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Navigating the Seas of Medicare - Know What Medicare Plan A and Plan B Cover
Navigating the Seas of Medicare - Know What Medicare Plan A and Plan B Cover

Medicare is an essential program for seniors, probably equal in importance to Social Security in providing benefits to insure the health and financial well-being of individuals over the age of 65, people under 65 with certain disabilities or people of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease. In fact, the importance of Medicare is growing. A recent analysis found that by the year 2055, the cumulative lifetime benefits for a 65-year-old with a median income from Medicare is estimated to be higher than those he or she would receive from Social Security.*
*https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/66116/2000378-Social-Security-and-Medicare-Lifetime-Benefits-and-Taxes.pdf

Although most people understand the importance of Medicare and have at least some idea of how it works, there are still many aspects to this coverage that, if left misunderstood, could cause issues down the line. Learn more about Medicare and make sure you are aware of your coverage options and expenses, so you don’t experience any surprises that could adversely affect your retirement.

Medicare in a Nutshell

After you qualify, you are eligible to enroll in Original Medicare. The following information provides a brief overview of Part A and Part B of Medicare. For complete information about Medicare and a full explanation of Medicare benefits, consult Medicare and You 2018 and Welcome to Medicare, published by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or visit their websites at www.cms.hhs.gov or www.medicare.gov.   

Medicare Part A coverage helps cover the expenses associated with hospitalization and other medical costs incurred to treat an illness or injury. Part A covers such things as:

  • Inpatient hospital care
  • Treatment in a skilled nursing facility or from a licensed home health care provider and
  • Hospice care.

Medicare Part B can help cover a wide range of medically necessary and preventative services including:

  • Inpatient and outpatient physician services
  • Lab services
  • Ambulance transport
  • Mental health care
  • Home health care and
  • Outpatient hospital treatment.

In addition, Part B can help cover some durable medical equipment like wheelchairs and walkers.

If you are signed up for benefits under Medicare Part A and/or B, you are eligible for prescription drug coverage under a Part D plan. Even if you don’t need prescription medication, Part D is a wise choice. Just like any other insurance, it can protect you when you need it, and enrolling in the Part D plan with the lowest premium in your area ensures that you have coverage if you should suddenly need it.

Let’s take a closer look at Medicare Part A and Part B.

Premiums and Deductibles*

As far as premiums go, most Medicare beneficiaries do not have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A coverage because they – or their spouse – have already paid for it via payroll taxes taken out while they were working. If you do not qualify for premium-free coverage, you may have to pay a deductible each month.  If you buy Part A, you'll pay up to $422 each month in 2018. If you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $422. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $232.

In most cases, if you choose to buy Part A, you must also have Medicare Part B and pay monthly premiums for both. If you have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A, you may decide to delay enrollment in Part A as well and sign up during your Special Enrollment Period. If you enroll in Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period, you generally won’t have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

There is a deductible for Medicare Part A coverage. As of 2018, that deductible is $1,340 for each benefit period. In addition, there is also a co-insurance payment that is your responsibility should you find yourself needing inpatient hospital care. Your co-insurance varies based on the length of your stay:

The 2018 hospital co-insurance you pay per benefit period varies based on the length of your hospital stay:

  • 1 through 60 days: $0 co-insurance after $1,340 deductible is met
  • 61 through 90 days: $335 per day co-insurance
  • 91 through 150 days: $670 per day co-insurance for each lifetime reserve day (you may get up to 60 lifetime reserve days in your lifetime)

After your lifetime reserve days are used up, Medicare typically doesn’t cover your inpatient hospital stay

If you require care in a skilled nursing care facility, you will also be required to pay for co-insurance. The amount you pay per benefit period also varies based on the length of your stay. As of 2018, your responsibility is as follows:

  • 1 through 20 days: $0 co-insurance
  • 21 through 100 days: $167.50 per day co-insurance
  • 101 days and beyond: You are responsible for all costs - unless you have a separate insurance policy that covers these costs. 

The Medicare Part B premium is set each year by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and is subject to change. According to the 2018 figures, the amount you pay may vary depending on your situation, including when you signed up for Part B.

