Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
DanL
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:39 pm

Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by DanL » Tue Mar 19, 2019 10:44 am

I am from Washington State and snowbird to California (Coachella Valley) for 5 months. I'm 69 and the wife 72 both in realtively good health with minimum prescription costs. My biggest cost is chiropractic who I see every 10 days or so as I have a chronic neck issue that needs attention.

I had reason to contact a General practioner recently and found out that my current Medicare Advantage program through United Health Care only covers a Emergency room / Urgent care visit while I am out of state. If I need a General MD consultation I would be out of luck as the few doctors I contacted do not take on Cash patients for liability reasons.

I have already learned that I might be better off with original Medicare and purchase a Med-Gap policy so that when I travel I would have better access to medical providers. I wonder what your experience is? I could change my elections in the fall before I travel again. A

Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you forum members!

mhalley
Posts: 7782
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 6:02 am

Re: Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by mhalley » Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:28 am

I have no personal experience but heard about boomer benefits on a podcast. You might see if they could help pick a plan that will cover you when traveling.
https://boomerbenefits.com/

cadreamer2015
Posts: 930
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:52 pm
Location: North County San Diego

Re: Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by cadreamer2015 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:39 am

This is why we chose traditional Medicare with Plan G Medigap policies: so that we'd have unconstrained access to covered medical care when we travel/spend months away from home. If it comes a time when we no longer travel or spend significant time away from home I'll consider Medicare Advantage, but not before.
De gustibus non est disputandum

User avatar
HueyLD
Posts: 7356
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:30 am

Re: Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by HueyLD » Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:47 am

DanL wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 10:44 am
I am from Washington State and snowbird to California (Coachella Valley) for 5 months. I'm 69 and the wife 72 both in realtively good health with minimum prescription costs. My biggest cost is chiropractic who I see every 10 days or so as I have a chronic neck issue that needs attention.

I had reason to contact a General practioner recently and found out that my current Medicare Advantage program through United Health Care only covers a Emergency room / Urgent care visit while I am out of state. If I need a General MD consultation I would be out of luck as the few doctors I contacted do not take on Cash patients for liability reasons.

I have already learned that I might be better off with original Medicare and purchase a Med-Gap policy so that when I travel I would have better access to medical providers. I wonder what your experience is? I could change my elections in the fall before I travel again. A

Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you forum members!
If you switch to traditional Medicare + supplement, you will be subject to insurance company's underwriting and your application can be rejected unless there are circumstances beyond your control.

orlandoman
Posts: 493
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:27 am

Re: Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by orlandoman » Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:50 am

cadreamer2015 wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:39 am
This is why we chose traditional Medicare with Plan G Medigap policies: so that we'd have unconstrained access to covered medical care when we travel/spend months away from home. If it comes a time when we no longer travel or spend significant time away from home I'll consider Medicare Advantage, but not before.
Medicare Advantage comes in 2 varieties:
HMO - only emergency care outside of network
PPO - out of network care with higher co-pay/deductable; any doctor/service provider that accepts Medicare & will take you as a new patient (same as supplement), PPO's are not offered in all locations

The issue often brought up concerning MA plans normally refers to the HMO varieties.
"Don't Believe Everything You Think"

drawpoker
Posts: 2809
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 6:33 pm
Location: Delmarva

Re: Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by drawpoker » Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:32 pm

DanL wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 10:44 am
.... might be better off with original Medicare and purchase a Med-Gap policy so that when I travel I would have better access to medical providers.....I could change my elections in the fall before I travel again.
Are you referring to "Open Enrollment" period that runs from Oct 15-Dec 7 every year?

That does not mean you can switch plans without penalty (only for Part D stand-alone PDP)

As HueyLD mentioned, if you are a resident of Washington state, you would come under medical underwriting if you switch back to Original Medicare and try and purchase a supplement.

Investigate this carefully, check with all insurers offering Medigap plans in your area.

btenny
Posts: 5220
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by btenny » Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:56 pm

I too snowbird and have for years. I spend time in Arizona and in California. When I signed up for Medicare I was very careful to get it and my Medigap Plan F-HD in California for good reasons including lower costs. I talked at length with all kinds of insurance and Medicare people. They all said the same thing. You have to select the best plan when you turn 65 and start Medicare and try to keep it forever. They said you can only change your policy type if you move or the plan changes and in many cases you will pay more and have to do under writing. But as it has evolved California will let you move from Advantage plans to regular plans with no underwriting annually.

In our case (regular Medicare and Plan F-HD) we can use doctors anywhere in the US. So I have doctors in Arizona and California and sometimes I use test labs or special test doctors in Nevada (again for lower costs reasons). So for us Plan F-HD works for our snow bird traveling.

But it is complicated a LOT. The whole medical system wants you to stay put in one location and never travel or move. I have major issues with getting Doctors etc. to bill me properly. They cannot bill my part (the deductible) until Medicare pays their part. So many time the bill is not sent for 3-6 months. This means many times the bill gets sent to my other address. Then if the post office or post delivery person is having a bad day they send the bill back instead of forwarding it to my other home. This forwarding or returned mail causes the doctors billing department to think I moved and they do funny things. Last week I paid a bill from June of 2018 for $2xx that was lost in the system. It was way over due and going to be sent to collection. In this case I tried to pay that bill last October but the hospital that owns the physical therapy place would not take my money. They said wait for the exact $$ amount.

I also have major issues with medical suppliers and doctors sharing patient data across state lines. The different people do not want to give out medical information or tell outside doctors about their patients or let patients travel with rented equipment. This means poor diagnosis and related bad care.

Then there is the scheduling issues. Doctors seem to think patients are there to serve them. Many think waiting 2-3 months to see them or to schedule some test is fine. And then the test restrictions are your problem to deal with. Too bad if you cannot drink coffee or wine or have a special meal on Christmas day because they want to schedule a test.

The whole system is really a mess and causes lots of issues for everyone. Going to regular Medicare will help in your situation but that only solves part of the problem.

Good Luck.

User avatar
beyou
Posts: 2900
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:57 pm
Location: Northeastern US

Re: Medicare advice needed for snowbirds / travelers

Post by beyou » Tue Mar 19, 2019 4:38 pm

Electronic only billing and customer support would at least eliminate the mail forwarding issue !

But the idea of having only in-network doctors in one location is a major weakness in our healthcare payment system.
ACA plans for those of us not yet on Medicate have such a similar limitation.

Maybe I should never retire and stay on employer plan, I have never had an employer plan that didn't over me nationally.
Of course my employer might have something to say about my solution....

Post Reply