New Medicare Cards for 2018

new medicare card image

From CMS:

CMS Reveals New Medicare Card Design

Date
2017-09-14
Title
CMS Reveals New Medicare Card Design
Contact
[email protected]

CMS Reveals New Medicare Card Design
Removing Social Security numbers strengthens fraud protections for about 58 million Americans

En español

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave the public its first look at the newly designed Medicare card. The new Medicare card contains a unique, randomly-assigned number that replaces the current Social Security-based number.

CMS will begin mailing the new cards to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018 to meet the statutory deadline for replacing all existing Medicare cards by April 2019. In addition to today’s announcement, people with Medicare will also be able to see the design of the new Medicare card in the 2018 Medicare & You Handbook. The handbooks are being mailed and will arrive throughout September.

“The goal of the initiative to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is to help prevent fraud, combat identify theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We’re very excited to share the new design.”

CMS has assigned all people with Medicare benefits a new, unique Medicare number, which contains a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. People with Medicare will receive a new Medicare card in the mail, and will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare card and keep their new Medicare number confidential. Issuance of the new number will not change benefits that people with Medicare receive.  

Healthcare providers and people with Medicare will be able to use secure look-up tools that will allow quick access to the new Medicare numbers when needed. There will also be a 21-month transition period where doctors, healthcare providers, and suppliers will be able to use either their current SSN-based Medicare Number or their new, unique Medicare number, to ease the transition.

This initiative takes important steps towards protecting the identities of people with Medicare. CMS is also working with healthcare providers to answer their questions and ensure that they have the information they need to make a successful transition to the new Medicare number. For more information, please visit: www.cms.gov/newcard

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2 Lessons in Marketing

Excerpt from https://www.salesgravy.com/sales-articles/automotive/five-lessons-i-learned-at-starbucks.html

“Lesson #1 – Make sure you ask for the business. I have just watched a beggar collect at least $5 worth of donations in the last half hour with a sign that says – “I am saving up for a hooker, weed, wine and a steak dinner.” Not one of the people bothered to read his sign and know what they were even donating for. Not the family man with his wife and children, not the group of older people probably in their 80s, not the business man in the suit, nobody. The beggar obviously learned the power of asking, no matter what.

Lesson #2 – It’s not the money. People pile into Starbucks one after another spending three and four bucks on of a cup coffee. Obviously you can get a cup of coffee at a diner down the street for a lot less money. But yet, people willingly spend a $100 per month or more at Starbucks. Why?

People are buying the experience and the perception of the brand. I am sitting here writing this article in a busy Starbucks and people watching when I could be in the quiet and seclusion of my nice hotel room. The person in the seat next to me is listening to music on an iPod when they could obviously do it for free in the Square with a less expensive cup of coffee. The gentleman in the big living room type chair is reading a novel. People want the experience. Understand your customer and the value they want and the money will become less important. The big three U.S. auto manufacturers give huge rebates, and imports are still kicking their butts. It’s not about the money.”

I'm always surprised with agents who are failing at business discover that it was because they were not asking for the business. They would present options and then just leave it, never politely suggesting that the client move forward with an application.

And, if you feel the product costs too much, it's too hard for them to sign up online with you, or it's crazy for you to ask for their personal information over the phone – so will they. YOUR objection will become their objection. It's true! You have to be convinced, first, that the sale is in their best interest. When you are convinced, get out of your own way – ask for the sale and deserve it and you'll have it.

Chris Westfall

Medicare Supplement Training

Medicare Advantage for Turning 65

Approximately 30% of Americans turning 65 are opting for a Medicare “Advantage” plan. In my experience, this most often happens for the following two reasons:

  1. They have been relatively healthy up to 65 years old
  2. They believe this great health will continue into their senior years
  3. Medicare Advantage plans at $0 per month can be quite attractive
  4. They miss, or minimize the often $6,700 Maximum Out-of-Pocket PER YEAR

Sadly, there are many situations that we have seen where a Turning 65-senior has chosen one of these “free” Medicare Advantage plans only to have to experience the limitations and large hospital admission co-payments by having a serious illness that takes them into full usage of their chosen plan.

When they were first turning 65, they thought their great health would continue far into their senior years, only to discover that this is the time frame where most all medical claims are experienced in life. Sadly, when they signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan, particularly an HMO plan, they find that the restrictions now imposed on them, the trade off for little or no monthly premium, now can significantly and adversely not only affect their availability of specialty care (replaced with tight networks) but also expose them to more money spent for medical care than their non-“Advantage” plan senior counterparts.

On the contrary, the biggest proponents of Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans are those who have had to use them with a serious illness. For example, those with a special kind of cancer who can now choose the best cancer treatment centers in America without consequence because their Medicare Supplement plan allows them to go anywhere. Those who would have otherwise been exposed to a $6,700 out-of-pocket cost with their Medicare Advantage plan for a series of hospital admissions who though, because on a SUPPLEMENT plan instead, pay $0 for their admissions and, more importantly, get to CHOOSE their hospital instead of only being able to go to the one that was the lowest bidder that joined the “Advantage” plan's restrictive network.

In an illuminating article by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, the choice of a Medicare Advantage plan when a senior is turning 65 can prove disastrous for future healthcare choices for the rest of a senior's life. See the article here:

http://kff.org/medicare/perspective/traditional-medicare-disadvantaged/

It is very important that now-Medicare-eligible seniors have the full information on the good, the bad, and the possible devastating effects of picking their Medicare plan.

Chris Westfall is an independent Medicare agent and has been a licensed insurance agent for over 20 years.

 

 

 

AETNA Vows to Fight For Merger

-From Christopher Westfall

July 21, 2016

The Justice Department has filed two separate suits to prevent the merger between both Aetna and Humana and the merger of CIGNA and Blue Cross.

Today, Aetna said that they will defend their acquisition of Humana and gave the substantial reasons why such a merger is a good thing for the country.

Among the reasons given, Aetna says that the combined company would “Improve affordability, quality, and consumer choice.”
Their stats show that a combined Aetna/Humana company would still only serve 8% of eligible Medicare beneficiaries, far from the monopoly that the Justice Department will argue would result from the combined forces.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and expect that Obama's Justice Department will do everything in their power to prevent the merger, and it might ultimately be settled by a federal judge.

The original Aetna press release can be found here.

 

Medicare Supplement Training