Here’s how to help determine what you’ll pay for your Part B premium:

The current standard Part B monthly premium is $134 (or higher, depending on your income). Most Medicare beneficiaries pay less than this. You may have to pay the standard amount or higher if any of the following apply to you:

  • You enrolled in Part B for the first time in 2018.
  • You do not receive Social Security.
  • You're billed directly for your Part B premium.
  • Your Part B premium could be higher than $134 if your income is higher than a certain amount (see below). 

If you are covered under both Medicare and Medicaid, and the Medicaid program pays for the cost of your premiums, you may also have to pay the standard amount or higher. If you qualify, your $134 premium is paid by Medicaid.

Note that your Medicare Part B premium can increase due to the late enrollment penalty. If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, or if you drop Part B and then get it again later, you may pay a penalty for as long as you have Part B. For 2018, the late enrollment penalty is calculated by multiplying 10% by each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it. This amount is applied to your monthly premium for as long as you have Part B.

If you delayed enrolling in Part B coverage due to having health coverage from another source, such as an employer-sponsored plan you or your spouse may have been enrolled in, you may avoid the late enrollment penalty. If this is the case, you can enroll through a Special Enrollment Period when you or your spouse stop working or that other health coverage ends, whichever comes first.

Premiums can be higher for beneficiaries with annual household incomes that exceed specific thresholds. See below.

2018 Medicare Part B premiums based on income (as reported on your 2016 tax return)**

Annual Income - Individual  Annual Income - Joint You Pay
 $85,000 or less $170,000 or less $134.00
 Above $85,000 up to $107,000 $170,001 up to $214,000 $187.50
 Above $107,000 up to $133,500       $214,001 up to $267,000 $267.90
 Above $133,500 up to $160,000   Above $267,000 up to $320,000       $348.30
 Over $160,000 Over $320,000 $428.60

The yearly deductible for Medicare Part B in 2018 is $183. Once you’ve met the deductible, in most cases you will be required to pay co-insurance equivalent to 20% of the Medicare-approved amount charged by providers for your health care services. Many preventive services are also provided at no cost to you; these services are available without requiring you to meet your deductible.

As you can see, although Medicare Part A and Part B cover many medical expenses, they don’t cover everything. Even with this coverage, you are still responsible for deductibles, co-insurance and copayments. Other items, including dental care, eye exams, hearing aids and dentures are also not covered. And, Part A and Part B coverage doesn’t take care of costs associated with situations that require long-term care. This is where Medicare Supplement coverage comes in, with its ability to help pay for things that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.

Protect you and your family from costly out-of-pocket costs with Medicare Supplement coverage. A Medicare Supplement insurance policy enables you to see any physician or provider anywhere in the country who accepts Medicare. Coverage begins immediately and is Guaranteed Renewable for life, as long as premiums are paid on time.

To learn more about the many benefits of Medicare Supplement coverage, visit bankersfidelity.com. (Link: https://bankersfidelity.com/Medicare-Supplement-Insurance)

*Deductibles and co-pays shown for 2018; subject to change each year by federal government.

**Amounts shown for 2018; subject to change each year by the federal government.

 

Sources:

https://www.medicare.gov/
https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf
https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare.html


Men's Health: A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way
Men's Health: A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way
June, the month we celebrate our fathers, is also International Men’s Health Month. The goal of Men’s Health Month is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of these conditions among men and boys. Although male life expectancy has increased, from an average of 68.8 to 76.3 years, as of 2015, men still do not live as long as women, who currently live an average of 81.2 years. (1) 

One of the factors that could influence women living longer lives is that they tend to go to the doctor more often, a CDC study found that in 2015, women had significantly more office-based physician visits than men, with 362 visits per 100 females coming in much higher than the rate for males, which was 262 visits per 100 males.(2) There are really no excuses not to get regular checkups and, as the old saying goes,”an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

By scheduling regular check-ups and preventative screenings, some of these common men’s health issues could be avoided, leaving men with more time to spend with their families and friends. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top health issues for men, which are: 

Cardiovascular disease
Prostate cancer
Depression
Testicular cancer
Lung cancer
 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. According to statistics from the CDC, about 8.1% of all non-Hispanic white men, 7.9% of non-Hispanic black men and 6.3% of Hispanic men have coronary heart disease. In 2013, heart disease was the cause of death for 321,000 men, representing 1 in every 4 male deaths. (3) Between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men. Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. (4) Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease. You can try to reduce the risk of heart disease by avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy diet. Regular checkups are also essential in helping to prevent heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular issues. Know the warning signs of a heart attack and seek medical help immediately should you experience any of them. Keep the ones you care about in the know as well and check out these ways to raise awareness.

Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. The chance of developing this cancer increases as men get older, and is less likely found in men under 50 years of age. It is estimated that there will be 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer in 2018. It is also estimated that 29,430 men will die of the disease this year. According to data collected from 2013 – 2015 by the National Cancer Institute, approximately 11.2% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. In 2015, there were an estimated 3,120,176 men living with prostate cancer in the United States. (5)

Fortunately, the number of new prostate cancer diagnoses continues to steadily decline, and over 98% percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer have survived for five years after diagnosis and treatment.  The earlier prostate cancer is caught, the better chance a man has of surviving.  Prostate cancer usually grows at a very slow rate (6), and early detection is key to getting effective treatment. (5) 

The number of people living with depression continues to increase, with more than 300 million people affected worldwide. Many of these people don’t seek out the treatment they need to live a healthy, productive life. The World Health Organization has identified strong links between depression and other non-communicable disorders and diseases. People suffering from depression are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and are at greater risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Conversely, people with cardiovascular disease are at higher risk of sinking into a depressive state. (7) 

Depression is also an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women. The suicide is highest among middle age — white men in particular, who accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016. (8) While many cite the stigma surrounding mental illness as a reason to avoid seeking care, if you experience any signs of depression, reach out and get the help you need. If you’re not comfortable discussing your feelings with friends and family, there are a wealth of resources, including hotlines, support groups and therapists who can help. 

In 2018, estimates indicate that there will be 9,310 new cases of testicular cancer reported in the U.S. For men ages 15-44, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. While the average age of diagnosis is 33, around 8% of cases are diagnosed in men 55 or older. (9) While the number of testicular cancer cases has increased for the past 40 years, death rates continue to slowly decline. According to 2018 estimates, around 400 deaths will be attributed to testicular cancer. These deaths occur when the cancer spreads to areas of the body that could not be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery or from complications occurring during treatment.  When testicular cancer is detected early, it greatly increases the survival rate. The 5-year survival rate for men with testicular cancer is 95%. (10) 

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer for men behind prostate cancer. According to American Cancer Society estimates, there will be 121,680 new cases of lung cancer among men this year, with 83,550 men dying from the disease. Lung disease is most prevalent among older adults, with the average age of diagnosis being around 70. Men face a 1 in 15 chance of developing lung cancer, with smokers facing a higher risk. Lung cancer is a serious disease, but, with early detection and treatment, many people in the early stages of it can be cured. In fact, more than 430,000 people are still alive after fighting and triumphing over lung cancer. (11) If you are at risk of lung or any other cancer, having a cancer care solution to help cover some of your medical expenses is also a good idea. 

Of course, just because June is designated as Men’s Health Month, make sure you keep tabs on your health and well-being throughout the year. As you can see, the key to overcoming these diseases is early detection, so make regular checkups and screenings a habit and head to your doctor if you are experiencing anything out of the ordinary. Your loved ones will thank you for it. 

Sources:

(1)https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus16.pdf

(2)https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db310.htm

(3)https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_men_heart.htm

(4)http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/125/1/e2.short?rss=1&amp%3bssource=mfr

(5) https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/prost.html

(6) https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/prostate-cancer-lives-as-it-is-born-slow-growing-and-benign-or-fast-growing-and-dangerous-201308146604

 (7) http://www.who.int/en/news-room/detail/30-03-2017--depression-let-s-talk-says-who-as-depression-tops-list-of-causes-of-ill-health

(8) https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

(9)https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/testicular-cancer/statistics

(10)https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/testis.html

(11) https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html



 


5 Hobbies To Keep You Busy During Retirement Without Breaking The Bank
5 Hobbies To Keep You Busy During Retirement Without Breaking The Bank

Retirement is something most of us look forward to throughout our entire working lives. It’s the time when we can finally travel, relax, and spend time with family. Yet, when you get there, you may find that your budget doesn’t allow you to do everything you wanted.


Here are 5 cost-effective hobbies that can make retirement enjoyable without spending all your savings in the first year.


Fitness


It is never too early or too late to begin working out. Whether it is yoga, the gym or running, fitness can be a great hobby. It can improve your health and may cut down on your medical costs.


Art/Photography


While this can be an expensive hobby as you continue to progress, it is relatively inexpensive to start. You may find a hidden talent that you never knew you had and it will provide an outlet to express yourself in whatever way you want.


Sports


Whether it is tennis, swimming, golf or softball, sports provide an outlet that is both social and physical. Again, sports can be an expensive hobby at the highest levels, but they can be cheap to start with.


Gardening


One difficult part of retirement can be getting outdoors. Gardening solves that problem! Gardening can keep your body and mind sharp, as it requires preparation, planning and implementation.


Volunteering


As the name would suggest, volunteering should not cost much money; however, it will cost you time. There are many opportunities to help those in need and with the added time of retirement, volunteering can benefit those around you, while also allowing you to find something you're passionate about.


When it comes to retirement, there are so many things to think about that you can forget all the great things you can do with your newfound time.


New Year's Resolution Tips: Part 2
New Year's Resolution Tips: Part 2

You've crafted a list of exciting New Year's resolutions and are committed to sticking to them this year. But how can you actually commit to these goals? In the second part of our two-part series, we will give you some effective strategies to help you follow through on every resolution.

Tips for Sticking with Your New Year's Resolutions
You want to be a healthier version of yourself, but you need a plan to make this happen. These tricks will help you make a commitment to your goals and end the year feeling accomplished.

  • Write down your goals
    Holding something in your mind is generally less effective than seeing it right in front of you. By writing down your resolutions, they become tangible goals rather than abstract suggestions. Later on you can reference them whenever you need a boost.
  • Work with a friend
    Build a resolution team to hold yourself accountable to your resolutions. You and your friends can commit to a healthy lifestyle together, checking in on each other and even starting new activities together.
  • Break up your goals
    If a certain goal seems too large to accomplish, break it up into smaller pieces. Once you accomplish one smaller goal, you can move on to the next.
  • Find incentives
    Some health insurance policies offer discounts for joining a gym and participating in other health programs. Even if you are already motivated, you can find some extra motivation from a financial incentive.
  • Forgive yourself for setbacks
    Remember that with any goal, there are going to be setbacks. You may have bad days or get behind on your resolutions, but that does not mean you have to stop. Remember that tomorrow is a new day, and you can begin again whenever you need to.

New Year's resolutions are a great way to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Paired with quality health insurance policies, a doctor you trust, and other healthy habits, these goals can help you reach a more vibrant lifestyle.

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New Year's Resolutions Tips: Part 1
New Year's Resolutions Tips: Part 1

The new year may be here, but it is never too late to start a New Year’s resolution. Remember that every resolution does not have to be a lofty achievement. The key is to select small, achievable goals to help you focus on your overall well-being and self-confidence.

New Year's Resolution Ideas to Jump Start 2018
Looking for some New Year's inspiration? These resolution ideas are simple and effective, boosting your mind and body.

  • Try a new type of exercise
    You know that exercise is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but you might not be getting enough of it. Rather than making a vague goal to "work out more," challenge yourself to try a new type of exercise. This way, you can try different classes and activities until you find one you love.
  • Keep a gratitude journal
    Expressing gratitude can help boost the happiest parts of your brain, bringing you more joy in your everyday life. To turn this practice into a daily ritual, keep a gratitude journal by your bed or wherever you drink your coffee in the morning. Find a time every day to jot down a few items.
  • Write more letters to friends
    How long have you been meaning to keep in touch with your friends? This year, stick to it by writing simple letters to your friends, both near and far. By doing so, you might even start some sweet correspondence.
  • Update your life insurance policy
    Life insurance policies can be very beneficial. Sit down with your insurance agent to review you current policies. If necessary, make changes to fit your needs and budget.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
    Find a way to quantify this goal and make it more fun. For example, you might choose to try one new veggie-based recipe per week. You will be getting your five servings per day in no time at all.

From contacting life insurance companies to jotting down your joys, there are plenty of ways to create a better you. Write down your resolutions and check in on them throughout the year, starting over when need be. It's never too late to be happier and healthier.

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