Senior Medicare Advantage plan insurance in Columbia, SC
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Helping Seniors Make Better-Informed Medicare Decisions
Trying to pick a health insurance plan can be a chore for anyone. For many people, just mentioning the word "open enrollment" sends shivers down the spine. It seems like there's always a nagging feeling that you're wasting money, choosing a plan with poor in-network care, or both. One would think that health insurance gets easier as you approach retirement age, but the truth is that picking an initial Medicare coverage plan can be daunting.
Unfortunately, the confusing process of signing up for Medicare causes many seniors to forego healthcare coverage altogether. After all, Medicare enrollment can involve several federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration (or SSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS).
At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, our passion is guiding seniors through the confusion of Medicare. That way, they can enjoy retirement with peace of mind knowing they are protected and ready for life after 65. We work with dozens of insurance companies, giving our clients the chance to choose a plan that best fits their lifestyle.
We choose to design our senior insurance plans with a focus on optimal benefits structure, lower costs, and personalized service. Some independent insurance agencies see their aging customers as nothing more than a financial transaction waiting to happen. In contrast, we treat each of our clients with respect and dignity as we help them navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. Combined with individualized service, we help older Americans make well-informed decisions about insurance. Whether you're in need of senior Medicare Supplement Plan insurance in Columbia or simply have questions about signing up for Medicare, our team is here to help.
Guiding You Through The Confusion of Medicare!Request a Consultation
What is Medicare?
If you're approaching the golden years of your life, it's important you understand what Medicare is if you don't already.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program reserved for people older than 65 who have worked full-time for at least ten years. The Medicare program is paid for by a combination of worker payroll tax, premiums paid by Medicare enrollees, and the U.S. government.
There are four parts of Medicare:
The amount of money you pay for your health care depends on several factors, including:
At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, we offer a number of health insurance solutions for seniors. Two of our most used services include Medicare Advantage plan insurance and Medicare supplement plan insurance.
Senior Medicare Supplement Plan Insurance in Columbia
Sometimes called Medigap, the purpose of Medicare Supplement Insurance is to help fill in "gaps" that might not be covered by Original Medicare. You can think of a Medigap policy as a supplement for your Original Medicare benefits.
Private companies like Senior Medicare Insurance Services sell this type of insurance right here in South Carolina. While Original Medicare will pay for much of the cost associated with health care services you need, it may not cover all of your expenses. Generally, Medigap policies do not cover costs stemming from eyeglasses, private-duty nurses, dental care, hearing aids, or long-term care.
Depending on the Medicare Supplement Plan that you choose, it may cover out-of-the-country medical services when you travel abroad. Assuming you have Original Medicare coverage, your policy will cover its share of Medicare-approved health care costs. Once your Original Medicare coverage reaches its limit, your Medigap policy will pay its share of the fees.
Our Medigap policies are drafted to meet your specific needs, and can help cover remaining health care costs such as:
Important Information About Senior Supplement Plan Insurance
To dispel some confusion, you should know that a Medigap policy is not the same as a Medicare Advantage Plan. The latter helps you receive Medicare benefits, while the former supplements the benefits you obtain through your Original Medicare plan. As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:
As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:
- To qualify for a Medigap policy, you must first have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
- Payments on your Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan will be made to the private insurance company that you choose, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. These payments are made every month and are paid in addition to the monthly payment you make for Medicare Part B.
- If you are the holder of a Medicare Advantage Plan, it is illegal for an insurance company to sell you a senior Medicare Supplement Policy. If you plan on switching back to an Original Medicare plan, you may be able to purchase a Medigap policy.
- If you have health problems as you age, your standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed to be renewable. So long as you pay your monthly premium, your insurance provider cannot cancel your policy.
- Medigap policies only cover one person. If you have a spouse or family member that would like coverage, they must purchase a separate policy.
