California Medicare Advantage And Supplement Plans For 2011

The Annual Election Period (AEP) is upon us again and 2011 brings many changes. Many companies have pulled out of the market while others have expanded and moved into more areas. There are some good deals to be found if you are a smart shopper.

In many California counties there are very few Medicare Advantage plans to choose from and this can drive prices up. If this is the case in your County, you may want to consider purchasing a Medicare Supplement plan along with a stand alone Part D drug policy.

Anthem Blue Cross of California is offering HMO and PPO plans for 2011. The  HMO plans will be available in heavily populated Counties in Southern California whil the PPO plans will be offered in all California Counties. These plans are very competetive and offer a robust benefit package.

Many people ask us which Medicare plan is the best. There is no single answer to this question. Each person has specific or unique needs and therefore should choose a plan to suit their particular situation although there are a few basic tips to follow.

If you are planning on traveling or would like a greater freedom of choice in medical providers you will probably want a PPO plan. If you stay near home most of the time you may get a better deal with an HMO

You will save money if you choose a plan with a large network or if most of your doctors are in network providers.

You are usually better off with a specific dollar amount for a co-pay rather than a percentage.

You can usually get good information from a broker representing multiple companies rather than calling each single company individually.

If you are looking for some factual information or a qualified Medicare insurance advisor try one of the links listed below.



Medicare Plan Information Now Available For All 2011 Plans

Medicare Supplement and Advantage plan information was released in early October for plans with an effective date of January 1, 2011.  The good news is that many of the plan benefits and premiums look good for the upcoming year.

While a number of plans have left the market, many of the remaining plans could provide lower premiums and co-pays than last year.  A few of these plans are also offering value added benefits such as preventative vision and dental along with health club memberships and an expanded part d prescription drug formulary.

The key to finding a good plan based on your specific needs is to be well informed and to know what to look for. With the reduced number of plans available in each county this year your choice should be less confusing and with a little bit of assistance, relatively stress free.

When seeking professional assistance you will want to find someone who is familiar with your specific state and familiar with Medicare rules, regulations, and special programs available. Many Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for special assistance for prescription drug premiums and co-pays and in many cases even qualify for help with Part B premiums.

Once you know what you are looking for in a plan, be sure to be specific when asking for different plan  benefits and premiums. This will speed up the process of finding a plan and you will surely be happier with the plan you choose throughout the year.

Some good picks for California plans in 2011 looks like Anthem Blue Cross PPO or Healthnet for those seeking an HMO type plan while in  NY State Empire Blue Cross looks good for PPO AND HMO type plans for the northeast and NY city areas. Unfortunately Western NY is very county specific so it is hard to tell unless you consult with a NY State insurance broker.

Gerogia, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and many Midwestern states all have very good Blue Cross Plans while Humana and Coventry health care also provide very  good options depending on your personal needs.

While I would always suggest consulting with an experienced Broker or Adviser, I have found some helpful websites that will provide you with a basic knowledge and some valuable Medicare resources. Listed below are some sites I have found to provide helpful information in certain states. The links to these sites are followed by a brief description based on my experience.


California Medicare Plans This site has current California Medicare related information, publications and videos. A very reliable source for Medicare insurance plans and questions. Toll Free number to cal if ou have any insurance related questions.

Georgia Medicare Plans Great site for Georgia residents. A wealth of information focusing on Medicare specific insurance plans and programs. Site is updated regularly and provides a toll free number to call for answers

New York Medicare Plans A trusted site for NY State private insurance plans for those with Medicare. Site is updated regularly and has many forms and publications.  Also has a Toll Free Helpline and you can obtain hard to find forms and publications by request.

California Medicare Supplement Plans This site will allow you to obtain quotes from several Medicare Supplement companies all in one place without having to talk to multiple representatives. You can get all your quotes in one location.

Blue Cross Medicare Plans A very interesting and helpful website. This is simply a broker referral source. You can call or request a quote or simply ask questions. You will be referred to a local representative when necessary or you can have information sent directly to you. A very good response time and very courteous staff.



New Medicare Supplement Plans Premiums For 2011

Starting on June First 2010 the Centers for Medicare And Medicare Services (CMS) in conjunction with many insurance companies have introduced two new supplemental policies (also referred to as Medigap). Plan M and Plan N. These two plans were designed to be offered at a lower monthy premium, however there are deductibles and copays involed which are quite different than the traditional policies. In many if not most of the counties throughout the United States they will be offered on a guarantee issue basis. Most of the traditional Medicare Supplement Plans cover all of the part A  and B deductibles and all of your co-pays. The differences with the traditional Medicare Supplement plans are the specific or amount of services are offered. The most popular plan has traditionally been Plan F. Plan J which is offers the most robust and extensive plans has been eliminated for new enrollees. If you currently have this plan you will be allowed to keep it but you will not be able to enroll in Plan J otherwise. For New York Medicare eligible beneficiaries can visit to download all of the current plans and rates for all companies offering Medigap plans.

I use New York only as an example. This is because since the rates are the same for everyone. This makes it easy for you to see how the plans work. Insurance is regulated by each State. For most other States the policies are medically underwritten unless you are within 6 months of your initial coverage election period (ICEP) which means you are new to Medicare. For all other States you should visit Another site to put in a request is

I generally don’t like to put a lot of links on my posts but in this case it is necessary to deliver the proper resources to help you find exactly what you are looking for. The sites I have mentioned are good because they do not give your information to any third parties and you will not receive any spam or numerous phone calls. You will only receive unbiased information directly related to what you are asking for. You can be sure to get a fast response and they offer Toll Free Insurance Helplines that you can call and speak to an actual person rather that a computer. Being in the insurance industry myself I have done the research to find good websites and reputable companies to deal with. 

