Your Medicare Supplement Corner
Ask Susan Hatch

Q. I am on a Medicare - Medi-Cal Medicare Advantage plan. I want to get a 2nd opinion with a different doctor, but the doctor's office told me they can not see me because I am not on Medicare or Medi-Cal anymore. I have the cards, so how is this possible?   
A.  They are correct. When a person is enrolled in any Medicare Advantage plan, their red, white & blue Medicare card becomes completely unusable and can not be billed. The same is true in regards to the blue and white Medi-Cal card.

 One can choose to replace their original Medicare and Medi-Cal with a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurance company that is contracted with Medicare, but a person can not use both. Many limitations and restrictions are involved with who one can go to for care with Medicare Advantage Plans.  It is interesting to note that Medicare does recommend or endorse any Medicare Advantage plans.   

Because you are on Medi-Cal, you can disenroll in your plan at any time by calling 1-800-Medicare - the same as 1-800-633-4227.  This will activate your original Medicare & Medi-Cal cards so you can go to the doctors that you want.



Your Medicare Supplement Corner
Ask Susan Hatch

Q. Why did my Medicare Card change & why did they not make the card plastic?

A.  The new card is to help stop Identity thief and Medicare fraud. The social security number is replaced with random numbers and letters. New cards started being mailed out in April of 2018 and will take until 12-31-2019 to get out 58 million cards. Both the old & new cards will be able to be billed up until December 31, 2019. 
The new card is NOT plastic because it is too expensive. It is red, white & blue, but a different design.  You can laminate the new card. It is 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 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.


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 CA HMO plans are not so pretty, in my opinion. For 2018, many plans have low or zero monthly premiums, but higher co-payments, restrictions with doctor choices and maybe only one hospital. 



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