What are the different types of health insurance? Here is help to choose


Dear Liz: I read your most recent columns In regards to Advantage of Medicare and I believe more needs to be said before people decide to take this route.

You mentioned that the switch from Medicare Advantage to Medicare itself can be problematic. As a couple who had both plans and now have Medicare with a Medigap plan, I want to say that the best (and, by the way, easiest) change my husband and I made was to go back. to Medicare.

People need to understand that Medicare Advantage plans are becoming their primary insurance, severely limiting their ability to get to the doctor or hospital that is best for them. When they travel, they are limited to the hospital and doctor they have chosen with their Advantage plan, the one near them! My husband also couldn’t see a doctor I had because we were enrolled in different local hospitals.

So I called Medicare in 2009 and a young man was very helpful, and in no time we were back to Medicare. He said to go to the health insurance website, choose from the many Medigap options available that meet our needs, and we did. It was so easy.

We have opted for no co-payment, skilled nursing care and much more. Granted, our monthly premiums are higher than they would have been before, but since then we haven’t spent a dime on medical care, including doctor’s visits, open heart surgery. my husband (at a hospital of our choice), the emergency room and surgery for my broken ankle, and yearly EKGs to monitor his heart.

Surprisingly, we also have coverage for foreign medical treatment and took advantage of this in 2018 for minor surgery needed. Medigap insurance covered 80% of that when our travel insurer refused to pay.

Our Medigap policy also allows us to go to any doctor or hospital without a referral. And, of course, Medicare is accepted all over the United States, unlike Medicare Advantage plans. The tens of thousands of dollars we’ve saved over the past 11 years are worth paying more each month, and we have peace of mind.

Reply: Thanks for writing and sharing your experience.

For readers who haven’t followed the discussion: Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers as an all-in-one alternative to traditional Medicare, the government-administered health insurance program for people over 65 and more. Medicare Advantage plans typically cover some things Medicare doesn’t, such as vision, dental, and hearing care, but the plans also have regional networks of providers that you’re supposed to use. You will pay more, and sometimes the entire bill, if you use non-network providers.

Traditional Medicare allows you to go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare – which includes the vast majority of both – but may have a substantial co-payment and other cost-sharing. . A supplemental plan or Medigap plan offered by a private insurer can cover these costs, and most Medigap plans also offer emergency coverage abroad.

Premiums for Medicare plus Medigap may be higher than those for Medicare Advantage plans, but may ultimately prove to be more cost-effective for people who travel frequently or want more choice in their care.

If you signed up for a Medigap plan when you first enrolled in Medicare, the insurer is required to pay for you. If you miss this open enrollment period, an insurer may charge you more or even deny you coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

There are, however, a few exceptions. If you originally signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan but want to switch to Medicare plus a Medigap plan within the first 12 months, you are allowed to purchase a Medigap policy without an underwriting.

The business credit card dilemma

Dear Liz: I am a sole proprietor and have two business credit cards. I used my social security number to apply for the cards and put $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 per month on those cards but all this credit card activity is not reported to Experian which is damaging to my credit score, and I now have an “expired credit” from Experian. Is my credit card activity not being reported because my cards are considered business cards?

Reply: The short answer is yes. Although you have used your personal credit history to apply for the cards, business cards generally do not report activity to consumer credit bureaus (although negative activity may be reported, such as if the account is suffering).

You can remedy the situation by obtaining and using one or two personal credit cards. If your credit report has become so stale that it cannot generate a credit score at all, you may need to start with a secured card or consider a credit loan.

Liz Weston, Certified Financial Planner, is a personal finance columnist for NerdWallet. Questions can be sent to him at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or by using the “Contact” form at asklizweston.com.


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