With open enrollment just around the corner (October 15-December 7) thousands of seniors around the country will be signing up for Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. Knowing this, identity thieves, hackers and impostors step up their efforts during this time of year as well, taking advantage of seniors who may provide personal information more freely as they shop for insurance plans.
During this time, seniors should be weary of certain people and should take steps to protect their information. Below are some ways to guard against theft and hacking.
Don’t Give Out Your Medicare Number
A common goal for predators is to get a hold of a Medicare Number. Similar to a credit card number, your Medicare Number will allow others to charge services to your account.
Medicare will never contact you to ask for your number. If you receive a phone call, an email or are approached by someone who asks for it, do not provide them with any information.
Be Cautious of “Free Gifts”
When things appear to be too good to be true, they usually are. In order to get the vital personal information they are after, hackers and impostors will usually create some kind of incentive. One of the more common schemes is to offer a free gift or a special offer. In order to receive it, however, you will need to provide some personal information, including a Medicare Number or social security number.
Also be suspicious of anyone looking to rush you into buying Medicare or Medicare Supplement Insurance quickly to take advantage of some special offer. There are no special offers or discounts for signing up for Original Medicare early.
Ask Questions to Educate Yourself
Staying informed about your policy and other health insurance policies that are offered is the best way to detect a fraudulent offer. Hackers and identity thieves rely on ignorance and naivety. Understanding how the system and the policies work will allow you to stay one step ahead of the scams.
When you don’t understand something or have questions about your policy, reach out to an informed representative to get the information you need. While Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance policies can be difficult to fully grasp, it is important to keep asking questions so you know what to expect from your plan.
Keep Records of All Appointment and Payments
If you are not diligent about checking your statements and keeping a record of everything involving your Medicare policies, you could be allowing a third party to use your account. For those who visit doctors pretty regularly, it can be difficult to track all the details regarding appointments, procedures, medications and payments. This leaves you susceptible to identity theft, which is why creating a calendar could be a useful tool for staying on top of everything.
The old cliché, “Age is just a number,” runs true in the business world. The numbers on your birthdate should never be an indication of the level of success you can achieve. Many successful business men and woman started later than you would expect. For example, it wasn’t until Ray Kroc was 52 when he began business with Richard James “Dick” McDonald and Maurice James “Mac” McDonald. Together they created the fast-food powerhouse that is McDonald’s. Ando Momofuku, the creator of ramen noodles, was 48 until he began selling precooked instant noodles and Harlad Sander, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) did not open his first franchise until he was 65. Their success stories are a true testament to the power of determination and inspires all whom want to create their own business.
Careful on Borrowing Money
You are at the point in your age where your retirement must be on the forefront of your mind. You have to be protective of your assets and consider whether you can live off them once you no longer want to work. If you want to invest more in your business, you must consider the high risk it could take: Do you want to sacrifice a chunk of your savings account or do you want to increase your retirement funds? It’s a decision that can go uphill or downhill fast, but make sure that you always do it in your best interest. Don’t let what you want, hinder what you will need in the future.
Keep Your Body in Mind
You’ve worked very hard to accrue a great savings account, garner a lot of experience and go on great business ventures, so let your body rest. Between traveling, fast-paced environments, and the emotional stress business can take on your body, you’re reaching a point in your life where you need to focus on what’s to come (retirement) rather than what’s passed. If you want to keep going in your business, make sure you start listening to your body and recognizing trigger points that may highlight when it is safe to continue a business venture.
For example, if you find yourself extra tired sometimes, it may help to organize your day in advance to supplement extra sleep. If you feel that you need to engage in light exercise to waken your mind and continue the days’ work, then make extra time in your day.
Capitalize on Your Experience
If there’s one thing you have over those young, 25-year old entrepreneurs, investors, and businessmen, its experience. You know what works in your industry and what doesn’t, so make sure you utilize your knowledge to the best of your capability. You have the wisdom all the young people want, so show them that you still have the upper hand and mentally outwit them. If you’re running a successful business, then don’t fix what isn’t broken. Continue and focus on making your retirement bigger so you can live as if you were still working.
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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.*
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:
Medicare Part B can help cover a wide range of medically necessary and preventative services including:
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:
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:
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:
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)**
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.
Like the rest of our body, our vision can decline with age. Free radicals and inflammation caused by high energy light can damage the sensitive structures of the lens and retina of our eyes. Vitamin C, carotenoids, alpha-lipoic acid, and omege-3 fatty acids are especially critical to eye health. Spinach, kale, and broccoli are filled with important carotenoids the eyes need. In addition, two servings of fish a week can lower your risk of macular degeneration.
The air pollution and other toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis take their toll on your lungs. Vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage contain antioxidants and sulfur compounds that keep your lungs clean and free of toxins. The carotenoids in red or orange colored fruits and vegetables that keep your eyes healthy can also reduce your risk of developing asthma and omega-3s have a beneficial effect on those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases. Vitamin-C rich foods make your lungs more efficient at oxygenating your body. Spices such as ginger, turmeric, and garlic as well as fruits such as blueberries and apples also promote overall healthy lung function.
Found in fatty fish, flax seed oil, and walnuts, Omega-3 Fatty Acids reduce inflammation throughout the body, and that’s good news for your heart. Inflammation can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease. To increase your intake of this vital nutrient, add walnuts to your salad, or flax seed oil to your salad dressing. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish per week to reduce your risk of heart attack. Grass-fed beef and enriched eggs are also high in omega-3s.
