Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs. To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps.
Protect Your Health and Your Card
Making the most of Medicare Open Enrollment
(Family Features) Eating well and regular exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is making sure you have the right health care coverage. Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your current coverage and decide if there may be a better fit based on changes to current plans, your budget or health needs.
During Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2017, you can enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2018. If you miss the deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your plan.
To make Medicare Open Enrollment part of your healthy lifestyle, follow these five steps:
1. Review your current plan notice. 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? Does your current plan cover your new medication? Does another plan offer the same coverage 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 Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums (through Medicare Savings Programs), your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs (through Extra Help). Visit Medicare.gov or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more.
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.
For more information, visit medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users can 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 get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your local SHIP by visiting shiptacenter.org. More information about Medicare is available on the Medicare Facebook page and by following @MedicareGov on Twitter.
Protect Your Medicare Card
Protect your identity as well as your health by guarding your Medicare card like you would a credit card. Medicare is aiding in the fight against Medicare fraud by removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards and replacing them with a new, unique number for each person with Medicare. Medicare will mail the new cards with unique numbers between April 2018-April 2019. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft:
If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.SOURCE:
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Face Your Financial Fears
Take action to save for retirement
(Family Features) Retirement is supposed to be a reward for decades of hard work, but if you haven’t planned well, the milestone may be a dark cloud on your horizon. In fact, new data shows that nearly 50 percent of Americans are most afraid of outliving their income or the inability to maintain their current lifestyle, and nearly 20 percent are worried about having enough money to cover health care expenses.
The research, released by the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council (IALC), also found that despite these very real fears, Americans are failing to take action to address them. For example, a quarter of Baby Boomers, the age group closest to retirement, have less than $5,000 saved for retirement and nearly one in five Americans have no idea how much they’ve saved.
The findings indicate that Americans are afraid of the unknown when it comes to managing their money and retirement. While you can budget for leisure and travel, health care expenses and life expectancy are unpredictable.
“Americans are living longer than ever, so it’s no surprise that the No. 1 retirement fear is that they’ll run out of money in their final years,” said Jim Poolman, executive director of the IALC. “Thankfully, there are strategies and products out there that can help you create sufficient retirement income to last throughout your lifetime, which can help with this crippling fear.”
To take control of the uncertainty and create peace of mind when it comes to retirement, here are some simple steps you can follow:
Make a budget.
Balance is key.
Plan to adjust.
Monitor the balance.
Small changes count.
Make it automatic.
Understanding Fixed Indexed Annuities
According to the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council’s research, 45 percent of Americans are interested in retirement products, such as Fixed Indexed Annuities, that offer steady lifetime income and protect your principal even if the stock market goes down.
Find more tips and tools to guide your retirement planning at FIAinsights.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Indexed Annuity Leadership Council
Many seniors are finding their medical expenses exceed what they anticipated when planning for retirement. Whether living a longer, healthier life than anticipated, dealing with a critical illness or paying for ongoing treatment for various ailments, the costs associated with medical care can add up. To help manage your assets in a way that allows you to deal with mounting health care costs, try one of these solutions.
How to Deal with Rising Health Care Costs
(Family Features) Many seniors are finding their medical expenses exceed what they anticipated when planning for retirement. Maximizing the value of available assets can be one of the ways to significantly ease a stressed budget.
Whether living a longer, healthier life than anticipated, dealing with a critical illness or paying for ongoing treatment for various ailments, the costs associated with medical care can add up. If you or a loved one is facing this challenge, it may be time to explore alternatives that allow you to continue to cover your expenses while easing the burden on your bank account.
Consider this story about a woman who sold her $500,000 term policy to pay her medical bills and cover future treatment costs. After her husband passed away, she was having trouble meeting her life insurance premium payments. Years later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was struggling to meet the cost of her ongoing treatment. She tried to apply for an accelerated death benefit, but didn’t qualify due to her state’s regulations. That’s when she contacted Coventry Direct to explore the option of selling her policy.
One of these solutions may help manage your assets in a way that allows you to deal with mounting health care costs:
Cut costs where you can. Ask your doctor to periodically review your medications to determine whether there are any you can eliminate, either due to improved condition or because other, newer prescriptions make them redundant. Also, talk with your doctor and pharmacist to ensure you are able to fill generic prescriptions when possible for added savings.
Take stock of your financial resources. Obvious assets such as a bank account or home can be leveraged for your financial benefit, but don’t overlook other potential resources, such as a life insurance policy. Many people are not aware that life insurance is personal property, has value and can be sold. Selling your life insurance policy, which is known as a life settlement, may result in an immediate cash payment. A company like Coventry Direct can help you determine whether a life settlement might allow you to sell your policy to help cover immediate needs or relieve the pressure of mounting medical debt.
Be a smart shopper. Shopping around for the best prices may take time, but it can also help you keep more of your money. For example, when it comes to special treatments and procedures, ask for a detailed explanation of charges ahead of time and compare outpatient facilities to hospitals to find the most affordable option.
Seek supplemental coverage. If out-of-pocket expenses are eating away at your savings account and you qualify for Medicare, consider purchasing supplemental coverage. You may find that the monthly premiums are more affordable than the costs you rack up with each new visit or prescription refill.
Managing your medical costs can feel like an overwhelming task, but there are steps you can take, including tapping into your financial assets, that can ease stress and allow you to focus more energy on managing your health and happiness.
To learn more about your options and whether a life settlement is right for you, visit coventrydirect.com/lifesettlements or call 888-858-9344.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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