Yes, you still have to spend a lot of out-of-pocket money on healthcare, but a recent article in AARP ,“10 Free Services Medicare Provides,” reports that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded access to free preventive care, including a number of screenings and examinations. All of which are all helpful to maintaining good health. [Read more…]
A recent article in Kiplinger’s, “Medicare Part B Premiums Rise for Some,” discusses how as the result of the “hold-harmless” provision, some beneficiaries will find themselves paying more for Part B, while for others, the Part B premium will remain at $134 a month.
In 2017, the “hold-harmless” provision had a positive effect for most beneficiaries. For those whose Medicare premiums are automatically deducted from Social Security, the rule restricts premiums from going up more than the amount added to benefits by the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). In years when there is no Social Security COLA or a small COLA, like last year’s 0.3%, Medicare premiums are restricted. Although the standard Part B premium for 2017 was $134 a month, the miniscule COLA resulted in many people continuing to pay $109 a month. [Read more…]
Buying long-term care insurance as early as possible is critical, but if you missed that opportunity and you or a loved one is now facing long-term care, you need to know what your options are, including Medicaid requirements. As recently explored in NJ.com’s article, “Spending assets before Medicaid kicks in,” there are certain assets that will have to be drawn upon before you or a loved one is considered eligible for Medicaid.
Unfortunately, many people fail to consider the cost of long-term care until it is too late. Then on top of already dealing with the stress of needing long-term care, having not planned ahead leads to the additional pressure of figuring out how to afford the care while being unwell. This care can cost more than $150,000 a year in Massachusetts. Long-term care facilities are paid using a resident’s assets in order for them to move in and remain at the facility. Those assets include Social Security, pensions, investments, real property, and any other assets.
Even seniors who buy optional Medicare supplementary plans face healthcare costs that can easily decimate their retirement savings, according to a recent article in The Motley Fool, “3 Reasons Seniors Can’t Count on Medicare to Cover Health Costs.” Healthcare costs for seniors could run as high as $350,000 during the course of a couple’s retirement years, not including long-term care costs. If Congress makes changes to Medicare, expect costs to skyrocket.
Here are three big reasons you can’t count on Medicare, if you have costly health issues after age 65:
- Medicare’s coverage does not provide long-term care coverage.
About 70% of seniors will need long-term care during their lifetimes. On average, this is needed for three years. However, Medicare most likely will pay nothing toward this care. It just covers skilled nursing care and it only provides this coverage if you have a qualifying hospital stay. Most seniors need custodial care: nonmedical assistance or routine help with daily activities like bathing or preparing food. This kind of care need can be long-term. Medicare, Medicare Advantage or Medigap policies do not cover custodial care.
If you think, the only reason to have an estate plan is so that your heirs can inherit your assets— think again. Estate planning includes preparing for medical emergencies, as discussed in a recent article appearing in twincities.com, “Your Money: Medical power of attorney: the missing piece of too many estate plans.”
Preparing for medical emergencies means determining the person who will look out for your best interests, if you are unable to advocate for yourself. In short, it involves naming someone you trust as your healthcare proxy.
A living will, or advanced care directive, are important documents in your estate plan. However, you will also need a health care proxy to help ensure that you are getting the kind of care you would want in the event that you are unable to communicate for yourself. A health care proxy is a document that designates the individual(s) you would want to make these health care decisions in your stead. The designated person is your health care agent or representative.
If you were hit with premium surcharges for Medicare Part B and Part D already, these costs will increase again in 2018, according to a recent article in Kiplinger, “Medicare Surcharge Thresholds to Drop.”
This recalibration of the trigger points was a part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, also called the “Doc Fix” law, which ended the annual battles over fee schedules for doctors’ Medicare payments. To help pay for the permanent fix, lawmakers have asked high-income beneficiaries to foot the bill.
There’ll still be four surcharge tiers for 2018, and there’s no surcharge for beneficiaries whose modified adjusted gross income (MAGI: AGI plus tax-exempt interest) is less than $85,000 for single filers or $170,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly.
These are the details that really matter when it comes to retirement and Medicare. If you signed up for Medicare Part A on your 65th birthday but were still working, you probably didn’t enroll in Part B. Now you’ve just turned 68 and plan on retiring this year. When do you need to enroll in Medicare Part B, and what do you need to know to ensure that you’re covered?
Kiplinger’s recent article, “What to Know About Enrolling in Medicare Part B,” says that many people who are still working do this. They sign up for Medicare Part A at 65 (because it’s free) and wait to sign up for Part B, while they’re covered by their employer’s insurance. However, you are required to sign up for Medicare Part B no later than eight monthsafter you leave your employment and lose that coverage. Failure to do so, can result in a lifetime penalty and a gap in coverage.
You’re unable to sign up online, since your employer must provide proof that until now you have coverage at work. You must submit the paperwork by mail or bring it in person to your local Social Security office. You’ll need to complete these forms: CMS-40B Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part B and, because you worked past 65, CMS-L564 Request for Employment Information (to be completed by your employer). If you’ve had more than one job with health coverage since you turned 65, you must also have each employer to fill out a separate form.
The Social Security Administration must then process the paperwork. Mail your application or make an appointment with Social Security at least two months before you retire to ensure that your Part B coverage starts in the first month you’re officially retired. The Social Security office can also provide you with a letter of eligibility or enrollment—that will help with finding a medigap policy, and Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.
Be aware that only health insurance from a current employer counts as eligible coverage when it comes to delaying signing up for Medicare. If you continue your employer’s coverage through COBRA or if you have retiree health coverage, you still must sign up for Medicare Part B within eight months of leaving your regular job. Those eight months are a critical window—don’t miss it!
For more information on how this could affect your retirement and estate planning, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: Kiplinger (June 23, 2017) “What to Know About Enrolling in Medicare Part B”
Before an emergency strikes, certain legal documents should be prepared so children or other trusted family members will be able to help loved ones. Explain to your children that this simply means your wishes will be known. It’s necessary to do this while you’re healthy and well, or at least able to articulate your wishes. That means speaking with an estate planning attorney to have the documents created and also making sure family members know where important papers are located. I may also mean holding a Family Care Meeting so parents can explain their wishes and estate planning now to help children and loved ones understand their roles and responsibilities before they need to exercise them.