Olive oil is a source of healthy, monounsaturated fats proven to actually slow brain aging. Recent studies have shown a diet high in blueberries and strawberries can slow mental decline in areas such as memory and focus. Although Popeye ate spinach to build muscle, you should eat it for the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to help protect against cognitive decline. Walnuts help promote blood flow, which in turn allows for efficient delivery of oxygen to the brain and can improve memory, as does caffeine, in moderation. And last but definitely not least, dark chocolate. The flavonoids in dark chocolate regulate and lower blood pressure, which in turn increases blood flow and fosters brain health.
There are many variables that determine how long you live, only you can influence how well you live. Following a healthy lifestyle, staying active, and eating an antioxidant-packed diet, you can help slow the aging process and perhaps even stave off age-related effects on your body. Adding these healthy and delicious super foods to your diet keeps the effects of aging at bay.
Your skin has sustained a lot of sunlight throughout the decades, especially if you lived in warm states like Florida. If you think that skin care protection should only be a concern for the young, you are wrong. Just because your skin has tolerated a lot of skin damage, especially through tanning, it does not mean that it is more immune to skin cancer. You can still get it at any age and that is why it is more important than ever, when you are older and your skin tends to be more fragile, that you protect it.
Don’t Purposefully Get a Tan
If you have spent a lot of your 20’s and 30’s worshiping the sun, it may not be in your best interest to sit outside and tan for a lot of hours during hot afternoons. When your skin tans, it is an immediate reaction to the burning of your skin which makes it more prone to skin cancer. The more tans and sunburns you have, which your skin has probably sustained, the higher your risk of skin cancer is. If you are going to engage in outdoor activity under harsh UV rays, make sure to protect yourself by using SPF 40 or higher.
Stay in the Shade
Just because your skin may be more sensitive to the sunlight, it does not mean that you cannot enjoy the outdoors. Stepping into the shade as often as possible can help you protect your skin from the sun without sacrificing enjoying the warm weather. If you’re going to participate in activities that don’t have a lot of shade like the beach, pool or big parks, bring an umbrella and keep yourself safe from harmful UV rays.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
As skin ages, it becomes more susceptible to dryness which makes it more vulnerable to sun damage. Remembering to moisturize daily in your personal hygiene routine will help keep your skin protected from harmful UV rays and eventually become a habit. You can even find moisturizers that provide SPF protection for extra coverage. This will not only allow you to continue to explore the beautiful weather and ambiance summer creates, but will keep you protected in the meantime.
Be More Careful With Your Clothes
When you step outside during very hot days, it is recommended to wear light colored clothing. Wearing light, neutral shades like white, creams and yellows help repel extra, unnecessary sunlight that can be damaging to your skin. This is because dark colors attract sunlight and can make you feel hotter. Also, wear protective and lose clothing that will help shade your skin. When possible, wear long sleeved shirts so you have automatic protection and don’t have to keep reapplying sun screen. If it is too hot to wear long sleeved clothing, wear a big hat that provides shade for most of your body. This will automatically repel harmful UV rays.
Protecting yourself from the sun is important at any age. Make sure you stay conscious of the harmfulness of UV rays and take the appropriate measures when enjoying a sunny day.
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As you grow older, it is important to take the proper amount of vitamins and minerals. It’s natural for your body to use vitamins differently as you age. Eventually, you’ll need to learn to supplement the vitamins and minerals your body is using differently to continue normal bodily functions. However, just because your body changes, your lifestyle doesn’t have to. Here are some vitamins and minerals you should consider to keep your body strong.
Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium and other nutrients, but crucial in bone growth and strength. As you get older, your body doesn’t absorb vitamins and nutrients as well as it did in younger years. The main intake of Vitamin D is through at least 30-minutes of sunlight every day. However, as you get older, this may be sometimes harder to do. To help supplement your body from the natural light it’s not receiving, you can take Vitamin D pills. This will help you and your organs stay strong as you age.
In conjunction with Vitamin D, you may also want to increase your calcium intake. Calcium is usually found in your bones and as you age, your bones become frail. To avoid bone deficiencies that lead to permanent damage like osteoporosis, it is important you keep your calcium level high. Engaging in light activities such as golf, brisk walking or small weight training will help keep your bones strong.
You can avoid it by taking calcium in consuming dairy products like milk. However, you can also take calcium supplements to further the strength in your bones. If you have trouble consuming milk or food items high in calcium, look to taking supplement pills to help your bones stay strong. You can also strengthen your bones by consuming dairy products high in vitamin D, like milk or yogurt.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your heart will need extra support as it gets older. To keep your heart healthy, doctors recommend taking extra Omega-3 fatty acid pills to boost its strength. Omega-3 helps prevent inflammation, reduces plaque buildup in your arteries that can lead to a strokes and reduce the risk of irregular heartbeats. It is suggested you take at least 1,000 mg of Omega 3’s in either the pill or food forms. Great foods that contain fatty acids are flaxseed oil, fish (especially salmon), walnuts and edamame. This will also help keep your heart strong to help you stay active when you want to engage in physical activity.
Taking care of your body is essential to continuing the life you want to live. Just because your number increases, it doesn’t mean your life decreases. Enjoy what you’ve always loved, but be more cautious about your body and its needs. If you’re looking to understand your body more and what it needs to be supplemented with, contact your doctor today. If you’re looking for ways to cover the costs of those doctor visitations, call Bankers Fidelity now.
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Understanding Medicare Supplement
Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. The Medicare Supplement products issued by the Company are insurance policies. Policy form series B 21092 is issued by Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company®, Atlanta, GA; policy form series B 21492 is issued by Bankers Fidelity Assurance CompanyTM, Atlanta, GA. Limitations and exclusions apply; actual policy provisions control. Rates subject to change on a class basis. Individually underwritten; application to determine eligibility required.
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