10 Truths About Retirement

Your retirement will be very different from what your parents experienced.

Happy senior couple taking selfie on beach during summer

Many people travel in the early part of retirement, then slow down as they get older. (Morsa Images/Getty Images)

Retirement has changed a lot in recent years, and may be far different from what you expect. You might spend two or more decades in retirement, and you will be responsible for paying your bills and setting up a fulfilling lifestyle. Here are ten truths about today’s retirement:

1. This is not your father’s retirement. The days of the 40-year career with the same company are gone. The gold watch is gone. In many cases, the pension is gone as well, or was converted to a self-managed IRA or 401(k) plan. The first truth of retirement is that we are responsible for our own finances.

2. You’ll probably live longer than your parents. The average life expectancy for a 65-year-old is 19 years, and many of us will live another 25 or 30 years. The good news: We have more opportunities to pursue new dreams, reinvent ourselves or just bask in the glow of a well-lived life. The bad news: You have to pay for it.

3. Medicare does not cover all your health care costs. Medicare is the government health insurance program for people age 65 and over. The program covers a lot of the services older people require, but you also need supplemental insurance to help pay doctor’s bills, prescription costs and dental expenses. And even supplemental insurance doesn’t pay for everything, especially when it comes to hearing aids, eyeglasses and a host of other age-related health expenses.

4. You need to take care of yourself. Retirement is the time when all the bad habits of your youth come home to roost. But it’s not too late to give up smoking, start eating right and begin an appropriate sports or exercise program. A healthy diet and regular exercise routine are the key factors for keeping our bodies running smoothly and painlessly into our 70s and 80s.

5. You still have to plan for the future. Retirement is not a constant. There are many stages of retirement, from an active early retirement to perhaps needing personal care for daily needs later in retirement. So think about your living quarters, and whether you want to still be climbing stairs or taking care of a yard a decade from now. Consider long-term care arrangements for your later years. Plan your investments not just for the next few years, but for a longer span of time that may involve periods of inflation or another recession.

6. There’s more to retirement than money. You can have all the retirement funds in the world and still be bored, lonely and frustrated. Conversely, you don’t need a huge retirement portfolio if you’re ready to make some major lifestyle changes, such as living abroad, sharing living quarters or doing something unconventional that you find exciting, creative or fulfilling. In retirement, even more so than in your younger years, money is not an end in itself, but a resource to help accomplish the things you want to do.

7. Time is of the essence. The retirement paradox is that we are more aware that time is ultimately limited, yet we have more time now because our days are not crammed full of work or family responsibilities. So there’s no room left for procrastination. If you have a dream, now is the time to pursue it, whether it’s traveling to the seven wonders of the world, finding a peaceful spot on a far-flung beach, starting your own business or reconnecting with children and grandchildren.

8. There’s no time for regret. None of us have come this far in life without making a few mistakes. Don’t let them haunt you. The past is over and done with. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Just accept what happened and let it go.

9. Talk to your loved ones about end-of-life decisions. It’s not a pleasant task, but it needs to be done. Most experts recommend a health care proxy so someone else can make crucial medical decisions if you are incapacitated. A power of attorney allows someone else to use your money to pay your bills. And a will directs what will happen to your leftover assets when you die. It’s better that you make that decision rather than let the government do it for you.

10. You are responsible for your own retirement. You will need to find a way to pay your bills without income from working in retirement. Beyond that, perhaps for the first time, you are now in charge of your own life. You no longer answer to a boss and are no longer tied down by family responsibilities. And so the most important truth of all is that the retirement you get is the retirement you’ve prepared for. Retirement is, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So go ahead and make the most of it.

Original Source: https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2018-05-10/10-truths-about-retirement

Original Author: Tom Sightings

Original Date: May 10 2018

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans Available in Michigan

Michigan Medicare enrollees who are signed up for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, may find that not all their health care expenses are covered.  To cover the gaps that are left with Medicare Michigan participants can choose to enroll in one of ten different Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans, otherwise known as Medigap.  These expenses can include copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and other extra healthcare expenses.

It is best to enroll in Medigap insurance plans during your six-month open enrollment period which begins the first day of the month you turn sixty-five and are enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B.  During this period, if you have any medical problems, you are still able to sign up for Medicare supplemental insurance plans in Michigan.  There is no medical underwriting required during the open enrollment period, premiums are not based on pre-existing conditions, and choosing a plan is completely up to you.

