medicare numbers

New Medicare Numbers are coming.

New Medicare numbers (on a new Medicare card) are going to be sent to everyone on Medicare – but not until 2018. The new Medicare cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace [...]

Medicare costs are going up in 2017

Medicare costs are going up in 2017.  Most people on Medicare currently pay a Part B premium of $104.90.  That will go up in January to about $109. For people who are new to Medicare, or those who are not yet collecting Social Security, their [...]
medicare help in 2017

How To Pay Your Medicare Premium

You can pay your Medicare premium in several ways. This info on how to pay your Medicare premium is from the Medicare.gov website: If you get Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits, or Civil Service benefits, your Medicare [...]
medicare quiz

Confused by Medicare Alphabet Soup?

Are you confused by the Medicare alphabet soup?  Many people are confused by all the letters that apply to parts of Medicare as well as Medicare supplements.  
extra help

Extra Help Letters from Social Security

Two million people are receiving letters from Social Security to let them know about the Extra Help program for their Part D drug coverage. This is not junk mail and it is not a scam. Eleven million, or 30% of all Medicare Part D enrollees, [...]

Help with Medicare Costs in 2016

  Who qualifies for help with Medicare costs? People in Arizona can use an online application at www.healthearizonaplus.gov QMB income & resource limits in 2016: Individual monthly income limit* $1,010 Married couple monthly income [...]

Hearing Aids and Medicare

Congress barred Medicare coverage of hearing aids 50 years ago because “people thought hearing loss was just a normal part of aging,” said Dr. Cassel, one of the authors of a recent JAMA editorial on hearing health policies. “They didn’t [...]

Medicare Advantage Dis-Enrollment Mistake

Don’t make this Medicare Advantage Dis-Enrollment Mistake. I tell my clients they don’t need to contact their Medicare Advantage Plan (MA) plan to cancel their Advantage plan… if they enroll into a stand-alone Part D plan. [...]
ambulance billing and medicare

Ambulance Billing Problems

Medicare covers non-emergency ambulance transport, but Medicare often refuses to pay such bills. Apparently, the devil is in the details – and it is up to seniors and their families to understand those details to avoid ambulance billing [...]

The Story of Medicare

Written and produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Story of Medicare: A Timeline serves as a visual timeline of Medicare’s history, including the debate that led to its creation in 1965 and subsequent changes.  

Changes to Medicare

It looks like Democrats and Republicans have agreed on a package of Medicare reforms that will fix some problems… and push more costs onto seniors. The biggest fix prevents reduced payments to doctors that have been threatened as a result [...]

Medicare Billing Mistakes

I have spent the last week in freezing Connecticut helping my 87-year old friend figure out her medical bills.  I wrote about Julie in December when I discovered her retiree Medicare supplement plan had been changed to a Medicare Advantage [...]

Retiree Health Plans Moving to Medicare Advantage

Retiree health benefits are pretty rare these days, but I have  two friends and two relatives who worked for big companies that offer benefits to supplement Medicare for their retirees.  These people are in their 70’s and 80’s [...]

Medicare Open Enrollment in Tucson

This year’s Medicare Open Enrollment in Tucson is….. crazy.   Crazy with so many people losing their plan, or losing their doctor from their plan network. With three weeks down and four weeks left in Open Enrollment, here are my [...]

Medicare Supplement Guaranteed Issue

If your Medicare Advantage plan is being canceled, you can go back to Original Medicare and you get  Medicare supplement guaranteed issue.  This means you cannot be turned down or charged a higher premium because you have health problems. The [...]

Woman thinks she can’t afford Medicare

I was shopping on Sunday afternoon and met a woman who thinks she can’t afford Medicare. She told me she works full-time at the retail store so she can get the company health insurance. This woman is 70 years old and looks like she [...]

Medicare Phone Numbers for Complaints and Appeals

How do you appeal to Medicare if you have been denied coverage for a medical service?  How do you lodge a complaint about a provider? The United Hospital Fund provides a list of numbers for each state on their website: Starting August 1, 2014, [...]

Long Wait at Social Security

Since 2011, Social Security has lost nearly 11,000 employees, and weekly field office hours have been reduced from 35 to 27.   I read about this in LifeHealthPro, a magazine for the insurance industry. The article summarizes a report on Social [...]

Turning 65: Do you have your Medicare card?

I had a call the other day from a woman who is turning 65 and wanted to talk to me about her Medicare choices. She said she is working, but is self-employed.  She turns 65 in September, just over one month away. I asked her if she has her Medicare [...]

Medicare: How much will your hospital bill be?

Should you get a Medicare supplement to fill the gaps in Medicare?  How much will your bill be if you are admitted to the hospital and you only have Medicare? A good explanation of how Medicare works when you are admitted to a hospital can [...]

Most Tucson Hospitals Charge Medicare Less Than National Average

Medicare has released information on how much hospitals across the country charge for the most common surgeries.  Here are the results for Tucson: Tucson Medical Center:  .8 of the national average charge St Joseph Hospital: 1.0 of the national [...]

Doctors Are Not Dropping Medicare

Don’t believe the rumors about doctors no longer taking Medicare patients. The numbers don’t lie.  Here are some infographics from the Kaiser Family Foundation that show the reality.   Here is a map of the percentage of doctors [...]

Help For Low-Income Seniors in Jeopardy

Low-Income seniors might lose Medicare help they receive due to an error of omission in Washington – even though both political parties think the financial assistance program should continue. Funding for the Medicare Qualified Individual [...]

Cold Calls to Medicare Beneficiaries are Unethical

Cold calling Medicare beneficiaries is against Medicare rules, but this being a slow time of year for insurance agents, seniors are getting calls that might disturb and/or confuse them. I was told by a Tucson insurance broker that one of her [...]

Medicare & More Blog Has Moved

For four years I wrote about Medicare and more in a blog that was part of Tucsoncitizen.com.  Unfortunately, Gannett, the owner of Tucsoncitizen.com, decided to shut down the site (with no advance notice). Gannett owns newspapers like “USA [...]

Who gets help with Medicare premium and drug costs?

Low-income Medicare beneficiaries get help with their Medicare Part B premium and their prescription drug costs.  Income levels that qualify for help have been raised for 2013. Anyone on Medicare with monthly income below $1,313 (individual) [...]