General Medicare Information

This blog section contains general information about Medicare. For example, we answer general Medicare question and update you on Medicare changes. MedicareBob educates you in a series of videos called FAQ Fridays. In these videos, Robert Bache, the owner of Senior Healthcare Direct, answers your Frequently Asked Questions.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we answer more urgent health care questions about Coronavirus Testing, Medicare Telehealth expansion, and more.

Medicare Coronavirus Update

Medicare provides health care coverage for Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and hospitalizations. According to Medicare.gov, “You pay no out-of-pocket costs.” for COVID-19 lab tests.

Medicare Coronavirus testing

Furthermore, Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. For example, your doctor diagnoses you with COVID-19. Consequently, you remain an inpatient for the duration of your quarantine.

Likewise, Medicare Advantage plans provide you the same coverage benefits. Moreover, Medicare waives your copays for COVID-19 lab tests.

Whether you have Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage, Senior Healthcare Direct can help you choose and compare Medicare plans from the safety of your home. Call us at 1-855-3684717 or get your quote.

917 new COVID-19 deaths on April 1, 2020

On April 1, 2020, 917 Americans died from COVID-19. The total number of American deaths is now 4,745. According to CNN, from January until April Fool’s day, President Trump has “minimized the risk of coronavirus.” 

Trump has said:

“The virus might well vanish by April with the warmer weather, that the media and Democrats were overhyping the situation, and that this is their new hoax.” 

President Trump

Finally, on April 1, the facts are clear. COVID-19 is not vanishing in April. Moreover, President Trump said (for the first time):

“The situation is ‘bad,’ that the virus is not under control, that the country might well be heading into a recession, and that American life would not get back to normal for months.”

In this video press briefing, President Trump says he wants, “every American prepared for the hard days that lay ahead.” Moreover, Trump says, “It’s going to be a very tough two weeks.” (April 1 – April 14).

Experts Predict Huge US Death Toll

Dr Debroah Birx
Dr. Brix presents a terrifying US death toll

At White House briefing on March 31, 2020, Dr. Debroah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, makes a grim prediction. An IHME model by Chris Murray, at the University of Washington, predicts 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 in the next two months.

Most importantly, this prediction requires all American’s to engage in social distancing. Otherwise, the American death toll could be in the millions.

You can slow the spread of Coronavirus

Medicare Coronavirus social distancing

To slow the spread of Coronavirus, all Americans must do the following:

  • Restrict social gatherings to 10 people or less
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people (Social Distancing)
  • Stay at home and shop online for whatever you need

If you ignore these guidelines, millions of Americans are likely to die. Experts predict a mountain of deaths between 1.5 million and 2.2 million if Americans fail to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

community mitigation coronavirus death graph
Coronavirus deaths with intervention 100K – 240K vs no intervention 1.5 – 2.2 million

Medicare will cover the Coronavirus vaccine

Currently, scientists continue to work on COVID-19 vaccines. The estimated timeline for an approved vaccine maybe 12 – 18 months. When a vaccine becomes available, your Medicare Part D plan will cover it.

Medicare Part B application

Medicare Part B Application

medicare part b application

Find out how easy it is to complete a Medicare Part B application from the safety of your home. All you need is an Internet connection and a computer or smartphone. It helps to have a printer. However, you can complete the entire application online. Robert Bache, the owner of Senior Healthcare Direct, shows in a video how to apply for Medicare online.

You can click the following link to download the CMS 40B application for enrollment in Medicare Part B. Alternatively, you can download form 40B in Spanish. After you have downloaded the PDF file, you have two ways to complete the form. 

  • The first option is to open the application using Adobe Acrobat Reader, type in your information, and print it out. 
  • The second option is to print and fill it out the form.

If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free. This is a fairly large file. So it may take time to complete the download. Then you will need to install it on your computer. Finally, open the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer and open the PDF file. You can now type in your information.

What do you need to complete the Medicare Part B application?

The following information is needed to complete your the Medicare Part B application:

Where to send Medicare Part B application?

You can mail your completed and signed application to your local Social Security office. To find a local Social Security office near you, visit the Social Security Office Locator and enter your zip code. If you signed up during a Special Enrollment Period, include the CMS L564 with your CMS 40B application.

medicare team help with medicare questions

Medicare Part B Application FAQs

Can I use the CMS 40B application during my Initial Enrollment Period?

Yes, if you live in Purto Rico. Otherwise, you need to apply online.

If I have Part A, can I use the CMS 40B application to enroll in Part B?

Yes.


Can I use the CMS 40B application to sign up for Part B during the General Enrollment Period (Jan 1 – Mar 31)?

Yes.


