With the new year upon us, may I be the first to wish all my readers a healthy and Happy New Year. There are several cautions the reader needs to be reminded of and aware of starting Jan. 1.
Minimum wage is going up for many employees effective Jan. 1. In some instances, this increase in income may affect persons and families receiving individual and family plans (IFP) through Covered California. Be sure to report any income changes so you don't get any unwanted surprises come April 15.
About 30% of my clients changed prescription plans for 2022. Mainly, there was a large increase in some monthly premiums, while other plans were merged by the companies into higher-priced plans. With the change of plans, even with the same insurance company, you must notify your pharmacy of the plan change.
A number of people have changed HMO plans for the coming year to seek lower prescription costs or access to doctors not on the current plan. Once again, you must alert the pharmacy of the plan change, and show your new ID cards to the front desk of your doctor's office.
Many, many people are changing from their Medicare Supplement Plan F to a lower cost (and much better value) Plan G. Plan G provides the same benefits as Plan F with one exception: It does not pay the Medicare Part B deductible of $233. Therefore, please remember to bring a credit card or checkbook with you for your first visits to a medical provider. Once you have met the $233, your Plan G acts identically to the Plan F, with the average person saving about $800 a year! California has a state law allowing you to change plans during your birthday month and two months thereafter. This is a big secret among insurance agents, because if you save money, they lose commission dollars. I am happy to assist anyone in taking advantage of this opportunity to save money.
January through March is presenting a special opportunity. If you have a Medicare Supplement plan and want to upgrade or downgrade, Blue Shield is having an "underwriting holiday" with no questions asked. If you are in an HMO plan, and want to go back on Original Medicare, pick up a prescription plan and get a Medicare Supplement, this window of opportunity is open for a short duration. I have seen many people who want to use a particular doctor which is not on the HMO. Here is a chance to change.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period starts Jan. 1. You are allowed a one-time opportunity to change your Medicare Advantage HMO plans to another, which may provide more or better benefits. Feel free to call me to discuss your situation. There is never a charge for phone consultations.
Have a Happy New Year!
Harry P. Thal, the Medicare Guru in Kernville, is available for free phone consultations. Call for a phone appointment: 760-376-2100.