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GoHealth answers your top Medicare coverage questions

Whether you’re a first-time Medicare buyer or a long-time enrollee, finding the right Medicare coverage can be confusing. In an effort to help you find the right combination of plans, we’re answering the top consumer Medicare questions, including what your first step should be, your prescription drug coverage options, and much more.

  1. If I have Part A, how do I add Part B?

In order to complete your Original Medicare coverage and enroll in Part B, you must contact the Social Security office and actively enroll. Once you have both Parts A & B, you can complete your Medicare coverage with additional options.

medicare old people

  1. What is a Medicare guaranteed issue right, and do I have it?

A Medicare guaranteed issue right is your right in certain situations to be granted a Medicare Supplement plan – or Medigap policy – regardless of certain other details concerning your health. In these specific situations, insurance companies must sell you a Medicare Supplement plan, cover all your pre-existing conditions, and not charge you more for a policy because of any health problems. Most commonly, you may have a guaranteed issue right if you lose coverage or your current health coverage changes.

  1. If I only have Part A, what other types of Medicare can I get?

If you only have Part A, you are eligible to also get Part B. You cannot move forward with exploring other types of Medicare coverage until you have both Parts A & B.

  1. Can I enroll in Part D without having Part B?

Unfortunately, you cannot. In order to move forward with additional Medicare options (including Part D), you must first have both Parts A & B.

  1. What are my coverage options when it comes to prescription drugs?

If you need prescription drug coverage, you have a few different options. Once you get Parts A & B, you can choose to switch to Medicare Advantage, which sometimes offers prescription drug coverage. You can also choose to enroll in a Prescription Drug plan – or Part D – which offers different coverage options depending on which drugs you take.

  1. How do I find my Medicare claim number?

You can call Social Security, and a representative there can help you locate your Medicare claim number.

  1. How do I enroll in Medicaid?

You should call your state’s Medicaid department if you’re interested in Medicaid health insurance coverage.

  1. What is the difference between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans?

Medicare Supplement – or Medigap – plans help you complete your coverage. They can help you pay for health care costs that may not be covered by Original Medicare, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Medicare Advantage is a private health insurance option that is required to cover all the same benefits as Parts A & B, plus additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage. You cannot have a Medicare Supplement plan and Medicare Advantage at the same time.

  1. Why would I enroll in Medicare Advantage instead of Original Medicare? Aren’t they the same thing?

While they are similar, there are also differences between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare. By law, Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover all the same benefits as Original Medicare, or Parts A & B.

However, there may be some differences in how you pay your out-of-pocket costs with a Medicare Advantage plan, or you may have a smaller or larger deductible. There also may be some differences in the coverage itself. For example, while Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs, some Medicare Advantage plans do offer that coverage.

  1. How do I avoid gaps in my Medicare coverage?

There are many different types of Medicare coverage available to help you avoid any gaps in your coverage. It’s important to explore all of your options and coverage combinations with a licensed agent.

 

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Know all the facts during World Immunization Week

by Lauren Mandel

In 1955, a vaccine for polio was introduced, and the United States has been polio-free since 1979. Smallpox was eradicated in the United States in 1972, though enough vaccine exists to vaccinate every American if needed. Today, it’s hard to imagine having to worry about either of these diseases recurring.    vaccine

However, many people thought the same thing about measles. That is until the first confirmed measles death in over 12 years happened in August 2015. What could have potentially prevented this death and any others? The measles vaccine.

While there have been a number of impressive immunization breakthroughs in the past few years, the world still has a ways to go to “Close the Immunization Gap,” a goal set by the World Health Organization for this year’s World Immunization Week.

While vaccinating is a personal choice, it’s important to learn all the facts before making your final decision. Immunization helps avoid up to 3 million deaths every year, but an additional 1.5 million deaths could be prevented if immunization coverage was more widespread and understood.

Nearly 1 in 5 children worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for diseases like tetanus and pertussis. If you’re concerned about how vaccines will affect your children’s safety, it’s important to note the CDC has confirmed on multiple occasions that there are no links between vaccinations and autism.

How can you learn more this week and in the future? Visit the World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week website for more information.