If I refused Part B during the Initial Enrollment Period because I had a group health plan, can I use the CMS 40B application?

Yes, you may sign up during your 8-month Special Election Period (SEP).

Seema Verma CMS approves Section 1135 Wavier

seema verma cms
Seema Verma, CMS Administrator

CMS Approves Section 1135 Wavier for 13 States

On March 23, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approves Section 1135 Wavier for 13 states. The waiver gives states new “flexibility” to provide needed healthcare services during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. According to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, “These waivers give a broad range of states the regulatory relief and support they need to more quickly and effectively care for their most vulnerable citizens.”

CMS approves waivers in the following 13 states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • New Jersey
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington

The Benefits of Section 1135 Waiver

Seema Verma says the 1135 Wavier removes all “unnecessary administrative and bureaucratic barriers that may hinder an effective response to this public health emergency.” In general, the wavier removes red tape that can hamper access to needed health care services. For example, the wavier streamlines the provider enrollment processes so more providers can care for beneficiaries. As a result, providers who are not already enrolled in Medicare may “provisionally, temporarily” enroll and CMS will waive the following:

  • Payment of application fee
  • Criminal background checks
  • Site visits
  • In-State/territory licensure requirements
blu-med field hospital
Temporary field hospital

For any “fee-for-service” healthcare plans, which include some Medicare Advantage plans, Section 1135 wavies prior authorization requirements. In other words, you do not need pre-approval. For example, you do not need a referral from a primary care physician to get the health care you need during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the waiver allows care to be provided in an alternative setting. For example, a provider’s facility becomes inaccessible due to a large volume of COVID-19 patients, the wavier allows you to get care in a temporary shelter (field hospital).

Overall, the waiver enables states to focus their resources on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and provide the health care you need.

4 parts of medicare

Medicare Parts coverage and cost in 2020

What do Medicare Parts cover and cost in 2020?

There are 4 parts of Medicare: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.

  • Part A covers inpatient hospital services.
  • Part B covers outpatient medical services.
  • Part C is Medicare Advantage plan offered by private companies approved by Medicare.
  • Part D provides prescription drug coverage to lower the cost you pay for medications.

Before you receive any of the health benefits above, you must first pay Part A deductible of $1408 in 2020. However, you can avoid paying this cost by having a Medicare Supplement plan.

What does Medicare Part A cover and cost in 2020?

According to Medicare.gov, Part A covers the following:

  • Inpatient hospital care
  • Skilled Nursing Facility care
  • Long-term Care Hospitals
Medicare Part A - Hospital

Inpatient Hospitals Coverage and Cost in 2020

The first 60 days of inpatient care is covered by Medicare Part A. In other words, you pay $0 coinsurance for eash 60 day benefit period. For example, you can be a hospital inpatient multiple times per year and each hospital stay will cost you nothing so long as each stay is 60 days or less. However, hospital stays between 61 days and 90 days will cost you $352 coinsurance per day in 2020.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Skilled Nursing Facility Coverage and Cost in 2020

Medicare Part A also covers 20 days of care in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). Specifically, you pay $0 coinsurance for each 20 day benefit period. Some of the benefits of SNF include physical therapy, meals, and dietary counseling. Therefore, you can get short-term skilled nursing care multiple times per year for no cost so long as each stay is 20 days or less. However, SNF stays between 21 days and 100 days will cost you $176 per day in 2020.

Long-term Care Hospital Coverage and Cost in 2020

Medicare Part A covers the first 60 days in a Long-term Care Hospital (LTCH). In particular, the cost of LTCH is $0 for each 60 day benefit period under the following conditions.

  • You are transferred to a LTCH directly from an acute care hospital.
  • You are admitted to a LTCH within 60 days of being discharged from a hospital.

If the above conditions do not apply, then you must pay $1364 deductible in 2020 before Medicare will pay anything. Furthermore, LTCH stays from 61 days to 90 days will cost you $341 coinsurance per day in 2020.

Medicare Part A - Long-Term Hospital Care

What does Medicare Part B cover and Cost in 2020?

Medicare Part B covers the following services:

  • Medical outpatient services for stays at any hospital or medical facility for less than 24 hours. For example, a stay that occurs overnight but for less than 24 hours is outpatient service.
  • Preventive services to prevent illness such as seasonal flu-shot and annual wellness visits.
first aid kit

Medicare Outpatient Coverage and Cost in 2020

Original Medicare covers 80% of medically necessary services and supplies. These Part B medical services include:

  • Ambulance Service  – transportation to a medical facility.
  • Doctor Visits – anytime to see your primary doctor or specialist.
  • Mental Health – psychotherapy and counseling to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression.
  • Durable Medical Equipment – devices that assist with your medical conditions. For example, blood sugar monitors, oxygen equipment, and wheelchairs.

