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Re Kiplinger, there is no question that Medicare Advantage has lower out of pocket costs. The differences show up as we age and have greater need for medical services. Then the copays etc can make Advantage more costly.

This is another one of those crystal ball issues. If you correctly guess how long you will live and what medical events will come your way, you can make better choices. Its probably about 50/50 you will guess right.

In the meanwhile, most take the money; ie, the lower out of pocket cost of Advantage.
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I am new to Medicare. I have been getting social security checks for 3 years, and now have become eligible for Medicare (turned 65 in August). I signed up for supplemental insurance and those payments have started being auto-paid from my checking account, starting in August. The supplmental insurance I agreed to is $178 per month (with Mutual of Omaha).

So, I am just looking at our SS checks being deposited, and my SS check is less $149, starting in August. Did I miss something? Our SS checks are deposited into our credit union, and the supplemental medical insurance is being auto-paid from our Wells Fargo account - So, 2 totally different bank accounts (if that matters). I'll call SS in a day or two.. and be on hold for hours.. but I thought I'd see if anyone knows what this might be? or why?

It seems like I spend my retirement straightening our mishandled payments, visa over charges, bank account mistakes, etc. It really wears on me....

Footsox


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It is your Medicare Part B premium which is paid to Medicare. This is separate from your optional Supplemental (aka Medigap) policy that you are paying from your Wells Fargo account.

From Medicare.gov website

https://www.medicare.gov › your-medicare-costs › part-b-costs
2021. The standard Part B premium amount in 2021 is $148.50
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Plus, note that most of us would also sign up for Medicare Part D to cover prescription meds. And that usually has additional fees.

This year I signed up for AARP's United Healthcare Medicare Advantage HMO. So far it is working fine. No additional premium over basic Medicare. I expect to save abt $2000/yr mostly in premiums and Part D deductible. All my doctors and hospitals are in plan. The only increase is co-pay to see a specialist raised to $35. But also covers dental, hearing aids, and glasses.

So far I'm pleased.
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If you are receiving Social Security benefits and enroll in Medicare, your Part B premium will be automatically deducted from your SS benefit. You will also be enrolled in Medicare part A (hospitalization) but there is no premium for this.

If you elect to take Medicare as your primary insurer, then you may also purchase a Medigap (or Medicare Supplement) plan to cover those out of pocket costs you must pay. The insurance company is not important here...what matters is which coverage plan you have, which are standardized coverage plans lettered A to N. The premium for this may be taken from your Social Security benefit if you request it.

A third insurance you must take if you choose Medicare as your primary is a Part D plan to cover drug costs. You may also request this premium be taken out of your Social Security benefit, as it is not automatically deducted.

But if you choose to go with a private Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare is not your primary insurer....the MA plan is. The premium for this you may also ask Social Security to deduct from your monthly payment, as it is not automatic.

You may also ask Social Security to withhold Fed Tax payments.

It sounds like you elected to have your supplement and perhaps part D deducted from your Wells Fargo account, separate from where your SS is deposited...and that's fine if that is what you asked for.

You don't mention what your gross SS benefit payment is so can't really tell if the $149 net deposit is in the ball park or not

BruceM
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You don't mention what your gross SS benefit payment is so can't really tell if the $149 net deposit is in the ball park or not

BruceM


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Footsox OP says her net SS deposit was short by $149, not that $149 was the amount of the deposit. The missing $149 lines up with the basic 2021 Medicare Part B premium of $148.50 being deducted from her SS benefit.
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Thanks BHM. Helps if I read carefully.

Yes, a deposit reduction of $149 will be Part B premium

BruceM
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Hi guys, Sorry I posted this question without doing a little research. Yes, it appears my Medicare Part B is being deducted from my SS check and my supplemental is being paid from my normal checking account. Sorry to be such a dolt. I will Google a few things next time and try to understand what is going on before bothering this board. Thanks for all your help though!

-Footsox
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Hi Footsox.
I, too, am new to Medicare... so, I followed this discussion with interest.
I'm glad you posted the topic.

🤔
ralph
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Footsox
Medicare can be very confusing to the newcomer. Its a complicated topic of multiple coverage choices and payment methods wrapped in a bunch of arcane rules. If we were all 25 years old when affected by this, it would be a lot easier :-)

If you haven't done so yet, suggest you set up an account for yourself at My Social Security

https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source...

Its not the most intuitive account interface, but once you are into your account, if you click on 'Benefit Verification Letter', it will show you the gross payment and subtraction for Part B. However, I haven't figured out how to get it to show the deduction for Federal withholding, if any. But you can figure this out by subtracting the amount deposited in your bank account from the gross amount minus the payment for Part B.

BruceM
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To me Medicare supplemental is easy. All plans are standardized. You pick the one that fits your style. Then shop for the best deal on that plan from various companies. Some companies offer extras like free gym membership, but the perks are few. Easy to shop.

Medicare Part D prescription drug insurance is more complex. You need to anticipate your need, drug coverage, and costs. More research required.

Medicare Advantage is most complicated hmo or ppo. Which doctors and hospitals are in plan. And they offer a wide variety of extras. Dental, glasses, hearing aids, otc meds, etc. Shopping for a plan takes more time and more research.
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I had a very long detailed conversation with an independent Medicare broker. We discussed mostly Advantage vs. gov't Medicare. Because I have some assets and can afford it, I opted to remain with gov't Medicare, found the best Drug plan and then went with a Medigap policy that covers everything but the deductible. Granted, it does include hearing aids, glasses or any other bonuses that Advantage plans offer, but I'm guaranteed to be covered for hospitalizations and doctor visits, which is what I want.

