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Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information

New Medicare Cards Finally Get Roll-Out

Posted by Admin on Thu, Feb 01, 2018 @ 09:52 AM

New Medicare Cards Finally Get Roll-Out

New Medicare Cards Finally Get Roll-Out

CMS has revealed which states will be the first in the nation to receive new Medicare identification cards that don't contain Social Security numbers.

Medicare beneficiaries in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia are among the states that will be first to get the cards starting in April.

Beneficiaries in Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands and Oregon are also expected to get the cards starting that month.

Since the beginning of the Medicare program, Social Security numbers have been used as the beneficiary identifier for administering services. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act required the CMS to remove the numbers from Medicare cards because of identity theft and fraud risks.

Starting this April, the CMS will begin to issue Medicare cards with new ID numbers. Approximately 60 million beneficiaries will receive the new cards by April 2019.



Providers have been worried because they haven't received the guidance they've needed on the change.

Without clear instructions on how to prepare for the change, physicians risk losing their ability to bill Medicare. Claims with the old numbers won't be accepted starting in 2020. Practices also need to update their electronic health record systems to accept the new ID numbers.

Providers had been pushing the CMS to make the change via a rulemaking process, giving the agency a chance to lay out a substantive rollout plan and letting clinicians weigh in.

While dealing with ICD-10, the rollout of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and alternative payment models under MACRA, as well as ongoing EHR meaningful-use activities, vendors may not be able to address this latest change in a timely way, according to Robert Tennant, director of health information technology policy at the Medical Group Management Association.


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Tags: Medicare Advice, New Medicare Cards, medicare updates

Medicare Advantage Plan Enrollment Hits Record High

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 @ 09:53 AM

Medicare Supplements In 2013, there are currently 14.4 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage. This is an increase of more than one million (9.7%) from 2012 and sets a record high for enrollees. Even though there were concerns that payment changes from the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) would lead to fewer enrollments, it has seen an increase of 30% since 2010. About 28% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans today and there is very little evidence of an adverse effect on enrollment in low versus high cost counties as a result of payment rate change in the ACA.

Don’t overlook the importance of adding a competitive Hospital Indemnity Plan to your senior care portfolio.

This growth is a continuation of the rapid growth in enrollment that occurred at the same time as the introduction of Part D in 2006. Also, the implementation of other changes to the Medicare Advantage program authorized by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003. This growth has happened despite the fact that the average number of plans available to enrollees nationwide declined from a high of 48 plans in 2009 to only 20 plans in 2012 and 2013.

With the Annual Enrollment period coming up, be sure to check out our Medicare Advantage product portfolio to make sure you have the best company rates in your area. If you have any questions about the products we offer or the Medicare Advantage market, please call our marketers at 1-800-998-7715.

Please give us your feedback!
Have you seen an increase in your Medicare Advantage business? Does this news make you want to add Medicare Advantage to your senior market portfolio?


Source: KHN

Additional Updates:
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Tags: Medicare Advantage, Senior Market, Combined Insurance Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Advice, Cigna Medicare Supplement

Expand Your Portfolio, Expand Your Business

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Aug 12, 2011 @ 09:20 AM

Medicare SupplementsNow is a great time to look to your portfolio and build a comprehensive product package to offer both your prospects and current clients. It is imperative in this market to remember to look at all areas of the market, instead of just the product you might know best. Prospecting for life insurance, long-term care, Medicare supplements, Part D, as well as annuities and other financial services is a guaranteed way to increase your production. Also, expanding your portfolio makes your business well-rounded and offers new ways for you to market to your clients.

Despite the challenges in the market today, it is important to see this time as an exciting opportunity for growth. Instead of only addressing a client’s immediate need for supplemental insurance, you can also help protect their assets and secure their financial future long-term with a more comprehensive portfolio. Remember to look for all opportunities with each prospect you contact. Suggest products you think would fit into their lifestyle, and thank them for their loyalty in allowing you to continue offering your products to them as their agent. Companies like Forethought and Sentinel Life offer a Combo App with both a Medicare supplement and final expense product on the same application. This makes it especially easy; by adding just one extra product to your portfolio you can double your commission with a client. Even if they are not interested in other policies at that time they may be in the future, or they might know someone who is and give you a referral. By covering all of your options with your clients you are not only targeting their needs, but building your brand, expanding your business, and gaining more expertise.