Once the six-month open enrollment period has lapsed, you may still apply for Medicare supplemental insurance plans however during this period you may be required to undergo medical underwriting, pay higher premiums, and can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Comparing Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans in Michigan

Michigan Medicare supplemental insurance plans costs may vary a great deal depending on the insurance company it is purchase through and where you are located.  Medigap benefits, no matter where the insurance is purchased, are the same.  Medigap Plan A from Blue Cross is the same coverage you will receive from Medigap Plan A from Humana.  To determine what Medigap plan is best for you do a comparison between plans to evaluate which plan is the best for your healthcare needs and budget.

It is crucial to evaluate and compare all the available Medicare supplement insurance plans within Michigan.  Medigap brokers can offer a comparison between plans and premiums to help you find what you are looking for and what plan makes the most sense for you.

The most popular Medigap plan for Michigan Medicare enrollees is Plan F, which is no longer going to be available as of 2020.  It is the most comprehensive Medigap plan for beneficiaries to choose.  The benefits of Medigap Plan F include:

  • Medicare Part A Coinsurance & Hospital Costs: Up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are exhausted
  • Medicare Part B Coinsurance/Copayments
  • The first 3 pints of blood
  • Medicare Part A Hospice Care Coinsurance/Copayments
  • Coinsurance for Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Medicare Part A Deductible
  • Medicare Part B Deductible
  • Excess Charged in Medicare Part B
  • Foreign Travel Emergency Coverage: Up to the plan limits

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

AGING MATTERS: How to get the best price for a Medicare Supplement plan

Close to 11.9 million American seniors opt-in to purchase a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance plan. But to most, it’s a confusing process knowing which plan best fits our healthcare requirements. What’s even more significant, are we paying too much? I read a study that said some of us overpay by thousands of dollars. We need a quick and easy way to find the best, and least expensive, option.

What’s surprising is the Weissratings.com 2017 data shows that over 3,500 examples of insurance companies overcharge for Medigap insurance. To give you just a few examples cited by the study:

• A 65-year-old woman in Idaho shopping for a Plan F or H could pay $2,004.08 per year from one provider, or $244.00 per year from another. A difference of $1,760.08.

• A 75-year-old male living in New Hampshire, purchasing a Plan F could pay $8,121.96 per year for that coverage. Or, if he had all the information, he could pay $1,820.28 per year for the same coverage and save $6,301.68.

• A 75-year-old male living in Pennsylvania, looking for a basic Plan A, might pay $11,801.64 per year if his insurance agent recommends one particular provider, or he could go with the least expensive provider and only pay $958.00 per year, saving $10,843.64.

What to remember: All Medicare Supplement insurance plans are standardized by the government, so all insurance companies provide the same coverage. Why would you want to pay more than you need for the same coverage? To me, it’s critical that you need to know.

Where does the company get the Medigap data? They collected it for nearly two decades. They don’t sell insurance or partner with insurance providers, so their reports give the full scoop about what to look for and what to watch out for when deciding on a provider.

The report costs $99. I got one for free since I’m writing this article. But if you don’t want to pay $99, when your Medigap insurance term is up for renewal, just call the insurance broker and have them give you a quote on all plans in that category.

For example, I have Plan G. I pay $107 a month. All rates depends on age, where you live and other factors including the rating of the company. But when I researched the prices of Plan G premiums, they varied from $97 to $256 a month for the same coverage and benefits. The company I buy the Plan G from has a C- rating which I wasn’t aware of and wonder if that’s an at-risk operation. Weiss Ratings explained to me via phone that a C- company means it’s a fair rating — financially.

You can access the custom guide to help you get the best deal from the best provider. They simply enter their age, sex, and zip code online, and in minutes you’ll have a personalized guide.

What to remember:

All Medicare Supplement insurance plans are standardized by the government, so all insurance companies provide the same coverage.

Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

5 Gaps Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan Covers

You may know by now that Medicare supplemental plans, also known as Medigap, are policies that are sold by private insurance companies to help cover a portion of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. You can’t purchase this type of policy if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan. For this to work, you must you must have both Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) to buy a Medigap policy.

Medicare supplemental plan policies generally don’t cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, long-term nursing home care, or private-duty nursing. The following gaps are what Medicare supplemental plans cover, each of the ten plans offers different benefits.  Not only is it important to distinguish these terms to help you understand when and how much you need to pay for your healthcare it is important to compare plans as they each offer a different combination of benefits.

  • Co-payments (copay)

Copayments are the flat fees that you pay on the spot to get a covered health service each time you pay your doctor a visit. Without a Medicare supplemental plan, you would have to pay this amount out of pocket before Medicare begins to pay.