- You may only buy a Senior Medicare Supplement Plan from an insurance agent that is licensed to sell them in your state. Senior Medicare Insurance Services has been licensed to sell Medigap policies in South Carolina for years. We have helped countless seniors get the Medicare coverage they need and continue to do so to this day.
- In the past, Medigap policies were able to cover costs related to prescription drugs. As of January 1st, 2006, prescription drug coverage is not available on Medicare Supplement Plans. The best way to get coverage for your prescription drugs is to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, often called Part D. Contact our office today to learn more about paying premiums on Medigap and Medicare plans.
Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance in Columbia, SC
A Medicare Advantage Plan is a kind of Medicare health coverage designed to provide seniors with all their Part A and Part B Medicare benefits. Many Medicare Advantage Plans will often include coverage of the following:
In addition, most Medicare Advantage Plans give seniors coverage for their prescription drug needs. When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan through Senior Medicare Insurance Services, your Medicare benefits are covered through your plan and will not be paid for by traditional Medicare.
How Medicare Advantage Plans Work
Sometimes called "MA Plans" or "Part C," Medicare Advantage Plans are considered an "all in one" solution to Original Medicare. Senior Medicare Advantage Plans are only offered by private companies that are approved, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. Seniors who enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan are still on Medicare. However, these individuals enjoy bundled plans that give seniors the benefits of hospital insurance (Medicare Part A), medical insurance (Medicare Part B), and sometimes drug coverage (Part D).
Medicare Advantage Plans are very popular because they cover all Medicare services and make life a little easier for seniors who have trouble understanding the nuances of Medicare.
When you contact Senior Medicare Insurance Services to choose your Medicare Advantage Plan, ask your agent about Medicare prescription drug coverage. Unless you already have drug coverage (Part D), you should seriously consider Part D coverage to help reduce costs associated with prescription drugs. You may also want to consider a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan to help fill gaps in coverage that Original Medicare will not cover.
Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Rules
Medicare works by paying a set amount of money to the companies that offer senior Medicare Advantage Plan insurance in Columbia. That money is used to pay for the care services that you need. Because Medicare Advantage Plans are different, you should expect out-of-pocket costs to vary depending on the plan you choose.
Different plans have different rules for how you receive services, such as:
- If you must go to facilities, suppliers, or doctors that belong to your Advantage Plan for non-urgent and non-emergency care.
- Whether you must get a referral to see a specialized doctor
Companies that offer Medicare Advantage Plans must follow strict rules, which are set by Medicare and can change every year.
Paying for Your Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance
How much you pay for your Medicare Advantage Plan varies and depends on a few different factors. In most cases, if you need a kind of medical service, you will need to rely on the doctors and providers in your plan's service area and network to pay the lowest amounts. In some cases, if you choose to use a service outside of your plan's network of coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket.
We encourage you to contact our office today to learn more about Medicare Advantage Plans, how they work, what your options are, and how often you will have to pay out-of-pocket, if at all.
The Senior Medicare Insurance Services Commitment
Since our company was founded, we have led the insurance industry by providing our clients with the most valuable, helpful insurance solutions available. We are fully committed to our current and prospective clients by:
- Choosing to focus on personalized, one-on-one service. When you work with our team, know that we will always design your health insurance plan with your best interests in mind.
- Listening to your specific needs.
- Responding to all inquiries and questions promptly and with a friendly attitude.
- Providing you with the best customer service in the senior health insurance industry, whether you have questions or are ready to move forward with a Medicare plan.
Our mission is to help give seniors the best Medicare assistance available so that they may understand the Medicare process and make an informed health coverage decision. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience to assist anyone interested in Medicare. Our personal goal is to become a lifetime resource for our clients and give them greater confidence in choosing their insurance plans.
Latest News in Columbia, SC
South Carolina well positioned to weather potential recession, labor shortage here to stay says Columbia economist
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Columbia economics expert is predicting South Carolina is well positioned to handle a potential recession.Joseph C. Von Nessen is a research economist in the Division of Research at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Von Nessen is an expert in regional economics and economic forecasting. He spoke with WIS to discuss the ...