Offering other products may not be something you have ever thought you would need or want to do. We all need to be willing to grow and change however. Otherwise we might be swept aside by someone else who is not afraid to take the chance. As Michael Brown, in InsuranceNewsNet, says "Take a leap and learn something new; the success of your business depends on it."

If you are looking to expand your portfolio, PSM offers a full range of senior market products, from Medicare Supplements and long-term care insurance to annuities and final expense. Also, if you are currently in the underage market with aging clients, now is the perfect time to add Medicare supplements to your portfolio. Instead of referring them to a colleague you will be able to retain the loyal business relationship you have established, and continue to meet their needs as they grow older.

Please give us your feedback!
Have you recently expanded your portfolio? Have you seen an increase in production as a result? What tips to you have for those just starting to transition to new products?

Source: InsuranceNewsNet

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Tags: Universal American Medicare Supplement, Sales Tips, Success Tips, Senior Market Advice, Assured Life Medicare Supplement, Referrals, Gerber Life Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advice

Under-Age Agents Affected by Health Care Reform

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 @ 09:32 AM

Medicare SupplementsAs part of the new health care reform law that went into effect January 1st, a Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) was instituted stating insurance companies must spend at least 80% of premiums on medical expenses in the under-age market, with the remaining 20% being shared with administrative costs. These new health reform rules will cut insurance brokers’ pay by 50% in some cases, effecting nearly 470,000 under-age market agents. Reports show commissions will drop from 15 to 20% on plans to 4 to 10%; and, for Blue Cross which used to pay 15% on the first year and 7% on residuals the following years will now pay 5% for both. Meanwhile, Golden Rule, owned by UnitedHealthCare is offering their brokers a per application bonus, understanding the cuts in commissions. By 2014, even without the MLR regulations, consumers will be able to find and obtain health insurance plans easily on their own. Under new health care regulations insurance agents, negotiating rates for those with pre-existing conditions, will be unnecessary. Health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on conditions; therefore, making under-age insurance agent less and less vital for sales. Also in 2014, almost 32 million Americans will have insurance under the health care laws and MLR will negatively impact the way the public uses health care, with potential job loss due to lower commissions at a time when consumers need the most help because of all the changes. Critics argue smaller companies may go out of business, agents will see more cuts in compensation, and there will be reduced service quality to the consumer. Supporters say that industries are always changing and compare the change in the insurance industry to that of travel agents. Even though a lot of people buy their travel arrangements unassisted online there is still need for a travel agent. Now under-age insurance agents will just have to find their niche in the new insurance environment.

If you also work in the under-age market, have these lower commissions already affected you? Do you believe the result of MLR will be a drastic decline in service or do you think things will level off quickly, like with the travel industry?

Low Clearance by Mike Keefe

Low Clear by Mike Keefe for Denver Post
By Mike Keefe for The Denver Post, 01/06/11

With the Baby Boomer generation turning 65 this year and nearly 10,000 American’s a day qualifying for Medicare benefits- now is a great time to be a senior market agent selling Medicare Supplements.

Has the influx of Boomers helped your Medicare Supplement business? How are you preparing for the boost in those interested in Medicare Supplements?

Medicare "Wellness Visit" Check List

As of the first of 2011 Medicare beneficiaries are able to go to one “wellness visit” a year completely covered by Medicare. This new part of the health care law reflects that medicine needs to focus on prevention rather than waiting until the patient is sick. Dr. Eddie Phillips, director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, has outlined what patients can expect at their wellness visit this year. First, the doctor will conduct a screening of a patient’s cognitive skills, depression, and risk of falling. They will develop a Personalized Prevention Plan talking about your diet, exercise, vaccinations, sleep, and stress; and, work to coordinate all of you caregivers. Also, you can choose to have a voluntary discussion of your end-of-life choices, getting a plan in place and having your wishes known. Dr. Phillips hopes this wellness visit will help people make lifestyle choices that will positively affect their health and health care costs.

What do you think of the new “wellness visit” provided by Medicare? Have either you or one of your clients partaken of yours this year? Was it a valuable benefit?

Foresters Prepared Accident Death Term Life Insurance

Foresters Prepared offers up to $300,000 in coverage with no medical exam and only a few health/lifestyle questions. It also offers extra-cost riders for disability income (accident only), waiver of premium (accident only) and return of premium. Contact PSM or call us 1-800-998-7715 to request information.