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Obamacare can save you money. So, why are people still uninsured?

by Lauren Mandel

A recent piece from TheUpshot states that “having [health] insurance can mean the difference between financial security and financial ruin.”

We’ve written countless blogs to support this statement, including pieces about the costly fine individuals face when they choose to go without health insurance, the high out-of-pocket costs you could face as an uninsured American, and real-life scenarios to help people better understand medical costs you could face without coverage.taxseason

And now, it seems, getting Obamacare coverage can also lower your medical debt.

It was originally reported that about one in five Americans struggle to pay their medical bills, but that number has since declined. And the correlation between that decline and the expansion of Obamacare cannot be denied.

So, why are people still uninsured? Perhaps Americans initially leaned on talk about the failure of Obamacare, but more and more, that’s proving to be just talk and nothing more. New data is making it more and more difficult for consumers, politicians, and any other doubters to deny certain successes of the health law.

Sure, affordability is a common Obamacare complaint, but there are solutions for many of the issues consumers may encounter.

Think you can’t afford monthly premiums? Last year, nearly everyone – 85 percent – qualified for financial assistance in the form of a tax credit. Once you get health insurance, do you find your deductible to be high? There are health care tools available to help you fill in the gaps in your coverage, including options that offer prescription drug, vision, and dental discounts.

And as a reminder, many Americans don’t realize how different – and potentially, more expensive – their health care costs could be without Obamacare.

Prior to Obamacare, if you were insured but suddenly had a heart attack, you could be dropped by your provider, leaving you and your family to cover all associated medical costs. Providers can also no longer set lifetime and annual limits, meaning they can’t limit how much they choose to spend on your covered health care benefits. Here’s a full list of reasons to celebrate Obamacare, rather than ignore it.

While the future still may hold some uncertainty for Obamacare, one thing is clear to us and to many: Americans are better off with it than without it.

How do you view Obamacare and affordability? Has the health law helped lower your medical debt?

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5 real-life life events that let you get Obamacare now

by Lauren Mandel and Adam Tock

While you may have heard of Qualifying Life Events (QLEs) – the experiences that allow you to get health insurance outside of Open Enrollment – you may still be wondering how they could affect you. When “marriage” is listed as a QLE, what exactly would that mean if you got engaged? What about moving? Do you need to move down the street or to a new state?

To help you better understand Obamacare QLEs and how they could provide you a unique opportunity to get health insurance outside of Open Enrollment, we put together 5-real life scenarios that help explain the most common life events in more detail.

QLEs photographs

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Your Obamacare tax penalty reminder

by Lauren Mandel

Tax Day is quickly approaching, which means you (should have) filed your taxes and can cruise into the rest of the year without any surprises. Right? Hopefully yes, but for some people, there’s additional information you should know about your taxes and your Obamacare health insurance coverage now and in the future.tax penalty

Did you have to pay the tax penalty?

If you could afford health insurance coverage, but instead chose not to enroll in a qualified health plan, you probably saw a fine appear when filing your taxes. This is the tax penalty, or the Obamacare fine all Americans face if they go uninsured. The fine is expected to increase every year, so next year, make sure to get covered instead.

Why does the tax penalty exist?

The individual mandate – the Obamacare provision which states all Americans must have health insurance or face a fine – exists so that people get health insurance before they get sick to avoid high out-of-pocket costs. While it might seem more affordable to pay the fine instead of getting health insurance, that can end up being false for most Americans. Even if your deductible appears high right now, it will be worth it in the long run if you get sick or need an expensive medical procedure.

If you still think you can’t afford it, there are new tools available that can help you better afford your health care. GoHealth Access is a health care tool that can help you complete your coverage, and it includes things like prescription savings, dental and vision discounts, and doctor lookup.

How can you avoid the tax penalty for next year?

It’s really simple: The easiest way to avoid the tax penalty is to get health insurance. If you have a qualified health plan, you will not face a fine for that year. Your next chance to get coverage is this fall when Open Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act begins again.

