Local Seniors Save More Than $50K Annually

 

Since Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period commenced five weeks ago, Calyx Advantage has been diligently meeting with seniors to evaluate their Medicare insurance and recommend better alternatives — plans with lower premiums and broader benefits. In just the past five weeks, the clinic has already saved Alameda seniors more than $50,000 annually on their premiums alone — with a company goal to reach $100,000 in savings by tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 7.

These savings are astounding — especially for folks on a fixed income — and reinforce how common misperceptions actually cost seniors money. Providing clarity around the value of choosing Medicare Advantage over Medigap plans has been the primary contributor to Calyx clients’ annual savings. Below are some observations Calyx has made over the past few weeks:

Medigap underwriting is used as scare tactic: Because Medigap plans can discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, seniors are often told to “get in while you can” and remain locked-in as a result. Unfortunately, yearly increases in Medigap premiums due to age-rated risk and rising healthcare costs make this a costly choice and leave many feeling trapped. Medicare Advantage plans, on the other hand, are prohibited from excluding pre-existing conditions. 

Alameda HMO networks are expansive: Many seniors choose against Medicare Advantage plans because they are HMOs. Though “HMO” retains some stigma from the 1990s, the reality is that the HMO provider networks in Alameda County are actually quite expansive. Affinity Medical Group, for example, includes Stanford faculty, Stanford affiliates, many Sutter specialists, and numerous independent practices in its network. Of Calyx Advantage’s first hundred insurance enrollments, it has encountered only a few examples where a client’s existing providers are not in-network (usually due to a client recently moving into the area). As a result, the vast majority of Alameda seniors would not experience any change in their care by switching to a Medicare Advantage HMO plan.

National brokers are biased towards Medigap plans: Seeing if a client’s doctors are in-network requires both additional effort and an understanding of the local physician networks. Consequently, agents who do not specialize in Medicare and are national-level brokers such as boomerbenefits.com, will usually steer seniors towards Medigap plans even though these plans are frequently not in the best interest of clients. 

Calyx Advantage is an independent health insurance agency that offers free consultations to help Alameda seniors choose the right Medicare plan. To help Calyx reach its ambitious goal of $100,000 in annual savings by Dec. 7, schedule a free appointment immediately.

 

Dr. Abhas Gupta works with Calyx Advantage, located in the Alameda South Shore Center above Trader Joe’s. To schedule a free consultation, call 629-4118 or visit www.calyxadvantage.com.