What is Medicare?
Original Medicare is medical insurance for people over the age of sixty-five, and people under sixty-five with a long-term disability, or those who have certain disabilities like End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Once you’re eligible, there’s no need to medically “qualify” for Medicare—you get it regardless of your current health. There are no health questions you need to answer to get Medicare. Once you have it, you cannot get kicked off of it for any medical condition or health-related reason. While there are certain limitations to care, and monthly premiums may differ from individual to individual, it does not “run out.”
There are four parts of Medicare. Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B were the original choices rolled out in the 1960s. Thus, Original Medicare refers to Medicare Part A and Part B; Part C and Part D were added later. It’s a bit of an alphabet soup, but I’ll briefly explain what each letter does (and doesn’t) mean below.
Medicare was established on July 30, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson, and—fun fact—the first Medicare recipients were President Harry Truman and his wife, Bess.
When the George W. Bush administration oversaw the passage of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, they made two hugely positive changes to Medicare that influence what you can buy, what it costs, and what it covers to this very day.
First of all, the Medicare Modernization Act introduced prescription drug coverage, also called Medicare Part D. From 1965 until the act was implemented in the 2005–2006 timeframe, people on Medicare had to pay full price for prescription drugs at the pharmacy out of their own pockets. Yes, it covered drugs needed in a hospital setting for, say, anesthesiology to put you under for surgery, and covered some other drugs under Medicare Part B. But if you had a statin for your cholesterol that you filled at the pharmacy, prior to the passage of the new Act, you paid for that 100% out of your pocket.
The second thing this Act did was increase payments and provided incentives for insurance companies to offer things called “Medicare Advantage plans,” also known as Medicare Part C. If you’re on Medicare and are reading this, you’ve probably heard all about these, and one-third of you have one for your Medicare insurance coverage. These plans were also introduced to the masses in the 2005–2006 timeframe, and the insurance companies who jumped at the chance to offer these products earlier than others were Humana and UnitedHealthcare, as well as some other smaller or start-up companies who have since been largely swallowed up by bigger insurance companies.
Until the Medicare Modernization Act was passed and insurance companies began rolling out Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage plans to the masses, you basically had two choices to make when you turned sixty-five. One choice was “free” in that, besides having a small monthly premium for Medicare Part B deducted from your Social Security check, you just “got” Medicare Parts A and B. The only other choice was to buy “extra” insurance. That “extra” insurance was a Medicare Supplement plan. You simply paid for prescription drugs out of your pocket.
Fast forward to today; the Medicare insurance field has become vastly more complex for you, the Medicare consumer. Quite frankly, it’s become vastly more complex for Medicare insurance companies and Medicare insurance agents, too. Decades ago, you only had one choice to make when you turned sixty-five—whether or not to buy a Medicare Supplement Plan. Today, you essentially have three:
- stay on Original Medicare and only buy a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan or,
- stay on Original Medicare and buy a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan and a Medicare Supplement Plan or,
- buy a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Medicare Part D benefits.
Today, any of those three options lead you down a dizzying array of rabbit holes with potentially hundreds of additional choices. As a consumer, you now have thousands of combinations and choices on your Medicare menu.
That’s where Chicagoland Medicare can help!
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Frequently Asked Questions
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Independent Medicare insurance agents and agencies such as Chicagoland Medicare get paid by the insurance companies they represent. The commissions we are paid are already built into the insurance policy you’ve purchased, and there isn’t a way to carve them out of the monthly premium. There is no extra fee for buying a Medicare insurance policy through Chicagoland Medicare, nor will you ever pay a fee for our help.
A local, independent Medicare insurance agent represents multiple carriers so that they can work to give you an unbiased opinion on your Medicare insurance plan options. Chicagoland Medicare agents and agencies are state-licensed, trained, tested and appointed by a hand-selected number of Medicare insurance companies to be able to shop and compare Medicare insurance polices to make sure we find the right fit for you! We explore your healthcare and financial needs and listen to your feelings around options available in your local area. We search for a plan that most closely fits your individual needs and budget.
Is Chicagoland Medicare free? Yes, our services are completely free to you and anything we get paid is paid to us by the Medicare insurance companies.
The monthly premiums you pay for your Medicare insurance policies are exactly the same. You cannot buy a Medicare insurance policy directly from a Medicare insurance company at a lower rate.
We have years of experience selling Medicare insurance in the Chicago area including Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.
There are all sorts of differences in the amount of coverage and they type of Medicare insurance coverage you can buy depending on what state and county you live in! Chicagoland Medicare independent Medicare agents have a lot of real-world experience and insight regarding the inner-workings of Medicare insurance companies that you, the consumer, may not have access to, such as Medicare Advantage service areas, Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) annual premium increase trends, application fees, discounts programs and more.
Only independent Medicare insurance agents and agencies like Chicagoland Medicare can offer a variety of plans and an unbiased, multi-company approach so our recommendations are objective unbiased and personalized when we sell you a Medigap, Medicare Advantage or Part D drug plan that’s right for you.
At Chicagoland Medicare, we specialize in Medicare insurance products. Period. We’re not distracted by attempting to sell you life insurance, financial planning services, stocks, bonds or anything else. Medicare insurance is all we do! Unlike many other Medicare insurance agents and brokers, we don’t sell group small business health insurance polices, disability insurance, home or auto insurance. We are a boutique Medicare insurance agency, we like it that way and we’re awesome at what we do.
We only partner with ‘A’ rated, household name, established Medicare insurance companies who offer Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medigap and Medicare Part D plans in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
We do not contract with, nor offer our clients startup, new or state-based, regional Medicare insurance companies. We believe in partnering with established companies for consistency, financial strength and experience.
Sometimes, Medicare insurance agents and agencies try to offer too many different insurance products from too many companies. There are literally thousands of combinations of Medicare insurance plan combinations to choose from in the Chicago area – we choose to focus on a select few of large, reliable, well-established, and financially sound Medicare insurance companies to partner with. Oftentimes, other local Medicare agents and agencies get pulled in too many directions with too many insurance offerings and therefore can’t be as knowledgeable as possible about any carrier or one insurance type over another.
At Chicagoland Medicare, we limit the number of Medicare insurance carriers who have access to our clients. We work hard to know the deep inner-workings of each of our Medicare insurance partners which means our agents and our clients aren’t distracted by small, startup Medicare insurance companies who may have a great product for a year or two, then fade into the background and exit the market. We know our Medicare insurance company representatives by name, and know how to navigate their systems and processes.
The bottom line: Chicagoland Medicare is an independent Medicare insurance agency. We are not owned by a Medicare insurance company or by some large, national entity. We’re your local Medicare insurance agency for the Chicago area. This means we only work with hand-selected Medicare insurance companies so that we can provide you with the best Medicare plan for you that’s individualized and personalized. We exist and work ONLY for our clients, unencumbered by having to push just one company’s Medicare insurance products.