Medicare Information - seems impartial

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18763
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by dm200 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:32 pm

Choosing Medicare options can be a challenge. Saw this site that seems to have good and impartial information

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/ma ... ign=buffer

I also think it can make sense to stay up on all the information and options - even if we are 100% happy with what we have.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 8485
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by celia » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:27 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:32 pm
I also think it can make sense to stay up on all the information and options - even if we are 100% happy with what we have.
Yes, it's important to stay on top of the changes in coverage and premiums, although those on Medicare Supplemental plans may not be able to change their plan.

He also emphasized, as did Bedlin, that there is a difficult trade-off between making Medicare decisions simpler versus reflecting the increased detail and personalization that insurers have begun making available.

Behavioral research has found that people often make better decisions when they have standardized, easily explained choices. However, Medicare insurers are moving away from standardized coverage toward benefits tailored to an individual’s needs and preferences.

Tailored medicine is widely supported, but it will be an elusive goal if the people it’s intended to serve do not understand their choices or what their best decisions even look like.
I think this part at the end of the article is interesting, but unlikely to ever happen due to the needs of online users and what information they may need. For example, a "young", healthy, 65-yo just signing up may be most interested in lowest premiums, and that is already available, while an elderly person who has never used a computer will be frustrated with even the basic information. Those with known medical conditions may want to see who the specialists are for that condition. And the list of doctors in each Medicare Advantage network will never be up-to-date since doctors are generally free to change employment like everyone else. I have never seen an insurance carrier able to keep track of which doctors are in which network(s). [It's always best to call their office and verify before signing up for a specific Medicare Advantage plan.]

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18763
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by dm200 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 4:47 pm

Behavioral research has found that people often make better decisions when they have standardized, easily explained choices. However, Medicare insurers are moving away from standardized coverage toward benefits tailored to an individual’s needs and preferences.
Seems to be a two-edged sword ...

I also strongly believe that the net benefits to us (both high quality care and low costs) of our Medicare plan are not apparent if we had known nothing about our plan - and depended only on the published documents.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18763
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by dm200 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 4:58 pm

While I have not looked forward to having to switch doctors - when insurance changed so required - I have concluded that keeping the same doctors is often over-rated as a benefit - as long as it is not really frequent. In the last 3-4 years, three of my regular specialists have retired - and the "new" ones are fine. I like some of them better than the ones who retired.

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1897
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 23, 2018 5:02 pm

I follow the PBS Making Sense column weekly. Most weeks Phillip Moeller also responds to submitted questions. He has written a useful book about Medicare (Get What's Your for Medicare). As I was reading it I discovered that he used the question I sent in when the column was just beginning in the section about how Medicare and Medigap work with COBRA.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18763
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by dm200 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 5:11 pm

In my opinion, most Medicare recipients I encounter do not properly evaluate the financial aspects of what they do or do not have.

For example, I was chatting with an acquaintance who has the same Medicare plan options as I do. I pay $30 per month for "standard" and she pays $142 for "high option". She gets slightly lower copays and slightly lower out of pocket annual maximums. She must be way behind because she does not have a lot of expensive medical issues. In addition, she and her husband have excellent retirement income and assets. Seems to me she is paying over $1300 more than I am for a very small net benefit and small lowering of financial risk.

I watch this every year - and I can switch to "high option" in the future during the fall "open season".

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1897
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:02 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 5:11 pm
In my opinion, most Medicare recipients I encounter do not properly evaluate the financial aspects of what they do or do not have.

For example, I was chatting with an acquaintance who has the same Medicare plan options as I do. I pay $30 per month for "standard" and she pays $142 for "high option". She gets slightly lower copays and slightly lower out of pocket annual maximums. She must be way behind because she does not have a lot of expensive medical issues. In addition, she and her husband have excellent retirement income and assets. Seems to me she is paying over $1300 more than I am for a very small net benefit and small lowering of financial risk.

I watch this every year - and I can switch to "high option" in the future during the fall "open season".
Yes. I talk to people who pay top dollar for Medigap Plan F coverage even though they have no serious ongoing medical issues. They could probably be ahead of the game if they went with F high-deductible, but supposedly like the idea of everything being covered, even if they don't routinely use "everything." Also, if they got help from a broker, they may not have been given adequate information about the high-deductible option. (Brokers have told me that people don't want F-HD because they don't want to have to deal with "all the bills coming in." Not to mention that they didn't tell them about the F-HD option.)

User avatar
celia
Posts: 8485
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by celia » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:38 pm

GerryL wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:02 pm
I talk to people who pay top dollar for Medigap Plan F coverage even though they have no serious ongoing medical issues. They could probably be ahead of the game if they went with F high-deductible, but supposedly like the idea of everything being covered, even if they don't routinely use "everything." Also, if they got help from a broker, they may not have been given adequate information about the high-deductible option. (Brokers have told me that people don't want F-HD because they don't want to have to deal with "all the bills coming in." Not to mention that they didn't tell them about the F-HD option.)
You are assuming that everyone needs the same thing that you have. Sometimes it is more important to have all the bills automatically paid, instead of having to pay for bills where the service was incurred several months previously. The convenience of not having to worry about it can be worth more than the extra premium for Plan F. As an example, if you travel a lot, your bills will be paid without you having to do anything.

I considered F-HD, but never took it since I would not be able to change to another plan in the future, except for another High-Deductible plan. That is, in looking ahead to be eligible at my carrier, I could always change to another plan with less coverage, but F-HD is considered to have less coverage (due to the big deductible) than other plans. I would have to change to another plan with a high deductible and something else not covered.

And you're not paying "top dollar" if you shop around several carriers.

Big Dog
Posts: 882
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:12 pm

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by Big Dog » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:00 pm

(Brokers have told me that people don't want F-HD because they don't want to have to deal with "all the bills coming in." Not to mention that they didn't tell them about the F-HD option.)
I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that brokers make 2x as much commission on the regular F plan vs. the F-HD plan! (Nah, never happen.) :annoyed


fwiw: I find the broker argument ('folks don't want bills coming in') rather disingenuous; people aging into Medicare today have been dealing with bills for the last decade or so as employers have been cutting benefits/raising copays and co-insurance on employee benefit plans. Thus, folks are just used to it. (Now, for someone whose faculties are starting to fail and they are getting forgetful to pay bills, perhaps Plan F makes sense. That being said, Plan F is closed to new enrollees as of 2020, so its' rates should increase faster than G.)

User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 1897
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:41 pm

Big Dog wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:00 pm
(Brokers have told me that people don't want F-HD because they don't want to have to deal with "all the bills coming in." Not to mention that they didn't tell them about the F-HD option.)
I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that brokers make 2x as much commission on the regular F plan vs. the F-HD plan! (Nah, never happen.) :annoyed
The brokers I have spoken with (a small sample) didn't even offer F-HD. I'd guess no commission.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 18763
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Medicare Information - seems impartial

Post by dm200 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:32 pm

GerryL wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:41 pm
Big Dog wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:00 pm
(Brokers have told me that people don't want F-HD because they don't want to have to deal with "all the bills coming in." Not to mention that they didn't tell them about the F-HD option.)
I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that brokers make 2x as much commission on the regular F plan vs. the F-HD plan! (Nah, never happen.) :annoyed
The brokers I have spoken with (a small sample) didn't even offer F-HD. I'd guess no commission.
Hardly "impartial" :(

Post Reply