Whether you have Original Medicare, a Medicare Advantage plan, or a stand-alone Prescription Drug plan, the fall Open Enrollment period is your once-a-year opportunity to make changes in your coverage.
Scars, everybody has them. They mean you showed-up for life, and most come with an interesting story. Your scars may have been received while doing great acts of courage, but it’s more likely they came from doing less noble activities. Either way, you’re marked and carry a physical remembrance which people can see. But, there is a different type of scar which isn’t readily apparent.
On Thursday, September 26th, the Euclid Senior Center had a membership appreciation day called An Affair to Remember. The day began with over 250 seniors being treated to a light breakfast at the Center. Then, they got a free haircut from the La Barbaria Institute of Hair, a free manicure with nail techs from Ladies and Gentlemen, had their picture taken in a photo booth from Cirino Photography, enjoyed a magic show from Zap Entertainment, listened to live band music courtesy of 3 For All, and sat to a full catered lunch compliments of Darden Restaurants and Bahama Breeze. Oak Street Health bigheartedly supported the event, and SMILE Payee Services, Lawrence L. Sharp III, helped take the day from idea to realization.
Medicare Open Enrollment will be here before you know it. It begins October 15. But before then, you will receive your Annual Notice of Change from your current Medicare Advantage carrier. This document contains important information on all the changes you will see in your plan for 2020.
I did something I shouldn’t have done. I knew it wasn’t quite right when I did it, but I thought it worth the risk. In my mind, it was going to work out just fine. Many will call it a stupid choice, an error in judgment, or a horrible mistake. What did I do? I bought a condo before I sold my house, and now my house is not selling and I am stuck with two mortgage payments.
Not my brightest moment, I know. I am left with the consequences.
We built the house three years ago, thinking two of the boys would be with us for a while. It didn’t turn out that way, and the house is too big for just the wife and me. Also, I’m starting to have trouble keeping up with yard work. We looked around and found a cozy condo, so we put our savings as down payment and financed the rest. The belief was our house would sell quickly. It hasn’t. At the time of this writing (2AM, Monday morning), I have come to the conclusion we must also list the condo for sale. We will end up living in whichever home doesn’t sell. This whole ordeal is a financial blunder that will take a long time to fix.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) recently outsourced their phone answering service to a call center. When you call 1-800-MEDICARE you are no longer speaking to personnel who are versed in the intricacies of the federal program Medicare.
Times are changing. And older adults are changing with the times. Where seniors once scorned the use of the internet a growing number, especially younger, more affluent seniors now rely on their smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices to stay in touch. According to Pew Research, more than two thirds of Americans age 65 and older get news on mobile devices.
How will you be remembered?
She came into the senior center a few times a week. She barely said a word to anyone. As a rule, she intentionally sat by herself. She didn't complain, she never had much to say, and she caused no trouble. She was encouraged, but she never participated in anything that required more of an investment than a hello and a half-hearted smile. Her features were average and her clothing unremarkable. She suddenly quit coming to the center, but nobody really noticed. We learned that she died, alone. Nobody knew her, and nobody missed her.
I am sure this strikes you as incredibly sad. It is, but please let it serve as more than just a gloomy story.
The truth is that no one can make you interact with others. People aren’t going to take you by the hand and force you to get involved and to have fun. No one can compel you to enjoy your life. It’s all up to you.
The National Hearing Test is a telephone-based screening test developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health. You can take this confidential hearing test over a telephone and the results can help you decide whether you should seek a more thorough evaluation of your hearing.
Finding the right health insurance coverage can be overwhelming, especially for those who are new to Medicare. The learning curve can be pretty steep. When you go it alone, you have to figure out all the different options, consider the reputation of each company, weigh what each type of plan provides and decide which plan will offer the most cost effective coverage for the hospitals, doctors and prescriptions you use.
If you are on Medicare, chances are good that preventive services, tests and screenings ordered by your physician will be covered. In addition to coverage for exams, immunizations, lab tests, and screenings, Medicare covers programs for health monitoring, counseling and education to help you take good care of your health.
Medicare’s rules are often confusing and mistakes can be costly. Make the wrong choice and you could end up with high premiums and unexpected out-of-pocket costs. Here are a few of the most common pitfalls for you to avoid.