Before Medicare pays for these medical services and supplies, you must first pay Part B deductible of $198 in 2020. Furthermore, you are responsible to pay the 20% that Medicare does not cover. However, Medicare Supplement Plan C and Plan F pay Part B deductible and your 20% coinsurance.

Medicare Preventive Coverage and Cost in 2020

Medicare preventive services cover screening tests that help detect health conditions at early stages when treatment is most effective. In the tables below, we list 31 preventive tests covered by Medicare Part B. 

Medicare Part B preventive screening table 1
Click to view larger table size
Medicare Part B preventive screening table 2
Click to view larger table size

In the tables above, 71% of these screening tests are free after you pay the $198 Part B deductible. Furthermore, 19% of tests require payment of Part B deductible and 20% coinsurance. Finally, 10% of tests you pay absolutely nothing: neither Part B deductible nor 20% coinsurance. These preventive screening tests are completely FREE:

  • Nutrition Therapy Service – you pay nothing if you have diabetes or kidney disease.
  • “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit – you pay nothing as long as the doctor does not perform additional tests or services.
  • Yearly Wellness Visit – is free every 12 months as long as the doctor does not perform additional tests or services.

To receive Part B coverage you need to pay a monthly premium. In 2020, the standard premium for Part B is $144.60.

What does Medicare Part C cover and cost in 2020?

Part C Medicare Advantage network
MA plans have a network of doctors, hospitals, and other medical services.

Medicare Part C is an alternative to Original Medicare and covers Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan.

Medicare Advantage (MA) Coverage

MA plans often include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Moreover, many MA plans include extra benefits not covered by Original Medicare. For example, MA plans may include dental, vision, and hearing. Some MA plans even include gym memberships such as Silver Sneakers! MA plans are offered through a network of healthcare providers HMO or PPO.

Medicare Advantage (MA) Costs

To enroll in Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) you must first be enrolled in Part A and Part B. Most Seniors pay no premium for Part A. However, you will have to pay Part B monthly premiums. In 2020, the standard premium for Part B is $144.66. Furthermore, you will need to pay a monthly Part C premium. According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, the average Medicare Advantage Plan premium is $36 in 2020.

When you add standard Part B and average MA premiums, the total monthly cost is $180.66 in 2020. Conversely, Original Medicare Part B and Part D premiums only cost $177.34 in 2020. However, you may be thrilled to get a gym membership for only a few extra dollars per month!

You can choose a lower premium MA plan. As a result, you may be excited to pay less every month. However, these MA plans will have higher deductibles, copays, and larger out-of-pocket limits. Consequently, the cost to use your health insurance will be much higher. You can avoid these excessive costs by choosing an MA premium of $40 or more.

What does Medicare Part D cover and cost in 2020?

Part D saves you money on prescription drugs. Specifically, it reduces your cost for brand-name and generic drugs. For example, rather than paying the full retail price for medications, you only pay small copayments with Part D. To join a Part D drug plan, you must be enrollment in certain parts of Medicare.

 Part D drug plan
Part D drug plans save you money

How to Join a Drug Plan

You must have either Part A or Part B to join a stand-alone Part D drug plan with Original Medicare. However, you must have both Part A and Part B to join a Medicare Advantage plan. Since private health insurance companies such as Aetna, Mutual of Omaha, and AARP provide drug coverage, the price you pay will vary.

Part D Costs for Original Medicare and MA Plans

To enroll in Part D with Original Medicare you need to have either Part A or Part B. However, most people have both Part A and Part B coverage. Since private health insurance companies such as Aetna, Mutual of Omaha, and AARP provide drug coverage, the price you pay will vary.

Part D drug costs in 2020 

All Part D drug plans a monthly Part D premium. This amount will depend on the income reported on your 2018 tax return. Some Part D plans have an annual deductible which can not be more than $435 in 2020. However, other drug plans may have little or no deductible. 

After the out-of-pocket deductible, you pay either a copay or coinsurance for each prescription drug. For example, $10 copay for all drugs on a tier or 25% of the drug cost. Furthermore, after you and your drug plan spend a certain amount, you enter a coverage gap called the donut hole.

Donut Hole Costs in 2020

In 2020, you will enter the donut hole and pay 25% coinsurance for both brand-name and generic drugs when your drug plan spends $4,020. After total out-of-pocket drug costs are $6,350 in 2020, you exit the donut hole.

Want More Help with Medicare Parts?

You can speak with a licensed agent at 1-855-368-4717 and get more help with the 4 parts of Medicare: A, B, C, and D. Our team is very experienced at explaining Medicare parts and how they work. 