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Columbia economics expert is predicting South Carolina is well positioned to handle a potential recession.
Joseph C. Von Nessen is a research economist in the Division of Research at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Von Nessen is an expert in regional economics and economic forecasting. He spoke with WIS to discuss the latest state economic data.
In the last year, South Carolina has seen a record-breaking number of workers leave their jobs as part of the ‘Great Recession.’ Von Nessen calls it a ‘great churn’ with many workers looking to change industries and find higher wages. He says workers are in a strong position as they search for new opportunities. The years of the COVID pandemic have found businesses facing a labor shortage both in SC and nationwide.
This churn is found in workers of all ages. He calls it a benefit for workers across the board, whether they’re finding new opportunities or are renegotiating benefits with their current employers.
Von Nessen said, “This is arguably the strongest job market we’ve seen in the last decade, if not more.” He says currently this may be the peak of the labor market. He looks at the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes as indicators that in 2023 demand may go down, “Some signs point to the beginnings of a labor market cooling already.”
On Aug. 23, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reported a slight drop in job openings and hiring in June. That preliminary data is paired with a continuing high rate of job quitting at 80,000 workers. In March SCDEW reported a record-breaking 90,000 South Carolinians quit their jobs.
Von Nessen predicts if the trends continue to cool the labor market, then workers will likely be less inclined to quit. Specific industries are already seeing the impacts of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. Von Nessen says in South Carolina, the only industry to see job losses through this year so far is the construction industry. He cites the interest rate raises impacting mortgage rates as the reason, which raises the cost of buying a home that may already have a heightened value.
He says though part of the labor shortage is going to resolve in the next year, long term there is a demographic shift that will linger. As baby boomers retire through the 2020′s, there aren’t enough Gen Z and Millenial workers able to fill those positions.
Businesses will need to get creative to combat the labor shortage, he said, “This is likely to be a new normal.” Some of those solutions have come in the form of remote work and automation. This is seen in service industry jobs as grocery stores or fast food restaurants shift to kiosks rather than having a traditional cashier or offering more carry-out options. Other adaptations include offering flexible scheduling or increased benefits as businesses compete to attract employees.
“South Carolina is in a much better position relative to the national average, even if we do go through a recession,” Von Nessen said. South Carolina is facing some of the largest population gains in the country, he says the American South East is positioned for growth. It benefits industries such as housing and logistics regionally. Businesses looking to shorten the travel of consumer goods to customers will see things like the port in Charleston as appealing, “South Carolina is ideally located to see a boom in the logistics sector and also in advanced manufacturing.”
He says the official definition of a recession comes from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which uses various factors such as GDP, job growth, and other indicators. He explains that economists don’t know if we’ve been in a recession until long after the fact. However, some define it as two-quarters of negative GDP growth, which is what has been seen in the 2022 economy. He says 2022 is unique because the labor market is still strong and hasn’t seen a broad pullback, which is also used to measure a recession. He says the Fed’s continuing interest rate hikes to combat inflation may cause a recession by the end of the year or early in 2023.
He explained these rate hikes take months and years to correct prices for normal purchases. The target the Fed is aiming for is 2% inflation, it hit a 40-year high over the summer with people across the Midlands feeling it impacting their groceries and utilities. The Fed announced Friday it intends to continue to raise rates in the fight against inflation. However, even with the rate increases, some products may not come down much or at all Von Nessen warned.
He says there are three metrics to watch to get a picture of our economic health going forward. The first is the actions of the Fed in its fight against inflation. The more aggressive they change rates, the higher the likelihood of a recession Von Nessen explained.
The second is the number of unemployment insurance claims, specifically initial claims. He said current numbers are below where they were in 2019. When claims go up, it is an indicator that people are being laid off from jobs and are applying for assistance.