  • Coinsurance

Coinsurance is a portion of the medical cost you pay after your deductible has been met, and your health plan takes effect. Once you have met your deductible, you and your insurance carrier each pay a share of the costs to add up to 100%. Take this, for example, if your coinsurance share is 20%, you will pay 20% of the cost of your medical bills and Medicare supplemental plan will pay the remaining 80%

  • Deductibles

Many costs for medical services count toward your deductible apart from copayments. A deductible is an amount you pay each year for eligible medical services before your insurance plan takes effect. If you don’t have any Medicare supplemental plans, you will be forced to pay for medical expenses such as bills for hospitalization, surgery, scans, lab tests, anesthesia, medical devices, etc.

  • Emergency care nationwide

Standard Medicare supplement plans C, D, F, G, M, and N, provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S if it begins during the first 60 days of your travel. The policy can also pay up to 80% of the billed charges for a medically necessary care outside the overseas after you meet a $250 deductible for the year. Always talk with your insurance carrier before traveling overseas to get more information about your Medigap coverage while traveling.

  • Benefit period

Medicare supplement plan may cover hospital costs and skilled nursing facility care after you run out of Medicare-covered days. For instance, if you have used your 90 days of hospital coverage but your still unwell and need to stay longer.

While Medigap policies sold after January 1, 2006, are not allowed to include prescription drug coverage, you can now enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) offered by a private insurance company that has been approved by Medicare.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

New Report Blasts ‘Confusing’ Medicare Search Tool

Credit: Shutterstock

Navigating your way through Medicare is no small feat. The government says its online Medicare Plan Finder tool is “designed to help people view and compare the Medicare health and drug plans available in their area.” But that goal largely does not jibe with reality, according to a new report from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Clear Choices Campaign, an advocacy campaign of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, a health care industry alliance.

“The site is overwhelming, information is poorly presented, and the user design is potentially misleading — all of which confuses beneficiaries and can contribute to many making poor plan selections,” the NCOA, which works with other nonprofits, government and business to improve the lives of older Americans, said on its website. “Two of the biggest shortcomings are out-of-pocket cost information is difficult to understand and provider directories are difficult to navigate.”

In response to a request for comment by Next Avenue, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said in an email: “CMS continues to be committed to making accurate, reliable and unbiased information available to Medicare beneficiaries to help them make informed choices about their healthcare. Planfinder is the most frequently used tool on Medicare.gov, with 2017 marking an all-time high for consumer enrollment through the tool. Last fall, CMS made improvements to Planfinder based on consumer testing and are continuing to make additional enhancements over the next several years.”

Confusion, Inaccuracy, No Human Help

The report’s key findings about the online tool to help people 65 and older compare Medicare plans:

  • Out-of-pocket cost information is difficult to understand
  • Provider and pharmacy directories are hard to navigate
  • Plan comparisons do not permit inclusion of Medigap policies, the private plans that consumers can buy to supplement Medicare
  • The layout and display of the website are confusing
  • The language is not accessible
  • Navigation and usability of the site are complex and inconsistent
  • Human support is not available
  • Information on quality Star Ratings of the health plans is confusing
  • Plan information is not customized well
  • Information is not always accurate

On the plus side, the report gives the Medicare Plan Finder an A grade for anonymous browsing, allowing consumers to look through various plans before creating a user account. It also gives the tool an A for language accessibility, citing a link at the top of the Medicare Plan Finder page letting users translate it into Spanish. (No other languages are available, however.)

And while the Medicare Plan Finder provides “a wealth of unbiased information on beneficiary costs” in an understandable way, a retooling of the comparison features and enrollment functions is “essential,” the report said.

A Better ‘Shopping’ Experience

Consumers often enjoy smooth online shopping experiences outside of the Medicare site. In fact, the report said, older adults spend an average of almost 2 1/2 hours per week shopping online. With that in mind, “Congress should allocate funds to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to modernize [the Medicare Plan Finder] and assist Medicare private plan markets in functioning more effectively,” the report said.

It also said policymakers should consider partnering with the private sector to improve the tool’s efficiency and effectiveness.

A Complex Medicare Landscape

Signing up for Medicare involves choosing from a complicated range of options: fee-for-service coverage, Medicare supplemental coverage (or Medigap), Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), and prescription drug plans (Part D).

Some commercial websites offer tools to search and compare plans. But the Medicare Plan Finder is the only federally-funded site to do so.

Having a tool that works well is “made more critical by the fact that an incredible wave of retirees will join Medicare over the next 10 years,” the report said.