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Medicare Telehealth Coverage Expands

Telehealth Coverage expands amid Coronavirus Pandemic

New change to Medicare Telehealth due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency. Seniors can now access telehealth services in their homes. On March 17, 2020, CMS Administrator Seema Verma says: 

Medicare Telehealth

“These changes allow seniors to communicate with their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility so that they can limit the risk of exposure and the spread of this virus.”

– Seema Verma

Moreover, these changes apply to more than just doctors. You can also receive telehealth services from the following healthcare providers:

  • Physicians
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurses
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Registered Dietitians

All of these clinicians can now safely provide virtual care services while protecting our seniors from the coronavirus.  On March 17, 2020, the American Medical Association (AMA) President Patrice Harris, MD, applauds this Medicare telemedicine policy change. She says:

This important Medicare policy change supports social distancing measures and slows the spread of the novel coronavirus, while providing safe screening and treatment to patients through remote care.

– Patrice Harris, MD

Moreover, Doctor Harris says, “The use of telemedicine and remote services are critical to the management of COVID-19, while also ensuring uninterrupted care for 100 million Americans with chronic conditions.” This policy change expands Medicare telehealth benefits to the vast majority of people on Medicare.

Who is eligible for Medicare Telehealth?

Anyone with Medicare Part B (Medical Coverage) is eligible for Medicare Telehealth benefits. This includes people who have Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, and Medicare Supplement Plans. However, anyone with only Medicare Part A is not eligible for telehealth benefits.

Trump Expands Telehealth Benefits

Robert Bache, owner of Senior Healthcare Direct, breaks the Medicare news on president Trump’s expansion of Telehealth benefits. Watch the MedicareBob video below for more informaiton.

Trump Expands Medicare TeleHealth Benefit

Breaking News: Coronavirus update 03/18/2020: President Trump expands Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plan's TeleHealth

Posted by Senior Healthcare Direct on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Watch more MedicareBob videos by following us on Facebook.

Medicare Telehealth Communication 

Medicare Telehealth allows you to communicate with a healthcare professional using a real-time audio/video system. For example, you may be able to use your smartphone or any other device with video technology, like a tablet or laptop. In addition, you can use telehealth services for virtual check-ins over the phone with your doctor. Furthermore, you can communicate without going to your doctor’s office by using an online patient portal for e-visits.

Medicare Telehealth Coverage and Cost

Medicare Telehealth is covered by Medicare Part B. Telehealth services can include virtual check-ins and e-visits. Moreover, Part B covers coronavirus testing. Original Medicare only covers 80% of Part B costs. Therefore, you may need to pay 20% coinsurance and Part B annual deductible of $198 in 2020. However, Medicare beneficiaries with Medicare Supplement Plan will not pay Part B coinsurance (expect plans K and L).

Medicare Questions phone number

Medicare Questions? Call our Phone Number

Get answer to your Medicare Questions by calling Senior Healthcare Direct phone number 1-855-368-4717. We will continue to remain open for business during the Coronavirus pandemic. Our customer support team will work remotely from the safety of their home to answer your Medicare questions. For example, we can answer your Medicare billing and coverage questions. Robert Bache, owner of Senior Healthcare Direct, is taking steps to ensure the safety of our staff and the continued support of our clients. Watch the short video below for more details.

Medicare Billing Questions

As a Medicare Insurance Broker, Senior Healthcare Direct can assist you for the life of your Medicare policy. We have a dedicated Customer Support Team of 8 full-time employees on call to quickly work to resolve your Medicare issues. For example, if you have a billing error, we can help you fix it. In addition, we can help you file a Medicare appeal. According the Medicare.gov you can file an appeal if Medicare or your plan denies any of the following:

  • Your request to get a health care service, item, or drug you think should be covered, provided, or continued.
  • Your request for payment for a health care service, item, or drug you already got.
  • Finally, your request to change the amount you pay for a health care service, item or drug.

How We Help Clients with Medicare Appeals

medicare questions phone number
Bonnie Creais, Medicare customer support

Bonnie Creais, member of our Customer Support Team, helps our clients with Medicare appeals. Here’s how Senior Healthcare Direct helps you with Medicare Appeals:

  1. Clients supply us with the actual bill and the full Medicare Summary of Benefits (S.O.B.)
  2. Clients fill out their information on the last page of the S.O.B. and fax it to us
  3. We write the appeal on behalf of our client and send the client and Medicare a copy of the appeal
  4. Medicare has 60 days to decide on the appeal and sends the client it’s decision
  5. Finally, client calls and/or sends us a copy of the appeal and we explain the decision to the client

Bonnie says, “I have only lost one appeal which I knew would happen, but this particular client needed to see it in writing from Medicare.” Clients who need help with Medicare billing or appeal are welcome to call Senior Healthcare Direct at 1-855-368-4717.

