Who Should Complete This Application For Extra Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs?

You should complete this application for Extra Help on the Internet if:

– You have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance); and

– You live in one of the 50 States or the District of Columbia; and

– Your combined savings, investments, and real estate are not worth more than $28,150, if you are married and living with your spouse, or $14,100 if you are not currently married or not living with your spouse. (Do NOT count your home, vehicles, personal possessions, life insurance, burial plots, irrevocable burial contracts or back payments from Social Security or SSI.) If you have more than those amounts, you may not qualify for the extra help. However, you can still enroll in an approved Medicare prescription drug plan for coverage.



Your New Medicare Card Is On It’s Way!

Q. Why is the Medicare Card changing? When will we get the new card and will it be plastic?

A.  The new card is to help stop Identity thief and Medicare fraud. The social security number will be replaced with random numbers and letters. New cards will start being mailed out in April of 2018 and will take until 12-31-2019 to get out 58 million cards. Both cards will be able to be billed up until December 31, 2019.

The new card will NOT be plastic after all, too expensive. It will be red, white & blue, but a different design.  You can laminate the new card. It will be a little smaller, the size of a credit card.

Make sure your mailing address is up to date. If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security at ssa.gov/myaccountor 1-800-772-1213.

FYI: Scam artists are calling seniors saying they are from Medicare and need your social security number to make your new card. Do NOT be fooled. Do not give your social security number to anyone over the phone.


65 Years Old is Still Young!!

How old is old? World Health Organization (WHO) had declared that 65 years old is still young.

Before based on the Friendly Societies Act  (1875) in Britain, old was defined by the age of 50.

The UN has not adopted a standard criterion but lately 60 years old was referred to as the border age to the word “old”.



However, the health organization had done a new research recently, according to average health quality and life expectancy and defined a new criterion that divides human age as follow:


– 0 to 17 years old: underage

 – 18 to 65 years old: youth or young people

 – 66 to 79 years old: middle aged

 – 80 to 99 years old: elderly or senior

 – 100+ years old : long lived elderly


Life Insurance…Don’t wait another day!

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Traveling Abroad

IMG Travel Insurance is the best way to protect your trip investment from the unexpected. We realize that traveling is an exciting experience and anything can happen while you are away from home.

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Medicare Advantage Plans Serve 20 Million Americans

In 1997, the federal government created the Medicare + Choice program later renamed Medicare Advantage to enhance consumer choice and more efficiently deliver Medicare benefits to older Americans.

You many have heard of Medicare Advantage, but maybe you don’t know exactly what it is, what it offers and how it can help you.

Today, Medicare Advantage serves almost 20 million people a nearly 50 percent increase from even five years ago, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Here are four important factors in why people choose Medicare Advantage: • Simplicity and convenience. Medicare Advantage plans combine all your Medicare coverage, including Original Medicare (Parts A & B), and often prescription drug coverage, into one plan so you only have one card to carry.

• Predictable costs. Managing your health care costs can be especially important if you are living on a fixed budget. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits for a $0 premium beyond the premium beyond the premium for Original Medicare and have sets limits on what you have to pay out of pocket.

Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said: “Original Medicare generally covers about 80 percent of a person’s costs for doctor visits and other outpatient care, leaving the individual responsible for the rest, with no limit to what that cost may be.
“Medicare Advantage, on the other hand, offers peace of mind and helps you plan your health care expenses by capping how much you may have to pay out of your own pocket in a given year.’

• Care Coordination. Boston Consulting Group analyzed 3 million Medicare claims and found that Medicare Advantage members have shorter hospital stays and fewer readmissions within 30 days of leaving.

Medicare Advantage plan members are also more likely to receive preventive care to keep chronic illnesses in check, according to researchers.

A possible explanation for the favorable outcomes: care coordination.

“The health care system is complex,” Thompson said, “With Medicare Advantage plans, doctors work as a comprehensive team led by a primary care doctor and together with the health plan, they help members receive the care they need. This can create more convenience and value for the member and ultimately lead to better health.”

• Choice. Thompson also points out that “every day more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and they expect to have choices.”

Medicare Advantage plans come in a wide variety of options, so people can choose one that meets their unique health and budget needs.

Many offer programs to support people with diabetes and other chronic conditions, and most offer additions, and most offer additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

Perks may include prescription drugs, dental, vision and hearing coverage, home visits, 24/7 access to healthcare professionals and gym memberships.

Medicare Part B Premiums Rise For Most In 2018, Stealth Hit To High Earners

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced Medicare Part B premiums for 2018, and the base premium stays the same as this year at $134 a month, but a lot actually changes. For 70% of Social Security recipients who have been paying an artificially low $109 a month, they’ll see a big jump to the $134 a month level. Also, many high earners—starting at $133,500 for a single–will face higher high-income surcharges. Part B (the base and the surcharge) covers doctors’ and outpatient services. The backdrop to the premium jump for the 70% of folks is that the Social Security Administration announced a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2018 last month. The average benefit for a retired worker will rise by $27 a month to $1,404 in 2018. Many recipients will find most or all of their increase eaten up by the jump in the Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security checks. A “hold harmless” provision (no increase in Medicare premiums can reduce a Social Security recipient’s net monthly check) kept their premiums in check before.