The third metric is the job openings rate, it is higher than it was in 2019 before the pandemic. He explained, “So if the jobs opening rate begins to come down appreciably, or quickly then that’s another sign that employers are not hiring as much and that they may be seeing a pullback in demand as well.”
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Best company to work for in South Carolina is based in New Jersey: Forbes
The list includes more than 50 companies in South Carolina. Half of the top 10 are also based in the state.COLUMBIA, S.C. — Forbes has released its annual list of top employers across the country - and in each state - which reveals some interesting data about South Carolina.One of the bigger surprises for South Carolina, to some, might be that the top spot on the list didn't go to a company based in South Ca...
The list includes more than 50 companies in South Carolina. Half of the top 10 are also based in the state.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Forbes has released its annual list of top employers across the country - and in each state - which reveals some interesting data about South Carolina.
One of the bigger surprises for South Carolina, to some, might be that the top spot on the list didn't go to a company based in South Carolina. And of the top 10, half are actually companies based elsewhere in the country.
The top spot on the list went to Honeywell International, which employs about 34,000 people in all and has a home base in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Forbes describes the company as a software-industrial company that offers solutions to aerospace and automotive products and services.
Number two, however, goes to a company that's a bit more familiar to South Carolinians in the Lowcountry. Roper St. Francis employs about 6,000 people and, while considerably smaller than the top spot, has been around in the healthcare industry for a few years shy of 200 years, having been founded in 1829.
However, another outside company takes the third spot on the list and is actually pretty recognizable to anyone in the Southeast. Publix Super Markets has several locations in South Carolina. The Lakeland, Florida-based grocery store chain employs about 230,000 people company-wide.
Another Charleston-based company takes the fourth spot but has locations in other parts of the state as well. The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), another healthcare industry giant in South Carolina, employs about 25,000 people and, like the previous healthcare provider on the list, has been around for nearly 200 years having been founded in 1824.
A Greenville-based company, Michelin Group, is the fifth-best place to work according to Forbes. The automotive supplier employs 124,000 people.
But a Maryland company takes number six. Mariott International employs 97,000 people and is based in Bethesda. Despite being an out-of-towner, it's ranked high on the Forbes list for South Carolina.
Florence-based McLeod Health, however, brings the list back to South Carolina companies and also continues the ongoing trend of healthcare companies in the Palmetto State being considered top employers according to Forbes. In seventh place, it currently has about 8,500 employees.
Number eight goes to an upstate school system. The Fort Mill School District employs 2,500 people in the city of the same name.
Verizon adds another out-of-state company to the South Carolina list at ninth. The New York-based telecommunications and cable provider employs 105,376 people across the country.
And 10 goes to Caterpillar, the 107,700-employee company known for its construction equipment. The Deerfield, Illinois company rounds out South Carolina's top companies to work for.
The list continues with a total of 55 rankings for companies operating in South Carolina that have good reviewers in terms of employment.
So, how did Forbes come up with the list? The company partnered with market research company Statista to compile a list for each state and the District of Columbia. Rankings came from surveys of 70,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 500 employees.
Overall, 1,382 employers were ranked across the U.S. To see more about how the list was created, check the methodology page.
Convoy of near 200 trucks rumbles into Columbia for important cause
The ride took place Saturday to help raise awareness and money for the Special Olympics.COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nearly 200 truckers gathered Saturday morning at the South Carolina Farmers Market for a good cause.While helping to raise money for the Special Olympics, they also brought attention to the national concerns af...
The ride took place Saturday to help raise awareness and money for the Special Olympics.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nearly 200 truckers gathered Saturday morning at the South Carolina Farmers Market for a good cause.
While helping to raise money for the Special Olympics, they also brought attention to the national concerns affecting the Midlands.
Families and Friends of those in the Special Olympics gathered, as hundreds of truck drivers blew their horns and took the Olympian athletes for a ride.
"Aww this is fantastic, Last year we had around 150 trucks, today we had over 192 trucks," said Barry Coats, the president and CEO of Special Olympics.