Medicare Coverage Questions

Senior Healthcare Direct works with 30 different A-rated Medicare insurance companies to provide many coverage options. For example, we offer Medicare Supplement Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans nationwide. In addition, we offer Original Medicare and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. To answer your Medicare coverage questions call our phone number at 1-855-368-4717.

Common Questions about calling our Phone Number

Who do you call for Medicare questions?

Call Senior Healthcare Direct at 1-855-368-4717.

When can I call Senior Healthcare Direct?

Call anytime between 9am – 7pm Eastern Time.

Can I leave a voicemail message?

Yes, you can record a message and we will call you back.

Medicare Part B covers Coronavirus Test

Medicare Part B covers Coronavirus Test

conoravirus test

Anyone who gets flu like symptoms is advised to call your doctor and get the Coronavirus test. This virus which causes a disease called COVID-19 is covered by Medicare Part B if you get the test on or after February 4, 2020. The Coronavirus test can diagnose or rule out whether or not you have the virus. However, your provider will have to wait until after April 1, 2020 to submit a claim to Medicare for this test. In the video below, Robert Bache will talks more about Medicare Part B and the cost of the Coronavirus test.

What Does The Coronavirus Test Cost?

Watch this video to find out what it costs to get tested for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Who Does Coronavirus Kill?

The Conoravirus kills people with a weakened immune system who have a reduced ability to fight infections. This may be caused by certain diseases or conditions such as cancer or diabetes. It may be caused by certain medications or treatments such as anitcancer drugs. Thus, seniors with these types of health conditions are at higher risk.

Basic Protective Measures Against COVID-19

The World Health Organization says most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. You can protect yourself against COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the new coronavirus, by taking the following protective measures:

Maintain Social Distancing

Coronavirus is spread from person to person mainly through droplets produced when an infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. However, these droplets only travel about 3 feet and quickly settle on surfaces. The virus can survive for some time on surfaces. So it is wise to clean surfaces regularly.

Avoid Touching eyes, nose and mouth

Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. Thus, you should avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth since contaminated hands can transfer the virus to you.

Practice Respiratory Hygiene

When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with the bend of your elbow or use a disposable tissue. Then discard the used tissue immediately into a closed bin.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

The most effective way to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus is to clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash with soap and water. This will eliminate the virus if it is on your hands.

Preventing the Spread of The Coronavirus

You can help prevent virus infection by minimizing social contact, washing your hands often, and avoid touching your face. For example, you can minimize the risk of getting Coronavirus by avoiding crowds. In addition, you can watch for symptoms of COVID-19 which may appear 2-14 days after exposure according to the CDC:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Anyone with the above symptoms, should call their doctor and tell them, “You may have COVID-19.” so healthcare provider’s office can take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. Moreover, you are advised by CDC to wear a facemask, if you are sick. This helps prevent the spread of viral particles when you cough or sneeze. In addition, the CDC recommends the following:

  • You should avoid sharing personal household items such as drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels, etc.
  • Clean all high touch surfaces such as bathroom fixtures, toliets, door knobs, etc.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough an sneeze, throw away any tissue in a lined trash can, and immediately wash your hands.
open enrollment for medicare

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Once a year Medicare open enrollment period is October 15 to December 7 – also known as Annual Election Period or Annual Enrollment period – anyone with Medicare can make changes to their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year. For example, the next Medicare open enrollment is October 15, 2020 through December 7, 2020. Any changes you make to Medicare coverage during this open enrollment period will take effect in January 2021. Read more about what you can do during open enrollment period.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment

Likewise, Medicare Advantage open enrollment period occurs once a year between January 1 thru March 31. Anyone who has a Medicare Advantage Plan can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan. Alternatively, you can drop Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare. In addition, you can join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. For example, read the following story about George.

Why George Switched from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare

open enrollment for medicare
George and Barbara excited about switching to Medicare Part D plan

George turned 65 last last year and enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plan. In 2020, George and his wife Barbara bought a recreation vehicle (RV). Together they plan to enjoy retirement by traveling across the United States in their new RV. However, George has an Advantage Plan and when he travels outside of his service area he pays higher out-of-network costs. Therefore, George makes a smart move and switches from his Advantage Plan to Medicare with Part D prescription drug plan.

