Articles Posted in Medicare

7.8.19Life before Medicare was a real struggle for seniors without healthcare coverage. Today’s program still works wonders, but it doesn’t cover everything.

Once you turn 65, you are eligible to take part in the Medicare system of healthcare. It can be a little confusing to apply, and sometimes a little hard to figure out what it will and won’t cover. Traditional Medicare, also known as “Original Medicare,” should cover most of your medical expenses through Medicare Part A and Part B. Part A is all about hospital insurance: inpatient stays, skilled nursing facilities for some costs, surgery, hospice care and some home health care. Part B helps to pay for things like some medical equipment and supplies, some preventive services, doctor visits and outpatient care. Three months before you reach age 65, you need to sign up for Medicare.

Kiplinger’s article, “7 Things Medicare Doesn't Cover,” takes a closer look at what isn't covered by Medicare, plus some information about supplemental insurance policies and strategies that can help cover the additional costs, so you don't end up with unanticipated medical bills in retirement.

8.24.18Start with the basics, to make sure you’re making informed decisions.

Created in July 1965 as part of the Social Security Act, Medicare is how most adults over age 65 cover their healthcare costs. Medicare has four parts. They are Part A: Hospital, Part B: Outpatient Services, Part C: Medicare Replacement and Part D: Prescription Drugs. This useful article from Think Advisor, “Essential Medicare Facts & Penalties Advisors Should Know on One Page,” covers Medicare fundamentals.

As a general rule, if you are 65 and you or your spouse have paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, you may enroll in the program. Those under 65 may also enroll, if they are disabled or have end stage renal disease.

4.11.18Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That’s why Medicare provides free screenings and examinations focused on prevention.

Yes, you still have to spend a lot of out-of-pocket money on healthcare, but a recent article in AARP ,“10 Free Services Medicare Provides,” reports that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded access to free preventive care, including a number of screenings and examinations. These are all helpful to maintaining good health.

  1. A “Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit. Available only in the first 12 months you’re on Part B, this visit includes a review of your medical history, some screenings and shots, measurements of vital signs, a vision test, a review of potential risk for depression, the opportunity to discuss advance directives, as well as a written plan detailing the screenings, shots, and other preventive services you should have. This visit is covered only once, but it’s a good perk.

The cost of long-term care insurance may not be cheap, but the cost of long-term care is extremely expensive, and is only moving higher.

Long-term care insurance is costly, but health care costs for seniors who need long-term care could easily undo decades of retirement planning. Here’s what you need to know about the costs and benefits of long-term care insurance.

The Chicago Tribune’s recent article, “Thinking of buying long-term care insurance? Consider these costs,” reports that a 2015 cost of care survey from insurance company Genworth Financial estimated the national median cost of care for a home health aide to be almost $46,000 annually, while the national median cost for a private nursing room home is more than $91,000 annually.

10.16.17A large percentage of Americans require assisted living care at some point during their senior years. Their understanding of how that gets paid for is way off base. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

 Approximately one-third of Americans (34%) thought that Medicare would cover their nursing home costs, as reported in a survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Another third, 27%, may have been a little smarter to say that they weren’t sure.

That’s not true, says WRAL’s recent post, “Expect Medicare to cover assisted living? Think again.” These results may correlate with the fact that only 37% of Americans think they’ll need any care in their later years, but in reality, about 70% will require this care.

8.10.17Higher fees are coming to high earners, when income thresholds for the highest surcharge tiers drop even further next year.

If you were hit with premium surcharges for Medicare Part B and Part D already, these costs will increase again in 2018, according to a recent article in Kiplinger, “Medicare Surcharge Thresholds to Drop.”

This recalibration of the trigger points was a part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, also called the "Doc Fix" law, which ended the annual battles over fee schedules for doctors' Medicare payments. To help pay for the permanent fix, lawmakers have asked high-income beneficiaries to foot the bill.

7.21.17You must sign up for Medicare Part B no later than eight months after retirement, or the penalties could be serious.

These are the details that really matter when it comes to retirement and Medicare. If you signed up for Medicare Part A on your 65th birthday but were still working, you probably didn’t enroll in Part B. Now you’ve just turned 68 and plan on retiring this year. When do you need to enroll in Medicare Part B, and what do you need to know to ensure that you’re covered?

Kiplinger’s recent article, “What to Know About Enrolling in Medicare Part B,” says that many people who are still working do this. They sign up for Medicare Part A at 65 (because it’s free) and wait to sign up for Part B, while they’re covered by their employer’s insurance. However, you are required to sign up for Medicare Part B no later than eight months after you leave your employment and lose that coverage. Failure to do so, can result in a lifetime penalty and a gap in coverage.

4.25.17Even if you are still working, once you turn 65, you have to navigate your way through an entirely new and complex health care system. While there’s no HR department, there are resources.

It starts the day you turn 65, and it’s a bit of a challenge. Seniors need to get up to speed fast on the many requirements of Medicare. A recent post of Kiplinger’s, “FAQs About Medicare,” warns that mistakes can be extremely costly and difficult to fix. You’ll want to study up on this in advance.

For starters, if you signed up for Social Security before age 65, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare parts A and B and receive your card three months before your 65th birthday. Part A covers hospitalization and is generally premium-free. Part B covers outpatient care, such as doctors’ visits, x-rays and tests, and costs $134 a month for people who enroll in 2017 (or more for high earners).

2.8.17You might think that any doctor seeing patients over a certain age would automatically screen for Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related diseases, but until now that has not been the case.

Starting in January, Medicare will now begin reimbursing doctors for screening and providing information about care planning for patients with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairment diseases. What seems like common sense public health policy, took many years of advocacy from patient groups.

Santa Cruz Sentinel’s recent article, “Diagnosing Alzheimer’s: Medicare now pays doctors to stop and assess memory loss,” reports that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and as many as 16 million will have the disease in 2050.  The cost of caring for those with the disease and other types of dementia is also skyrocketing. In the U.S., it’s estimated to total $236 billion in 2016 and is anticipated to increase to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

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