Tag Archives: Medicare

2013 Medicare Annual Election Period

The 2013 Medicare Annual Election Period starts on Monday October 15 and runs through December 7th.  This is a great time to do a “check up” on your benefits to make sure the new plans are going to fit your needs.  If you would like help, let me know 509-927-9200.

Medicare and Long Term Care

Medicare and Long-Term Care

Quick…how are you going to pay the costs of nursing home, assisted living, or home care should you or a family member ever need one of them?

Medicare, right? Actually, that answer is almost always wrong. And, even if Medicare pays, it only pays part of the cost and only for a short while. Worst of all, it only pays for skilled nursing care following a three day/three night hospital stay. Think about how few people actually spend three full days in the hospital any more-it’s more likely to be three days and two nights, and then Medicare does not pay for follow-on nursing home (or similar) care, regardless of the illness or injury.

Very few people who need long-term or follow-on care need skilled nursing care-they need custodial care. If skilled care is needed, it is not usually needed for very long, and not many people meet the 72-hour hospital stay requirement anyway. Think about it-if you have a serious illness or injury (for example a hip fracture or bypass operation), you may be in the hospital for several days or weeks, but when you are released you rarely need skilled nursing care. You are far more likely to need help dressing or getting to appointments or cooking your meals, and may not be able to care for yourself and end up in a long-term care facility. But, the care you need is easily given by semi-skilled or unskilled workers-not RNs or other medical staff.

Assuming you need skilled nursing care, Medicare actually does pay for 20 days at 100% and days 21-100 at $128.00/day (more or less, depending on your state). That is nowhere near the average cost of a day in a nursing home or similar facility. Depending on whose statistics you use, a day in a long-term care facility costs $110-$300 or more.

Of course, you could buy a Medicare supplement plan, but that plan only supplements the benefits provided under Medicare. Since Medicare does not cover custodial or unskilled care, a Medicare supplement policy is not likely to be of much help.

So, what can you do? There are a few options.

First, many people will need long-term care, but many more won’t. If your family history doesn’t include stays in long-term care facilities, maybe you don’t need to do anything. But, if your medical condition is not as good as that of other family members, you might be the exception. So, gambling isn’t always a good idea.

If you have a pension, a house, and few other assets, Medicaid may well cover your expenses. It is a good idea to find out before the need arises. Keep in mind not all care facilities accept Medicaid, and those that do may put you in a separate area. And, you are very likely to have a roommate (and it is not likely to be your spouse!).

If you have substantial assets and are prepared to spend them if needed, just make sure you have checked out the various care facilities so your family knows where you want to go.

Finally, if you have significant assets above any pension payments, consider purchasing a long-term care insurance policy. It could be the best investment you ever make. And, in some states the premium may even be tax-deductible.

Each state has somewhat different coverages. It is useful to visit the www.medicare.gov site for complete, state-specific information.

Contact Brian Gruss 509-927-9200 about your options with Medcare and Long Term Care Insurance.

2012 Medicare and You

The 2012 Medicare and You booklet is now available.  To save you the hassle of trying to find it on the medicare.gov website, I have put it here in it’s entirety for you to be able to download.  Medicare and You 2012

June 1st effective date

Last chance to get a June 1st  effective date for the following plans:

Premera Blue Cross of Washington (Individual Plans including Medicare Supplements)

Premera Blue Cross of Alaska (Individual Plans including Medicare Supplements)

Lifewise of Washington (Individual Plans)

Don’t Make Health Insurance Mistakes

Don’t Make Health Insurance Mistakes

If possible, you should try to keep your health insurance. Not understanding the requirements and rules of your plan leaves you at risk of inadvertently losing coverage upon retirement. Many mistakenly assume that Medicare will take care of all their health care needs when they turn 65-years-old, but it doesn’t. At that time, you’ll need a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicap supplemental policy.

Smart Investing

Your financial advisor has most likely advised you to maintain a balanced portfolio of both bonds and mutual funds. This is because taxation and inflation can take large chunks out of your income and you need a portal for long-term growth.

Understand Your Retirement Funds

You should review your retirement fund options with your financial advisor, asking as many questions as you need to understand all the options and processes.

Work With A Fee-Only Financial Planner

It’s always best to work with a financial planner to understand all the complexities of financial planning, the various options available, and what might best accomplish your particular needs and goals. Make sure that your financial advisor is fee-only, meaning they are charging you a fee for their advice. The person advising you shouldn’t be someone that may have an alternative agenda, such as selling retirement products.

Postpone Social Security Benefits

It may be better for you to draw from your IRA or 401 (k) plan before applying for benefits through the Social Security Administration, as this could mean your Social Security benefits will be higher. Typically, someone that postpones drawing benefits from age sixty-two to age seventy will see an increase of around 76%.

Postpone Annuities

Annuitization should be postponed until you’re in your early eighties or late seventies. This means the fixed monthly payments won’t have to last as long and will be more apt to cover your financial needs.

Postpone Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a viable option for those running out of money during their retirement years, but this should be something put off as long as possible.

Think Outside The Box

Some may fall short of their financial retirement goals before or during retirement. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It may be necessary to think about communal living. Depending on family dynamics, living with your children may be a viable option.

May 15 Effective Date

Last chance to get a May 15 effective date for the following plans:

Premera Blue Cross of Washington (Individual Plans including Medicare Supplements)

Premera Blue Cross of Alaska (Individual Plans including Medicare Supplements)

Lifewise of Washington (Individual Plans)