they need to take advantage of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period? Here are some questions you might want to start with:

  • What health care and prescription drug coverage does your loved one have?Do they have Original Medicare plus additional coverage? A Medicare Advantage plan?Tip: Check to see if your loved one is paying for benefits they aren’t using. There might be lower-cost plans available that only offer the benefits they need.
  • Which prescription drugs do they use?Have these changed over the past year? Will their current plan’s formulary cover them? Can they still go to the pharmacy that’s convenient for them and for you?Tip: Is your loved one taking any higher-tier drugs? If so, ask their doctor if there are lower-tier drugs they can use to help save money.
  • How about doctors and other health care providers? Does your loved one have a doctor they like to see? Have they added doctors or specialists to their care team in the past year? Are these providers in their current plan’s network?Tip: If you’re looking at new providers, it’s important to know the difference between “accepting (Medicare) assignment” versus just agreeing to see patients with Medicare.
  • Does your loved one have any home health care needs? If your loved one cannot leave their home, it might be time to think about home health care. Their doctor can help you decide if this is the right decision.Tip: Most Medicare coverage has specific requirements for home health care. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these rules—and whether or not your loved one’s current plan covers these services

What’s Available?

Knowing your loved one’s health care needs can help you determine if their current coverage meets those needs. Then you can decide whether they need to add, switch or drop coverage during the AEP. For a good general resource, check out the MMC Plan Type Comparison chart. This chart gives you the basics of the different types of Medicare plan so you can better understand what’s out there. Then, take a look at the Plan Finder tool to compare plans available in your area—or your loved one’s—side by side.

Ready to Enroll?

Here are some things you might need to help your loved one prepare for AEP:

  • Personal Information: For example, your loved one’s birth date and contact information.
  • Insurance Information: You’ll need your loved one’s Medicare information. If they are a member of other insurance plans, you’ll need that information too.
  • Medical Information: It’s a good idea to make a list of the names and contact information for your loved one’s doctors and healthcare providers. Make a list of all their prescriptions, too, including dosages. It might also be helpful to make a list of your loved one’s health conditions and treatments.
  • Financial Information: Are you planning on setting up plan premium payment options for your loved one (like electronic funds transfer)? If so, you’ll also need to have their bank account information handy.

You can find a complete version of this checklist on the Medicare Made Clear website.

Care for Caregivers

Whatever caregiver role you play in your loved one’s Medicare decisions—coach, main care provider or decision maker—an important part of that role can be helping your loved one prepare for AEP. You will need to work closely with your loved one’s health care team, too—physicians, pharmacists, friends, community groups and financial advisors. Each of these people is there to help you prepare your loved one for AEP.

–This information is provided by Medicare Made Clear – Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. Call the Litchfield Insurance Agency today at 888-891-5557. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. We will find the right plan for you. Serving Redlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire.


Getting Ready for Medicare – 3 Important Steps

If you’re new to Medicare, you may be wondering about all the different plan choices available to you. You also may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the information. If so, don’t worry. A lot of people have found themselves in your shoes.

Here are a few steps to help you begin to prepare for Medicare.

  1.      Know Your Enrollment Dates

You don’t want to miss your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Your IEP begins three months before the month you turn 65, runs through your birth month and ends three months after your birth month. If you are eligible for Medicare due to disability, your IEP begins 24 months after you first become eligible for Social Security benefits. If you don’t sign up during your IEP, you may face increased premiums later on. Most people receive notification of their eligibility well before their IEP.

2.      Understand Your Needs

Take time to consider your health care needs and preferences. Here are some questions to help guide your thinking:

  • How much did you spend on health care last year? Do you expect similar costs this year?
  • Are you eligible for any health care coverage other than Medicare, through your or your spouse’s employer, for example?
  • Which prescription drugs do you take regularly? How much do you spend on your prescriptions?
  • Are you in good health generally? Do you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, heart disease or asthma?
  • Which doctors and hospitals do you use? Are you willing to change doctors to save on health care costs?
  • How much do you travel, and where? Do you need coverage for traveling out of state or overseas?

3.      Learn About the Parts of Medicare

Based on your answers to the questions in #2 above, you can start to consider your coverage choices. It can be confusing at first, because Medicare has several parts that provide different types of coverage. Here’s a quick run-down.

