Another rant

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  #1  
Old 05-27-15, 11:24 PM
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Another rant

I turn 65 next month. I have been accumulating all sorts of advertising from insurance companies selling Medicare supplement and Advantage plans but very few of them have any substance, rather they want you to call so they can set up an appointment with one of their salespeople, no doubt to try to get you to sign up on the spot.

Anyway, not knowing exactly when my company sponsored retiree medical plan ends, I've read anywhere from the first of the month I turn 65 to the first of the month two months after I turn 65, I went on my secure (password required) benefits page to find the answer. I didn't find the answer but I did find a video that stated that before enrolling in a supplement, prescription drug or Advantage plan that retirees should check out those types of plans offered under company sponsorship as they may offer better benefits and/or lower costs.

Well, try as I could I could find no other information on this fairly large website so I called the company benefits hot line where I eventually was connected to a Health and Insurance representative. After repeating my password and other identifying information (which she should have had since I had to enter them with the initial call) she stated I had no company benefits after going on Medicare. I specifically asked about the video and she had no idea of the existence of the video. I asked who would be covered by such plans and she said she didn't know, that would be a question for the retirement people so I asked to be transferred to retirement benefits. The woman that answered stated flatly that I was asking an insurance question and wanted to transfer me to that department and when I told her that insurance had transferred me to retirements she said she would get an insurance rep on the line in a three-way so we could find the answer. I asked if this applied to only a select group such as executives, management or salaried employees and she couldn't say. I asked why did they have this video so visible on the home page of the benefits section if it only applied to a select group and she didn't have an answer. Finally she got a new insurance rep on the line but this new person's voice was so weak I could not understand but one out of every several words. I asked her to please speak up and she retorted that she WAS speaking up and got quite huffy. I'd about had it with the run-around then so I slammed the phone back in the cradle.

Next I searched the website looking for a way to complain. I found a survey and answered the questions in the most negative way possible but I knew that was nothing more than a release of anger on my part and would do no good whatsoever. Finally I found a "Contact Us" button and proceeded to vent my spleen. This is what I wrote:

Why do you have that video entitled "Learn More About Medicare Enrollment" giving all that erroneous information about [company] sponsored Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans? It gives the impression that all [company] retirees have [company] sponsored options to consider when applying for Medicare coverage. Nowhere on the [company] Benefits website are these options stated. Calling only puts me in a run-around between retirement benefits and health insurance benefits. They simply tell me that such options do not exist but have nothing to tell me as to WHY the video exists. Further, the voice quality from the representatives is so quiet that I cannot understand what they are even trying to say. If these Medicare plans DO exist, but only for a select few, then why is THAT information not made clear? The video makes no mention of the fact that it may not apply to everyone and the video is ONLY available to someone that logs in with their complete [company] ID and password.
This is the reply I received.

Hello from the [company] Service Center for Health and Insurance,Thank you for providing feedback and sharing your concerns related to the Your Benefits Resource website. Your concerns will be researched and analyzed for consideration of future enhancements.We appreciate you taking the time to communicate your thoughts with us. This information gives us an opportunity to achieve our goal of providing you the best service you deserve.Thank you for submitting your questions to the [company] Service Center for Health and Insurance. Please have a wonderful day!
Now isn't that just dandy! Not one single question of mine was answered. What a colossal waste of time and resources.
 
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  #2  
Old 05-28-15, 02:10 AM
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I can relate to your problem Joel and while not near retirement age myself I have helped my mom get out of a plan that would have never covered her medication. Very slick salesmen indeed and it took me getting in touch with my United States Senator to get her out of the very bad plan. While I will not endorse any company one place to start might be A.A.R.P.. While I can't say that I particularly like everything they do some of their health plans might work for you. The Medicare HMO plans are the worst and almost impossible to get out of if you don't like them.
 
  #3  
Old 05-28-15, 02:40 AM
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If I remember correctly if you go the Medicare website you can find a page that lists which plans are available in your area. There is a section about part D where you enter all your medications in and it will tell you both whether or not they are covered and what your share of the cost will be for whatever plan you are looking at. You are allowed to change plans once a year if you want.
 
