Medicare Insurance Advisors offer Medicare advice and guidance free of charge

With the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period coming up in mid-October, senior citizens are already seeking help to understand the confusing process.

Paul and Patricia Hamilton, who operate Medical Insurance Advisors in Sartell, can help customers understand the new Medicare changes in store for 2019 free of charge. Contributed photo

Paul and Patricia Hamilton of Medicare Insurance Advisors of Sartell have been in the senior market for over 20 years, specializing in products that assist seniors mitigate risk while also relieving them of any stress they have in trying to determine what steps to take.

“A few years ago when it was time for my husband (Bob) to go on Medicare, Paul guided us through it. You never know how good or bad your insurance is until you need it,” said Carol O. “When (Bob’s) cancer diagnosis came, Paul helped us understand how our insurance would work and guided us through the process. We are thankful for his patience and caring service.”

Last year was a busy time for Medicare Insurance Advisors with the cost-plan transition. Now they are focusing on assisting with the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) that runs from Oct. 15 and ends on Dec. 7, with plan shopping beginning Oct. 1.

There is good news, however. The advice and assistance offered by Medicare Insurance Advisors is free of charge.

“There is no cost and there is no obligation to use our services,” said Paul Hamilton. “We shop the market for you. There is no upcharge to work with us. And we work with all major carriers.”

Medicare is the government-run health insurance coverage for those 65 and older or those with certain disabilities and conditions. It can be difficult to understand because of its complexity of different plans. To some, the options can read like alphabet soup, including Parts A and B (Original Medicare), Part C (Medicare Advantage), and Part D (prescription drug coverage).

And every year, Medicare beneficiaries have the chance to change coverage during the AEP. Choosing the right plan can not only improve your health, it can also allow you to have financial and emotional peace of mind.

“We want to help seniors understand this complicated situation and sort through things based on their needs,” said Patricia.

The following are eight “must-know” facts about the Medicare AEP:

(1) You are allowed to join, drop or switch your Medicare plan or plans during the period of Oct. 15 and Dec. 7. Depending on your current coverage, you also have several options during this period. Once you are enrolled, your new coverage will begin on Jan. 1 of the following year. AEP allows you up to seven weeks to sign up for the plans you want, allowing you time to find the coverage plan that is right for you.

If you are signed up for Medicare Part A or B, you can join or drop a Part D prescription plan.

Clients speak with Medicare Insurance Advisors about the various options and what plan best fits their needs. Contributed photo

If you currently only have Original Medicare (Parts A and B), you can switch to a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan.

If you currently have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can drop that plan and switch to just Original Medicare (A and B); or you can switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan.

If you currently have a Part D prescription drug plan, you can switch to a new Part D prescription drug plan or you can choose to drop your drug plan.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can drop it and may be able to buy a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy, depending on where you live.

(2) Parts C and D may cover additional services. Around 22 million people (34 percent of the Medicare population) are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans (Part C). These plans allow those enrolled to receive both Parts A and B benefits through a private health insurer that contracts with Medicare. In addition to Medicare Advantage plans, Part D plans help cover the cost of prescription drugs for which Original Medicare alone doesn’t pay.

(3) You have until March 31 to make a change to your current plan. In past years, you were able to drop a Medicare Advantage plan to return to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (ADP) from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14 each year. The ADP has now been replaced by the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which takes place from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year.

(4) Check your medications. If you are currently on any medications, it is important to select a Medicare plan that will cover the costs. There is an increasing number of plans that are adopting a network pharmacy benefit, meaning some pharmacies will be included in your plan’s network and some will not. It’s important that you check on which pharmacies near you participate in your plan.

(5) Save on prescription drugs. Many popular brand-name drugs have cheaper generic versions available. It could be beneficial to speak with your doctor about whether your medications are among them.

(6) Check your doctor’s affiliation. When evaluating your plans during AEP, make sure your physician accepts your Medicare Advantage plan next year. It is vital that you understand the need to stay in-network when you have a Medicare Advantage plan.

(7) Many preventative services are now provided at no extra cost. The Affordable Care Act has made many more preventative medical services available at no extra cost. That means you can get yearly wellness visits, diabetes screenings, cancer screenings and more without paying a co-pay, deductible or co-insurance.

(8) Review your options with a trusted agent. If you are looking to possibly switch plans, you will want to consider the cost of certain plans. You will also want to choose a plan that will offer the coverage you need when and where you need it. Plans can change significantly from year to year, so reviewing with a trusted agent could save you money and not leave you without coverage when you need it.

Those individuals and couples that have sought help with the aforementioned from Medicare Insurance Advisors have been pleased with the results.

“I have been well satisfied with my experience with (Medicare Insurance Advisors),” said Paulette H. “I have always had a quick response and helpful answers to all my questions. I would, and do, highly recommend them.”

“I have found that Patricia at Medicare Insurance Advisors truly does act in my best interests,” JoAnn D. remarked. “She reviews my policy and prescriptions annually to make sure I’m getting the best coverage and rate. She’s always more than happy to answer my questions, too.”

Last year, over 400,000 people in Minnesota were affected by a law that was implemented requiring certain types of plans. With the huge influx of people needing to select a new plan, many people were unable to sit down with a Medicare insurance agent and choose a plan that best fit their situation. As a result, some of those people were automatically enrolled in plans that were deemed similar to the plan that they were losing.

It’s always best to sit down with an agent that works in this field to discuss options.

The Medicare Insurance Advisors office is located at 2107 Troop Drive in Sartell. Contributed photo

“Some people that enrolled in a medicare supplement plan last year may want to shop around and compare premiums for similar coverage,” said Paul. “Helping clients make an informed decision regarding their Medicare options is very rewarding. We love to help simplify what can be a very confusing topic.”

In addition, Medicare Insurance Advisor agents will provide clients with ongoing claims and policy service.

“Making a plan selection starts the process but service continues with lifetime claims service and annual policy reviews,” said Paul. “We love being of service to our clients.”

Medicare Insurance Advisors won’t pressure its customers into purchasing a Medicare plan, nor will they recommend a particular plan. What they offer is unbiased, easy to understand information about various Medicare options, enabling a customer to choose the plan they feel suits them best.

Medicare Insurance Advisors has several locations in Minnesota with the home office located at 2107 Troop Drive in Sartell.

“We do office or in-home visits,” said Paul. “We know that sometimes it can be difficult for seniors to travel, so we are happy to oblige them by going to their home.”

For more information or to set up an appointment, call Medicare Insurance Advisors at 320-654-6100 or toll free at 888-611-2200, or visit their website at www.MedicareinsAdvisors.com.

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