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Help prevent diabetes on World Health Day

by Lauren Mandel

Each year, the entire world comes together to celebrate the importance of health on World Health Day. This year is no different, but for 2016, there is a specific health initiative associated with the holiday: diabetes awareness.Facebook - April World Health

According to the World Health Organization, around 350 million people worldwide have diabetes, and that number is expected to double over the next two decades. But did you know that of those diabetes cases, 90 percent are type 2 diabetes? Do you know the difference between type 1 and type 2? Could you use more information on diabetes in general?

To help support the mission of the World Health Organization and health care organizations around the world, we’re sharing important information about diabetes and how you can prioritize your health today – and in the future.

What exactly is diabetes?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that diabetes is a chronic illness. Diabetes occurs when your body has too much glucose, or too much sugar, in your blood. Normally, your pancreas creates insulin to help regulate the amount of sugar that goes into your bloodstream. But when you have diabetes, you either don’t produce enough insulin or what you do produce is not used properly.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

People with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin at all, which is why they must take insulin injections to help control their glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in people under the age of 20.

Type 2 diabetes means insulin is produced, but either not enough or the insulin that is produced can’t be used properly. This type of diabetes can largely be prevented, which is why programs like Medicare are introducing diabetes prevention programs.

How common is diabetes?

Nearly 1 in 10 adults has diabetes, but 90 percent of all diabetes cases are type 2. Like mentioned above, most cases of type 2 diabetes can either be delayed or entirely prevented.

What are possible side effects of diabetes?

If left untreated, diabetes can have some very serious side effects. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and the leading cause of new vision loss in adults in the United States. The disease can also affect your heart, nerves, gums, and teeth.

Can diabetes be prevented?

Diabetes is predicted to be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030, but most cases of diabetes can be prevented. While type 1 diabetes cases are out of the person’s control, type 2 cases can almost always be delayed or prevented. Try getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco products.

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4 tips for parents during Medication Safety Week

by Lauren Mandel

Whether you take over-the-counter pain killers for headaches or prescription drugs to treat a chronic illness, most of us have taken medication at one point or another. And when it comes to keeping medication in your house, there are some important best practices you should know to help protect your family.medsafetyWeek-unstyled (2)

This week is Medication Safety Week, which is a great time to learn how to build a safe space for you and your family. To help raise awareness, we’ve outlined 4 tips about medication safety for parents.

  1. Never leave children unattended. This one might seem obvious, but an estimated 53,000 toddlers are brought to the emergency room each year for ingesting something they shouldn’t. Ensure children are supervised and medicines are out of reach.
  1. Give medicine as directed. While you might think your larger-than-normal child can handle a higher dosage of cough syrup, medicine should be given only as directed, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
  1. Use the measuring device that comes with the medication. Think a kitchen teaspoon is the same as the measuring teaspoon included with couch syrup? Think again. Those two devices can provide very different measurements.
  1. When in doubt, consult your doctor. Children under 4-years-old generally shouldn’t be given medicine, but depending on the situation, your doctor might suggest otherwise. If you’re not sure what to do, give your trusted physician a call or in-office visit.

If you don’t have a pediatrician for your children, GoHealth Access can help you find an in-network doctor near where you live. Learn more about this health care tool here. 

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ABCs (and Ds) of Medicare

by Lauren Mandel

When you’re searching for a Medicare plan, do know which plan types have multiple names? And do you know the difference between them? If not, don’t worry: You’re not alone.6

From previous blog posts, you probably know there are different options when it comes to your Medicare coverage, but now it’s time to understand which names correspond to which coverage.

Let’s go through the ABCs (and Ds) of Medicare coverage.

Part A

This type of Medicare coverage is one of two parts of Original Medicare. It covers different hospital services and procedures, including inpatient stays, skilled nursing facility stays, home care, and hospice care. Once you turn 65, you are automatically enrolled in Part A.

Part B

The other part of Original Medicare? That’s Part B. You must actively enroll in this part of Original Medicare by calling Social Security. Part B covers other medical needs, like doctor visits, outpatient services, and preventive care.

Part C

When shopping for private Medicare insurance, you may hear Medicare Advantage, which is also known as Part C. All Part C plans are required to cover all benefits from Parts A & B, plus other benefits, like prescription drug coverage. In 2015, 31 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Part C.

