Know all your options when it comes to Medicare. Please fill out the form below to see your Medicare Options.
Medicare is a government run service that provides health insurance for anyone over the age of 65, as well as some individuals who are younger but have specific disabilities. 17% of Florida’s citizens are currently enrolled in Medicare, compared to a national average of 14%. Florida Medicareoperates much like Medicare on a national level. For many elderly, Medicare can mean the difference between a comfortable financial situation and poverty.There are six main Florida Medicare providers: Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Mutual of Omaha, Silver Script and WellCare. Medicare can be obtained through any of these providers, given that the qualifications for Medicare are met. Most eligible Florida residents will automatically be enrolled in standard Medicare coverage once they turn the age of 65. There is also an open enrollment period every year in April, May and June for those who have not been auto enrolled. This is a time period in which you can sign up for new types of coverage or change your existing coverage to better suit your current needs.There are multiple Medicare plans available, and the Medicare provider companies can aid you in selecting the best option for you. Medicare Advantage, otherwise known as Medicare Part C, allows you to select more advanced medicare policies tailored towards your needs. If this is not necessary, you can opt for the standard Medicare coverage. There are specific requirements that need to be met for many Medicare Advantage plans, so a Medicare service professional should be consulted. Over 900,000 residents in Florida are on a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Part D is probably the most well known component of Medicare coverage, as it covers prescription medications. Prescription medications can be life or death to some of Florida’s elderly. Florida Medicare is increasingly widely used because health in general in Florida has been poor. Because of these health issues, preventative care is being emphasized, meaning that coverage for preventative medicines and regular office visits has gone up.
Medicare isn’t a government charity service, but it is a right that any tax paying citizen has already paid into the government for. Medicare taxes are taken from both employer and employee every paycheck, which means that most of us pay into the Medicare system all of our adult lives. However, even if you have not paid into the Medicare system, the Medicare system is still available to you.
Medicare operates like most standard insurance, covering a percentage of hospitalization, doctor’s visits, prescription medications and various other medical treatments. Even if you already have other medical coverage, having Medicare as well can be beneficial to you in case your coverage runs out. Medicare prescription coverage is separate and can be used separately or not used at all.
Because Medicare covers a percentage of medical costs, there may be co-payments to doctor visits, medical services and prescriptions. Medicare Assistance programs are available for low income elderly citizens that need additional assistance in paying their medical bills. These assistance programs, if qualified for, can help cover your medical co-payments. Medicare Assistance needs to be applied for separately if it is needed. Florida also offers additional prescription medication plans, which can lower the cost of prescription medications further.
For more information about Florida Medicare, Florida operates the SHINE program (Serving the Insurance Needs of the Elderly), which offers counseling and guidance about the state’s Medicare program and additional assistance programs. These services are free to use for anyone who qualifies for Medicare, and can aid in making the appropriate Medicare coverage decisions. To contact SHINE you can call or write to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
Frustrated by a recent court decision temporarily blocking part of Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law reformed last year, state lawmakers are considering scrapping the entire law. Current proposals would reinstate to a tort system and mandate that all drivers purchase bodily injury coverage.
Florida Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis recently issued a temporary injunction against parts of last year’s personal injury protection (PIP) reforms that limit medical benefits for non-emergency injuries and exclude acupuncturists and massage therapists from treating accident victims.
“If you have been here very long at all we have dealt with this issue every four or five yearswith the view that next time there ain’t going to be any next time,” said Simmons, adding that last year’s reforms were “as good a solution as possible for a system that is bleeding profusely.”
Simmons is proposing that the current no-fault law that calls for drivers to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage be replaced by one that calls for drivers to have $10,000 in property damage and $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person for a total of $50,000 per occurrence.
Insurance representatives offered tentative support but expressed concerns over pricing and the possible consequences of moving to a tort system.
Michael Carlson, executive director of the Personal Injury Federation of Florida that represents State Farm, Allstate and Progressive, said he still supports last year’s reform effort. However, he said, given the legal challenges and other obstacles to reducing costs it may be time to scrap the PIP system.
“After decades of trying to reform PIP, to drive out the fraud and hold down costs, we may have hit a point of impasse,” said Carlson.
Carlson did suggest to lawmakers that if they press forward with mandatory bodily injury coverage they should allow drivers to purchase a lower level of coverage such as $10,000 per person and $20,000 per occurrence. He said that would allow more flexibility in pricing.
“Let the marketplace speak and let consumers make decisions so we can know what the pricing point should be,” said Carlson.
Medical providers, however, cautioned lawmakers that if they abandon PIP they should require some medical payment coverage to offset the costs of serious injuries.
Florida Hospital Association representative Bill Bell said that 418,000 accident victims are treated in emergency rooms each year and of those 30 percent to 40 percent only have PIP coverage. He said moving to a no-fault system could seriously strain hospitals’ resources since they may have to wait months to be paid.
“If the at-fault driver is not covered there are delays in payment from when doctors treat injuries to when there might be a settlement,” said Bell.
Insurance representatives also said that the repeal of PIP should be accompanied by changes in the state’s bad faith law. Under current law, if an individual disputes a claim, an insurer has 60 days to either pay the claim, resolve the dispute or be open to a bad faith claim. At a minimum, insurers said the same law should be applied to third-party claims.
Florida Association of Justice General Counsel Paul Jess, representing trial lawyers, disputed the argument. He said moving to a tort system does not necessarily mean there will be a flood of bad faith claims.
“We don’t think there is a problem under the current law that needs to be fixed and we don’t think a switch to bodily injury would cause a problem to be fixed,” said Jess.
Despite the concerns over the PIP law, statistics gathered by the Office of Insurance Regulation show that last year’s reforms have indeed lowered PIP rates since they took effect in July 2012.
Looking at the top 25 personal injury auto insurers that represent 80 percent of the market, 10 insurers that represent 42 percent of the market have decreased their PIP rates by at least 10 percent. Another four insurers decreased their rates by less than 10 percent while 7 percent filed for increases.
With the exception of State Farm Mutual — which lowered its PIP rate indication from plus 22 percent to plus 7.9 percent — the other largest insurers in the state filed for decreases in PIP rates. Geico General Insurance Co., Geico Indemnity Co., Progressive American Insurance Co., and Progressive Select Insurance Co., all filed for a 10 percent decrease in their PIP rates.
OIR Director of Property and Casualty Product Review Sandra Starnes said that it is difficult to estimate the impact of eliminating PIP because drivers purchase various amounts of coverage. She added, however, that most drivers already carry bodily injury coverage.
“It appears 90 percent of policies in Florida have bodily injury on them,” said Starnes.
Starnes told lawmakers that based on an analysis of three large non-standard insurers and two standard insurers, if the mandatory bodily limits were set at $10,000 per person and $20,000 per occurrence, non-standard insurers would see rate decreases throughout the state. Standard insurers would only see rate decreases in areas where PIP fraud is prevalent.
If those limits were increased to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence both the standard and non-standard insurers would only see rate decreases in central Miami, Starnes said.
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