Woodmen of the World/Assured Life MADP Guidelines and Iowa Rate Increase Notification

New Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP): MA members are allowed to make one change during this period of January 1, 2011 to February 14, 2011 with an effective date of disenrollment after January 1, 2011.

Effective March 1, 2011 please see the rate increase notification for Iowa.


Sources: KHN, Politico, The Denver Post, CommonHealth

Tags: Foresters, Medicare Supplement, Senior Market, senior insurance market news, health insurance industry, insurance news, Woodmen of the World Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advice

Seniors Should Consider Switching Medicare Part D Plans

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Nov 05, 2010 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare SupplementsThe chief executive of Avalere Health, Dan Mendelson, explains that even in cases when switching Part D plans is the most economical option, seniors are still more reluctant to do so. Yet, due to repercussions from health-care laws, there are some changes to the Part D program and it is important to have senior's evaluate their options so they can be assured they are on the best plan for their prescriptions. A new plan from Humana's Wal-Mart-Preferred Rx Plan boasts a $14.80 premium in all regions; however, premiums not only depend on cost but also deductibles, coinsurance, and doughnut hole coverage. Specific details of the Part D plans will be released in time for Annual Enrollment, on November 15th.

Setting New Medicare Skilled Care Service Standards

Two federal courts ruled that the standards for Medicare coverage of skilled nursing home care or home health care are too strict. Before this ruling, Medicare would only pay if a patient's condition would get better with the service, mistaking the belief that Medicare will only pay if treatment makes the patient "better." In correlation with the federal court's ruling, Medicare will now pay for the service if it is needed in order to maintain routine activities in daily life or to prevent the condition from getting worse. This is most significant for those patients with multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and a broken hip who need skilled care to assist them in their daily life.

Medicare Cuts Payments on Prostate Cancer Therapy

In order to curb inappropriate use and save health-care money, Medicare has begun paying physicians less for common prostate cancer therapy. A University of Texas study evaluated how many times adfrogen deprivation therapy was prescribed both before and since the Center for Medicare and Medicaid lowered the reimbursement rates. They found that there was no change in those who needed the treatment; however, it was prescribed 30% less in those who showed no beneficial medical evidence of needing it. These reduced reimbursements caused a positive change in health care by limiting the unnecessary care and driving a new pattern of care. Also, in this prostate cancer therapy case, negative side effects also contributed. Thus, there were both clinical and financial benefits.

Supplier Bidding Contracts Announced

On Thursday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the 356 suppliers who won contracts to provide durable medical equipment for nine areas around the country. With 1,217 contracts signed and 356 suppliers set to produce, prices will be cut by 32% saving a projected $28 billion over the next 10 years. The new program begins in January in Charlotte, Gastonia, Concord, Cincinnati, Middletown, Cleveland, Elyria, Mentor, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Kansas City (MO & KS), Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Orlando, Kissimmee, Pittsburgh, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ontario. Though, a House bill to repeal the program has attracted 250 sponsors.

Woodmen Plan N Released in LA and AZ

This week the Woodmen of the World Plan N was released in Louisiana and Arizona. Contact us or call 1-800-998-7715 for more information on adding Woodmen of the World Plan N to your portfolio!

Sources: KHN, The LA Times, The Hill, National Journal

Tags: Medicare open enrollment, Medicare Supplement, Senior News, Woodmen of the World Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advice

Improper Payments Law to Mitigate Medicare Misspending

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 @ 11:26 AM

Medicare Cost Savings On Thursday, President Obama signed a bill that mandates federal departments and agencies to reduce misspending. In fiscal year 2009, the federal government doled out nearly $110 billion in improper payments, mostly due to Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act also stipulates agencies to invest at least $1 million in audits to identify likely overpayments, and to create processes to reduce such improper payments and establish penalties for government organizations that fail to comply with the new law.

Denials of Insurance Claims Easier to Fight

The Obama administration issued new rules regarding health care reform. The new rules guarantee the right for all Americans to appeal denials of insurance claims, first with their insurance company, and then to a third-party review board if required. Many states already have similar laws in place, however the rules differ greatly. Now the rules will be standard across the United States. The new rules aim to empower consumers when appealing insurance claims that are denied. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said that his organization supports the standardization of the appeals process. The Obama administration is also providing $30 million in grants to improve state consumer assistance offices. States have until July 2011 to comply.

