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Date: 4/6/2017 11:09 AM EDT

Because they are similar; you can expect similar benefits, but there can be price differences of over $600/year! That's $6,000, $12,000, $18,000, or even more over the life of your policy! At 65 or older, who wouldn’t want that extra money in their pocket?

 

Many consumers thought that pre-existing conditions and underwriting were eliminated with the Affordable Care Act. Not so for the over 65! Underwriting is where insurance companies assess the risk there may be due to your medical conditions. Since it is unlikely that you will be able to change Medicare Supplement plans in the future because of medical underwriting, you need to make the right choice the first time.

 

With the exception of open enrollment in New Hampshire, (a six-month period when you first become eligible), insurance companies selling Medicare Supplements do not have to accept your application if you can't meet their underwriting guidelines. At Free Agents NH, LLC we can help you compare and find your best value.

 

Our name Free Agents NH, LLC tells a part of our story. Our help is FREE. We are paid by the insurance company that you select. The price for the insurance is the same with or without our help. We are FREE to represent multiple plans instead of being captive agents only able to tell you the story that our parent company allows us to tell. Think about this. If you call a company that sells Medicare or GAP insurance, what product are they going to tell you about. Only their product. You could call each company to try to compare and compile facts from each or you could call an independent Medicare agent that does this everyday like Free Agents NH, LLC and get the facts made easy to understand. Large companies won’t tell you:

 

  • Some companies even have household discounts that reduce the price even further by an additional 10-12%. One company that we really like will give you a household discount of 12% just because you have a household member over 60 but not enrolled.
 
  • Some companies historically have had lower price increases while others are more volatile.
 
  • Some companies are brand new and others have been in business over 50 years.
 

It is extremely important to pick the right company when you can age into Medicare and make a choice without underwriting, because selecting a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan is likely a decision that lasts a lifetime.

 

Give Free Agents NH, LLC a call to get all the facts and find the lowest cost on the right Medicare plan from a 15+ years experienced Medicare agent. Our goal is to educate consumers on all the options - Medicare Supplement and Advantage Plans. We will compare the benefits, costs and shortfalls of each option so you can make the decision of a lifetime. Also, we will help you to select a Part D drug plan. We do this at no cost, simply as a courtesy to help our loyal clients and will provide a report from Medicare.gov with all the options in your county.

 

Give Free Agents NH, LLC a call for unbiased guidance and ongoing support at 603-527-8117.

We have offices in Windham, NH and Laconia, NH; or we can also come to see you.

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Date: 9/23/2016 4:53 PM EDT

 

When you leave employment either voluntarily or involuntarily it is likely that you will become eligible for COBRA or other continuation of health insurance coverage. Your cost for the continuation of coverage is the full cost of insurance that the employer was paying plus possibly up to a 4% additional cost. Many employees have no idea what that health insurance benefit actually costs. There are other options that may be more suitable and more affordable.

When you lose employer coverage you will be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (60 days) to enroll in new health insurance coverage with the Marketplace. It is very important to use your Special Enrollment Period (SEP) when you are eligible because once you select COBRA you cannot drop it to enroll in an individual or family health insurance plan through the Marketplace. This rule applies to both on and off exchange health insurance plans.

The only time that you can drop COBRA and enroll in an individual or family health insurance plan either on or off exchange in New Hampshire is during an open enrollment period. The open enrollment period this year begins November 1, 2016 and ends January 31, 2017. Enrollments during this period will have effective dates in 2017 between January 1 and March 1 depending on your enrollment date.

Choosing to elect COBRA or to select an individual health insurance plan needs some serious thought and the advice of an experienced health insurance agent. It costs nothing for the help of an agent! We are paid by the insurance companies and the cost of coverage is the same with or without the help of an experienced agent. There are usually some very important differences in the options including costs, provider networks and plan designs.

The cost of COBRA continuation of coverage is the entire cost of the health insurance plan which includes the portion paid by both the previous employer and employee plus some administrative cost. Individual or family health insurance through the Marketplace can include subsidy which can substantially reduce the cost of insurance. In some cases, even the deductibles, coinsurance and copays for care will be further reduced.

Another very important issue to be considered is provider networks. Who are your current healthcare providers and where are they located? Does your current employer plan include a national network or perhaps a New England network of providers? Is it a PPO or HMO network? Would a lower cost New Hampshire (NH) plan be adequate for now? Perhaps a hybrid plan that may include many NH and Mass. providers would be more suitable?

One more thing to consider as you weigh the differences between taking your COBRA option versus talking your own plan is some of the fine detail in the plans. Older plans that may be grandfathered or grandmothered may not have to meet all of the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

As you can see there is a lot that you need to think about. These are conversations that we have every day with our clients helping them to decide what is best for them. You can’t decide what is best without considering these facts and more. At Free Agents NH, we only need to worry about helping our clients make their best choice. If we do a great job then you will tell your friends and that’s how we have been growing each year! You can visit us at our offices in Windham, NH or Laconia, NH. You can call us at 603-527-8117 or we can come see you!

