Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Six Mask Myths

As more health agencies and local governments ask people to wear face coverings, some myths have gained traction. To help you sort through fact and fiction, Blue Cross NC debunked some of the most common myths.  The first one is so important.  Studies show people infected with Covid-19 don't have symptoms for many days and sometimes never at all.  And they can unknowingly spread the virus.  As a caregiver of parents in their 80's with compromised immune systems, I have to be extra careful.  Thanks for joining me.

Six Mask Myths Debunked

Stay well,

Tara


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Signing up for Medicare: Initial Enrollment Period

There are many different types of Medicare Enrollment Periods.  One is your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).  If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance.)  The same is true for people who receive benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board and people who have received disability benefits for 24 months.  If you are not getting these benefits, you must actively sign up for Medicare through medicare.gov or by visiting your local social security office.  You do not have to start your regular monthly social security benefits in order to get your entitled Medicare benefits.

Initial Enrollment Period

Your initial enrollment period is a 7-month period that:

  • Starts 3 months before you turn 65
  • Includes the month you turn 65
  • Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.

For example, if you turn 65 on April 6, then your initial enrollment period begins January 1st and ends July 31st.  Outside of your initial enrollment period, there are other enrollment period guidelines.  You should discuss your options with a Medicare Supplement licensed agent.

One scenario is if you turn 65 and have group coverage through an employer.  While you’ll still be entitled to Part A, you may be able to delay enrolling in Parts B and D without a late enrollment penalty as long as the employer has 20 or more employees (as defined by the IRS); and the plan provides creditable drug coverage.  Make sure to check with your benefits manager before making any sudden moves.  If you leave your group coverage, you may not be able change your mind.

Once you sign up for Medicare Parts A and B, then you can fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t cover (about 20% of your medical costs) with a Medicare Supplement plan as well as a Part D prescription drug plan.  You also have the option to leave original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.  (Note, Medicare Advantage plans are subject to an Initial Coverage Election Period which may be different than your Initial Enrollment Period, depending on when you plan to enroll in Part B.)

Feel free to call me with questions!


Stay well,

Tara

Reference: www.medicare.gov


Monday, August 10, 2020

5 Cool Hikes in NC this Summer

Joe Miller from Blue Cross NC found some great hikes to try out this summer!  I love that he found some places that are less likely to be crowded.  So put on some good walking shoes, take a nice drive and enjoy the fresh air and the energy of the earth.  It's good for mind, body and soul.

5 COOL HIKES


Stay well,

Tara



Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Health Insurance Premium Rebates

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance providers are required to submit annual data to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding use of premium payments.  It’s a protection that ensures customers get value for their health insurance and is referred to as the “Medical Loss Ratio” standard or the” 80/20” rule.  At least 80% of premiums received must be spent on medical care services, including doctor and hospital bills as well as activities to improve health care quality and patient safety.  Only 20% can be used for administrative costs and profits, including executive salaries, overhead and marketing.

In 2019, Blue Cross NC spent 79.9% of premium dollars on health care and activities to improve health care quality.  Since it missed the target by 0.1%, Blue Cross NC must rebate 0.1% to its 2019 ACA members.  Emails went out August 3rd encouraging members to log in to Blue Connect to make sure their address on file is correct.

Here are the key points listed in a recent Agent News article made available to appointed agents.

  • Rebates will be issued to all eligible subscribers by September 30th.  Rebate notifications will be mailed to some customers in August.
  • Eligible individuals will receive either a rebate check in the mail, or a credit on their October bills.
    • We will issue credits to individual, under-65 customers who have a monthly premium that is larger than their refund amount.
    • We’re sending checks in the mail to those who:
      • have a monthly premium that is less than the amount of the refund, or
      • are no longer with Blue Cross NC, or
      • are Student Blue members
    • Customers can refer to bluecrossnc.com/MLR for more information.
    • If customers have questions, they should call 1-866-669-6258.

Stay well,


Tara

A Message of Hope

This is such a great article by Blue Cross NC employee Brian Edmonds.  2020 was supposed to be a great year.  The challenges we face have really come to the surface in the past few months.  And mental health is an important part of of well being.  Please take care.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Turning 65? The ABC and D of Medicare

If you’re turning 65, you’ve been inundated with correspondence from insurance companies offering supplements and prescription drug plans.  Here is why.  Original Medicare only covers about 80% of many healthcare services.  

Original Medicare includes Part A and Part B.  

Part A is hospital insurance that helps cover inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice and home health care.  If you or your spouse has paid 40 quarters into the Social Security Program, then Part A has no monthly premium.

Part B is medical insurance that helps cover medically necessary doctor services and outpatient care.  It also includes some preventive services to help you maintain good health.  There is a premium for Part B.  The premium is based on your household income.  In 2020, the base premium is $144.60 per month.  This premium may be waived if you are eligible for assistance like Medicaid.

Part C is a Medicare Advantage health plan, such as an HMO or PPO, which replaces Original Medicare.  These plans are offered by private insurance companies that are approved by Medicare.  You are still responsible for the Medicare Part B premium.  Most plans also include the Part D prescription drug benefit.  Premium amounts vary by carrier. 

Part D is prescription drug coverage that helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.  These plans are offered by private insurance companies that are approved by Medicare.  With Part D, the government pays a portion of certain prescriptions.  If you don’t enroll in a Part D plan during your initial enrollment period or don’t have creditable coverage like through an employer or through the VA, you will have to pay a premium penalty when you enroll in the future.  Premiums vary based on your prescription drug needs.  You may also pay more based on your income.

Medicare supplement insurance also known as a Medigap policy helps cover expenses such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles that Original Medicare does not cover.  It does not include Part D Medicare prescription coverage so a Part D plan must be purchased separately.  Medicare supplement plans are standardized plans and are regulated by federal and state law.  For example, a Plan G offered by any insurance company provides the same standardized benefit.  The difference is premium cost, customer service, and attractive extras like exercise programs and hearing aid discounts.

Bottom line... in order to fill in the gaps of Original Medicare, you will need a supplement along with a Part D Prescription Drug Plan, OR switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.  

I will help you decide whether Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan is right for you.  I am happy to help!

Stay well,

Tara



Monday, June 22, 2020

$25 Blue Rewards Incentive Still Available

Interested in a virtual doctor visit?  Go to mdlive.bcbsnc.com — or text “bcbsnc” to MDLIVE (635483) to set up your account with help from Sophie, MDLIVE’s personal health assistant chatbot.  You will earn a $25 gift card from Blue Rewards.

Read more about the Blue Cross NC virtual doctor incentive program along with  additional resources to support you during COVID-19.

Call me with questions!

Stay well,



Tara