Kalamazoo-area Individual Health Insurance Plans, Medicare, and Group Benefits.


5 Things You NEED to Know About Medicare & Group Medical Insurance

The beginning of the 4th quarter also represents the beginning of Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period.

Why is that important to you?

We find that there is a lot of confusion on how Medicare affects a group health plan.

Is my plan primary? Is my plan creditable? What compliance requirements are there?

To help, here is a list of 5 things you need to know about Medicare:

  1. If you have 20 or fewer employees, Medicare is PRIMARY to your medical insurance.
    This means that any member over the age of 65 and entitled to Medicare should enroll or you may end up with a surprise bill when your insurance denies a service that Medicare should have paid for.
    If you have 20 or fewer employees, you are NOT required to cover anyone eligible for Medicare.
    You can set this in your eligibility rules but be careful; it will apply to everyone!
  2. Prescription Drug programs that “carve out” specialty medications may NOT be creditable for Medicare purposes.
  3. Creditable Coverage Notices must be completed AT LEAST annually to all Medicare eligible members AND employers must complete the Online Disclosure to CMS.
  4. Since you are not always able to determine who is Medicare eligible, we recommend you provide the Creditable Coverage Notice to ALL covered individuals.
  5. You can NOT require members to drop group coverage in favor of Medicare if you have 20 or more employees.

The Medicare rules are complicated, so let us help you simplify them.

We’d love to help you put a process in place to make sure your company is not only in compliance, but also in a position to support your eligible plan participants through the Medicare maze.




  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved vertically and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup chopped shallot (about 1 large shallot bulb)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 4 cups (24 to 32 ounces) vegetable broth, as needed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, to taste
  • Toasted pepitas


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside (about ½ teaspoon each). Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

2. Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 40 to 50 minutes (don’t worry if the skin or flesh browns—that’s good for flavor). Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering (if your blender has a soup preset, use a medium skillet to minimize dishes.) Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Transfer the contents to your stand blender (or you can use an immersion blender).

4. Use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into your blender. Discard the tough skin. Add the maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper to the blender. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can work in batches if necessary, and stir in any remaining broth later).

5. Securely fasten the lid. Blend on high (or select the soup preset, if available), being careful to avoid hot steam escaping from the lid. Stop once your soup is ultra creamy and warmed through.

6. If you would like to thin out your soup a bit more, stir in the remaining cup of broth. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to taste, and blend well. Taste and stir in more salt and pepper, if necessary.

7. If your soup is piping hot from the blending process, you can pour it into serving bowls. If not, pour it back into your soup pot and warm the soup over medium heat, stirring often, until it’s nice and steamy.

8. Top with toasted pepitas and additional ground pepper if desired.

bowl of soup