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Date: 9/15/2016 12:02 PM EDT

Open Enrollment for 2017 health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace begins November 1, 2016. During the open enrollment period residents of NH can select a new health insurance plan; make life change adjustments to family size and income; and enroll for the very first time, even without prior creditable coverage.
Open Enrollment is typically the only time that you can enroll in new health insurance coverage in New Hampshire without a life change and Special Enrollment Period (SEP). In 2016, the enrollment period is November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017:

* Enrollments completed by the end of December 15, 2016 will be assigned a January 1, 2017 effective date.

* Enrollments completed between December 16 and January 15 will be assigned a February 1, 2017 effective date.

* Enrollments completed between January 16 and January 31, 2017 will be assigned a March 1, 2017 effective date.

The following 2 topics are ways that can help an individual and/or family reduce their premiums:

1) Subsidy - You may qualify for Subsidy to help pay for your health insurance. Quite surprisingly, 80% qualify for help! Some lower income folks pay less for the insurance coverage when Subsidy is included than they would pay in tax penalty for not having insurance! We can help you calculate your Subsidy. The formula includes household size, ages, smoking status and MAGI (Modified Gross Adjusted Income). The theory is that a family should not have to pay more than approximately 9.5% of household income for health insurance. Older families get higher Subsidy than younger families, because costs are higher. If you qualify for financial assistance (Subsidy), the Subsidy payment, (also known as a Tax Credit) is sent directly to the insurance company that you select. You pay only the difference between the full cost of insurance and the prepaid Subsidy.

2) Cost Sharing Reductions - People with lower incomes not only get help with the reduction in the cost of insurance premiums, but also get help with out of pocket costs including lower deductibles, lower copays and lower coinsurance.

There will be exceptions allowing enrollments during the year if the consumer qualifies for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). The rules for entitlement to a Special Enrollment Period have become quite strict to prevent enrollments that did not have prior coverage and do not have the documents to prove eligibility for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). The most common life changes that qualify for a Special Enrollment Period are:

* Loss of Employer Coverage or another Qualifying Insurance Coverage (such as Medicaid)

* Aging off a parents policy at age 26

* Losing coverage as a result of a divorce or move

* This is not a complete list. There are other life changes that may qualify you for a SEP.

If you think that you may have one be sure to contact us and we will research it for you. It is very important to know that you must enroll in new coverage within 60 days of the life change and you must be able to produce documents that include dates.

At Free Agents NH we can help you understand the complexities and help you select the right health insurance plan in NH for individuals and families. We will help you identify subsidies and possibly lower cost sharing opportunities. We can simplify the entire enrollment process at no charge! We represent all available health insurance plans in NH and are not partial to any insurance company; working with you to select the right plan for your needs.

We are paid by the insurance companies; the price is the same with or without the help of an experienced agent, so let Free Agents NH do this for you. We are independent so the only one that we need to please is you! Our help does not stop after the enrollment is complete. Let us be your trusted insurance agent. You can visit our offices in Windham, NH or Laconia, NH. We can come to meet you or we are just a phone call away at 603-527-8117.

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Date: 9/8/2016 11:20 AM EDT

Many consumers may not realize that Part D Prescription Drug coverage is a crucial part of your total Medicare health insurance coverage. Even if you are not currently taking prescription drugs, you should enroll in a Part D plan when signing up for Medicare. If you do not sign up when eligible, you will be penalized for every month that you do not have a Part D plan. Although you are not required to enroll in a plan when you are first eligible for Medicare, there is a tax penalty for not doing so. The penalty is 1% per month for each month that you go without coverage for the rest of your life. For example, if you went 2 years (24 months) without a part D prescription plan, then when you do get a plan the government requires you to pay 24% more for your plan. On average that is a penalty of $7.20/month more for the rest of your life. The bigger penalty is that if you need an expensive prescription mid year you can't purchase Part D coverage until the next year. This means that you would have to pay the full cost of a potentially expensive prescription until you are able to enroll in a drug plan the following year.

There are many important points to consider when selecting the right plan for you. At the time of this writing, there are around 28 different prescription drug plans offered in Rockingham County. How is it possible that so many different plans can survive? Each plan has unique features including different deductibles or no deductible; different formularies; different copays; different pharmacy networks and even pricing differentials for preferred pharmacies, just to name a few.

How do I decide? Most important- select an independent agent that specializes in health insurance because you really need someone that does this every day! At Free Agents NH, we will take your list of prescriptions including dosages along with your choice of pharmacies and enter them into a website, that will independently compare all of the options. You will see exactly how the plans compare. We will even teach you to do this yourself if you are the inquisitive type. Each year we are available to help our clients review their Part D drug coverage to see if they should stay where they are or move to another plan.