Now, George and Barbara have peace of mind knowing their health costs will remain consistent whereever they travel in the United States. The good news is you can switch too! Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is January 1 to March 31. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan. Otherwise, you can drop Medicare Advantage and enroll in Original Medicare and join Part D prescription drug plan. To shop and compare Medicare plans call Senior Healthcare Direct at 1-855-368-4717 or click the get quote button below.

get Medicare quote button

Common Questions About Medicare Open Enrollment

What is Medicare open enrollment?

Medicare open enrollment also called annual election period and annual enrollment period (AEP) is the annual period between October 15 and December 7 when people eligible for Medicare can change their Medicare plan.

When is Medicare open enrollment?

Annual Medicare open enrollment period is October 15 to December 7. Open enrollment for 2020 coverage ended on December 7, 2019. Next open enrollment will begin October 15, 2020 for coverage starting in January 2021.

What is Medicare Advantage open enrollment?

Medicare Advantage open enrollment only applies to people who have Medicare Advantage plans. During Medicare Advantage OEP you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan. Alternatively, you can switch from Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare including Part D prescription drug plan.

When is Medicare Advantage open enrollment?

Medicare Advantage open enrollment is January 1 to March 31.

What’s you can not switch in Medicare Advantage open enrollment?

During Medicare Advantage open enrollment period you can not switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage Plan. In addition, you can not join Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Furthermore, you can not switch from Medicare Part D drug plan to another Part D drug plan.

Silver Sneakers Medicare Plans

What is Silver Sneakers?

medicare plans silver sneakers

Silver Sneakers is a health and fitness program for Medicare beneficiaries 65 years or older. Thus, if your a senior Medicare Plans may pay for Silver Sneakers. Members of Silver Sneakers have access to thousands of gyms, community centers, and other participating fitness location across the nation. As a member you can take classes designed for seniors of all fitness levels led by trained instructors. In addition, you have access to on-demand video library of classes and workouts. You can even download the SilverSneakers GO app to get your digital membership card and workouts. The app is free and available on IOS and Android devices. Most important, Silver Sneakers is a place for seniors to find a friendly, supportive community in person and online.

Why Join Silver Sneakers?

Silver Sneakers helps you stay strong in body, mind, and spirit. Regular physical activity keeps your heart, brain, bones, muscles, and joints healthy. For instance, if you have a chronic condition like arthritis, diabetes, or osteoporosis, safe exercise can help you feel better. In addition, staying social in the Silver Sneakers community is vital to your good health.

Silver Sneakers Program

The Silver Sneakers program includes a basic membership at any participating gym. Facilities and amenities vary by location, however, many Medicare Silver Sneaker gyms include the following:

  • Cardio equipment, including treadmills and ellipticals
  • Strength training equipment, such as weights and strength machines
  • Amenities, such as pools and walking tracks

Unlike other senior gym memberships, you can go to all fitness locations in the Silver Sneakers network. You can visit over 17,0000 Medicare Silver Sneaker locations across the United States.

Silver Sneaker program includes many types of exercise classes. You will find a variety of fun exercises classes designed for seniors of all fitness levels. Classes vary by location, but you will often find the following:

Silver Sneakers Program
  • Cardio and strength classes, which often include a chair for support
  • Water aerobics classesChair and standing yoga classes
  • Tai Chi, boot camp, and many other classes!

The instructors who lead Silver Sneaker classes are friendly and supportive. If you are new to a class, the instructor can help you learn how to do exercises safely. Furthermore, if you have limited mobility, instructors can adapt exercises for your needs.

Do you want to try something different from traditional gyms? You might like to try Silver Sneakers FLEX classes. The Silver Sneakers program offers more than 70 kinds of classes through its FLEX network. You can visit many different locations such as churches, community centers, or recreation centers. Some FLEX classes meet outdoors and many FLEX class sizes are smaller than gym classes.

Where to Find Silver Sneakers Locations and Classes?

You can find a Silver Sneakers locations and classes near you using the locator tool. You can go to any participating location or class you want in the Silver Sneakers network. For example, you can use weights in one location, go swimming at another location, and take a Silver Sneakers or FLEX class at a third location.

Medicare Plans with Silver Sneakers

You can find Silver Sneakers with Medicare Supplement Plans or Medicare Advantage Plans. However, you are less likely to find Silver Sneakers included in a Medicare Supplement Plans. A few of the Medicare insurance companies that may offer you Silver Sneakers Medigap Plans include:

  • AARP
  • Bankers Life aka Colonial Penn Life Insurance
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield

Depending on your location, Medicare plans with Silver Sneakers may be covered by Medicare Supplement Plan F or Plan G. However, more insurance companies offer Silver Sneakers with Medicare Advantage Plans including:

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Humana
  • Mutual of Ohama
  • UnitedHealthcare
  • Well Care

You are more likely to find a Medicare Advantage Plan with Silver Sneakers than a Medicare Supplement Plan.