$251 Million Medicare Fraud Ring in 5 Cities Busted

Last Friday, Federal law enforcement officials announced the arrests of dozens of suspects in five states for defrauding Medicare of $251 million. The suspects, including several doctors and nurses, were apprehended in Miami, New York, Detroit, Houston, and Baton Rouge. 94 suspects were indicted, with 36 being arrested for billing Medicare for unnecessary equipment, and H.I.V and physical therapy treatments that were never conducted. The New York Times reported that violent criminals and mobster were getting into the action, as they viewed Medicare fraud as more lucrative and less risky than dealing drugs and fire arms.

Part D Increases Use of Heart Failure Medication

Reuters reported on a recent study of 7,000 older heart failure patients in one large insurance plan released by the American Heart Journal. The study found that the number of filled prescriptions for heart failure drugs soared after Part D took effect in 2006. Low-income seniors who never had previous drug coverage saw the biggest increase in filled prescriptions. Reuters states that the findings, among other cited in the article, substantiate arguments the goal of the law is being met.

Sources: Washington Post, Reuters, New York Times, KHN

Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, Medicare Advice

2010 Medicare Advantage Enrollment Trends Report Released

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 @ 11:54 AM

Medicare Cost Savings

A The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released a report that provides an analysis of Medicare Advantage enrollment trends among HMOs, PPOs, and PFFS plans.  The report highlights that 11.1 million people were enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans as of March 2010.  This is an increase from 10.5 million in March 2009.  The report showed that this increase took place despite a reduction of available plans throughout that same period. 

The report also found that three or fewer insurance companies dominate the Medicare Advantage market in every state except New York.  In 14 states, one company enrolls more than half of all Medicare Advantage customers.  Nationwide, both UnitedHealth Group and Humana Inc. control 33% of the total Medicare Advantage enrollment nationwide. 

For the full report follow this link:

Medicare Doc Pay Cuts Expected to be Delayed Today

Last night, the House of Representatives voted 417-1 to approve a Senate bill that delays a 21% cut in Medicare payments to doctors.  The bill delays the cuts another six months.  Lawmakers will work on a more permanent solution in that time, but if history is any indication, a permanent solution isn’t coming anytime soon.  Obama has expressed his approval of the bill and is planning to sign it into law today. 

The Medicare doc pay cut delay was a part of a larger bill that included unemployment benefit extensions and more aid to states.  When that bill was filibustered by Republicans, Democrats separated the Medicare doc pay cut delay into its own bill.  Now the hope is that the much more expensive, permanent solution can be passed after congressional elections in November.  The bill being signed today will increase payments to providers by 2.2% and will be paid for with a series of health care and pension changes.

Medicare and Medicaid Implements New Fraud Mapping Tool

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a new fraud mapping tool that will eventually be used throughout all government agencies.  The fraud mapping tool was developed by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to collect massive amounts of information in real time, analyze the data for fraud trends, and then project possible fraud or errors using an array of indicators.  This new tool comes on top of the “Do Not Pay” list created last week.  Both methods aim to achieve President Obama’s goal of cutting improper Medicare payments in half by 2012.

Sentinel Life Medicare Supplement Plan N Approved in CA, IA, and LA

Sentinel Life Medicare Supplement Plan N has been approved for Louisiana, Iowa, and California.  Each of these plans offer competitive rates and generous commissions.  To learn more about these products click here.

Sources: AP, NPR, KFF, KHN


Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions

Medicare Advantage Plans: Another One Bites the Dust

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 @ 10:50 AM

CIGNA Medicare Advantage

In another sign that Medicare Advantage is falling by the wayside, yesterday CIGNA announced it will not offer CIGNA Medicare Access (PFFS), its individual private fee-for-service medical plan, in 2011.  Customers of these plans will experience no change for this year.  CIGNA will continue to serve its clients, brokers, health care professionals, and contractors into 2011 for 2010 claims.  Now that CIGNA PFFS customers will need to choose a new medical coverage option for 2011, this presents a great opportunity to promote Medicare supplements to them, especially Medicare Supplement Plan N.