  #4  
Old 05-28-15, 03:16 AM
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I know a guy who is 87 years old. He is a self made millionaire but lives like a self made bum. People joke that he is saving the money for when he gets old. The best way to describe it is that it's 'depression thinking', the way people thought during the depression.

At 65, the Feds start to take $106.00 from our Social Security checks, for medicare. Somehow, he has the Feds forward that money to Liberty Health Insurance. The plan with Liberty is called Preferred Choice. I have a little over a year to go before I turn 65 but I took the info anyway. Some of the benefits seem strange. For example, he gets $32 per month for drug store items. I needed a band-aid & he gave me 2 boxes, of them. 866 542 4269 is the number.
 
  #5  
Old 05-28-15, 11:13 AM
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Thanks, guys, but I think you are missing the point of my rant. I am ranting against my former employer for posting misleading information on their benefits website. I have to use my company ID and a password to get on this site and once there it even has an opening salutation with, "Hello, Joel" Most of the information applies to me and others in my select classification.

I wanted to find the exact date my retiree health insurance ceased but could not. What I DID find was the video (I wish I could link to it but it is a secured site) where the man speaking stated with no equivocation that retirees or soon-to-be retirees about to sign up for Medicare should explore their options for supplemental, prescription drug and Advantage plans offered by the company. It stated up front that the company plans could have better benefits and/or lower costs than plans available on the open market. Now THIS was something that I really wanted to pursue.

A little more background.

When I retired (at age 55) I was given the option to enroll in a company sponsored retiree medical plan. This was the exact same plan offered to employees still working with the exception of dental, vision and hearing benefits. The cost for the coordinated care plan (which is what I had prior to retirement) was $10 a month premium and $10 office copay. Prescription drug plan was $5 for generics, $10 for patent drugs on their "formulary" and $15 for drugs not on the formulary, all for 30 day supplys at a retail pharmacy. If I chose to use their mail-order pharmacy I could get a 90 day supply for $10 generics and $30 otherwise. Yeah, I had a fantastic medical plan, what President Obama referred to as a "Cadillac" plan.

Remember those five days I spent in the hospital last November? I paid about $10 out-of pocket for that. I haven't paid a single dime for the day and a half I spent there this last February when they finally got the kidney stone removed. Can you see why I would want to continue on with such a plan?

Well, even though I haven't paid anything for the hospitalization this year my medical insurance DID change significantly. Since it was a Cadillac plan the company would have been penalized under the Affordable Healthcare Act if they had continued it. The company offered a couple of alternatives but neither I nor the insurance people could tell if the any of the new plans would cover the hospital and other providers I was using so after spending an hour on the telephone with the company insurance representatives I was enrolled in an unadvertised plan that was very close to the original. The new plan called for $20 office copays unless you were seeing a specialist and then it was $30. There was a new $6,000 maximum out-of-pocket per year feature that I still don't understand and the prescription drug plan copays went up to $50 for a three-month supply. Still, one heck of a bargain compared to what most people pay so when I saw that video I was elated and wanted find out how to sign up, only to find out it was not being offered to me at all, regardless of that video on my personalized page.

I have been receiving the Medicare (private supplemental plans) information since the first of the year, many of them multiple times. The information from AARP is the ONLY one that goes into great detail as to what is covered, what is not covered, and the costs of the plan. A couple of the others were from HMOs and I have no intention of going that route. I have several chronic problems as well as taking several rather expensive drugs so from all I understand a Medicare Advantage plan is my best option and to that end I have narrowed it down to two or three different providers. All I need to do at this point is to carefully read what they have to say, maybe make a phone call and then sign up.
 
  #6  
Old 05-28-15, 11:32 AM
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As I said, I'm not quite there yet. Most people use Medicare as their primary when they turn 65. However, I knew one guy who used his NYC retirement plan (HIP) as his primary & Medicare as his secondary. Very few people do that but it maybe something to consider.

Or, you could do what I described in my first answer & use your retiree plan as the secondary.
 
