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Your Medicare Supplement Corner
Ask Susan Hatch

Q.   Will I see a increase in my monthly Social Security check in January for a cost of living adjustment?  
A. The Cost-of -Living adjustment (COLA), will be a 2% increase. Don't do a happy dance just yet,  it's complicated.

70% of people on Medicare have their Medicare Part B premiums deducted out of their Social Security benefit monies each month. Some are paying $109.00 a month, but newer seniors are paying $134.00 a month. This is because of a "Hold Harmless" provision.

Hold Harmless means that if you are on Medicare part B and also receive a Social Security benefit, they can NOT take more money from your Social Security benefits than you originally began with, no matter how much Medicare Part B premiums go up. 

The bottom line is... you might hear of a 2% increase, but they can take it away faster than you can see it, to catch up to the current Part B premiums of $134.00 a month.


Your Medicare Supplement Corner
Ask Susan Hatch

Q. Why is the Medicare Card changing? When will we get the new card and will it be plastic?

A.  The new card is to help stop Identity thief and Medicare fraud. The social security number will be replaced with random numbers and letters. New cards will start being mailed out in April of 2018 and will take until 12-31-2019 to get out 58 million cards. Both cards will be able to be billed up until December 31, 2019. 
The new card will NOT be plastic after all, too expensive. It will be red, white & blue, but a different design.  You can laminate the new card. It will be a little smaller, the size of a credit card. 
Make sure your mailing address is up to date. If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security at ssa.gov/myaccount or 1-800-772-1213.
FYI: Scam artists are calling seniors saying they are from Medicare and need your social security number to make your new card. Do NOT be fooled. Do not give your social security number to anyone over the phone.


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Your Medicare Supplement Corner
Ask Susan Hatch

Q.  I was on a Medicare HMO in Southern CA.  I moved to Fresno and kept the same HMO company. The plan is totally different with few doctors, one hospital and very high co-payments. Why?  

A. All Medicare HMO plans are different in every county, even if it is the same insurance company. Areas that have high senior populations like Southern CA, Arizona and Florida have Medicare HMO plans that have rich benefits & low co-payments. There are tons of HMO plans in those areas which makes the competition intense.
Central & Northern CA HMO plans are not so pretty, in my opinion. For 2018, many plans will now have monthly premiums, higher co-payments, restrictions with doctor choices and maybe only one hospital.