Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Chaney: Make Smart Choices When Choosing Medicare Plan

Note: Insurance Commish Mike Chaney submitted this column.

As Insurance Commissioner I take my responsibilities of protecting the consumers of this state very seriously. Never is that more true than when it comes to the ever growing complex issues facing seniors in Mississippi relating to their health coverage. Rising health care costs put a strain on many retirement budgets and seniors need to remain well informed to make the most economical decisions.

The open enrollment period for Medicare runs from October 15 through December 7, 2018 at which time you may change your Medicare health or prescription coverage for 2019, if you decide to. This includes returning to Original Medicare or joining a Medicare Advantage Plan (Advantage Plan).

I urge all Mississippians who qualify to think carefully when enrolling in Medicare and considering a Medicare supplement policy (Medigap) or Advantage Plan. While the Mississippi Insurance Department (MID) does not regulate Advantage Plans, we take our role in protecting consumers seriously. If you have concerns or are confused by the complexity of enrolling in Medicare or purchasing a Medigap or Advantage Plan, remember that the MID is here to assist you.

Just as a refresher - Medicare is a federal insurance program comprised of 4 Parts that is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Medicare is for people age 65 or older or for people who are under 65 with certain disabilities or End Stage Renal Disease. There are several things you should consider during each open enrollment period.

Read all notices you get from Medicare about upcoming changes, many of which can be found in the annual Medicare Supplement Shoppers Guide issued by MID. Yearly Medicare revisions can include such changes as out of pocket limits and prescription costs. Carefully consider these changes when considering enrollment and additional coverage through a Medigap Plan.

Know that there are programs out there to assist you in paying for Medicare. You can find out about these programs at medicare.gov or the Division of Aging and Adult Services of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. At the medicare.gov website you can also find a helpful tool called the Medicare Plan Finder that can assist you in choosing a plan that fits your budget.

Medicare Part A covers hospital insurance and Medicare Part B covers such medical services and supplies as doctor visits, lab tests, x-rays, mental health services, preventative services and rehabilitative services. You may want to consider a Medigap Plan to help pay for health care costs that traditional Medicare doesn’t cover. You must have Parts A and B to qualify for a Medigap Plan. You pay a monthly premium to a private insurance company for this policy that is in addition to the monthly premium you pay to Medicare.

Another option is an Advantage Plan. Understand that if you obtain an Advantage Plan you are still in Medicare with all rights and protections, however the Advantage Plan covers those services of Part A and B instead. It may also cover extras like dental and vision coverage.

With so many plans and options available, choosing just the right coverage can become confusing. That is why I again urge any Mississippian considering these plans to review everything carefully and choose wisely. You need to understand the differences between the choices that are out there.

For example, know that Medigap Plans fall under state oversight while Advantage Plans are under federal jurisdiction. Remember too that an Advantage Plan is restricted to a specific network approved by the company issuing the plan. It tells you that you have to go to a doctor or hospital within their network and if your hospital is not in the network the policy will not be accepted.

If you are a senior in Mississippi and are considering enrolling in Medicare and a Medigap or Advantage Plan, I urge you to take the time to research and choose your health care coverage wisely. If you need assistance in understanding your options please call the Consumer Division of the MID at 1-800-562-3957.

When you are informed and ready, call Social Security to enroll in Medicare or enroll in person at your local Social Security Office.


Anonymous said...

This guy really looks out for the consumers alright. He approved a 60 percent
increase in premiums in 2018 for Ambetter/Magnolia Health medical policies.

Anonymous said...

Good info. And do not fall for the TV ad that suggests you might be able to obtain additional medicare entitlements such as dental and vision, etc. Those commercials are written to make us think we can get such services under our medicare entitlement. Those cost additional out of pocket money and are not government programs. If you get on your knees in front of the TV with a magnifying glass, you will see that in the small print.

While it would be nice if the government provided hearing, dental and vision under regular medicare, that is NOT the case.

Anonymous said...

This shouldn’t affect any of the readers here. We don’t believe in entitlement programs. We will pay for private policies instead of taking these handouts Nice try to our socialist commissioner.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Commissioner. For those of us that are of Medicare age, and also don't look at it in the stupid tinted lenses of 11:39's eyeglasses (or what he claims) but realize it is a program that we have paid for over the past few decades - the in's and out's of Medicare and all the 'options' need explanation from an unbiased but educated source.

Appreciate your making this press release.

Anonymous said...

Commissioner, as a life-long Democrat, I have always voted for you (yes, even in Warren County), because to me you have put country over party time and again. In you service to education in Mississippi Legislature, you often bucked the trend and did the right thing. I'm glad you're still doing that as Commissioner of Insurance.

Thanks for your career of service to the people of Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Can Commissioner Chaney help find the $2,500 a year health care premium reduction Obama promised me?