The issue I had with Advantage with it can change. And if someone on your operating team -- say, the anesthesiologist -- is not in your plan (doctors work with who they prefer, not who is necessarily in yr plan), you can be hit with a large bill that will be your responsibility. If you decide to switch to the plain vanilla gov't Medicare, you will be subjected to a physical that will determine your rates. If you opt for gov't Medicare at the beginning, there is no physical and you're guaranteed the lowest rate in perpetuity.

Maybe I'm playing it "too safe." And costing myself higher premiums for Medigap and costs for hearing aids and glasses, but I see insurance as something to keep simple. Or maybe I'm kidding myself. But it is what I chose.

I'd be interested in hearing other opinions, pro and con. Always looking to understand these difficult matters more clearly.

Best wishes to all.
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Shopping for a plan takes more time and more research.

I've been doing this. Has become a full time job and my company has been no help not posting what will be my cost for next year's company sponsored plan, nor the time frame to opt out. Opting out is what I want to do after many many years with the company sponsored Medicare Advantage with UHC.

I have had help from a very nice gentleman to choose between plans once I decided which company I would go with.

I met a friend at the drug store getting the Shingles shot. My shot was free. She is with Humana Medicare. Her shot cost her $140+ and she pays a monthly fee!!! Be careful what you sign up for.

Birgit.
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The insurance companies have sales people who can help with details. Group seminars at local restaurants are a common method. Q&a is usually part of the program.

Salesmen will come to your home if you need help. But much is on line or by phone.
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Some financial advisors will also help with Medicare. They can at least point you to the best companies. "Most of my clients do x."
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The insurance companies have sales people who can help with details. Group seminars at local restaurants are a common method. Q&a is usually part of the program. - pauleckler

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Well, certainly this method is tried and true. It is used by the companies that hawk time shares, Multi-level Marketing opportunities, and the cash out/refi industry. I wonder where the money comes from to pay all these sales people and pay for all those restaurant meals and meeting rooms at the Holiday Inn?
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Some financial advisors will also help with Medicare. They can at least point you to the best companies. "Most of my clients do x."

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My first thought is, I wonder if X pays a referral fee or other commission?

Sorry for being so skeptical or even jaded but I am always suspicious of the motives behind any advice I get where money is concerned.
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I wonder where the money comes from to pay all these sales people and pay for all those restaurant meals and meeting rooms at the Holiday Inn?

I think we know the insurance industry gets paid to take care of Medicare policies. The one I attended was at a Paneras, but they did not feed us. We could buy our own coffee if we liked. It was a group of about a dozen who sat around a table while the salesman explained the basics and answered questions.
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Your financial advisor probably has to earn your trust to keep your business. If not, why are you there?

He/she talks to many clients and knows of their concerns. Medicare is a common aspect of retirement planning. I doubt that they are compensated for the Medicare advice per se, but of course they do get paid for handling your investments one way or another.

It is worth their while to keep up to date on Medicare developments because its a common question from their clients. They may even subscribe to services to keep them up to date.
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Nice article in Kiplinger Magazine this month on why Medicare Advantage often winds up costing you more for less choices than standard Medicare plus Supplement/drug plan.

t.
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I met a friend at the drug store getting the Shingles shot. My shot was free. She is with Humana Medicare. Her shot cost her $140+ and she pays a monthly fee!!! Be careful what you sign up for.

Yes, there is that. I also paid $140 for the shingrex shot. And another $140 the year before since it takes two shots a year apart.

BUT, I had to have 4 surgeries over a period of 10 months. Other than the annual part B deductible (I think it was $198), I had no other out of pocket expense. That includes surgery, follow ups, and physical therapy. I was happy with my coverage.

In the interest of transparency, part of my retirement includes the Medicare supplement coverage of my choice. If I were paying the $3500 annual cost (2 of us) out of pocket I might figure the math differently.

wolferd
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My first thought is, I wonder if X pays a referral fee or other commission?

Having retired from this industry (personal financial planning), I can say without hesitation...FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Some states allow insurance companies to pay a higher sales commission than others. With this kind of variable commission rate, those insurers paying the highest rates are going to sell the most policies. Some group model HMO MA plans do not pay sales commissions, such as Kaiser. No "independent" insurance broker is going to recommend such an MA plan, regardless of whether it's a good fit or not.

The last person I'd listen to for Medicare or any other personal financial advice is a commissioned salesmen. The financial conflict of interest is simply too great.

Your best bet for objective Medicare advice is your states SHIP volunteer. These are trained volunteers sponsored by grants from Medicare. They cannot give you specific advice, but will do a great job of educating you.

A second advisory source are fee-only Planners who charge by the hour. These are hard to find, but if you can, it'll cost you a few hundred bucks but you can bet it'll likely be the most objective advice you'll get.

BruceM
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Re Kiplinger, there is no question that Medicare Advantage has lower out of pocket costs. The differences show up as we age and have greater need for medical services. Then the copays etc can make Advantage more costly.

This is another one of those crystal ball issues. If you correctly guess how long you will live and what medical events will come your way, you can make better choices. Its probably about 50/50 you will guess right.

In the meanwhile, most take the money; ie, the lower out of pocket cost of Advantage.
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I am always suspicious of the motives behind any advice I get where money is concerned.

I found those "helpers" are employed by the medicare plans they are advising you to go with. But they can help choose between particular company plans, of which there are many.

Birgit.
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Nice article in Kiplinger Magazine this month on why Medicare Advantage often winds up costing you more for less choices than standard Medicare plus Supplement/drug plan.


That's interesting. For years I had supplemental (company supplied) and then they added advantage plan which I've found to have many more nice options.....exercise programs, additional payments for drug store over counter, meals have hospital stay, etc.

Birgit
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