Suggestions to Improve the Medicare Plan Finder

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Displaying costs with precision and prominence
  • Basing estimated out-of-pocket costs on more detailed personal information
  • Including a provider directory
  • Using saved information about consumers’ drugs
  • Allowing consumers to compare Medicare Advantage plans with an equivalent combination of fee-for-service, Medigap and standalone drug plans
  • Redesigning the layout and display to enhance usability and promote intuitive navigation
  • Replacing insurance jargon with graphics, charts and plain language
  • Adding a web chat feature
  • Enabling the website to suggest plan options
  • Contracting with outside experts to ensure more stringent oversight of accuracy
  • Regularly testing the site with consumers

The Medicare Plan Finder is nowhere near up to par with basic state-of-the-art features of e-commerce sites and would need “substantial improvements” to get there, the report said.

“At a bare minimum, beneficiaries require and deserve clearer and more transparent information,” the report noted. “Providing it will make markets work better, resulting in lower consumer and taxpayer costs.”

Original Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/04/30/new-report-blasts-confusing-medicare-search-tool/#6088b1ba104d

Original Author: Emily Gurnon

Original Date: April 30 2018


How Do I Enroll in a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan?

Medicare doesn’t cover everything, which is why many seniors look to Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans to get more from their insurance policy. Medicare is health insurance for those who are 65 years and older. As the largest health insurance program in the U.S., it covers more than 40 million people. There are four parts to Medicare – A, B, C and D.

Medicare part A is hospital insurance and covers any inpatient hospital care.  Medicare Part B is medical insurance, covering services like doctors, outpatient care, home care and medical equipment.  Medicare Advantage, Part C is a health care plan that covers similar aspects of Original Medicare along with prescription drug coverage, dental and hearing for an extra premium. Medicare Supplemental Plan D is considered Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, covering the cost of prescription drugs.

Medigap insurance covers the gap that Original Medicare Part A and Part B don’t cover.  If you’re interested in supplemental insurance like Medigap, the best time to purchase this insurance is during the 6-month Medigap enrollment period that starts the month a person turns 65.  Participants must also be enrolled in both parts of Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. After this enrollment period, you can’t purchase a policy without undergoing medical assessments and paying higher priced premiums.

If you purchase during Medigap enrollment, insurance companies can’t use underwriting to decide if they should accept you or not and how much they’ll charge you. And if you have any health problems, you’ll be able to purchase the same coverage at the same price as those in good health.  If you wait until after this period of time you may be required to undergo the underwriting policy.

To find Medicare supplemental insurance plans, do some research on providers near you. That way you can compare plans to see what’s best for you and your health needs, discuss any questions you might have with a representative and get professional insights from a licensed insurance agent.  This will allow you to compare policies and premiums before you sign up for Medigap insurance.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!

12 Things You Must Do as Soon as You Turn 65

Your 65th birthday is considered a milestone for several reasons. Not only was it once considered standard retirement age (alas, those days are no more), but it’s the year you can start cashing in on all those senior discounts.

Turning 65 isn’t entirely pleasant — there are definitely some medical conditions and things happening to your body you’ll want to be aware of. But as long as you prepare properly, you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way. These are 12 of the things you need to do as soon as you turn 65 years young.

 1. Familiarize yourself with Medicare …

An elderly couple looking at the paper work

It can take a bit of reading and researching, but Medicare is an important part of life after 65. | JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

For most people, turning 65 means you’re eligible for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. You can also choose to enroll in Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage. If you aren’t retiring, you’ll need to visit the Social Security website and manually sign up for it yourself.

Next: Medicare can be complicated. 

… and don’t be afraid to ask for help 

Female Helping Senior Woman

You may need to ask for help, and that’s OK! | Highwaystarz-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

Being new to Medicare can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you learn you could see a gap in medical coverage or face a fine. The Medicare website offers some helpful information, but if you’re still confused, talk to your current insurance agent or employer to help you find someone that can better assist you.

Next: Is retirement in the cards?

2. Decide if you’ll retire or keep working

Senior Couple Laughing

This is a big decision and marks a shift in lifestyle. | Bowdenimages/iStock/Getty Images

You probably know the answer to this long before your 65th birthday. Still, if you’re still working when you turn 65, you need to go over all your financial information and assets and figure out where you stand. After all, just because you’re eligible for retirement doesn’t mean you’re truly ready — you should determine if you can live a comfortable life. Also, you might be in great shape and still genuinely enjoy your job.

