Medicare is the largest public health program in the U.S. and a key source of insurance for seniors. However, navigating Medicare plans for yourself or a loved one is often described as overwhelming, frustrating, or tiresome.
Understanding the best options for your situation while avoiding Medicare scams, third-party mailers, and surprise bills can be a daunting task.
Bonnie Dobbs, founder and owner of Medicare and Other Red Tape, LLC, is one of the most sought-after speakers on Medicare. She will help us navigate Medicare in simple terms, understand what each plan covers, and learn how to increase benefits and lower costs.
Watch the video above for a preview of Senior Living LIVE! How is your Medicare 2022 Plan Working For You? and then visit ArborCompany.com/Medicare2022 to register!
- Hello everyone and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. I hope you are having a fantastic day on this spring day today. Well, we are previewing our upcoming webinar called, "How is Your Medicare 2022 Plan Working For You?" I think the title really says it all. If you have questions about some of the changes this year or are just new to Medicare, this is the webinar for you. Our guest presenter is Bonnie Dobbs. Bonnie joins me now for our preview. Bonnie, how are you doing today?
- I'm doing great and you're right. It is a wonderful spring day. It's not 20 degrees today.
- We love it. Yes, it is actually a nice in Bonnie but it's a typical spring. We're both in Georgia. So we're kind of with that up and down weather in terms of temperature but it is beautiful sunny gorgeous today. So, Bonnie as I mentioned, you're in Georgia. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company, Medicare and Other Red Tape, LLC.
- Sure, well I'm a mom, I'm a grandmother, I'm a great grandmother. First of all, of course, nobody wakes up one morning and says, I think I wanna do Medicare. So there is a reason and a way that I got there. And I got my insurance license in 2007 and then in 2008, a family member developed Alzheimer's. So for a year I was there almost every day sometimes. And I found out firsthand just how complicated and confusing Medicare can be. And it really kind of was in my face one evening when we got home and Helen said, "You know I don't understand this Medicare thing." One family says that they feel like they're nickel and dime to death. Another family says that they pay a high monthly premium and then almost no other out of pocket cost. And she said, "But the thing that's so confusing to me is Mason and I don't pay anything." And I was like, oh my God, you're right. So and so does say this and whatever. So I kinda made it my mission right then that I was gonna help these people because I I've always been a big volunteer my entire life in one way or the other. And so that's exactly what I did. It's just like, I started down this path to learn everything I possibly could about Medicare. And I'm an eternal student. I'm still learning today I'm never arrogant thinking I know everything. Because trust me everything with Medicare well, not everything but many things with Medicare change each year. So, I thought I was just gonna drive around my car and help people. And then one day one agent asked to come to work for me and another agent. And the next thing I know I had to get an LLC. So thus Medicare and Other Red Tape was born. And so I have an agency and now we're not only in Georgia, but we're in several other states and I have agents in other states. So that's my story of how I got to this.
- It is a fantastic story and I love it so much. As you said, we're all constantly learning but when it comes to these government programs like Social Security or Medicare, Medicaid there's a lot of Anusha there. And the normal person like myself even when you first got started, it's just what the heck is all of this? So it is really nice to have advocates out there like yourself and the people who work with you to help everybody sort of wind through that red tape as you will to get answers that they need they just want the bottom line. So that is what your webinar is all about. You're gonna be able to help all of our viewers out. You'll be there to answer questions. So let's start with the basics here. What is Medicare, who is eligible and what exactly does it cover?
- Great question, okay. So Medicare is health insurance. The way you get it is by paying into FICA taxes during your working years or your spouse paying into FICA taxes or you and them. And once you've worked for 10 years which is under 40 quarters, you qualify for Part A. And your Part A has been completely funded at that time. So Medicare is health insurance and that's the way you get Part A. Now you get Part B when you become Medicare eligible. So that would be like when you turn 65. So that was your next question when or who is eligible? So when you turn 65, that's one time that you're eligible. However, seniors are becoming more and more active and some of them are working past 65. So if that's the case, you can delay enrolling in Medicare as long as you work for an employer who has 20 or more employees, okay? So when you turn 65 or if you want to work past 65. The other time is if you're under 65 and you become disabled. So if you become disabled there is a wait period of 24 months. If you've not rehabilitated in that 24 months both the federal government and the medical industry agree you're probably not going to. So you are awarded Medicare in that 25th month. Also people who have end-stage renal disease qualify automatically and ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.
