Welcome to California Medicare. If you’re new to Medicare there’s a couple things you should keep in mind. Now is the time to join a Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) or Medicare Advantage plan (Part C). You have a guarantee issue window that begins three months before you become eligible, includes the month your eligible, and ends three months after the month you become eligible.
If your guarantee issue window has passed you may enroll in Medicare health plans during the annual enrollment period starting October 15th and ending December 7th. The plan you choose will become effective on January 1st of the following year.
After you have enrolled in Medicare take advantage of your one time “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. This comprehensive visit comes at no cost and helps you plan for a healthy future. To prepare for this visit be sure to bring your medical and immunization records, information about your families health history, and a list of your prescription medications.
For help in finding the right California Medicare health or prescription drug plan and finding Medicare providers in your area, give JC Lewis Insurance Services a call toll free at 866-745-9555. We’ll help you understand your options so you can make an informed decision
California Medicare Eligibility
If you’re close to age 65 you should be aware of your California Medicare eligibility. There is an open enrollment period when you can enroll in Medicare parts A and B. If you currently receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits then you’ll receive Medicare parts A and B automatically on your 65th birthday. If you’re still working and not receiving benefits from Social Security or RRB, but would still like to enroll in Medicare, you need to call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
The 7 month open enrollment period for Medicare begins three months prior to the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. If you’re disabled and have been receiving Social Security or RRB benefits for 24 months you automatically get Medicare parts A and B. For more information about your California Medicare eligibility call JC Lewis Insurance Services at 866-745-9555.
California Medicare Supplement
California Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) can help you pay for some of the costs not covered by original Medicare. Coverage includes co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles as well as medical care when you travel outside of the United States. You’re required to pay a premium for a Medigap policy in addition to your Medicare Part B premium. Private insurance companies are required to offer standardized benefits for each Medicare Supplement policy, the only difference is the premium.
You must have Medicare parts A and B to purchase a Medigap policy. The open enrollment period for Medigap insurance begins on the first day that you’re 65 and enrolled in Medicare part B. It lasts for 6 months and is a guarantee issue period that doesn’t require health underwriting. Medigap insurance doesn’t include prescription drug coverage but you can enroll in Medicare Part D separately to cover medications. Insurance companies may charge different premiums for the exact same Medicare Supplement plan. Call JC Lewis Insurance Services at 866-745-9555 if you would like assistance in comparing the different California Medicare Supplement Insurance plans.
California Medicare Advantage
California Medicare Advantage Insurance (Medicare Part C) is a health plan providing benefits covered under Medicare A & B with some Part C plans providing additional benefits (hearing, vision, dental). You’re eligible to join if you have Medicare Parts A and B. Medicare Part C is not a Medicare Supplement program. It may offer extra coverage for hearing, vision, dental, and/or wellness programs. Most Medicare Part C plans will offer Medicare Prescription Drug coverage (Part D) in addition to other benefits. The different types of Medicare Part C plans include HMO, PPO, PFFS (private fee-for-service), and special needs plans (SNP).
You can join a California Medicare Advantage Insurance plan during your initial election period (three months prior to the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after the month you turn 65). If you miss the initial election period you may also enroll if you’re disabled, or apply during one of the annual enrollment periods. The annual election period begins October 15th and ends on December 7th. During this time you can enroll in Medicare Part C, change from one Part C plan to the other, or drop your part C and go back to original Medicare. You may also be able to enroll during special enrollment periods. Call JC Lewis Insurance Services at 866-745-9555 to find out which plan may be good for you and the materials you need to get enrolled.
California Senior Health Insurance
To be eligible for California senior health insurance one must first have Medicare Parts A and B. Once A and B are in place the typical California senior may purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan and/or a Medicare Prescription (Part D) plan. If qualified via a disability, persons not considered seniors (under age 65) may also be Medicare eligible.
Medicare Supplement plans underwent a change effective June 1, at which time new plans called “Modernized Medicare Supplement” plans were introduced. Existing Medicare Supplement policies are “grandfathered” and remain in force, but each new plan offers a somewhat different set of benefits when compared to the old plans.
Medicare Advantage plans are not Medicare Supplements. Advantage plans do not fill the Medicare Part A and B gaps as do many supplement plans, but rather give you set co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles that may control costs and limit your out of pocket expenses. Advantage plans often include Part D drug coverage, as well as additional benefits not included in Medicare such as dental, vision and hearing.
Medicare Prescription (Part D) plans are often elected by California senior health insurance policyholders as a stand alone policy to compliment Medicare Supplement coverage and certain Medicare Advantage policies. In 2010 rebate checks of $250 will be provided to each Part D policyholder upon entering the “donut hole” as provided by Health Care Reform.