Next: If you are returning, you’ll want to take this next step.

3. Learn the term ‘Medigap’

Rosemary Petty, a Publix Supermarket pharmacy technician, counts out a prescription of antibiotic pills

Those medications may start getting expensive. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images 

Medigap supplemental insurance policies are sold by private insurance companies to fill some of the gaps in expenses that standard Medicare won’t cover. If you’ll no longer have employee-sponsored healthcare, you’ll definitely want to look into getting one.

Next: The insurance information seems never-ending.

4. Consider getting a long-term care insurance policy

nursing home

If you ever need assisted care support, this will help. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

A private long-term care insurance policy will help you pay for any assisted living care needs you’ll require in the future. They can be expensive, and admittedly, they’re a gamble — but age 65 is usually the last time you can get a policy for a somewhat affordable rate.

Next: It’s time to claim those Social Security benefits.

5. Plan your social security benefits claim

retirees dancing

Make smart choices when pulling retirement benefits. | RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

Age 66 is now considered Social Security’s “full retirement age,” meaning the age when you can claim your full retirement benefits without penalty. Some start to claim reduced benefits at age 62, while others wait until after full retirement age (up to age 70) to claim higher benefits.

Next: Start planning for the future now.

6. Get your legal documents in order …

Judge Holding Documents

Ensure you’re ready for the next phase of life. | AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

While most 65-year-olds have many years left to live, an illness or an accident could make decision-making more difficult. Get your wishes in order regarding healthcare, ongoing finances, and your estate. The first step is to think about your choices and get all of your medical and personal files organized.

Next: Assemble your legal team.

7. … and get a will and a power of attorney if you don’t have them already

A legal will paper

Take time to iron out the details. | djedzura/Getty Images

Having a legal will will ensure your final wishes are met and protect your assets. A power of attorney is helpful for finances, and a living will — also called an advance medical directive — will legally enforce your healthcare choices.

Next: Don’t forget about your HSA.

8. Make HSA changes

hand singing a paper

This change may happen right as you turn 65. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy, you’ll need to stop making HSA contributions when you enroll in Medicare. On the first day of the month you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, you lose your eligibility to contribute to an HSA. You can keep contributing to an HSA after 65 if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B.

Next: This is an important step to take if you’re still working.

9. Maximize your catch-up contributions

advisor on the phone

Talk to your accountant, investor, or someone you trust. | Chris Ryan/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re over the age of 50, you can contribute an extra annual $1,000 to IRAs and an extra $6,000 to 401(k)s, according to Kiplinger. If you’re still working, this is a good thing to do for an extra cushion when you do retire.

Next: Take stock of your health.

10. Get a complete physical

older at doctor

This step is important, especially to your family. | AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images

Regardless of age, most people don’t get complete physical examinations as often as they should. Visit your doctor and make sure you’re caught up on routine screenings and exams so you can enjoy life for years to come.

Next: This isn’t pleasant, but it’s necessary.

11. Have a conversation with your loved ones about your end of life wishe

family members talking with each other

As difficult as this can be, it needs to happen. | Image Source/Getty Images

As we’ve mentioned, turning 65 is far from a death sentence — in fact, our human life span is longer than ever. But talking to your spouse and children about your end of life and funeral wishes now could save them a lot of extra heartache later. Have the difficult conversation and move on.

Next: This is the fun part of turning 65.

12. Cash in on all those perks

Man and woman on airplane having airline food

Enjoy the finer side of life. | David De Lossy/Getty Images

Here’s one thing to be very excited about: 65 is the age of the senior discount. From cheaper restaurant entrees to travel deals, you’ll be amazed by what companies offer in order to earn your business. If you don’t see anything listed, ask.

Next: Don’t be afraid to dream big. 

Extra credit: Dust off that bucket list

Two senior couples looking at photographs around garden table, smiling

Share your dreams with your partner and friends. | Liz Gregg/Getty Images

Whether you’re still working full-time or not, turning 65 will force you to slow down in some ways simply because your body and mind are changing. This is a great time to make a bucket list and think about what you want the next decade or two of your life to look like.

Next: This is good financial advice.

If at all possible, hold off on social security for a few years

man holding social security card in his hand

Unless you need it, waiting is the smartest choice you can make. | KenTannenbaum/iStock/Getty Images

Most Americans start collecting social security as soon as they can. And while this is fine if you don’t have a choice, if you can, holding off for a few years will allow you a bigger payout later. If you have other sources of income and can wait, you should.

Next: Once the legalities have all been handled, all that’s left to do is enjoy life.