- Gotcha, wow. That that's a lot of information I did not know. And I've heard a lot. We have another speaker that comes on and talks about you know, Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, and I'm constantly learning just like you. So I love it. And I know our viewers will love it too. Now, so inflation, right? That is the talk of here almost every day on the news that you turn on the TV it's everyone's affected by it right now. You know, Social Security saw its highest cost of living increase in 40 years this year. But on the flip side, the Medicare costs rose slightly. So what is new for people with Medicare plans in 2022 and how have you been able to help people adjust accordingly?
- Yeah, so you're absolutely right. They got the highest increase in Social Security benefits. However, they also received the highest increase in Part B as in baby this year. When I started 11 years ago, the part B monthly premium usually about $5 per year, okay. This year, well in 2021 the Part B premium was $148.50. It jumped from 148.50 to 171.10.
- That is enormous.
- Yeah, wow.
- Okay compared to what it has in the past. Also when I first started, there was no Part D for drugs there was no Part D deductible. This year it's $480 deductible. Now, usually that's only applied to medications that are Tier 3, 4 or 5 but that is a lot of money. I don't care what your income level is to have to pay $480 deductible for your medications. So, the cost has been enormous this year over other years. Some of the ways that I have helped people is, there's so many companies and there's so many plans. So maybe the plan that you had last year you just let that plan roll over. And this year like a drug plan example, okay. Last year maybe your drug plan was say $28. And if you didn't review your plan, this year that same plan could $60. So just by reviewing your plan that will help you. Now for every single person who's on Medicare. I want you guys to listen closely to this. Just know whatever plan that you're on whether you're on a Medicare Advantage Plans or a Medicare drug plan every year during the month of September, you're gonna receive something in the mail call, Annual Notice of Coverage. And what that document does is it takes your current year along with the upcoming year and it goes down. It starts with the premium if there is one. And then all of the cost for each benefit line item by line item. So you can find out in September if your plan's gonna basically be the same, then you may wanna stay where you are. But if you're on a specific drug plan and it jumps like double, you know, from $29 to $60, you definitely wanna contact a broker. Please don't call the company that, that plan in is with because they're just gonna enroll you with whatever's in their portfolio. Don't call a person who is just an agent because they are probably limited to all of the plans. Make sure you call a broker because a broker can research and review and compare every single plan in your service area.
- Great, yeah. I love that piece of advice. And that's advice that I don't think a lot of people know about, right?
- You're right.
- The whole reason why we're doing this webinar, you're you're gonna get a lot of, you're gonna be a very popular woman for our webinar for sure, Bonnie. So now we go from the good and the cost of living increase, for Social Security, the bad for the increase and Medicare costs. How do you help people avoid scams and weigh through all the entities who may not have someone's best interest in mind? And there's a lot of that out there right now unfortunately.
- There is a lot out there. People get phone calls, they get emails, they get mail. And just know the IRS, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. No government entity is ever gonna call you. They always correspond via mail. Well, how many scams do we see via mail? So read everything very carefully especially the stuff that's in the tiny fine print, okay. And if you you have any questions or something doesn't feel right, you know like if it's your insurance company is saying, hey, we got a better plan, you better call. Because I bet you somewhere on that form you're gonna see it says, we are not associated with the federal government. And then that just lets you know that's just somebody soliciting your business. Well, if somebody is stooping to that to get their clients, guess what? They don't have your best interest at heart. They're gonna put you on whatever plan they have available, okay. So even if you get things in the mail, please, please look at them. I don't open up any email. And I tell my clients not to open up any email unless you have specifically, you know requested correspondence from somebody directly. But the main main thing is just remember, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the IRS. They're never going to call you over the phone unless you guys have ongoing correspondence, okay? But they're not gonna call you and say, "Hey, you didn't make your payment or you owe the IRS this or whatever." All of that is a scam.
- Oh, that is such great advice. Great, great tips. And I think everybody, if all those in the back if you're getting government documentation in the mail, pretty much you're not gonna see any fine, right. Fine writing or fine print. It just is what it is. They don't need the fine print because it is a federal government. They're just gonna tell you what this is what it's about. And if you have to make any additional correspondence from there, then they'll direct you how to do that. So, great advice. So another thing that I think people run into are just misconceptions overall, right? About Medicare in general. So what are the common misconceptions that people come to you about or that you hear on an almost daily basis?