Now back to the question of how so many plans can survive? A big part of it is MARKETING. When you age in to Medicare your mailbox will fill up with lots and lots of brochures. Some of these are familiar names. Some have a lower monthly premium. Many people, (do it yourselfers) try to wade through all those marketing materials and make a choice. Usually the choice is a well-known name, a low monthly plan cost or the same plan that your neighbor has.

Rarely is a well-known name or the lowest monthly premium your best value! And your neighbor likely has entirely different prescription needs. You can only arrive at your best value by using the previously mentioned website; which includes monthly plan premium and costs of prescriptions, resulting in total annual costs at your chosen pharmacy.

We are here to help and we are absolutely free! We are independent and paid by the insurance companies. The costs of the plans are the same with or without an agent. That’s why we call ourselves Free Agents NH. Our services are FREE. We are FREE to represent the most suitable company rather than being a CAPTIVE AGENT only able to represent the plan that his/her company offers. And we live in NH and specialize in health insurance in New Hampshire. What could be better than honest independent advice that is really free from your neighbor! Experience the Free Agents NH difference with offices in Windham, NH and Laconia, NH. We also make lots of house calls! You can reach us at 603-527-8117.

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Date: 9/1/2016 1:57 PM EDT

The Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare tax penalty in 2016 for not having individual health insurance has increased again. Many people don’t know the cost until it shows up as a tax penalty, reducing their expected tax return refund or even increasing their tax liability. For 2016, the penalty is figured two different ways- whichever is higher! The tax penalty for 2016 is 2.5% of household income or a per person penalty of $695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child- whichever is higher. The tax penalty is projected to go up in 2017.

The bigger liability for not having individual health insurance is the risk that you may need healthcare and not be able to get individual or employer group health insurance in New Hampshire. There is no opportunity to enroll in health insurance if the Open Enrollment Period is over, (which begins each year November 1 for the next year), or with the exception of some life changes that would allow you to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

We talk to people every day and hear their stories about massive medical debt, injuries that did not heal properly without care and missed opportunities to correct a health condition. Going without insurance now is far more costly than it used to be. Providers do not have to treat the uninsured. Emergency rooms will patch you up, but not repair (for a fee upfront). And if you get care, the providers are aggressive in collecting for that care.

80% of bankruptcies are now the result of medical expenses! Times have changed dramatically. It is important that you know the facts and have the opportunity to protect your family. Perhaps we can help you find your Life Change that would qualify for a Special Enrollment Period in New Hampshire.

The Special Enrollment Period is typically 60 days after the life change; be sure not to let it expire. Special Enrollments can be granted because of life changes like:

* Losing coverage from an employer

* Losing Medicaid or CHIP Eligibility

* Aging off Parents Health Insurance Coverage at age 26

* Moving

* Court Orders re: Dependents

* Having a baby

* Getting married

* Divorce

* (Please note that there are additional Life Changes that can entitle you to a Special Enrollment Period).

At Free Agents NH we are happy to help you explore your eligibility for Special Enrollment in New Hampshire. We do this every day. We can also help you with Appeals that may provide you with a new Special Enrollment Period and in some cases retroactive effective dates if there was some error by the Marketplace. You can reach us at 603-527-8117 or visit us at our offices in Windham, NH or Laconia, NH. We are independent agents who serve your insurance needs best, at no additional cost to you.

Note: If you do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period for 2016; give us a call and we can help you during Open Enrollment for 2017 so as to avoid the Tax Penalty for 2017. Coverage can sometimes cost less than the penalty you would pay!

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Date: 8/24/2016 12:04 PM EDT

There are many options for covering the gaps that just Medicare Part A & B alone leave uncovered. Choosing the plan that is right for you requires knowledge of the differences (their benefits, your cost sharing, the monthly premium and providers). Medicare Parts A & B alone, can leave you exposed to big medical bills with no cap on the exposure! Did you know that approximately 80% of bankruptcies in the US are because of medical expenses?

Medicare Part A helps to pay for Hospitalization, Skilled Nursing Care (Not Long-Term Care) and Hospice Care per benefit period (60 days). It will pay for the first 60 days of hospitalization except for a deductible of $1,288. If you are admitted again in the same year, then the deductible will apply again. In addition to the deductible exposure, Medicare requires additional cost sharing of $9,450/month after 60 days and $18,900/month after 90 days. Hopefully hospital stays are infrequent and short, but unfortunately that is not always the case!