Enjoy every moment

Mature couple dancing on beach

Take the time to enjoy life! | Christopher Robbins/Getty Images

Having a milestone birthday like 65 comes with a hefty checklist, but it’s also a great time to slow down and enjoy every moment, especially when you retire. Reflect on your accomplishments and make it a point to live to the fullest, whatever that means for you.

Original Source: https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/things-you-must-do-as-soon-as-you-turn-65.html/?a=viewall

Original Author: Jessica Wick

Original Date: April 22 2018

Medigap Plan F and Plan C To Be Closed For Enrollment After 2020

There are a number of questions surrounding Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans.  One thing that we do know is that the federal government has decided that in the year 2020, Medigap Plan F and Plan C will no longer be available to new participants.  Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan enrollees that are currently enrolled in either Plan F or Plan C will be allowed continue coverage under these two plans.

With these changes fast approaching it is critical that seniors turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare or if they are looking to switch Medigap plans within the next few years they must diligently scrutinize all insurance possibilities before two options are no longer available.

It has never been easy to choose a Medigap plan.  With ten different options to cover the gaps found in Original Medicare, which consists of Medicare Plan and Plan B, there is a lot to consider.  Many participants have leaned towards Medigap Plan F, as it covers the most medical costs but without this option in 2020 participants will have more to consider.  Medigap Plan F does not pay dental, vision, or medicine however with premiums paid monthly, participants shouldn’t have to put any money out of pocket for doctors, tests, or hospitals.  Even medical coverage overseas is partially covered with Medigap Plan F.

The federal government has decided to close out enrollment to popular Medigap Plan F and Plan C to help reduce spending on Medicare.  This decision was made in 2015 by Congress.  Even though Medigap plans are purchased through private insurance companies they are regulated by the federal government and Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, are provided through the federal government.  Congress estimates that shutting down enrollment into Medigap Plans F and Plan C will reduce Medicare spending by about four hundred million dollars between 2020 and 2025.

Even though Medicare enrollees previously enrolled in Medigap Plan F and Plan C will still be allowed to continue coverage in these plans speculation is that the premiums for these plans will rise.  An alternative to Medigap Plan F is Medigap Plan G. Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan G offers comprehensive coverage equivalent to Medigap Plan F but requires participants to pay an annual deductible for Medicare.

It is important before committing to or switching to a different Medigap plan that you truly look into the options available.  Even if you are enrolled in Plan F and you switch out of it, you will no longer be able to enroll in this coverage after it is shut down to new enrollment in 2020.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!


8 Frequently Asked Medicare Questions

More than half of Americans worry a great deal about the availability and affordability of healthcare, and 23% of them worry a “fair amount” about it, per a recent Gallup survey. That’s not surprising, given the steep cost of care and the rate at which it has been increasing over the years.

The same survey found about half of respondents agreeing that it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure healthcare coverage. We might not yet have a country where the government ensures coverage for all, but at least we have Medicare, which does a good job for tens of millions of Americans aged 65 and older.

Five people holding up signs with question marks on them in front of their faces.

View photos

Five people holding up signs with question marks on them in front of their faces.

Image source: Getty Images.

Medicare is likely to be extremely important to you, either now or in the future, so be sure you understand how it works and what it does. Here are answers to a bunch of frequently asked questions about Medicare.

1. What do Part A, Part B, Part D, and so on refer to?

There used to be just one kind of Medicare, but enrollees now have two main choices: “original” Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (physician/medical insurance). Part D is optional, and provides prescription drug coverage, including insulin supplies. In addition, many enrollees opt to add on a private “Medicare Supplement Insurance” plan, commonly referred to as Medigap, to pay for more of what Medicare doesn’t pay.

You might wonder if there’s a Part C. Well, there is — Medicare Advantage plans, sometimes referred to as Part C. They’re plans that are offered by private insurers but are regulated by the U.S. government. They must offer at least as much coverage as original Medicare, but many go well beyond that, typically including prescription drug coverage and sometimes vision, dental, and/or hearing coverage, too.

2. Is Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan better?

There’s no single plan that’s best for everyone, so take some time to read up on all the options available in your region and make your decision thoughtfully. Original Medicare is standard nationwide, but different Medicare Advantage plans are offered in different regions by different insurance companies.