- One thing is they think Medicare's free. Because they're like well, I paid FICA taxes. I mean, you know I've been paying Medicare taxes my whole life while I was employed, what do you mean Medicare's not free? So they are shocked to find out that there are cost that are assessed to them. Another thing is they think that their Medicare plan is good anywhere. Well, this is really a big one. Did you know that Medicare plans differ not only state to state but county to county.
- So what that means for everybody listening, if you move across the street and it's in a different county, you need to get a broker. Once again, don't call the company you're with, don't call just an agent, call a broker so that that broker can compare every plan that is available in your new service area. And if you move to a different state, by all means do it. But if you move out of your service area and use your plan, number one, if you have or like on an HMO you're gonna have to pay the entire bill, the entire bill. Because the only time Medicare Advantage Plans or drug plans are good out of your service area is if it's an emergency which means you gotta go to the hospital, okay. And then of course it's allowable and you're covered. But that is the biggest thing. And also if you don't enroll in a timely fashion, you get a penalty. And in the Medicare & You 2022 book it says, penalties are for as long as you have Medicare. How long are you gonna have Medicare, for the rest of your life, right? So you're gonna get a lifelong penalty. So if you move to another state or even to another county, please have your plan reviewed. That's for Advantage and drug plans. If you're on a supplement plan, those plans are zip code to zip code. So in the state of Georgia, we only have one cost they don't split our state up. But other states like Florida, Florida split into three, three zones. So if I enroll somebody in a plan in Georgia 'cause I did this recently. And their premium in Georgia is $130, that same plan in Miami is $307. So .
- Talk to a broker, let them know, okay. There's a couple of other things that people don't know. For folks who are on low income, Medicare and Medicaid Medicaid rather, excuse me. Pays their Part B premium. This really helps out those who are in need. Now of course, this is all income-based. There's four different levels of Medicaid. So depending on your income will depend and if you're married or single, will depend on your level of Medicaid. Also the flip side of that coin is, for those high income earners there's something called IRMA. Now IRMAA stands for, Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount That is a mouthful. So what that means is once again, it's income-related. If you're single and you make like more than $91,000 you're gonna pay additional for Part B and Part D. If you're married follow joint you make more than 178,000, you're gonna pay more for Part B and Part D. There is two year look back. So for 2022, they would be looking at your tax return for 2020 to see if it was for those amounts. So just remember, there's always a two year look back. This is where a good financial planner can help you put you in a different type of products to help, you know divert with taxable income.
- You know, here's what I've learned. If anybody tells you Medicare is easy to understand they're lying. Oh my goodness, that was a lot of information. And this is just our webinar preview. So like I said, you're gonna be a very popular woman because there are gonna be a lot of people with questions because they just don't quite understand. And because as you said, it's a moving target. It changes year to year. And we're in the beginning of a new year still. So get ready. Now Bonnie, if somebody's watching this and they do not wanna wait for the webinar, they have questions right now. How can they get in touch with you or your company?
- They can send well, they can go. First of all, they can go to my website which is medicareandotherredtape.com. If that's too much, I made it simple by just also linking bonniedobbs.com. That's B-O-N-N-I-E-D-O-B-B-S.com. Take it to the same place. You can get information there you can also email me direct from there. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I really prefer people to call. I can tell people more in a two minute conversation than I can write paragraphs. And I really don't have time, you know, to write novels. But I want everybody to have the complete answer and all the information pertinent to their question always. My office number is 770-373-7541.
- Bonnie, this is gonna be an awesome webinar you're gonna help so many of our viewers out. We thank you so much for taking the time today to be with us to give all of us this preview. And we do look forward to seeing you March 22nd at 10:00 AM Eastern Time
- I look forward to it. Tell your folks to have their questions ready.
- Awesome, awesome. Now, for those of you who want to register for this webinar head on over to www.seniorlivinglive.com. It only takes a few seconds. And like all of our video content it is of course free. We always thank you so much for being a part of Senior Living Life. Have a great day everybody and we will see you March 22nd.