Medicare Part B helps to cover other medical services including physicians, inpatient and outpatient medical services, surgical services and supplies, physical therapy, diagnostic tests and durable medical equipment. (Each year the member is responsible for a Part B deductible of $166 PLUS 20% of all costs. Medicare only pays 80% of Part B expenses!) In addition, Medicare providers are now able to charge in excess of Medicare approved rates. If they do so, then the member is also responsible for those excess charges.

Medicare Supplement Plans can cover those GAPS! That’s why it is sometimes called Medigap. Learning more about these costs and your options of Medicare Supplement Plans or Advantage Plans in New Hampshire is extremely important. It is so important to make the right choice when you first become eligible for Medicare, because changing plans in the future can be difficult if not impossible and expensive because of medical underwriting and aging.

Medicare Supplement plans are designed to help cover the gaps. They are more expensive than Medicare Advantage plans, but offer some very important benefits. One of which, is the very valuable feature that they are portable so that you can move to another state and keep your plan rather than having to apply for a more costly plan because you are older or subject to medical underwriting. In New Hampshire, the Medicare Supplement plans do not limit you to a network of providers. With Medicare Supplement plans, Medicare is the primary payer of benefits, and the Supplement can fill the gaps. There are several standardized plans that cover a little of the gap or even the entire gap of Medicare approved expenses.

Medicare Advantage plans can be much less expensive, but have some features that are important to understand. With an Advantage Plan, the insurance company pays for the care. These plans can be as low as $20/month including Part D prescription drug coverage. It’s much better than just Medicare alone. However; they limit your financial exposure to an out of pocket maximum. Advantage plans require cost sharing like copays, but can save a lot of money each year if you are lucky enough to not require too much care. Because these benefits are managed by an insurance company, they may require that you use providers in their network of providers except for emergency or urgent care. Some of the plans have a narrow network of providers in just one or two states. Other plans allow you to use their provider networks in other states when you travel. This is especially important if you are a snowbird or hope to be one!

At Free Agents NH we explain the important details so that you can make an informed choice. Don’t try to do this alone (by picking a familiar name or picking the lowest monthly cost)! When you age into Medicare eligibility you will get lots of marketing materials in your mail box – the lowest cost plan is rarely the lowest total cost when benefits are factored in. There is no cost to let our experienced team help you make that choice. We are paid by the insurance companies and the rates are the same with or without the help of a team that does this every day. At Free Agents NH we are available by phone 603-527-8117. We have offices in Windham and Laconia, NH; but we are happy to come see you, give us a call.

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Date: 7/21/2016 10:45 AM EDT

Why is it important to use an independent agent when I first sign up for Medicare?

With so much in the news about the Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare, many Americans believe that pre-existing conditions are no longer a problem when applying for health insurance in the U.S.  Unfortunately, this does not apply to Medicare available to Americans over 65 or disabled Americans under 65. It only applies to Americans under 65 not eligible for Medicare or Americans applying for Medicare during a one time open enrollment period lasting 6 months from the first eligibility period.

It is very important to use an independent agent when you first sign up for Medicare because it can be very difficult to change your health plan in the future because of underwriting and pre-existing conditions. It is a very important decision that you are making now that has important future implications.

When you first become eligible for Medicare you have a guaranteed issue right that only lasts for 6 months. If you want to enroll in a plan or change plans after that, you then become subject to underwriting by the insurance companies! The underwriting questions are numerous and limit your ability to select a new plan if you have any pre-existing conditions.  If you are lucky and don’t have any pre-existing conditions, you still pay a higher rate if you want to enroll in a different plan, since you are older. An independent agent can help you select a plan that is most suitable for you now and most suitable in the future at absolutely no cost to you!

Don’t rely on your familiarity with a company name or what your friends and family may suggest works for them. Your health and lifestyle are probably somewhat different than your well intentioned friends. We do this every day and understand how the company’s rates have changed and also their history of price increases. That’s why an independent agent is best for you! Representing numerous Medicare Supplement plans and Advantage plans means that we can show you all of the options, compare household discounts (one company offers 12% discounts and does not require both of you to enroll), compare extra benefits, compare provider networks for Advantage and Part D prescription plans and look at other factors that may be unique to you.

There are more than a dozen Medicare health insurance options in New Hampshire. They are all able to exist because they each have a special niche in the Medicare market. Some offer household discounts, some are better if there is not another person over 60 in the household. Some plans are much better if you are a snow bird or plan to become one.If you are aging into Medicare eligibility, let us help you sort through that stack of brochures you are getting in the mail. It’s absolutely free to you to work with an independent agent that specializes in health insurance and Medicare to find your best value now and a trusted partner to help you each year to change prescription drug plans as the plans change or perhaps your needs may change.

Free Agents NH, LLC is an independent insurance group of agents specializing in Health Insurance and Medicare. We are located in Windham & Laconia New Hampshire. You can meet us at our office or we can meet you at your home or other convenient locations.

 

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Date: 5/11/2016 7:53 AM EDT

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