  • Original Medicare is a government-sponsored program consisting of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (doctor visits and outpatient care). It doesn’t include coverage for most prescription drugs. If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, you’re automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B. At the time of enrollment, you can decide to accept or reject one or both at that time.
  • Medicare Advantage plans (also called “Medicare Part C”) are provided by private insurance companies contracted by Medicare. These plans offer all of the benefits included with Original Medicare, along with additional benefits, which vary depending on the plan. Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage as well. If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you have to be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, but your benefits are administered by the plan instead of by Medicare.
  • Medicare Part D plans are provided by private insurance companies to help with the cost of prescription drugs. You can get coverage through a standalone prescription drug plan or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. If you choose Original Medicare and want prescription drug coverage, you’ll need to purchase a standalone Part D plan. Also, you must have both Parts A and B to be eligible for a Part D plan.
  • Medicare supplement insurance, sometimes known as “Medigap,” works with Original Medicare (and not Medicare Advantage plans) to help pay some of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. Medicare supplement insurance plans are sold by private insurance companies. Whether or not you buy a plan is up to you.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear

For more information visit or call 888-891-5557

Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. The Litchfield Insurance Agency assists the Beaver Medical Group in Redlands. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. We will find the right plan for you. Serving Redlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire.

Medicare Enrollment Checklist – Helping You Prepare for an Important Decision

Choosing the right Medicare plan might seem intimidating at first. How do you know which plan is right for you? When are you eligible to enroll? Fortunately, there are steps you can take before getting started to help make the process a little easier. An important first step is knowing the information you need at hand when researching and enrolling in a Medicare plan. The Medicare Enrollment Checklist can help you prepare for this important decision.

What information will I need?

As you explore and compare plans for yourself or a loved one, it’s a good idea to have the following information close at hand. This can help make it easier to evaluate your choices, compare coverage and even enroll in a plan that meets your needs.

Basic Information: You’ll usually need to enter general information about yourself to research plans in your area and enroll in a plan when you’re ready. This can include:

  • Birth date
  • Permanent residence address
  • Phone number
  • Emergency contact information
  • Email address

Medicare Information: You’ll likely need to enter information about your Medicare eligibility. This is especially important if you are enrolling in a plan. You might need your:

  • Medicare claim number (you can find this on your red, white and blue Medicare card)
  • Medicare effective date
  • Name and policy information for any other insurance coverage you might have (e.g., policy number, member ID number, group number, etc.)

Long Term Care Facility Information: Medicare coverage might change for residents of long term care facilities. Therefore, to research and enroll in the plan that’s right for you, it’s helpful to include the following:

  • If you are a current resident of a long-term care facility, you may need the Name of the institution, its address & the main phone number.
  • If you are moving into or out of a long-term care facility, you may also need the date of your move.

Contact Information for Current Health Care Professionals: It’s helpful to have a list of your doctors and other health care professionals ready. This way, you won’t have to spend time searching for this information. This includes:

  • Names and addresses for all doctors you see, including specialists
  • Name and address of your preferred hospital; if you have more than one, be sure to get information for all of them.

Prescription Drug Information: A formulary is the list of drugs a certain plan will cover. A plan’s pharmacy network is the group of pharmacies that have agreed to fill prescriptions for that plan. Having the following information ready can help you choose the plan with the coverage you need.

  • Name and address of your pharmacy
  • List of all your current prescription drugs and dosages

Personal Health Information: When you’re researching plans or enrolling in a plan, you may be asked some questions regarding your current health conditions. Your answers to these questions can often help determine the type of plan that’s best for you. For example, if you have diabetes, your best choice might be a Special Needs Plan specifically tailored to people with diabetes. You should have a list of:

  • Current health conditions
  • Any ongoing treatments you are currently receiving (e.g., chemotherapy, dialysis, etc.)

Plan Premium Payment Information: When enrolling in a plan, you will be asked how you’d like to pay your plan premium. Some common options are payment coupons, automatic withdrawal from your monthly Social Security check, or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) from a bank account. If you want to set up plan premium payment options (such as EFT from a bank account), be sure to have the following available:

  • Account holder name
  • Bank routing number
  • Bank account number
  • Account type (e.g., Checking, Savings)

Next Step: Find and Compare Plans

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear – Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. The Litchfield Insurance Agency assists the Beaver Medical Group in Redlands. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. Contact us at (888) 891-5557. We will find the right plan for you.

Serving Redlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire.