2017 Medicare Plans in Sacramento

There have been a number of changes in the available 2017 Medicare plans in Sacramento from the plans that were available in 2016. Unfortunately, less 2017 Medicare plans in Sacramento means less choice, but the good news is there are still many options for you to choose from.

For 2017, we had one major company stop providing their Medicare Advantage plan in Sacramento County. Other companies have raised or lowered their premiums on their 2017 Medicare Plans in Sacramento. We have also seen some changes in some of the co-payments for medical services and drug plan deductibles in Sacramento’s 2017 Medicare Advantage Plans.

The 2017 Medicare Plans in Sacramento continue to be all HMO Plans. That means that you generally will have to get a referral to see a provider and use only facilities and physicians in the plan’s network. Medicare Advantage is a good option for people to consider in Sacramento, but there are limitations in Sacramento.

A large limitation for 2017 Medicare Plans in Sacramento, as well as 2016, is that the UC Davis Medical System does not accept Medicare HMO Plans. If you don’t care about going to these facilities or any UC Davis physicians and providers, then not a big deal. On the other hand, if you want to have the flexibility of seeing a UC Davis provider today or in the future, I would recommend looking at the option of a Medicare Supplement plan for your Medicare needs. With a Medicare Supplement, you can go to any provider that accepts original Medicare and new patients. Please look at our page on Medicare Supplements for more information on a Medicare Supplement’s advantages.

In 2016, Medicare Supplement plans did see some increases in Sacramento and other areas. Some companies went up a little while others had substantial increases. For 2017, many of the rate increases have not been announced yet, but continued small increases would not be a surprise.

If you are shopping for the right 2017 Medicare Plans in Sacramento for you or a loved one, please feel free to browse through this website.

As always, please call anytime with questions.

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Group Life Insurance for family protection

People often ask me if their group life insurance is enough to protect their families. For many people group life insurance might be a good solution or at least a good starting point. In this post I will go into some of the details of group life insurance policies/certificates and why they are a great benefit for employees. I will also look at some of the down sides of group life insurance.

I will also talk about individual life insurance policies here. They are really the other option and are typically a good way to supplemental the group coverage from your employer.

How to get Group Life Insurance

Group Life Insurance can protect employees
Group life insurance is a benefit that many employers make part of their benefits package for employees. This benefit can be purchased as part of a package of benefits or as a stand-alone benefit. Usually you will be eligible for this benefit when you first join the employer and there is often a base benefit that all employees will receive.

There is usually also an option to buy up additional coverage for you and possible your family on a guaranteed basis. This will allow you to buy a limited amount of additional coverage up to a certain limit. There are usually no or limited questions about your health. This can be very beneficial if you have health issues and cannot qualify for an individual policy.

The issue of everyone being able to buy up additional amounts can be a double edge sword. This is great if you aren’t healthy, have a chronic disease or are a smoker. These are conditions that traditional Life Insurance companies don’t like because you are much more likely to die at a younger age. The limited questions being asked of employees enrolling in the group life insurance plans makes the prices higher for everyone that enrolls.

Can I take my Group Life Insurance policy with me if I leave?

This is what we call portability. One problem with Group Life Insurance is that you do not own your policy. You are issued a group policy or certificate. Depending on what is stated in the master plan contract, you may have options.

It is possible to take your policy with you in some instances, but it can cost you a lot of money. The first permanent product I sold when I started at MetLife was a conversion from a Group policy. This individual had an additional $213,000 group life insurance certificate and was leaving the company he was with. He was going to lose the coverage or had to convert the policy to a permanent policy. There were a few problems with this…

  • He had to convert to a particular policy type, which ended up being very expensive
  • He only had $213K of coverage, which was less than he wanted
  • He got the standard rate which carried over from the group policy, so this added to the cost

In the end, this was a good deal for him, because he had a terminal disease and could no longer work and was going to lose the group life insurance policy if he could not convert it. Fortunately, he had the money to pay the high premium because most people would not have been able to pay that amount for long. And in the end he would pass away knowing that his family would have some financial resources.

Can Group Life Insurance prices increase?

The prices for Group Life Insurance are not fixed and can go up depending on the experience of the group. If the group has some big losses, all the people that participate in the group life insurance coverage may face rate increases.
The prices for group life insurance may also be age banded. So if you start at age 30-34, when you hit ages 35, 40, 45 etc, you might see your rates increase.

Group Life Insurance: Is it worth it?

Group Life Insurance is a very good opportunity for people that could not get coverage on their own to protect their families. It can cost a lot and is usually only going to be an option while you are working at a particular company.

Group Life Insurance can also be a basic amount of coverage that employers often provide to their employees. Being that group life insurance is often given at no cost to employees, it is a great base level benefit.

If you have been turned down or you know that you can’t qualify for an individual life insurance policy, get as much group life insurance as you need or they will give you. If you have any questions about your being healthy enough to qualify for an individual policy, then talk to me and we can see if a group life insurance or an individual policy is the best for you.

If you are healthy and want to protect your family and loved ones, then look into getting an individual life insurance policy. You can get more coverage, at a better rate and


will own the policy. In looking at the prices and the options available to people, it can save you money and stress over relying on just group life insurance.