Access to affordable prescription medication is often a critical component to staying healthy. Unfortunately, with the rising costs of medicines, many people cannot afford their prescription drugs. This is where Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) may be able to help.
You were so sure that you made the right choice when you signed up for your Medicare Advantage Plan. But, you realize now after Open Enrollment closed that you made a poor choice. You picked the wrong plan and now fear you have to live with your decision.
Medical identity theft is the unauthorized use a person’s name, insurance information or social security records without that person’s knowledge or consent. The theft occurs when unscrupulous people obtain medical services, or use another person’s identity to make false claims. When a person’s medical identity is stolen, incorrect information may become a part of the victim’s medical records. This can lead to confusion and in extreme situations, it can be life-threatening if the wrong information gets mixed in with someone’s a person’s medical record.
Dominic was prescribed a prescription by his doctor which retails for $679 for a 30 day supply. This particular pill is not on his current plan so not subject to discounted pricing. There is a plan offered in 2019 which covers the pill at $337 both before the deductible and in the initial period. Still, pretty pricey…Good RX has a coupon which allows him to purchase this drug for $27.34 at Giant Eagle pharmacy.
This year, you will want to take a close look at your Medicare coverage or your Medicare Advantage plan. There are a number of changes that will affect all Medicare recipients and some that apply only to Medicare Advantage plan policyholders. Here are some of the changes you can expect to see:
The new Medicare rates have been released! Typically these rates are not disclosed until the end or after the annual enrollment period.
If the Euclid City Schools are CLOSED for inclement weather, there will be NO LUNCHES
Are you a caregiver to a spouse…an older parent or grandparent or perhaps to a child? Being a caregiver is one of the top stressors that anyone can face. It can be an overwhelming experience. Know that you can embrace the caregiving role when you have a plan, with resources and support along the way.
Most people are creatures of habit. Some of us plan our day. For others, the day plans us. No matter our personal style, when a crisis occurs and we are called upon to become a caregiver, it can throw us for a loop. Our routine is shattered and it can be very unsettling.
First things first….breathe.
Even when things are happening at whirlwind speed, decisions needing to be made, tasks accomplished, etc., it is important to take a step back and recognize that we can be in control of the situation, not the other way around. Try to identify the top priorities and decide which items may not be the top priority and we can let go of or give to others. For instance, in order to be at the hospital with a relative, can someone else pick up Jimmy from soccer practice, get dinner, run errands, etc.
Fall is a good time to take a look at where you stand with your health insurance benefits. There are a number of benefits you may lose if you do not use them before the end of the year.
Stella was recently diagnosed with fourth stage liver cancer and passed within weeks. The liver cancer metastasized from pancreatic cancer whose symptoms were disguised as stomach issues attributed to diverticulitis. What if Stella had known she was carrying the gene for pancreatic cancer? Would she be alive today?
Braeview Care and Rehabilitation: Where you can leave your heart, and be at home.
An increasing number of grandparents are taking on the responsibility of the care and upbringing of their grandchildren. According to Ohio’s Kinship Care program, almost 100,000 grandparents in Ohio are raising their grandchildren today. How to secure health insurance for their grandkids is a major concern for many.
Paula became eligible for Medicare due to a disability and was enrolled on the 25th month after her benefit checks started with the help of the social security office. Candidates under the age of 65 in the state of Ohio can enroll in an independent drug plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan which limits their healthcare expenditures and offers prescription drug coverage. Medicare supplement insurance is not available to recipients who are under the age of 65 in the state of Ohio.
Want to make the most of your Medicare benefits? Here are 5 facts you need to know.
Chas is the breadwinner and patriarch of the family. He made the money, pays the bills, invests and manages all finances for the household. What happens when he becomes incapacitated or passes? Sara would be overwhelmed and probably turn to her children for help. Have you had the talk with your kids?
You will be pleased to know you no longer need an entire file cabinet devoted to Medicare paperwork. Medicare has several electronic resources to help you manage your health care records. I recommend you check out the following options for paperless record-keeping:
Summer is a great time for family vacations, reunions and weekend getaways. You may have concerns if your travel group includes a parent, an older companion or someone with physical limitations. But, don’t let that stop you. With a little bit of extra planning, you can pull off a vacation everyone will enjoy.