For folks who face high-income surcharges that are tacked on to Part B premiums, it’s a different story. They’re facing hikes for 2018 because of a 2015 Congressional budget deal, which compressed tax brackets, which forces more people to pay higher surcharges. The graduated high-income premium surcharges for seniors kick in for singles with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $85,000 and for couples with a MAGI of more than $170,000. An individual earning more than $85,000, but less than or equal to $107,000, will pay $187.50 in total a month in 2018, including a $53.50 surcharge, the same as in 2017. The next bracket is compressed, so individuals making $133,500 to $160,000 will now face a $214.30 monthly surcharge, up from $133.90, bringing their total premium up from $267.90 a month to $348.30 a month. That’s a 60% hike. The highest surcharge—which applies to individuals above $214,000 (couples above $428,000 this year) will apply to individuals with income above $160,000 (couples above $320,000) for 2018. That means Medicare Part B premium will top $10,000 a year ($10,286.40) for high income senior couples, with adjusted gross income of $320,000 or more, in 2018. Here are the official numbers from the CMS release, what you’ll pay per month for 2018, depending on your income, for individuals and couples filing a joint tax return (the 2018 income-related surcharges are based on AGI reported on 2016 tax returns).


Article by Ashlea Ebeling


New Medicare ID Announced

To address the risk of medical identity theft, Section 501 of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) mandates the removal of the Social Security Number (SSN)-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) from Medicare ID cards.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) uses HICN with multiple parties including Medicare providers and plans. Security for Medicare members should be strengthened by using an ID number that does not contain the member’s SSN.

Timing CMS will mail new Medicare ID cards from April 1, 2018 through April 1, 2019. The HICN, which contains the SSN, will be replaced with a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI).

Trump Administration Finalizes 0.45% Rate Increase for Medicare Advantage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released finalized guidance on Monday regard-
ing Medicare Advantage (MA) rates for the 2018 plan year. The finalized guidance resulted in an average
rate increase of 0.45%, up from the average rate increase of 0.25% from the proposed guidance to be released in February.

The Government Will Fix This Medicare Mistake Next April

  • Social Security numbers must be removed from Medicare cards by April 2019.
  • New cards will come in the mail starting next April.
  • Don’t put your number down on routine medical forms.
Would-be thieves will soon have one less avenue to use to snare your Social Security number.
Medicare has been the odd holdout among health insurance companies in using Social Security numbers as
the basis for member IDs — and printing those identifiers right on the insurance card. That ends next year.
Under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, the agency is required to remove Social
Security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services announced plans to begin mailing replacement cards with a new “Medicare Beneficiary
Identifier,” or MBI, starting in April 2018.
During a transition period from April 1, 2018, until Dec. 31, 2019, providers can use either the new MBIs or
current SSN-based numbers.
“Most people know the role that Social Security numbers play in identity theft, so this is a welcome move,”
said Beth Givens, executive director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The consumer advocacy group often
receives calls complaining about the inclusion of their SSN on Medicare cards, she said.
“It’s a no-brainer: Your Social Security number should never have been used in that way,” Givens said. “It was
a big mistake.”
Some 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year, according to a February report
from Javelin Strategy & Research. That’s up 16 percent from 2015, and the highest figure recorded since the
firm began tracking fraud instances in 2004.
Access to a Social Security number gives thieves leeway to perpetuate some of the more damaging kinds of
fraud, including filing fake tax returns and opening new lines of credit accounts in the victim’s name. Such
new-account fraud was up 20 percent last year, Javelin found.
Thieves could even obtain medical care or prescriptions in the victim’s name. Half of medical identity theft
victims say their information was stolen to obtain government benefits such as Medicare or Medicaid, accord-
ing to a 2015 report from Ponemon Institute.
A halt to the practice of using a Social Security-based identifier on Medicare cards limits the repercussions of
a lost or stolen wallet. It also reduces the number of records where thieves might access that info, said Linda
Sherry, director of national priorities for advocacy group Consumer Action.
“People show their [Medicare] card a lot, at doctor’s offices and other places,” she said. “It’s photocopied and kept in
office filing cabinets and online.”
But consumers will still need to take other steps to safeguard their Social Security number, including pushing back
when health-care providers and other companies ask for it as part of new-patient intake forms or applications, she said.
“It can do a lot of damage in the wrong hands,” Sherry said. “People need to be brave about it. If people don’t start
speaking up, companies are going to continue to use this.