Coats added that events like this are essential to help provide opportunities for Olympians like Charlotte Lewis.
"The medals I'm wearing are from bocce ball from the summer games," Lewis said. "I just started in bocce ball. This year, I got second place in bocce ball and the gold medal is from the nationals and bowling in Vegas we did in March.
Lewis said she didn't think she was going to win the medal in nationals and was pleasantly surprised. She also had an important message for the truckers: "Thank You!"
Drivers like Scott Miller came out in their tractor trailers and hit the roads.
"I've been doing this for five years," he said.
He added that it was a great day - especially considering several bumps the trucking industry has been facing in recent months.
"Trucking has fell off a lot here recently, but we will pick back up this is typically our busy season," Miller said. "But it just seems like stuff is falling off right now and it's just kind of a scary feeling."
Slow businesses aren't the only impact they're feeling. The South Carolina Trucking Association said shortages and high gas prices, in recent months, have been adding pressure to the system. But Miller said Saturday was more important to him.
"I have a special needs son who does stand up paddle board," Miller said. "Stuff like this, you just see the smiles on their face."
As more truckers than last year came to support, Coats added that he is hopeful it will be a better year.
"Last year we raised $60,000," he said. "We will be well over that this year."
Gov. Henry McMaster Signs Bipartisan Law Providing State Employees with Paid Family Leave
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster was joined today by a bipartisan group of members of the General Assembly for a ceremonial ...
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster was joined today by a bipartisan group of members of the General Assembly for a ceremonial bill signing of S. 11, which provides state employees with up to 6 weeks of paid family leave for the birth of a child, adoption of a child and for fostering a child.
"With the signing of this bill, we strengthen our families, our government, and our economy," said Governor Henry McMaster. "This legislation gives us the ability to better serve South Carolinians by helping us recruit and retain the best and brightest to serve in state government. Most importantly, it strengthens South Carolina's families - and with stronger families comes a stronger South Carolina."
Governor McMaster called for the General Assembly to pass paid family leave during a March 2020 press conference.
“This is a monumental step for so many South Carolina families,” said Senator Katrina Shealy. "We all know the first months after birth are critical for establishing a firm foundation that will impact maternal and newborn health for decades to come, and paid family leave is so important to making that reality for so many families."
Birth of a child
Adoption of a child
Fostering a child
Among many other benefits to the legislation, Representative Beth Bernstein touted the positive impact to children’s education and the state’s economy: “Our future workforce is well-nurtured and better equipped because of this legislation. Positive, consistent relationships during a child’s early years yield confident individuals who are better equipped for success in school and in life, paving the way for a higher quality workforce and strong economic growth.”
The governor formally signed the legislation into law on May 13, 2022, and it goes into effect on October 1, 2022.
Columbia mayor wants to step back from long-awaited riverfront project, says private sector should pay
Efforts to open access to the Congaree riverfront near downtown Columbia that advocates say would bring business and people to the river have hit a major snag.The city will not get $18 million in federal dollars for a road project that has been described as the final piece needed for development to begin along the riverfront between the Blossom and Gervais street bridges.Now $9 million in state money that legislators set aside for the project also hangs in limbo.Since the early 1990s, Columbia leaders, land owners and Un...
Efforts to open access to the Congaree riverfront near downtown Columbia that advocates say would bring business and people to the river have hit a major snag.
The city will not get $18 million in federal dollars for a road project that has been described as the final piece needed for development to begin along the riverfront between the Blossom and Gervais street bridges.
Now $9 million in state money that legislators set aside for the project also hangs in limbo.
Since the early 1990s, Columbia leaders, land owners and University of South Carolina officials have floated a grand vision for the city’s riverfront between the Blossom and Gervais street bridges.
It imagines a sprawling public park with an amphitheater and boardwalks, an ornate fountain and easy river access for a variety of recreational activities, as well as room for shops, restaurants and apartments along the bank of the Congaree River.