Final thoughts on Group Life Insurance

I do not offer tax advice, but generally speaking, if you pay for your group life insurance with pre-tax dollars the benefit will be taxed. This is a huge issue for some people. I have a friend who recently received a small check from a life insurance settlement and then she received a 1099 for the payment. She thought it would be income tax free, so I told her to check with the company. Sure enough, it was a benefit that his union paid for, so since the group life insurance was not paid for by the insured, it was fully taxable.

You can often not get enough group life insurance to protect your family adequately. I hear guys joke about “I don’t want to leave them rich”, but do you want to leave them poor and destitute? Group Life Insurance will usually be based on multiples of your salary. This is never going to be enough to allow your kids to stay in their house or go to the schools you would want them to. You need to talk to someone that can help you look at what you need and want for your family.

Hope you found this interesting and let me know what questions you have. Protect your family and yourself!

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Medicare Cost Sharing changes for 2015

As you may know, Original Medicare Part A and Part B have Medicare cost sharing in the form of co-pays and deductibles that Medicare Beneficiaries are responsible for. Every year this cost sharing can change, and in 2015 we have some small changes that could increase your expenses if you are on Original Medicare. The figures below will be in effect January 1st, 2015.

If you have Medicare Part C, also known as a Medicare Advantage Plan, then this should not affect you. You will not be affected by Medicare cost sharing, since you have agreed to the terms and conditions of the Medicare Advantage Plan that you enrolled in, when you signed up for that plan. Medicare Advantage Plans have their own cost sharing associated with the plan you enrolled in. To find these co-pays and deductibles please see your current Summary of Benefits for the current plan year. Medicare Advantage Plans have cost sharing that can change each year as well.

What parts in Medicare Cost Sharing have stayed the same

The two Medicare Cost Sharing expenses that most Original Medicare Beneficiaries will pay have not changed from 2014 to 2015. The Part B monthly Premium will remain at $104.90. This monthly premium is for most Medicare Beneficiaries, but high income earners will continue to be subject to higher Part B Premiums in 2015.

The Part B annual deductible will also be unchanged at $147.00 . For people on Original Medicare with no Medicare Supplement, these are the first dollars you will spend when receiving out-patient services.

So what Medicare Cost Sharing has changed in 2015?

So most other Medicare Cost Sharing has gone up slightly, but let’s take a look at some of the costs and who they will affect…

The Medicare Part A deductible has gone up from $1,216 to $1,260 per benefit period for Days 1 through 60 for inpatient stays. This will affect Original Medicare Beneficiaries that have no Medicare Supplement or have Medicare Supplement Plans A, High F (if they have not reached their deductible) or K.

Part A inpatient stays of Days 61-90 daily cost co-pay has risen from $304/day to $315/day. The daily cost co-pay for 90th day and over has risen from $608/day to $630/day. Please remember that these would go against your lifetime reserve days. This would affect any Original Medicare Beneficiaries that do not have a Medicare Supplement.

The Part A Skilled Nursing daily coinsurance for days 21-100 has risen from $152/day to $157.50/day. This will affect Original Medicare Beneficiaries that have no Medicare Supplement or have Medicare Supplement Plans A, B, High F (if they have not reached their deductible) or K.

These are some of the costs that have gone up in Medicare for 2015. Although Medicare Cost Sharing is continuing to rise, it is fortunately rising slowly. If you have any questions about this information or would like help determining which Medicare Supplement Plan is the best fit for you, please give me a call to discuss your situation. You can also visit Medicare.gov’s website for more extensive information on what Medicare covers.

Finding a Medicare Supplement Plan that you feel the premium is affordable and that you are comfortable with the expenses is the key.

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CMS Proposal for Medicare Advantage Plans Reduced Payments in 2015

On Friday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a 3.55% reduction in Medicare Advantage reimbursement rates for 2015.

Medicare Advantage, also know as, Medicare Part C, is the privatization of Medicare plans, which a large number of Medicare Beneficiaries use. There are Medicare Advantage Plans in many areas, and the plans available depend on the county of residence.

This will likely affect many seniors that are currently in Medicare Advantage Plans today, as well as options for people turning 65 in 2015. The Insurance Companies that offer these plans lost some money in 2014 with the new premium tax that was part of the ACA, so this will farther cut into profits for them. For the most part, for the Medicare Advantage plans that I represent, the 2014 costs were absorbed by the Medicare Insurance companies.

With the reduced payments for Medicare Advantage Plans, I would expect that some Medicare Advantage Plans will pass on the lost revenue by increasing Medicare Advantage Plan beneficiaries co-pays, deductibles and Maximum Out of Pocket expenses. In some more dramatic situations, they might leave service areas that they are having trouble making money in.

This is not good new for Medicare Beneficiaries, but it may unfortunately be somewhat expected. With the United States debt growing by the minute, I would guess that this is not the last belt tightening that we shall see for Medicare Plans.

This reduction in reimbursement rates is just that, a proposal. It is not finalized, yet. I would imagine that many Insurance Companies are getting ready to wage quite an argument in Washington to make this go away.

My question would be if they can make 2015 reduction free, what will happen in 2016? Well that is the reason I always talk to my clients about Original Fee for Service Medicare and how Medicare Supplements work. If Medicare Advantage does continue to get reduced funding, Medicare Supplement Plan N and Plan F start to look much more attractive.

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