Helping Seniors & Families
Plan For Their Future
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New Medicare Cards Are Coming. That Means New Medicare Scams

medicare scams

Last month, the U.S. government began issuing new Medicare cards to every Medicare recipient in the country.

The roll-out is happening in phases, going state-by-state, with all new cards expected to be distributed by April of 2019. Residents in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland are among the first getting the new cards.

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Medicare Launches Hospice Compare Website

Nurse consoling patient

Medicare launched its new Hospice Compare website last year in an effort to help patients find and evaluate hospice providers.

The only problem, medical experts say, is that the site may not be all that helpful.

Medicare covers any reasonable care that helps ease the course of a terminal illness through its comprehensive hospice benefit. In August, the agency launched the new website, aimed at improving transparency and giving patients more access to care.

The site provides information on how hospices handle treatment preferences and patient beliefs and values. It also tells patients how facilities assess and treat things like pain, shortness of breath.

But Hospice Compare, run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may not be that useful, argue a group of medical professionals in a recent paper published in Health Affairs.

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Medicare’s Part B Premium Will Be Unchanged in 2018, But Many Will Pay More. Got That?

medicare part b premium 2018

When it comes to the 2018 Medicare premium, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news? The standard monthly Part B premium, which is what roughly 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay, will stay at 2017’s rate of $134 next year.

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Time is Running Out: Review Your Medicare Options

medicare open enrollmentAre you happy with your current Medicare plan or plans?

You still have time to think about whether you are in the right plan or whether a new plan could save you money.

Medicare’s open enrollment period, in which you can enroll in or switch plans, expires December 7.

During this period you may enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan or, if you currently have a plan, you may change plans.

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Hospitals Now Must Provide Notice About Observation Status

Seniors Hospital Medicaid

All hospitals must now give Medicare recipients notice when they are in the hospital under “observation.”  The notice requirement is part of a law enacted in 2015 that just took effect.

Signed by President Barack Obama in August 2015, the law was intended to prevent surprises after a Medicare beneficiary spends days in a hospital under “observation” and is then admitted to a nursing home. This is important because Medicare covers nursing home stays entirely for the first 20 days, but only if the patient was first admitted to a hospital as an inpatient for at least three days.  Many beneficiaries are being transferred to nursing homes only to find that because they were only under observation and were therefore hospital outpatients all along, they must pick up the tab for the subsequent nursing home stay — Medicare will pay none of it.

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Why You Should Use a Lawyer for Medicaid Planning

Senior couple talking with financial advisor

Many seniors and their families don’t use a lawyer to plan for long-term care or Medicaid, often because they’re afraid of the cost. But an attorney can help you save money in the long run as well as make sure you are getting the best care for your loved one.

Instead of taking steps based on what you’ve heard from others, doing nothing, or enlisting a non-lawyer referred by a nursing home, you can hire an elder law attorney in Bucks County. Here are a few reasons why you should at least consider this option:

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Avoid This New Medicare ‘Trap’

When Judy Hanttula came home from the hospital after surgery last November, her doctor’s office called with bad news: records showed that even though Judy had signed up for original Medicare, she was nevertheless enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.Medicare Advantage Auto Enrollment

Original Medicare would not pay for the surgery because she now had an Advantage plan, and the Advantage plan would not pay for it because her doctor and hospital were not in its network. So Judy was on the hook for more than $16,500.

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Has Medicare Dropped Coverage of Your Drugs?

medicare transition prescription drug coverageMedicare prescription drug plans can change which drugs they cover, possibly leaving you without coverage for a drug you need. Or you might switch plans, and find that your new plan doesn’t cover your medication at all. In these circumstances, it’s good to know that Medicare drug plans are required to offer you a 30-day transition supply of the drug you’re taking.

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What To Do If You Have An Affordable Care Act Plan And Become Eligible For Medicare

medicare plan optionsIf you or someone you know has a marketplace health care plan under the Affordable Care Act (an ACA plan), and you have reached the age of 65 or are close to it, it is important to look carefully at your options. Not making the right decision could be costly. In the vast majority of cases, the smart approach is to terminate the ACA plan and sign up for Medicare.

But many people are unaware of this fact, because there is no warning given to such consumers that they have an important decision to make.

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Congress Limits Insurance For Medicare Deductibles

Medicare beneficiaries often buy “Medigap” insurance policies that pay for many of regular Medicare’s deductibles and copayments. But as a result of a new law passed by Congress, starting in 2020 Medigap plans will no longer be allowed to offer coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible, which is currently $147.

However, current Medigap policyholders and those buying policies before 2020 will still be eligible for the deductible coverage after that date, so this is something to keep in mind.

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