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Medicare Specialists of Pittsburgh Take the Confusion Out of Choosing a Plan
By Vanessa Orr

With the recent change in the country's leadership, many questions have been raised about what changes will be made to Medicare. But what is more important, according to John Wells of Medicare Specialists of Pittsburgh, are the questions that people have about their Medicare coverage right now.

"We have no idea how Medicare is going to be impacted by the new administration—our goal is to assist people with their concerns now," he explained. "We want to make sure that people who are shopping for supplemental coverage know about all of their options, and can find a product that fits them for the lowest cost. In a lot of cases, we can help people save $20 to $40 a month on their premiums for secondary insurance; and that adds up on a fixed income."
According to Wells, just like car or homeowner's insurance, supplemental insurance should be reviewed every few years. "You need to shop it around," he said. "A lot of people overlook this."

Wells and his staff also help people new to Medicare who may not understand how it works, as well as people who have gone through financial or health issues that may make them eligible for programs, such as PACE/PACNET, LIS and Medicaid, that could help them save money on coverage or prescription drug costs.

"Unfortunately, what happens a lot of the time is that people just don't understand what documents are needed, or they have trouble keeping track of the paperwork that the state or county needs, so they end up losing their assistance," he explained. "We spend a lot of time preparing documents to make sure that they are submitted in the proper way."

One of the difficulties that people face when they turn 65 and are eligible for Medicare is the avalanche of information that they receive. "People are getting slammed by unsolicited phone calls and junk mail—I met with a woman yesterday who said that she doesn't even answer the phone anymore," said Wells. "I highly encourage those who are about to turn 65 to talk to an independent broker who specialize in Medicare at least four to six months before their birthday. They don't need to respond to those unsolicited phone calls; they can just tell them they have a broker and hang up."

Medicare Specialists' staff educates clients about the difference between supplemental insurance and Medicare Advantage plans, and takes them through a series of steps designed to determine the type of coverage they need.
"We are licensed with every major carrier in western Pennsylvania, so it doesn't matter to us who they choose, as long as they get the right plan for themselves," said Wells. "We are just here to help them make an informed decision.

Wells gives the example of two carriers that have different formularies in their plans. "When we go over a person's medications, we can see which carrier covers those medications—it can mean a difference of hundreds of dollars a month," he said. "They may also choose a plan depending on the access they want to specific doctors.

"Most people try to take this on themselves, and it becomes overwhelming," he added. "That's why we take the time to explain how everything works. We encourage anyone with questions/concerns or who doesn't understand Medicare to contact us."

For more information, visit Medicare Specialists at www.medipgh.com or call 412-343-0344.

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