Before that park could become a reality, roads need to be built and connected across the stretch of land between Blossom and Gervais streets.
Columbia has for the past three years applied for federal dollars to extend Williams Street across that stretch. The application has been denied each time. Now Columbia’s mayor wants the city to step back.
There aren’t plans to pursue the money a fourth time, said Mayor Daniel Rickenmann. Instead, private developers and the landowners who control the area should be the ones to pay for the work, Rickenmann said.
“We’re not driving the train,” Rickenmann said, emphasizing that the city has never been the project’s lead. “You’re asking the caboose to be the engineer.”
The City Council has not formally discussed the project, said at-large Councilman Howard Duvall.
The Williams Street connection was initially supposed to be paid for with Richland County penny tax dollars.
In 2012, voters approved $50 million for the improvement of three roads with the express purpose of opening up the riverfront for development and public access. The county used the bulk of that money on the first two phases of the project, which saw Greene Street renovated from Assembly Street to Huger Street.
The final leg, the Williams Street connection, was estimated to cost roughly $23 million.
The city hoped to get $18 million from a federal RAISE grant, Assistant City Manager Missy Gentry previously told The State. During the state’s budget earmark process, lawmakers approved spending $9 million to help make up the difference.
It is unclear what now will happen with that $9 million from the state budget.
Rickenmann said he could not say, having not discussed the future of the project with any other stakeholders as of Friday.
He did say after years of effort by the city, he wants to see the private landowners take charge of the effort.
“It’s time for the property owners and the investors to step up,” Rickenmann said, adding the city is willing to work with investors on tax incentives. “If this is a monumental project like it’s been projected, then we need to sit down and have a real conversation ... But it can’t be a 100% government funded project.”
S.C. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, who asked for the $9 million earmark for Williams Street, said he is committed to finding a way to make the project happen.
He expressed frustrations with Rickenmann’s direction.
“So the mayor is not going to ask for more free money?” Rutherford, who sits on the House’s budget-writing committee, asked. “I’m hoping there is not a pattern of the mayor not being able to develop for the future.”
Rutherford referenced $9 million the state awarded the city in 2021 for the expansion of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, which was reallocated this year after not being spent on the project.
Rickenmann said the city has not made any formal plans for next steps. He said he hopes the various stakeholders, including landowners and the university, will be able to sit down and identify a path forward.
Rutherford said he also looks forward to discussing how to make the project work.
The city had made no commitments to pay for the actual riverfront park envisioned by the University of South Carolina and private land owners. In 2007, designers projected spending $48 million on the park and amenities like boat landings, an amphitheater, fountains and greenway connections to trails across the city.
Still, the Williams Street infrastructure is needed for development to begin, said Charles Thompson, who co-owns and manages the bulk of the Guignard Partnership property the park would be built on.
“We’re not giving up,” Thompson said Friday. He called the news a setback, “but we will regroup and look at it another way.”
Thompson said he is committed to making the park a reality regardless of what avenue that takes, calling the project “the objective of a lifetime.”
He said private investment may be one option, but he added the city will benefit from the work in the form of public river access and in tax revenue generated by new development.
A formal master plan for the park and the connections to make it happen was outlined 15 years ago by USC, Columbia leaders and landowners.
That plan initially estimated the total cost of all improvements, including the park, would be $121 million but would generate $17.7 million each year in tax revenue for the city, county and area schools.
Long-awaited puzzle pieces had seemed to be falling into place, including the Greene Street road project that would form a necessary connection between downtown and the would-be Williams Street, and a Dominion Energy-led coal tar cleanup currently underway in the river.
Thompson told The State in March he hoped to begin scoping plans for the park during the three to five years it will take Dominion to finish removing the coal tar from the river. At the time he said it was not clear how the park would be paid for.
At the time, Thompson said he did not know if the park would be municipal or led by private money, but he did not want to wait another decade to build it.