Medicare Checks Sent Out to Seniors
As posted on our Twitter feed earlier this week, the Obama administration started sending out $250 checks to seniors who fall into the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole.  With elections looming on the horizon, Democrats are touting the checks as the first of many benefits to come from health care reform legislation signed into law earlier this year (PP&AC Act).   In some states, Democrats are buying air time to broadcast a 60-second television ad stating how Republicans promised to repeal the healthcare reform bill.  Democrats also sent boxes of “GOP Doughnut Holes” to various media outlets as a sign that the doughnut hole rebate benefit would not exist under GOP leadership.  Of course, as you may already know, in most cases, the $250 is only about 1/14 of the total $3,610 hole. 

Infection Control a Major Issue at Medicare ASCs
Earlier this week, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), that found 2/3 of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) in three states experienced infection control lapses.  CMS defines ACSs as facilities that operate exclusively to provide surgical services to patients who do not require hospitalization or stays in a surgical facility longer than 24 hours.  Roughly 70 ASCs that experienced the infection control lapses serve Medicare patients.  The lapses were typically found in process including hand washing, injection and medication safety, and equipment reprocessing.  To view a video overview of the report click here.

AMA Unleashes its Wrath on Congress for Neglecting Medicare
Due to a glitch with our e-mail system last week, many of you missed last week’s article.  To view that article, click here.

Reminder: Modernized Plan Approvals Info
We just wanted to provide you with a friendly reminder that we offer three methods for checking out the latest modernized plan approvals.   First, we post updates immediately to our Twitter feed, second we post the update to our approval chart, and third if a carrier’s plan is new to the state, we’ll add it to our product availability map.  When it comes to modernized plan info, at PSM we’ve got you covered.


Sources: Reuters, Politico, CNN, JAMA, NPR

Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions

AMA Unleashes its Wrath on Congress for Neglecting Medicare

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Fri, Jun 04, 2010 @ 03:10 PM

Medicare Brochure

You may have read on other blogs that the doctor fix is in, but it’s not. The House of Representatives voted last Friday on May 28 to freeze the scheduled Medicare payment cut until 2011, however the U.S. Senate failed to pass the bill before going on a week-long Memorial Day break.

The 21% Medicare payment cut took effect June 1, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ordered a temporary freeze on doctor payments, giving Congress time to retroactively approve the bill that freezes the cut.

In response the American Medical Association (AMA) launched a multi-million dollar series of advertisements that will appear in newspapers, radio, and television. The ads aim to pressure senators to pass the bill as soon as possible by criticizing them for taking a vacation while more than 40 million seniors and millions of health care providers are left worrying about the future of their healthcare and businesses respectively. The AMA also hopes to further its goal of getting the government to pass a permanent fix by changing the current Medicare payment formula. Such a fix would cost an estimated $250 billion over ten years, which is why the Senate continues to repeatedly delay the cuts rather than address the root cause of the problem.

Various news outlets, such as Reuters are reporting that some doctors are no longer taking new Medicare patients due to the volatility of the situation.

Ironically, the Medicare payment cut also impacts TRICARE (the health program for military families), as it utilizes the Medicare payment formula. Looks like our Senators celebrated Memorial Day a little too quickly.


The AMA has set up a web page titled "Medicare Payment Action Kit." You can view many different documents it has created on the whole issue. Check it out here.

Tags: senior market blog, senior market news, Medicare Advantage, Medicare, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, senior insurance market news, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions

New Medicare Advantage Enrollment Periods

Posted by Richard Ybarra on Mon, May 10, 2010 @ 04:56 PM

Starting in the fall of 2011, the Annual Election Period (AEP) will take place beginning October 15 and run through December 7.  This is a change from the current schedule of November 15 to December 31.  

Then on January 1, 2011, the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) will be eliminated.  As many of you already know, this period allowed beneficiaries to switch between “like” plans from January 1 to March 31 each year.

Also in 2011, the first Baby Boomers start to age into Medicare. There are 45 million Medicare eligibles in the country today, and by 2020 that number will grow to over 60 million. If you have any questions regarding these changes, please call us at 1-800-998-7715 or e-mail to

Source: Bravo Health

Tags: Medicare Advantage, Medicare Discussion, Medicare News, Medicare Advantage News, Medicare Sales, Medicare Advice, Medicare Solutions

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