Nick Byrd Talks Medicare Ins and Outs

Writer / Matt Keating
Photography Provided

medicareNick Byrd, a local Medicare agent and occupational therapist in Kokomo, says getting a Medicare number early is important.

“When a person is three months before their 65th birthday, they should contact the Social Security Administration and start the process to get their Medicare number,” Byrd says. “Medicare pays for a lot, but not everything.”

Medicare requires copayments and deductibles.

“There are two ways for seniors to get their Medicare,” Byrd says. “They can have Original Medicare, Parts A and B, and a supplement to help with the deductibles and copays. This way would also require a separate prescription drug plan, Part D. The Medicare supplement and the prescription drug plan would have monthly premiums. The other way seniors get their Medicare is through Medicare Advantage Plans, also known as Part C.”

Byrd adds that Medicare Advantage Plans have Parts A, B and D all rolled into one plan.

“Most of these plans have little to no monthly premiums, and other benefits such as vision, dental, hearing, and free over-the counter health items,” Byrd says. “These are the plans being advertised on all the commercials, mailers and phone calls seniors get. There are pros and cons for each way, and everyone must look at their individual situation to make their best choice.”

Byrd notes that there are many different variables that a Medicare beneficiary should review when considering their Medicare plan.

“What is the best plan for one person may not be the best plan for someone else,” Byrd says. “Some of the variables a person should consider are their health history, their prescriptions, their financial situation, where they live, who their doctors are, do they have Veterans Administration, and do they travel, stateside or international.”

Byrd is contracted with eight different carriers who have multiple Medicare Advantage Plans, prescription drug plans and Medicare supplements.

“With that many carriers, finding a person’s best Medicare option should not be a problem,” Byrd says. “I like to sit down with a client and go over their prescriptions and some of these other variables, to help them decide which way they want to go for their Medicare. Once they decide to go with Original  Medicare and supplement, or Medicare Advantage, we then look at which plans will serve them best.”

Byrd says he loves Kokomo.

“Except for eight years in the Army and a few years in college, I’ve been in Kokomo my entire life,” Byrd says. “I’ve been a practicing occupational therapist in Kokomo and the surrounding area for over 25 years and have worked in both hospitals, every nursing home and assisted-living facility in Kokomo, and many facilities in the surrounding counties.”

Byrd has been a rehabilitation manager in several facilities and is currently a rehab manager at Silverbirch in Kokomo.

“I have had interactions with all the Medicare insurance companies and have a better understanding of local networks and their practical realities when compared to other agents and telemarketers from a commercial, phone call, or mailer who are not from here,” Byrd says. “They also don’t know which  nursing homes in Kokomo and the surrounding areas have the best reputations for rehabilitation should that be necessary.”

Byrd encourages people to be cautious about calling Medicare numbers on TV commercials.

“In this time of 9% inflation and high gas and food prices, people need to get the most benefit for the lowest costs from their Medicare,” Byrd says. “I encourage everyone to do an annual plan review for all your Medicare plans, especially your prescription drug plan, as plan carriers change their premium  prices and you may have a change in your prescriptions. I know for a fact there are people paying over $300 a month for their Medicare supplement for Medicare Plan F. They are paying an extra $100 a month, $1,200 a year, to save their Part B deductible of $240 a year. They should be calling me to see if they can qualify for Plan G and save over $1,000 a year.

“There may be some people thinking about dropping their Medicare supplement and going to a Medicare Advantage Plan, which could save them $150 to more than $300 a month. If anyone is considering this, please contact me so we can discuss your situation and find the best plan for you. Keep in mind that applying for a different supplement does not require waiting for Medicare’s enrollment period,” Byrd adds. “It can be done at any time.”

There are also diverse ways seniors can prepare for Medicare’s annual enrollment period.

“The first thing seniors should do is cut out my ad, attach it to their refrigerator and put my phone number in their contacts,” Byrd says. “The new Medicare Advantage Plans and prescription drug plans come out October 1, with the enrollment period running October 15 through December 9. Beginning  October 1, you can call me and we can discuss how your current plan compares to some of the new plans coming out. After you call me, you can ignore all the commercials, block all the phone calls and recycle all the mailers. They will not have anything to offer you that I will not have.”

To find out which Medicare plan works best for you, call Byrd at 765-776-6309.

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