SAN MATEO, Calif.--(Extend Health, operator of the nation’s largest private Medicare exchange and a Towers Watson company, announced today the availability of two free guides designed to help seniors who are turning 65 – and becoming eligible for Medicare for the first time – navigate the complexity of their health care options to make informed choices about Medicare coverage:)--
“In fact, the high cost of health care and out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare are seniors’ biggest financial concerns today.”
- Understanding Your Medicare Options – Basic explanations of the ins and outs of Medicare
- Medicare Enrollment Guide for 2013 – Specifics on enrolling in Medicare in 2013
Extend Health also issued an invitation today to all seniors to call Extend Health toll free at 1-866-322-2824 and speak with a licensed benefit advisor to learn more about original Medicare and Medicare supplemental plans (also known as Medigap plans). These personal consultations are also free to seniors.
“A recent Extend Health survey of seniors 65 and older showed that when it comes to concerns about making ends meet in retirement, twice as many seniors said they were concerned about not having enough money for out-of-pocket medical expenses than five years ago,” said Bryce Williams, founder of Extend Health and Managing Director of Exchange Solutions for Towers Watson. “In fact, the high cost of health care and out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare are seniors’ biggest financial concerns today.”
5 Things About Medicare That Matter Most
“Many seniors about to turn 65 don’t realize that the first time they choose Medicare coverage is the most important time because more options are available to them then than at any other time,” said Brady Thorup, Manager of Extend Health Benefit Advisor Training and Development. “If a senior is aging in to Medicare, he or she needs as much information as possible about the options available to make the best possible choices. Our benefit advisors help seniors build a Medicare coverage profile based on the status of their health, the prescription drugs they take and the doctors and hospitals they use. With original Medicare as a foundation, our benefit advisors work with seniors to find Medigap plans available on the Extend Health exchange from carriers in their region to ensure that they have coverage that meets their needs at a price they can afford.”
According to Thorup, there are five top things about Medicare that are important to seniors turning 65:
1. When seniors are eligible to enroll in Medicare
- Seniors turning 65 are eligible to enroll in original Medicare three months prior to their 65th birthday.
This is the time seniors should take stock of their medical picture to
- How original Medicare serves their needs
- How to bridge the gaps in what’s covered (most seniors supplement original Medicare with a private plan)
- What’s available when they turn 65 if they have coverage through their plan or their spouse's employer or another group (this is a good time to speak with them)
- Seniors over 65 and already enrolled in Medicare (original and the private plans are covered below) can enroll in different plans during the 2013 Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15–December 7, 2012.
2. What Original Medicare Covers – And What it Doesn’t
- The free Extend Health guide, Understanding Your Medicare Options, offers a clear explanation of the benefits and requirements of the various parts of original Medicare, including Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (physician and outpatient coverage). The guide also explains what original Medicare does not cover and how to fill those gaps by explaining private Medicare coverage options, including Part C – known as Medicare Advantage, Part D – prescription drug coverage, and Medigap plans.
- The Extend Health Medicare Enrollment Guide for 2013 provides information about how all parts of Medicare compare to one another.
3. What Medigap and Medicare Advantage Plans Cover
- Medigap and Medicare Advantage coverage is delivered through private plans that can help bridge the gaps in what original Medicare covers. See the Extend Health guide, Understanding Your Medicare Options, for plan explanations.
- A worksheet is provided in the Extend Health Medicare Enrollment Guide for 2013 to help seniors evaluate whether Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans would meet their needs better.
4. How to Get Prescription Drug Coverage
- Seniors choosing Medigap plans may also want a Part D plan to provide drug coverage. Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans already include prescription drug coverage.
- Seniors with Medicare Advantage cannot purchase separate Part D plans.
5. Enrollment Requirements for Original Medicare versus Medicare Advantage and Medigap Plans
- Enrollment requirements for original Medicare and Medigap plans are different.
- In a senior’s first enrollment period, Medigap plans are guaranteed issue, which means people over 65 cannot be denied coverage due to their health status or pre-existing conditions. After this first eligibility period, Medigap plans may cost more or coverage could be denied.
- For example, if a senior chooses a Medicare Advantage plan first and then wants to switch to original Medicare in combination with a Medigap plan, it may be more expensive to enroll later.
- Seniors can switch into a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan with a 5-star rating at any time during the year.
Go to the Extend Health website or click here for copies of both free Extend Health guides: Understanding Your Medicare Options and Medicare Enrollment Guide for 2013. Seniors should also refer to the CMS website.
Seniors can call Extend Health toll-free at 1-866-322-2824 and speak with a licensed benefit advisor for a free personal consultation on how original Medicare, Medigap and Medicare Part D plan options could best meet their medical needs.
About Extend Health
Founded in 2004, Extend Health operates the largest private Medicare exchange in the country. Extend Health is a Towers Watson company. (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) For more information, visit Extend Health on the web at http://www.extendhealth.com.
Extend Health is a registered trademark of Extend Health, Inc. Other names may be trademarks or servicemarks of their respective owners.
Medicare has not reviewed, or endorsed, this information.