Anonymous said...

2:48 How about asking Roger Wicker. He's your voice in Washington to supposedly protect the "middle class." Yet, he has consistently voted AGAINST anything that would give relief to middle class folks regarding health care. He voted AGAINST pre-existing conditions protection, though now he says he far it. He's voted along with Trump and the Republican leadership to do everything in their power to repeal Obamacare with NO real consideration of an alternative. The Republican majority has done everything possible to undermine Obamacare rather than to fix it. And THEY have been in a position to fix it for a decade now! Shame on them. That's fact, not fake news.

I'm sure Wicker will be re-elected. But damn, why does he so blindly support the Republican leadership on issues that he knows (or at least should know) do not help the average Mississippian, when he doesn't have to? He would get re-elected in Mississippi anyhow.

Ok, that's a rhetorical question. He's voting the interests of the big money in Washington. I don't care if he's Republican or Democrat. Neither party has done much to protect the interest of everyday common folk here in Mississippi. I hold Wicker more responsible for a disconnect with the needs of average Mississippians (and, yes that includes your gripe about ridiculously high health care premiums) because he has been in a position to do something about it.

The bottom line. He's a follower and not a leader. At least Thad would work behind the scenes (including working with the few level headed Democrats in the Senate) to help the state with the bigger picture issues. I'm not sure Roger would even knows there is a bigger picture. We need NEW leaders to represent us in Washington that are not just singing in the amen-chorus and doing whatever the hell Trump or McConnell tell them to do. We need somebody that would put country over party - oh, what a novel idea that would be in reality. Power has corrupted poor Roger into think that he's somebody important. Instead, will be a footnote in history that just went along with the leadership of his party, even though it was directly inapposite for what was needed by his home state.

Anonymous said...

11:39 - It might surprise you to know that those of us who have worked regular jobs for 40 to 50 years have paid for this coverage. Although we refer to Medicare as an entitlement, that's simply because we have paid for and are entitled to it. See how that works?

@ 2:32 - Your missing health care savings is neither the fault of nor the obligation of Chaney to explain. You need to run that rabbit at the federal level. He is a STATE commissioner.

Anonymous said...

Mike Chaney is a good person and a damn good public servant! I wish that he'd run for Governor!

Anonymous said...

3:28, you’re spot on.
An Independent Voter that went to the polls today

Anonymous said...

No, 4:05, not only did your Medicare contributions pay for somebody else’s healthcare coverage, but also for general federal budget expenditures. You are claiming to be entitled to money that is long gone. Even though you think you have, and have been told that you have, “entitlement”, in fact you only have “hope” that those who come along after you will pay enough tax or purchase enough government debt to pay for your healthcare. However, if enough of those who come along decide not to, or if just not enough come along, then you will see how wrong your understanding of “entitlement” is. Be careful with your arrogance, people are becoming less compassionate.

Anonymous said...

6:42 - Please pay attention. I've not claimed entitlement to any money. I'm only claiming entitlement to the benefits of Medicare. Medicare is written into federal law and is not dependent on 'people's' compassion. But thank you for playing.

Anonymous said...

3:57 - Then, we will say it your way with your language: You are entitled to benefits of Medicare under federal law. We will also say that the ability for the law to provide you with benefits is dependent on, among other things:

(a)Federal law compelling people who currently work or people who will work in the future to pay for your benefits,
(b)the federal government’s ability to borrow increasing amounts of money,
(c)the federal government’s ability to create money by fiat,
(d)a sufficient number of doctors and other healthcare providers willing to accept Medicare patients, and
(e) a sufficient number of people who believe that the promise of Medicare equals the promise of good healthcare in the future, and who continue to elect to government those who make these promises.

You might consider the following:

(a)Laws can be changed by elections,
(f)the federal government can reach a limit to its borrowing capacity,
(g)the government can create so much money that its value is deflated resulting in the inflation of healthcare costs beyond government’s (and your) ability to pay,
(h)the federal government can ration your access to healthcare, and
(i) some of the best doctors are continuing to leave Medicare participation, meaning that replacement doctors are less than the best and the quality of medical care continues to decline for Medicare patients. (E.g., one of the best-accomplished pain treatment doctors in the country, with impeccable credentials, practices by choice in the Southern city where I reside. He recently became licensed in Panama and has an office there. I can continue to get treatment from him. I can live almost pain free. If you are dependent on Medicare, you cannot.)

The trends have been moving in this direction for some time now.

Flinging silly insults like “pay attention” or “thanks for playing” will not affect me. Those of us who are, in fact, “pay[ing] attention” to these trends have positioned ourselves accordingly; I assure you we are not “playing”. I suggest that you dust off the word “eleemosynary”. That’s where you are headed.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS