All your Florida Medicare questions, answered


This article is sponsored by Murray Insurance Agency.

Feeling a little lost when it comes to Medicare?

We're in the midst of open enrollment, so right about now is when many people find themselves Googling all their questions about when coverage would start and make sense of what it all means.

The experts at Murray Insurance Agency answered some frequently asked questions when it comes to all things Medicare. Let's dive in.

Wait, so you said open enrollment is underway for Medicare members? Tell me what dates I need to know.

Open enrollment for people with Medicare is called the annual election period, and it's the time of year when individuals can change their health and prescription drug coverage options. This is important because health and prescription drug needs tend to change, and personal budgets change.

You want to make sure you have the right coverage for your needs that fits your budget. You can add or adjust your coverage, so you have a plan that works best for you in the coming year.

The annual election period for Medicare is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. If you sign up for a plan during open enrollment, your coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2020.

When it comes to Medicare, I've heard Florida Blue Medicare’s HMO plan is a five-star plan. What does that mean, exactly?

This is good news. For the second consecutive year, Florida Blue Medicare and Florida Health Care Plan’s Medicare Advantage HMO Plans have earned a five out of five-star rating from Medicare.

Why is this important? Star ratings let you know if your health plan’s Medicare members receive high-quality care.

Every Medicare health plan receives a yearly star rating on a scale from one to five, with five being the highest. So the state should feel very proud to have earned this recognition from Medicare, said Renee Cline of Murray Insurance Agency.

"Having higher star ratings also helps us improve benefits for our members. This prestigious rating also allows us to sell Medicare options year-round, not just during open enrollment," she added.

Does Florida Blue Medicare offer a rewards program for members?

Yes, the HealthyBlue Rewards program is for BlueMedicare HMO and PPO members.

The rewards program helps encourage members to get the care their doctor recommends. Members can earn rewards for completing eligible health activities like getting a flu shot or other preventive tests and screenings. Then they can redeem their rewards for gift cards to Publix, Walmart, Walgreens, Olive Garden and other popular retailers.

"Our members enjoy getting more for doing things they’d already be doing to take care of their health," Cline said.

For someone who is just turning 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare, what steps do they need to take to ensure their transition is smooth and complete?

First, three months prior to that 65th birthday, it’s important for people to confirm they're enrolled in Original Medicare’s Part A and Part B. Sometimes it's automatic. But for people who have elected to defer their Social Security benefits, action is needed to enroll in Part B.

If it's you who's approaching the age of 65, it’s also important to know your options, specifically understanding the differences between Medicare Supplements/Medigap plans, and Part C/Medicare Advantage Plans.

How does someone decide what plan or option is best?

The best way is to meet with a licensed agent, Cline said.

"Each client we meet with has different needs and situations," she said. "As agents, we ask a lot of questions to help us understand each person’s health care needs and priorities. Things like doctors and specialists they use, current prescription drugs, and even if they travel frequently and need access to care outside of Florida."

It all comes up.

"Our agents spend time educating clients, reviewing key insurance terms like deductible, out-of-pocket max and coinsurance, and then we help to find the best option for each person’s needs," Cline added. "One size does not fit all."

Murray Insurance Agency helps to insure Orlando and the rest of the state.

The company was founded in 1981. Since its appointment as a contracted general agency for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida in 1983, Murray Insurance has assisted more than 250,000 people with their health insurance. The company's No. 1 goal is to find affordable solutions to people's personal insurance needs.