Don’t just compare premiums, either, because Medicare Advantage plans may offer different co-payments, deductibles, and so on. Compare total expected out-of-pocket costs, and consider other pros and cons, too. For example, Medicare Advantage plans are typically rooted in your local area, limiting you to a certain network of providers (though some networks can be rather large). If you plan to travel a lot, original Medicare may be preferable as it’s honored by providers nationwide. On the other hand, some Medicare Advantage plans offer limited coverage abroad, which original Medicare does not do. The Medicare website’s Plan Finder can help you compare plans and choose.

Medicare Advantage plans can sometimes be your best bet, as they may cost less and generally provide more coverage — remember that they are required to offer at least as much as you’d get with Part A and Part B. Among the more than 58 million folks in Medicare, more than 18 million are estimated to be in Medicare Advantage plans as of 2017.

A three-way signpost, pointing to good, better, and best.

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A three-way signpost, pointing to good, better, and best.

Image source: Getty Images.

3. How can I find the best plans and facilities?

As you narrow down the contenders, be sure to check out each one’s star rating. Medicare has a five-star rating system for services and facilities such as hospitals, dialysis centers, Medicare Advantage plans, nursing homes, and more. A five-star rating is the best you can get, but as of December, when nearly 4,000 hospitals were rated, only 337 earned all five stars. Among the 384 Medicare Advantage contracts evaluated in 2018, only 23 (not 23%) were awarded five stars, but 44% of the ones that also offered Part D prescription drug coverage earned four or five stars, which is pretty good.

The rating system for hospitals takes into account measures such as the rate of post-surgical infections and emergency room wait times. Medicare Advantage plans are evaluated on measures such as how well they’re keeping their members healthy (via screenings, checkups, and more), how well they’re managing members’ chronic conditions, and how good their customer service is. You’ll find the star ratings of plans available to you by using the Medicare Plan Finder at the Medicare website.

4. Can I change my mind after choosing a plan?

Yes. There’s an annual election period that goes from October 15 to December 7 each year, and during that period you can switch to a different Medicare plan if you’d like — including switching into or out of a Medicare Advantage plan. There’s also a special enrollment option, letting you switch into a five-star Medicare Advantage plan at any other time of the year, if one is available to you. Plan offerings change from year to year, so it’s smart to review all your options and their costs each year.

5. When should I sign up for Medicare?

This is a more important question than you might expect, because if you’re late signing up to be a Medicare enrollee, it can cost you a lot. The regular eligibility age for Medicare is 65. You can sign up anytime within the three months leading up to your 65th birthday, during the month of your birthday, or within the three months that follow. That’s your seven-month-long “Initial Enrollment Period” (IEP). Miss it and your part B premiums (which cover medical services, but not hospital services) can rise by 10% for each year that you were eligible for Medicare but didn’t enroll.

If you are late, you can still enroll during the “general enrollment period,” which is from Jan. 1 through March 31 of each year — though that coverage won’t begin until July and the late penalty might apply.

There are a few loopholes, though. If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits as you approach 65, you’ll likely be enrolled in Medicare automatically. (You’ll know this has happened because you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday.) Most people start collecting Social Security before age 65 (the earliest one can start is 62), so the penalty won’t affect as many people as you might think.

A blue stethoscope atop hundred dollar bills.

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A blue stethoscope atop hundred dollar bills.

Image source: Getty Images.

6. What does Medicare cost — is it free?

Medicare can be very inexpensive for some people, but it isn’t free. Original Medicare’s Part A is free for most people, but it carries a deductible ($1,340 for 2018) — and it’s not a simple annual deductible, either. Instead, it applies per “benefit period,” with a benefit period beginning when you are admitted to a hospital or a skilled nursing facility and ending once you’ve not received inpatient care for 60 consecutive days. Thus, if you are in and out of hospitals frequently, you may have to pay that deductible several times in a single year.

Part B, meanwhile, charges monthly premiums — which are $134 for most folks in 2018 — and features an annual $183 deductible. After you pay the deductible, you’ll generally be paying 20% of the Medicare-approved cost of various products and services. Premiums and costs for Parts C (Medicare Advantage plans) and D (prescription drug plans) vary widely. Some Medicare Advantage plans charge no premium at all, and all of them cap your in-network out-of-pocket spending at $6,700 for 2018.

It’s worth noting that while you might be paying 20% of this or that expense, there are some services that Medicare offers at no extra cost to you. For example, you’ll pay nothing out of pocket for an annual wellness visit with your doctor, as well as for certain screenings, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, diabetes screenings, and many more.