Part D

If you’re searching for a Prescription Drug plan, you’re also searching for Part D: They are one and the same. Part D plans help pay for prescription drug costs, and you have multiple plan options to choose from depending on which drugs you take.

Plus one “S”

Further down the ABCs is the letter “S,” which stands for Supplemental Insurance. This type of Medicare coverage, which is also known as Medigap, is sold by private insurance companies that helps fill in any gaps in your coverage. Medigap policies typically help cover deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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Happy April Fools’ Day! From GoHealth

by Lauren Mandel

If you saw our Facebook post about cheeseburgers and salads, don’t be fooled! The truth is, we completely made up the calorie counts for each of these meals, and vegetables are usually a healthier and smarter alternative to fatty meat and dairy. We posted this as an April Fools’ Day joke, and we hope it helped you realize even more ways to make healthy eating choices.

aprilfools

Looking for more healthy eating and lifestyle tips? Check out a few of our recent blog posts: 6 ways running can improve your health, 5 leafy green vegetables you should eat now, and how you can prevent brain injuries.

And if you’re ready to take your health into your own hands, check out your health insurance options or explore more ways to save money on your health care.

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GoHealth answers Google’s top health & wellness questions

by Lauren Mandel

When you have questions, where do you go to find the answers?Facebook Oct - mental

Millions of Americans turn to Google to find information on different topics every day, and health and wellness are no exception. If you scrape your knee, you may do a search for the best healing ointment. If you want to start a new fitness regimen, you might search for the most popular internet workouts. And the list goes on and on.

So to help you get some answers even faster, we took a look at the top Google searches in three different health and wellness categories – mental health, diet, and disease – and provided you with specific facts about each term or phrase.

Mental Health

Depression

When you search for the term “depression,” you may want to know fast and effective ways to manage your symptoms. But did you know exercise can actually be the easiest and least expensive way to help with depression? Well, now you do.

Schizophrenia

If you’re searching for “schizophrenia,” chances are you don’t know much about this mental illness. One of the first things you might want to know is who is at risk: 75% of people with schizophrenia develop the illness between ages 16 and 25.

Anxiety

As is the case with many forms of mental illness, anxiety can be stigmatized and misunderstood. But did you know anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the United States?

Bipolar disorder

When you think of bipolar disorder, do you think it’s a rare mental illness? Well, think again: In the United States alone, about 5.7 million adults live with bipolar disorder.

OCD

If you’re a young adult, are you worried that your obsessive behavior may actually be OCD (or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? It’s true that the average age of OCD diagnosis is 19-years-old.

 

Diet

Weight loss

Sure, unhealthy snacking can be bad for weight loss, but healthy snacking between meals might actually help you lose weight in the long run.

Vegan diet

Thinking about going vegan? A plant-based diet can work for many people, but if you don’t do it properly, a vegan diet can also cause you to maintain or even gain weight.

Diabetic diet

While focusing your efforts on a diabetic diet can be difficult for some people, a diabetes diagnosis does not have to mean giving up all your favorite foods.

Detox diet

Diets come in all formats, but recently, detox diets have become more and more popular. If you’re thinking about trying it, it’s important to get the OK from your doctor before practicing a detox diet.

Fat-burning foods

If you’re looking to lose weight based on diet alone, there are certain foods that might work better than others: Whole grains, green tea, and hot peppers are some of the top fat-burning foods.

 

Disease

Lyme disease

If you’re concerned about contracting Lyme disease, know the facts about when you’re at risk: Most cases of Lyme disease occur in late spring or early summer.

Diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, it’s important to know the difference between the variations. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 percent of all diabetes cases worldwide.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is nothing to ignore. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, and even lymphoma.

Breast cancer

As a woman, it’s important to understand your chances of getting breast cancer. The average risk of breast cancer just for being a woman is 12%.

Lung cancer

Did you know 1 of every 4 cancer deaths is attributed to lung cancer? Lower your risk by not smoking and practicing overall good health.

Want more like this? Check out our answers to Google’s top 3 Obamacare questions.

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