I hope you had a great Christmas and New Years. We didn’t have a white Christmas but at least it wasn’t bitter cold. Looks like we are in for another mild winter which is fine with me. I had a very busy enrollment period this fall. Thank you so much for the people you referred to me. That’s what keeps me in business and it is very much appreciated.
Medicare made some rule changes for 2019. From Jan. 1 to March 31 is a new Open Enrollment period for people who have a Medicare Advantage Plan already in place. They will be able to change one time to a different Medicare Advantage plan. So, for example, people with the Anthem Mediblue Essential plan can switch to the Anthem Mediblue Prefered plan or another company, just by calling me. Please remember to mention this to friends and family and have them call me if they are on a plan they are not happy with.
Another prescription alternative. Here is another way to possibly save money on your prescriptions. A Canadian drug company called Medix is a CIPA regulated company – like our FDA. They offer many good prices on drugs that are mostly manufactured in Australia and New Zealand – not China. You can call 866-500-6633 or go to medixpharmacy.co.uk/register. I can’t endorse a drug company but I can tell you I have clients who have been using them for years and are very satisfied.
Just a reminder to be sure to take advantage of the extra benefits many of you have with your Advantage plans like vision, hearing, gym, and 24 hour nurse line.
A new program is now available for businesses that do not offer retiree health benefits. I can now offer health coverage similar to what you have now for little to no cost for companies. If you know your former human resource person and/or think they might be interested in hearing about this, please let me know.
For those whose Medicare Supplement is getting too expensive, I have a company that usually saves people money for the same benefits. Call me if you want more information or a quote.
In case you didn’t know, if you ever have a claim denied, you can file an appeal and odds are good the plan will change its decision. Many times a denial is really a request for additional information or to alert a doctor of a way to have an alternative treatment performed that’s more effective. You have 60 days to file an appeal and can expect a response within 30 days. If your health could be harmed by the wait you can do an expedited appeal and get a decision within 72 hours.
A new round of House Calls from a visiting nurse will start with the new year. This nurse visit is something Medicare is pushing the insurance companies to perform. You do not have to do it. If you tell them No and they keep calling, write down their name, location, and when they called. Then call me with the information and I will get them stopped. However, it is a good idea to make the appointment because it helps the insurance company with their star rating and the better their rating, the better the benefits are for you in your plan.
A new reason to exercise. Silver Sneakers has started a scholarship program. Those with Silver Sneakers can now earn scholarship dollars for their grandchildren by using Silver Sneakers facilities on a regular basis. Here’s how it works. You get $1,000 to sign up for the program and when you visit a facility 7 times in a month, $250 is applied to the account. So, exercise at least 7 times a month and you can earn $3,000 in a year for your grandchildren to go to college. There are 400 colleges in the program so far with 30 of them in Ohio. You can name multiple beneficiaries for the money to be divided among, but they must be a junior in high school or younger.
Help on prescription drugs. President Trump helped a little for those in the donut hole for next year. The copay in the donut hole for name brand drugs was lowered from 35% down to 25% for 2019 and beyond.
I have found several charities that help people with drug costs. Patient Access Network Foundation at www.panfoundation.org, Patient Advocate Foundation at www.copays.org, Healthwell Foundation at www.healthwellfoundation.org, and NeedyMeds at www.needymeds.org or 800-503-6897. You can also try www.patientadvocate.org to find financial aid funds and www.benefitscheckup.org for help as well.
Also, pharmacists sometimes are not allowed to tell you up front there are cheaper alternatives but if you ask them directly they will tell you. So be sure to ask if you are on an expensive drug. I know a lot more people have hit the donut hole this year thanks to the increased prices of many drugs, so I hope this information helps.
Is your money protected from nursing home expenses? Most nursing home expenses are for short term periods. Although a long-term stay can be devastating financially, the cost to insure against it when in your 60’s or more is usually cost prohibitive for most people. Depending on the statistics you look at, a person age 65 has a 50% to 80% chance of entering a nursing home before they die with the average stay about 3 years. When you drill down into the numbers you see that they are also counting people who enter a skilled nursing home for even a day or a week, many of whom get well enough to go home. The chance of having a nursing home stay for more than one year is actually much lower, perhaps 10% or less. According to the stats most people only need short term care which is much more affordable compared to spending a few hundred a month for long term care.
My family and I are doing well. Cathy and I had a quiet Christmas with both kids gone Christmas day. We made up for it on New Year’s Eve. Cathy’s family was in town and we had 28 people over. It was a lot of fun. Both boys are back to college now. Nathan has just accepted a job in Akron and will start after he graduates from the Univ. of Akron with his Mechanical Engineering degree in May. Andrew is looking forward to his last semester living on campus in Chicago since he is getting married Memorial Day weekend. They will then live about three miles from campus as they finish their last year of college. I am helping with our church’s annual Sportsmen’s Dinner. It is on Jan 26th and there will be a whitetail expert speaking who writes for American Hunter magazine, several different raffles, trophy display and great food including the best venison I have ever eaten. Order tickets online at www.portagechapel.com or get tickets at the door which open at 5:00.
Have a great year.