Margaret stormed into her husband's insurance office with righteousness indignation. She berated the agent because the life insurance benefit of her recently deceased husband had been awarded to his ex wife, even though he had been divorced for more than a decade. Unfortunately this is not an isolated instance and not one that can be reconciled post mortem.
Medicare Card Scam
Enjoy an Afternoon if Irish Music with Cahal Dunne
Doris Pickens, a local caregiver who works with Euclid in-home care company Right at Home, was recently recognized as the company's Caregiver of the Year by going above and beyond to make sure her clients are safe and happy. In late February, Right at Home owner Shalom Plotkin and Beachwood Mayor Martin Horwitz presented her with the Caregiver of the Year Award.
Seniors covered by Medicare need to be aware of their hospital status for any hospitalization. You need to ask, ”am I an Inpatient or Outpatient?”
He had just lost the love of his life, and he came to the Center because he didn’t want to be alone. His feelings and emotions were raw. They went from relief that the suffering was over, to anger and a horrible feeling of emptiness. Twenty-six years together is a long time.
During that time, they had shared everything in life. Good times, and bad. Happy and sad. It has been said that everyone needs a witness to their life and his had died, just this morning.
We talked about the belief that birth and death are opposites, but there is no opposite to life. We talked about life going on, but in a different form that we cannot see. We spoke about the gift that life together had been, and how it is better that the suffering is now over.
Recently, Paul was reassessed for his benefit under Medicaid and lost his medical benefit. This granted him a special enrollment period to adopt new coverage. His new classification of QI still provided help with paying his Part B premium, as well as, help in paying for prescription drugs.
Nadine, a nurse at the Cleveland Clinic, was celebrating her sixty-fifth birthday in December of 2016. While she planned on working at least until full retirement at age sixty six, she mistakenly believed she was required to enroll in Medicare. Through social security, she enrolled in her Part B and discontinued her employer medical coverage through the clinic.
No one wants to envision a time when they cannot make their own health care decisions. But, if you suddenly found yourself unable to speak for yourself, who would you want to speak for you? Who would you choose to make sure your decisions concerning your health care are honored?
Robert had coverage for his Medicare from an advantage plan and through his agent had decided to change to a Medicare supplement. They met near the end of annual enrollment, discussed the plan options, as well as the different companies offerings and completed online applications from both the supplement and an independent prescription drug plan.
The day you turned age 65 used to be the day most people retired. They left the work place behind, started collecting Social Security and enrolled in Medicare. It was a fairly clear-cut process. But transitioning to Medicare is different today. If you are turning 65 in 2018, I recommend you take some time before your birthday to learn about the choices you will be facing. Here are steps to help you get started:
Step 1: Know when to enroll
You can sign up for Medicare at any time during your initial enrollment period or IEP. Your IEP begins three months before your 65th birthday month, includes your birthday month and continues for three months after. Delaying your enrollment may result in penalties so it is important to enrolled on time.
Step 2: Learn what’s covered and what’s not
Original Medicare does not cover 100% of your medical costs. Many people are surprised to learn long-term care, most routine dental and vision care and hearing aids are not covered. Even if Medicare covers a service or item, you generally have to pay your deductible, coinsurance, and copayments. Lean how much you will be responsible for so there are no surprises in store for you.
Step 3: Learn about Prescription Drug Coverage
Original Medicare offers prescription drug coverage (Part D) to everyone with Medicare. Part D is added through a standalone prescription drug plan or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. Each plan can vary in cost and the drugs it covers.
Step 4: Learn about Other Options
Your other options include Medicare-approved Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplements. There are also plans providing coverage for vision, dental hearing and long term care. These vary in coverage and cost but are intended to take care of a portion of your costs or offer additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare
Step 5: Learn more by attending Getting Started with Medicare
Plan now to join me for a presentation of Getting Started with Medicare, a class where we cover all these topics and you have a chance to get answers to your questions now, before you sign up for Medicare. Getting Started with Medicare classes are only for educational purposes and no plan specific benefits or details are shared
Our next class will take place in conjunction with the Mentor Library on Wednesday, January 24, 2018, from 6 to 8 pm. Call 440-255-8811, ext. 216 for more information on where the class will meet. Visit www.Mutskoinsurance.com/seminars for additional upcoming class dates and times. I look forward to you joining me. You can also contact me at 440-255-5700 or email me at Lmutsko@mutskoinsurance.com.