Silver sneakers enrollment

During Medicare Open Enrollment Period, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan with Silver Sneakers between January 1 and March 31. To switch your Medicare Advantage Plan, you must be in a Medicare Advantage Plan now. Otherwise, you will need to wait until Annual Enrollment October 15 thru December 7. However, if you have Medicare Supplement Plan, you can shop a new Medigap Plan with Silver Sneakers anytime all year long. You can speak with a licensed agent about switching your Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Plan at Senior Healthcare Direct 1-855-368-4717. Otherwise, you can click the get quote button below.

medicare plans silver sneakers

Common Questions About silver sneakers

Does Medicare Cover Silver Sneakers?

Silver Sneakers is covered by many Medicare plans. For example, Silver Sneakers is covered by many Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplement Plans.

Does traditional Medicare cover Silver Sneakers?

Unfortunately, Original Medicare Part A and Part B does not offer or include Silver Sneakers.

Is Silver Sneakers available to anyone on Medicare?

To be eligible for Silver Sneakers you must be 65 years or older. Some people qualify for Medicare because of disability and are younger than 65.

Does Medicare Pay for Silver Sneakers?

If your Medicare Supplement Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan includes Silver Sneakers, then Medicare pays for Silver Sneakers.

medicare for all plan

Medicare For All Plan – Biden, Warren, Sanders

Medicare For All Plan – Biden, Warren, Sanders

Which Medicare For All plan would you vote for? We’ll take a close look at each democratic candidate’s healthcare plan: Joe Bidden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Visit our Facebook page and let us know which plan you would vote for.

Medicare For All
Biden, Warren, and Sanders: Which healthcare plan do you support? Tell us on Facebook.

Bernie Sander’s Medicare For All Plan

Bernie Sander’s plan is to make a health care a human right. Bernie’s plan specifically says the “United States will join every other major country on earth and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they are sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital.”

Bernie’s Key Points

  • Create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health coverage, free at the point of service.
  • No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills… Medicare to include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community- based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.
  • No one in America pays more than $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for Medicare for All.
  • Allow patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to buy low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other industrial countries with the Affordable and Saft Prescription Drug Importation Act.

As president, Bernie Sander’s Medicare For All plan in the first year is to lower Medicare eligibility from 65 down to 55 years of age. Watch Bernie’s video:

Elizabeth Warren Medicare For All Plan

Elizabeth Warren’s plan is to reduce healthcare costs in America and transition to Medicare For All. In addition, Warren defends Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Elizabeth supports Medicare for All. However, Warren’s plan provides no timeline for implementing Medicare for All. In general, she wants to provide all Americans with a public healthcare program. Warren’s plan gives every single person in this country a guarantee of high-quality healthcare. In particular, Warren’s healthcare plan covers everybody and nobody goes broke because of medical bills. Watch Warren’s present the details of her Medicare for All plan in the video below:

Warren’s Plan to Pay for Medicare for All

Warren’s Medicare for All health care plan is the first to layout the full cost and how to pay for it. Her plan does not raise middle-class taxes by one penny. She says, “If we make no other changes over the next ten years, Americans will reach into their pockets and pay out about 11 Trillion dollars on insurance premiums, copays, deductibles, and uncovered medical expenses. Warren’s plan reduces these costs to zero. Sort of like an 11 Trillion tax break! So we have two choices: we can maintain the status quo or choose Medicare For All.

Warren medicare for all plan

Warren says, “You might be asking how can we possibly provide better coverage to more people for less money?” First, Warren says, “Under Medicare For All, we reign in the corruption, the waste, inefficiency, and corporate profiteering. That is money we can save and spend on actual care. So we pay less overall for health care to get more real health care coverage.”

Second, Warren’s plan changes the structure of who pays for healthcare in America, and how. Warren says, “We will take the $11,000,000,000,000 projected out-of-pocket health care costs over ten years and make that number zero. No more premiums, copays, deductibles, or out-of-network bills. For middle class families, that means thousands of dollars back in your pocket every year.”

Who Pays For Warren’s Medicare For All Plan

Under Warren’s plan existing federal and state spending (Medicare, Medicaid) stay the same. No new taxes or costs for the middle class. Warren says, “You are already done paying into Medicare and Medicaid. Business costs stay about the same – they will pay Medicare instead of private insurers.” For more Medicare information visit our Medicare Blog.

Furthermore, Warren says, “We will cover the rest of the costs with new taxes on the financial industry, big corporations, and the top 1%. We crack down on tax evasion and fraud by the wealthy and big corporations. So for the top 1%, they are going to have to pay their fair share. Moreover, corporations are finally going to have to pay the taxes they are meant to pay just like everyone else.

