If your health care routine doesn’t include preparing for Medicare’s Open Enrollment, now’s the time to kick-start a new healthy habit. Here are five important things every Medicare beneficiary can do to get into the Medicare Open Enrollment routine each year.
Make Medicare Open Enrollment a Healthy Habit
(Family Features) Routines help keep us focused, organized and healthy. However, if your health care routine doesn’t include preparing for Medicare’s Open Enrollment, now’s the time to kick-start a new healthy habit.
If you have a Medicare health or prescription drug plan, Open Enrollment runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. During this time, you can make changes to your plan which will take effect Jan. 1, 2017. Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, you might find something that’s a better fit for your budget or health needs. If you miss the Open Enrollment deadline, you’ll most likely have to wait a full year before you can make changes to your plan.
Here are five important things every Medicare beneficiary can do to get into the Medicare Open Enrollment routine each year:
1. Review your plan notice. Be sure to read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.
2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Is your new medication covered by your current plan? Does another plan offer the same value at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.
3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for your Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums, your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs. You can do this by visiting Medicare.gov or making an appointment with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor.
4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting each October, you can use Medicare’s plan finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:
If you find your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.
5. Check your plan’s Star Rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder is up-to-date with the Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a one to five star scale, with one star representing poor performance and five stars representing excellent performance. Star Ratings can be used to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.
For more information, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language. You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance. Find one at medicare.gov/contacts/. Additional information about Medicare is available on the Medicare Facebook page and by following @MedicareGov on Twitter.
Medicare 101: The Basics
Medicare is a health insurance program for:
What are the different parts of Medicare?
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance):
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance):
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage):
Medicare Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage):
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
For many young adults, heavy debt and lower-paying jobs lead to a delay in traditional life goals like buying homes and starting families. However, research suggests that millennials’ financial worries are adding up to more than stress and disappointment, particularly once they become parents.
Millennial Parents Struggle with High Cost of Living
Better money management today can lead to brighter financial future
(Family Features) For many young adults, heavy debt and lower-paying jobs lead to a delay in traditional life goals like buying homes and starting families. However, research suggests that millennials' financial worries are adding up to more than stress and disappointment, particularly once they become parents.
Two in five young parents rate their financial health as unsatisfactory and 40 percent said financial stress is putting a strain on their relationship, according to a survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education and Parents Magazine. More than half of millennial parents concede they would surrender a year of their life to have more financial security.
"Being a parent takes patience, forgiveness and a lot of silent counts to 10, but it also takes a lot of money," said Paul Golden, director of Smart About Money, a nonprofit foundation inspiring educated financial decision-making for individuals and families through every stage of life. "Many young adults start off with significant student loan debt. When you add housing, groceries, utilities, transportation expenses and health care costs, the strain increases, and oftentimes the math in the household budget doesn't add up."
The price tag of raising a child is more than $304,000 based on the projected inflation-adjusted cost of rearing a child until age 18, not counting college. Managing that financial pressure begins with planning for the future and truly understanding the costs associated with adding a baby to the family or buying a new home, Golden added.
"Regularly paying attention to your money and practicing major life transitions before they happen is an important step toward achieving financial health," he said.
As a parent, you have many financial responsibilities to balance, but planning for the future can help prevent unforeseen expenses from tipping your scales.
Debt reduction. Make a plan to pay off excessive debt, particularly credit cards. Tackle your lowest balance first to gain momentum then take on the next smallest. Additionally, pay attention to higher interest rates that are costing you a lot of money.
Use a budget. Get a budget and spending plan in place to keep track of your expenses. Try an envelope system with monthly allowances for groceries, entertainment, utilities, etc.
Start saving. Build an emergency fund. Aim for a small, achievable goal as low as $500 then set the bar higher. Participate in your employer-sponsored savings program to boost retirement savings, especially if there is a match. Make it an automatic payroll deduction and increase it when your paycheck goes up. As far as your child's college savings, save what you can, when you can. Every little bit will help when education bills come due.
Child care. Consider establishing a flexible spending account if one is offered by your employer. Parents can use pretax dollars to pay up to $5,000 in child care expenses in most states.
Review insurance and important paperwork. Create a will either by using an online program or hiring a professional to name your child's guardian, and designate at what age any payouts, savings or investments will be distributed. With health insurance, notify your employer within 30 days of the birth to ensure that the child is eligible for any dependent benefits. Purchase appropriate health care coverage to protect your family. Review your employer's life insurance plan and determine if it is adequate for your needs. If not, consider purchasing additional life insurance.
Save for the future. Put money for short-term expenses (1-5 years) in safe investments, such as savings accounts and certificates of deposit. These low-interest-rate investments will not grow dramatically, but they will not lose money, either. Money you will need beyond five years should have the opportunity to grow at a risk level you are comfortable with. Use a combination of steady-earning savings accounts and more volatile stock and bond mutual funds to help protect you against long-term losses.
Get started with these tips and learn more through self-directed courses at SmartAboutMoney.org.
How Much Does Having a Baby Cost?Along with preparing for the costs of clothes, furniture and baby items, take time to review your health care and employer benefits and policies relating to time off work.
Spread the costs.
Know what's covered.
Account for time off work.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Yahoo finance columnist and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent David Pogue has a new guide to help get our lives in line: "Pogue's Basics: Money: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) About Beating the System." This is his third book on the New York Times best-selling series. Pogue joins "CBS This Morning" to offer practical tips. From CBS This Morning.
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