Questions or problems about Medicare? Jim Sellers, a former Oregon reporter and state agency employee, writes a regular column to help thousands of people in Salem cope with the confusing world of Medicare and federal benefits. He is available to answer your questions free of charge.
The question came after the fact.
The Medicare recipient was finishing a session with a Senior Health Benefits Assistance Advisor (SHIBA) when the question arose.
âBy the way,â she said, âin a year or so, I want to leave Salem and be closer to one of my daughters. They live in McMinnville and Tillamook, and I would be happy with either. Do they offer the same Medicare Advantage plans? “
The counselor logged on to the Medicare website to review Medicare Advantage plans in Yamhill and Tillamook counties. The advisor found that Yamhill County has 26 Medicare Advantage plans that help with both medical and drug costs. Seven had no monthly premiums and nine others had premiums below $ 50.
In contrast, the advisor said, Tillamook County has a Medicare Advantage insurance plan that covers both medical care and drugs, and its premium is $ 105 per month. The Medicare beneficiary said she believed the information could influence her relocation decision.
If you would like to make an appointment with a SHIBA Advisor or ask a question that needs to be answered here, please see the end of this column.
Question: I was looking for insurance plans on the Medicare website. There is a company there called Lasso. How does his insurance work?
These are high deductible plans that were new this year for Medicare beneficiaries in Oregon. The company deposits an amount in a medical savings account that you can use for medical expenses. In a plan, the deposit is $ 2,000.
If the account is depleted, the beneficiary is responsible for the next amount ($ 3,000 in this case). After that, Lasso Healthcare will pay all medical expenses at the Medicare approved rate.
If a person registers later in the year, the deposit amount is prorated. For example, if the registration was effective April 1, the deposit would be $ 1,500 instead of $ 2,000.
If there is money left in the medical savings account at the end of the year, the insured can withdraw it and treat it as taxable income. Lasso plans do not cover prescription drugs, but a Medicare beneficiary can enroll in a separate prescription drug plan to help cover drug costs.
Q: I will delay enrollment in Social Security for a few years, but my health insurance will begin this winter. This means that I cannot have the Medicare Part B premium deducted from a Social Security check. A friend who did this said she was paying her Part B premium by check. Does Medicare offer another payment method?
Yes, and you might find the alternatives a little easier.
The first is to set up a monthly payment through your bank. Your bank would need to know your 11 character Medicare number (no dashes, spaces or extra characters), beneficiary name (CHS Medicare Insurance) and beneficiary address (Medicare Premium Collection Center , PO Box 790355, St. Louis, MO 63179-0355). To avoid surprises, ask your bank if they charge for this service.
A second alternative is to create your own account on the Medicare website, Medicare.gov, and use its free service called Medicare Easy Pay. This allows you to pay by credit or debit card or from your bank or savings account.
Q: A friend and I both have Medicare supplemental insurance. He bought his several years ago, and I signed up last spring. I pay the annual deductible, but he says he doesn’t. Is it because we are registered with different insurance companies?
You are referring to the Medicare Part B deductible of $ 203. The difference between you and your friend is not in the companies, but in the type of Medigap plans you have. Your friend most likely has a Plan F policy, which pays the annual deductible. Plan F is no longer available to new members, and all other plans leave the payment of the Part B deductible to the insured. With Medigap, however, after paying the deductible, you will most likely not have any further costs for Medicare-covered medical services.
Jim Sellers of Salem is a Certified Medicare Advisor with the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program. To ask a question that needs to be answered in this section, send an email [emailÂ protected] To make a free SHIBA phone appointment with a Medicare volunteer counselor, call 800-722-4134.