That is Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All plan. It covers everyone. It is fully paid for. Moreover, independent economist have verified it is doable. All it takes is the courage to fight for it.

Warren says, “Insurance companies and drug companies will spend tens of millions of dollars in political contributions and disinformation campaigns to try and keep tens of billions of dollars in profits flowing into themselves. That is corruption – plain and simple. We have to call it out and we have to fight back against it. Because like any big idea, you do not get what you do not fight for. We need a health care system that recognizes that health care is a human right.” Warren will fight to get it done.

Joe Bidden Obama Care Plan

In the first Democratic debate in Miami, the question was asked, “Do we support eliminating private health insurance?” Biden said, “Absolutely not.” Therefore, Joe Bidden does not support Medicare For All. Joe Biden believes, “We need to protect and build on Obama Care”. Biden proposes a public option to Obama Care as, “the best way to lower costs and cover everyone.”

Joe Biden does not support Medicare for All because it gets rid of Obama Care. As President, Joe Biden, plans to promote and build upon Obama Care. Watch Joe’s video below.

Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

Medicare Annual Wellness Visit

Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) is a yearly appointment with your primary care provider (PCP) to develop or update your personalized prevention plan. The AWV helps you prevent disease and disability based on your current health and risk factors.

Annual Wellness Visit is FREE

medicare annual wellness visit

Medicare will pay for your Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) when the following is true:

  • It have been 12 months or longer since your last AWV. Otherwise,12 months since your Initial AWV also called Welcome to Medicare Visit
  • During this 12 month period you have had Medicare Part B

If you qualify, Medicare Part B covers your AWV at 100% of the Medicare-approved cost. Moreover, there is $0 deductible. So you do not pay the $198 Part B deductible in 2020. Therefore, you pay nothing (no deductible and no coinsurance).

However, if you AWV uncovers the need to investigate or treat a new or existing problem, Medicare may bill you for any diagnostic care.

Your First Annual Wellness Visit

Your first AWV maybe your Welcome to Medicare Visit if it occurs within the first 12 months of enrolling in Medicare Part B. During your initial visit, your primary care physician will cover the following:

Health Risk Assessment – you fill out the form show on the right. The health assessment includes the following:

  1. General HealthTobacco and Alcohol Use
  2. Nutrition
  3. Physical Activity
  4. Sleep
  5. Functional Status Assessment
  6. Pain Assessment
  7. Home/Safety
  8. Depression

Provider Consultation – reviews your Health Risk Assessment and addresses the following:

  • Psychosocial risks
  • Behavioral risks
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Establish list of current providers and suppliers
  • Establish your medical/social and family history
  • Physical Exam includes your height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, visual acuity, and other factors based on your assessment
  • Establish or detect any cognitive impairment you may have

Personalized Prevention Plan – a list of risk factors and conditions for which primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions are recommended. In addition, you will be furnished personalized health advice and referrals, as appropriate, to health education or preventive counseling services or programs such as:

  • Alcohol misuse counseling
  • Obesity counseling
  • Tobacco use cessation counseling
medicare annual wellness visit health risk assessment
visual acuity testing
medicare annual wellness visit AWV

Your Subsequent Annual Wellness Visits

After your initial AWV, you can follow-up for FREE every 12 months. Health conditions changer over time. Therefore, it is in your best interest to visit your primary care physician on an annual basis. Here is what you can expect during your subsequent AWV:

  • You can update your medical/family history
  • In addition, you can update the list of current providers and suppliers who provide you with medical care.
  • Check your weight (or waist circumference), blood pressure, and other routine measurements
  • Detection of any cognitive impairment
  • Updates to your personalized prevention plan
  • Receive personalized health advice and referrals to health education, preventive counseling, and programs

How to Make An Annual Wellness Appointment

The Washington Post published an article about a lady on Medicare named Beverly Dune. She, “called her primary care doctor’s office to schedule an annual checkup, she assumed her Medicare coverage would pick up most of the tab. The appointment seemed like a routine physical, and she was pleased that the doctor spent a lot of time with her. Until she got the bill: $400.”

It is very important that when you call your doctor to make an appointment use the words, “annual wellness visit.” Otherwise, if you use the words, “Annual Physical” the visit can cost you $400! A physical exam is more comprehensive than a wellness visit. For example, a physical is a full-body examination where the doctor exams your head, neck, lungs, abs, reflexes and neurological responses. In addition, physicals usually include blood and urine lab testing. Therefore, make sure you use the words “annual wellness visit” when you schedule your doctor’s appointment.

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