I would also like to remind you that Medicare Supplements do NOT  offer presciption drug coverage (Part D) as part of the Plan like many of the Advantage Plans do. You will need to purchase your Part D policy seperately so make sure you factor this in when choosing your supplemental insurance.

So in closing I would like to say that it is important that you ask a lot of questions. Find a company that specilizes in Medicare plans to help you with these quesstions. If they cannot answer your questions to your satisfaction or you feel that they are not knowledgeable. Find another company and try again. A broker is usually the best bet since they can pull up information for all of the companies and you can compare all insurance from one source. It sure is a time saver and beats the alternative of calling each individual comany one at a time.

Small Business Award For Best In Business For Insurance Brokerage

March 8, 2010


Century Benefits Group, Inc. Receives 2009 Best of Business Award

Small Business Commerce Association’s Award Honors the Achievement

SAN FRANCISCO, November 7, 2009, Century Benefits Group, Inc. has been selected for the 2009 Best of Business Award in the Insurance agents, brokers, and service category by the Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA)

The Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA) is pleased to announce that Century Benefits Group, Inc. has been selected for the 2009 Best of Business Award in the Insurance agents, brokers, and service category.

The SBCA 2009 Award Program recognizes the top 5% of small businesses throughout the country. Using statistical research and consumer feedback, the SBCA identifies companies that we believe have demonstrated what makes small businesses a vital part of the American economy. The selection committee chooses the award winners from nominees based off statistical research and also information taken from monthly surveys administered by the SBCA, a review of consumer rankings, and other consumer reports. Award winners are a valuable asset to their community and exemplify what makes small businesses great.

About Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA)

Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA) is a San Francisco based organization. The SBCA is a private sector entity that aims to provide tactical guidance with many day to day issues that small business owners face. In addition to our main goal of providing a central repository of small business operational advice; we use consumer feedback to identify companies that exemplify what makes small business a vital part of the American economy.

SOURCE: Small Business Commerce Association

Small Business Commerce Association


Michael King, CRSP

Principal – Century Benefits Group, Inc.

Finding The Best Medicare Part D Plan

There are several ways to obtain your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.  It is important to know that the type of plan that you choose will depend on your specific needs. Some common questions you should ask yourself are listed below.

  1. Do you take mostly brand or generic drugs
  2. How many medications do you take on a regular basis
  3. Can any of your  brand medications be substituted for less expensive generic drugs
  4. Are any of your prescriptions available by mail order (you  may save money this way

After determining the answers to these simple questions  your next step should be to prepare  a list of all ou the prescription drugs that you take on a regular basis including

  1. The name of the drug spelled correctly (you can copy this right from the bottle)
  2. Your correct dosage
  3. The number of pills per month

Once you are armed with this information you can begin searching for an affordable Medicare Part D plan that will suit your specific needs. Each company has its own formulary and while one plan may list your drug as a tier 2 another may categorize it as a tier 3 drug and there may be certain drugs which are not offered by all plans.

In summary I would like to say that there is no “one size fits all formula” and your choice should be taken seriously and proper research and choosing the correct plan could save you thousands of dollars per year. Listed below are several websites which will assist you in you search. You can submit a request for help and then your prescription drug list and they will supply you with comparative estimates.

Still Time To Enroll In Medicare A Part D Plan Avoid Penalty

The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) is coming to a close on December 31st, 2009. All Medicare Eligible participants who wish to enroll in a Part D plan must do so on or before this date or go without coverage untill next year and pay a late enrollment penalty. 

It is also important to kow that any Medicare Beneficiary who does not enroll in a plan when first eligible will be penalized at a rate of  1% per month for every month not enrolled in a Part D plan. This percentage is based upon the National average for Part D  plans at the time of enrollment. This penalty will be imposed every month the beneficiary is enrolled in a plan with no limit or cap.

This may not seem like very much but it can actually be very expensive.  For instance, if you do not enroll when first eligible and wait 1 year you will pay a 12% per month penalty. Two years is a 24% penalty.


  1. You did not enroll in a plan when first eligible in 2008 and decide to enroll in 2009.
  • Lets say that the National average for Part D plans in 2009 is $40. This means that you will pay a penalty of  $4.80 per month every month for as long as you have Part D plan.
  • If you use the same example for 2 years the the penalty will double to $9.60 per month.

Keep in  mind that you may also choose a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes Part D coverage and many of these plans offer $0 or a low monthly premium although you will still need to pay your regular Part B premium and any late penalties if applicable. However many healthy seniors simply enroll in your basic $0 premium plan.

Each Medicare participant should evaluate coverage based on the level of care required. Some may actually benefit from a more robust plan and may wish to spend a little more on a monthly premium in order to enroll in a plan that offers more benefits or lower co-pays.

If your income meets certain criteria you may be eligible for Federal or State Part D Subsidies. You sould first visit and visit the medicare section to apply.

Cigna Plans Pricing Co Pays And Benefits Look Good For 2010

While many Medicare Advantage plans have either raised premiums sky high or increased co-pays and lowered benefit Cigna Medicare Plans have continued to offer an excellent PFFS plan for 2010. It is against the Center For Medicaid And Medicare services current rules to say that any plan is “the best”. What I can say is that according to the Government website comparisons Cigna seems to offer the most comprehensive plans for the least amount of money.

Keep in mind that all Medicare advantage plans have experienced some cuts in benefits or raised premiums but the trick is to shop around. Cigna Medicare Plans are only available in select counties and states and although you should look at all of your options it would be a good idea to put Cigna Plans within the comparison.