  #7  
Old 05-28-15, 11:51 AM
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I understand Joel and while I don't have a company plan as I am self-employed I did go through my states Affordable Care Act website. What a joke it wasn't organized right and I had forgotten my password which was impossible to get reset. I tried signing up again but I could never get past my social security number and they said I had already signed up and to click here to reset your password. Phone calls were no help whatsoever as the morons on the other end of the phone didn't seem to understand how to reset my password.

They finally offered offline help and I talked to an agent who had sold me insurance before but those plans really were no better than what I finally found with my current provider. The only thing good about the so called Affordable Care Act is the ability to now get health insurance without having to worry about a preexisting condition. The rest though is just plain garbage and doesn't help you at all as now my deductible is much higher and it still costs almost as much as it did before only with paying much less.
 
  #8  
Old 05-28-15, 01:09 PM
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Pulpo, from your statements you know very little about Medicare. Medicare is split into four parts, A, B, C, and D. Part A is for hospital expenses and is fully paid for by the government with funds taken from the mandatory "contributions" of working people. Everyone who is 65 or older is eligible for Part A coverage. Part B is for doctor expenses and such including tests and durable medical equipment and is optional. The cost is $104.90 a month, taken from your Social Security check as a deduction. (Yes, I am going to make a big deal about $1.10). Part B pays 80% of the costs with the individual paying the remainder. A person CAN buy supplemental coverage from a private insurer to cover some, or all of the 20% that Medicare does not pay. There is no drub coverage under either Part A or Part B.

Part C is called a Medicare Advantage plan and it combines Part A and Part B along with additional benefits. A person continues to pay the Part B premium and also an additional premium, the amount based upon the individual plan benefits. Most Advantage plans include drug coverage. Advantage plans are offered by a number of private insurers and include HMO, PPO and other providers.

Part D is the Medicare prescription drug plan. This option is a government sponsored plan with several private partners. there is an additional premium.

Somehow, he has the Feds forward that money to Liberty Health Insurance. The plan with Liberty is called Preferred Choice.
That would be a Medicare Part C Advantage plan. He did nothing to get the Feds to to forward the money other than signing up for the program. Advantage plans are a partnership between Medicare and various private insurance companies. Different companies offer different benefits and require different premiums. As I understand there are some Advantage plans that have no additional premiums but rely on only the Part B premiums deducted from a person's SS check. I suspect that the zero premium plans have limited benefits with high deductibles and copays.
As I said, I'm not quite there yet. Most people use Medicare as their primary when they turn 65. However, I knew one guy who used his NYC retirement plan (HIP) as his primary & Medicare as his secondary. Very few people do that but it maybe something to consider.
Not calling you a liar but I find that hard to believe. I have never heard of any situation where Medicare is not the primary insurance with all other insurance being secondary and only covering the costs that Medicare did not pay. Further, as I clearly stated, after I turn 65 I have NO retiree insurance from my former employer.

Richard, (hedgeclippers) I don't want to turn this into a discussion about the ACA. While I have some reservations concerning the government being in the healthcare business in any form the reality is that it IS happening in every civilized nation on earth. So although the Constitution does not recognize any universal healthcare for the citizenry in this day and age it is a fact of life. Be that as it may, if it going to be done then it should be done right and the ACA is NOT the "right" way in my opinion. Personally, I think the President sold out to the private insurance companies in the ACA but all things considered it was the ONLY way that he was going to get any kind of universal healthcare enacted.


No, my friends, this rant has nothing to do with Social Security, Medicare, private insurers or government. It is entirely a rant against my former employer posting misleading statements concerning Medicare Advantage plans on their benefits website and when called on it they either deny existence of the plans, deny ever making the statements or simply ignore the questions asked. I'm not really looking for any answers, just making a statement of my own about how corporate America is out to screw with the little guy.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 01:21 PM
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Furd, I'm just telling you what people have told me. If you don't believe what they said, that's fine. If your employer benefits end, on your birthday, doesn't your rant end on the same day?
 
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Old 05-28-15, 02:07 PM
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If your employer benefits end, on your birthday, doesn't your rant end on the same day?
I did not state that my benefits ended on my birthday, I said when I turn 65. Even so, that still gives me 21 days to rant. To be almost totally honest, or as honest as I can, I don't know when my MEDICAL benefits end. From various things I have read over the years it could be as early as June 30 or as late as August 31. That is the original reason why I checked the benefits page and I could not find the answer. What I do know for a fact is that my former employer does everything on a calendar month basis, retirements start on the first of a month and benefits will end on the last day of a month.