7. What care is covered by Medicare, and what isn’t covered?

Part A covers hospital inpatient care, skilled nursing facility care, and some home healthcare and hospice care. Part B covers physicians’ services, service from other healthcare providers, certain therapies, lab tests, home healthcare, durable medical equipment (such as blood sugar monitors, wheelchairs, or crutches), and some preventive services such as screenings and vaccines. Lots of other items or treatments are covered (some only under certain conditions), such as artificial limbs, ambulance services, hospice care, mental healthcare, and transplants.

There are plenty of common (and sometimes costly) issues and expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover, though. For example, it generally doesn’t cover vision, hearing, or dental expenses, as well as basic home health help, such as assistance with bathing or toileting — unless you’re also receiving skilled nursing care. Alternative medicines or treatments (such as acupuncture, acupressure, homeopathy, or chiropractic care) are generally not covered. Care you receive while outside the U.S. is not covered, either, with original Medicare.

When it comes to Part D, lots of prescription drugs are covered, but not all. Weight-loss pills, erectile dysfunction treatments, fertility drugs, and over-the-counter medicines are among those not covered.

8. How should I best use my Medicare plan?

To get the most bang for your Medicare bucks — and perhaps to live longer, too — proactively use your coverage instead of just waiting to get sick.

Screenings and preventive care (again, often available at no extra cost to you) can help identify problems early, before they grow worse and more costly. These include mammograms, colonoscopies, diabetes screenings, flu shots, and even smoking and tobacco-use cessation counseling. Here’s how powerful regular care can be: According to a 2014 study from the Insured Retirement Institute, “A 65-year-old male in excellent health can expect to live to age 87, while the same male in poor health (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tobacco use) has a life expectancy at age 65 of approximately 81 years.” For women, excellent health offers a life expectancy of 89 and poor health only 84 years. That’s five or six extra years of life!

Don’t ignore wellness benefits, either. You’re entitled to one wellness visit with your doctor annually, at no extra charge, in order to review your health. Don’t skip this, as it gives your doctor a chance to discuss ways to get you healthier instead of just addressing the illness or injury you walked in with. You may have access to other benefits, too, such as discounts on gym memberships. Find out what your plan offers. When you’re shopping for a Medicare plan, review available wellness perks, too, to see which would serve you best.

The more you know about Medicare, the better decisions you can make — which can improve your health while keeping more dollars in your pocket.

Original Source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/8-frequently-asked-medicare-questions-120200966.html

Original Author: Selena Maranjian, The Motley Fool

Original Date: April 14 2018

Compare 2018 Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans

All Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans are regulated by the US government. This means that your choice of insurance provider has no impact on the benefits you’ll get from the coverage. The benefits are the same across the board.  There are only three states that regulate their Medigap plans and these are Minnesota, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

In 2018, there are ten Medigap plans which start with letter A and end with letter N. Each Medicare supplemental insurance plan has varying degrees of benefits and cost implication. All Medicare Part A and Part B beneficiaries have a chance to purchase Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans out of pocket to provide coverage that fills in the gaps left open by original Medicare.

In this article, we will look at the top three Medicare supplemental insurance plans and compare the benefits that come with each.

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan N

This plan is one of the most chosen options in 2018. The premiums are lower than other plans and you get lots of benefits such as 100% copayment of any coinsurance for out of pocket expenses that are covered in Part B of Medicare. In addition, if you require a skilled nurse, the plan coverage is 100% of the expense from day 21 of getting services from a skilled nurse. The first 20 days are paid for by Part A of your Medicare cover.  Should you fall ill or get into an accident while traveling outside the USA, this Medicare Supplemental Insurance coverage will cater for your foreign emergency care within your plan’s limit.

2018 Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan G

This plan is second favorite to many. It has the same benefits and Plan N but unlike Plan N, it does not necessitate copayments for visits to emergency rooms and doctor’s office.  Just like plan N, it provides full cover for a skilled nurse and upkeep facility coinsurance. You also get your Part A Medicare deductible and foreign emergency coverage if travelling outside the U.S.

2018 Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan F

Third on the list is the Supplement Plan F. It encompasses all the benefits of Medicare supplement insurance plan G but also provides greater benefits. These include covering your deducible for Medicare Part B. The premiums you pay for this supplemental cover are higher but the value you get from the coverage is the best out there. To make it more affordable to as many people as possible, there exists a high deductible version of this coverage where premiums are significantly lower but benefits equally astounding.

Learn more about Medicare Supplemental Insurance plans, rates and more at http://www.emedicare-supplemental-insurance.com.  Medicare Supplemental Insurance brokers will help you compare Medicare Supplemental Insurance rates and plans.  To talk to an expert in Medicare coverage toll free 877-202-9248 today!