And I will STILL be receiving retirement benefits in both monetary payments as well as some intangibles until the time I die. I may not get my retiree pay for the month in which I die, just like with Social Security or maybe I will, I don't know.

Oh, what your 87 year old acquaintance told you is a textbook definition of a Medicare Advantage plan. I have no doubt whatsoever as to the truth of those statements. The statements concerning the NYC retiree plan taking the lead over Medicare could be true, I don't know. I'm just stating that IF it is true it is the first time I have ever heard of Medicare being secondary.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 03:30 PM
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I'm just stating that IF it is true it is the first time I have ever heard of Medicare being secondary.
It was the first time that I heard, of it too. It was also the first time that I heard what my 87 year old acquaintance told me. A person who spends his life getting the most, for his money is the person whom I want to consult when I want the most, for my money. Not everyone thinks that way but that's why I mentioned it.

Edit: oops, I forgot. Happy Birthday!
 
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Old 05-28-15, 03:53 PM
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I think that Medicare Advantage plans are relatively new, they certainly weren't available when my parents went on Medicare. My mother DID have a Medicare supplement from a private insurance company but it was totally separate from Medicare with very little in common with today's Advantage plans.

A person who spends his life getting the most, for his money is the person whom I want to consult when I want the most, for my money.
I think that is a very wise philosophy. Unlike every other member of my immediate family I always looked forward to the day I didn't want to go to work any more or couldn't go to work any more. It helped that my daddy had to take a disability retirement when he was 58 and had never saved a dime. I saw first hand that scenario and while my parents did okay they never had a dime to spare. My younger brother, may he rest in peace, was even worse when it came to making any plans beyond the coming weekend.

I vowed from a very early age to retire early, with no debt and with a net worth of a million dollars and I did it. Of course what happened AFTER I retired pretty much shot that little nest egg to ribbons but I still do okay. My worst fear is that my escalating medical problems will deplete what savings I have left before I am ready to die.

Edit to follow your edit, wait until June 17th. I don't want to be old before my time.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 04:00 PM
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I'm sorry to hear that health problems reduced your next egg. I have no faith, in the so called health system but I'll save that for my own rant.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 04:08 PM
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The health problems haven't been the cause of my lost savings...yet. It was the general stock market crash of 2007-2008 along with bailing out my sister and her son from a very deep hole. The latter is just life and I am glad I could help them.

Thank you for caring, my friend.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 04:13 PM
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I started with Medicare while I was still working for a school system. I had the insurance through the school as a primary (BCBS) so Medicare was a secondary. When I retired from the school their insurance stopped so Medicare became primary and I had to get a supplemental (Medigap). That is the way it is now -- Medicare and a Medigap.

It works, but the deductible increases every year.

RR
 
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Old 05-28-15, 04:30 PM
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It works, but the deductible increases every year.
Yep, it is the general inflation that kills us on fixed incomes. It doesn't help that the government's Consumer Price Index, upon which all COLA's are based, is skewed severely by not taking into account food and fuel prices.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 04:43 PM
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That's one of my pet peeves. They call it a fixed income when it's really a broken income. The same when two planes almost collide. They call it a near miss when it should be a near hit. They are always trying to trick us.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 06:34 PM
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Richard, (hedgeclippers) I don't want to turn this into a discussion about the ACA
I agree Joel and I also think that corporations are just as responsible for the general health care mess we are in now. Big government though you have to agree though hasn't helped things as they should have addressed the continuing rise of health care costs. Some of those costs as we know happen when doctors and hospitals defraud any health insurance including government programs. Until that fraud is stopped though and cracked down on harder than it is now costs will continue to skyrocket. Still though it isn't all bad but needs help and adjustments.
 
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Old 05-29-15, 03:31 AM
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The term "big government" is another term used to trick us. The opposite is supposed to be small government meaning that there is less government, in our lives. However, it really means that they just pay for less & we pay for more. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see where that exists.
 
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