I hope you are staying warm. It’s been a rough winter so far. At least we can hope for an early spring. Well, I have a lot to cover again so here goes.
New Medicare numbers start coming out in April. The change over will run through April of 2019. This will eliminate the use of your social security number. But BE CAREFUL! Scammers are working the new Medicare card angle. If you get a call from someone saying you must provide your Soc. Sec. number and a payment to get your new card, hang up and report it. The card will come automatically, and it is free.
Reminder to United Healthcare Medicare Advantage plan holders, use your over the counter catalog benefits this quarter. If you don’t have the catalog, call customer service and they can send you one.
Research shows complex passwords are not only user unfriendly (yea, I know – shocker) but are also not hacker proof. Long easy to remember strings of words are a better deterrent to the bad guys. Pick a series of unrelated words like cloud tomato history bridge. Length is more important than randomness. Put capital letters, numbers, and special characters within the phrase too. To keep track of your passwords you can use password managers like LastPass.
Extra help for prescriptions – Income limits were adjusted for 2018 so more people may qualify for extra help (called LIS) on their prescriptions. If your income – including social security before any deductions – is under $16,000 for a single person and under $25,000 for a couple and your assets are under $14,340 for a single and $28,150 for a couple, you may qualify. There are different levels of LIS and the lower your income the more extra help you can receive. To see if you qualify, you can go online to do it at https://www.ssa.gov./i1020/ or call Soc. Sec. at 800-772-1213 and make an appointment to go in or have them mail you the paperwork. If you qualify for the extra help you then have a permanent open enrollment and can switch your Medicare plan any time of the year you want to. If you ever want to change, be sure to call me.
Clear up Medicare Plans F & C confusion. Most of you do not currently have the supplement Plan F or C. That’s OK because if you turned age 65 before the year 2020 you are eligible to buy the plans anytime in the future after 2020. However, those who turn age 65 in 2020 or later will not be able to buy Plans F or C (unless congress changes the law again).
Car insurance rates are going up. This is due to more claims paid out by the insurance companies. The biggest reason for this is the rising cost of repairs due to new safety features such as sensors, cameras and computers. Other causes also include more drivers on the road due to a robust economy, distracted drivers and legalized marijuana (Gee, who could have seen that coming). So, if you have not compared companies in a long time, now is a good time to call a few car insurance brokers (that’s not me) and get some quotes.
Save $$ on glasses – A friend told me about a website called zennioptical.com where you can order glasses for under $10 for a simple prescription and for under $100 with everything. He and his family have been using it for years with no problems. You need your prescription, a photo of yourself to upload, and know the distance between your pupils (they help you figure that online). You will be able to put a vast selection of frames on your picture to see how they look. Then you simply order online, and they have a 1-800 number you can call with questions. Your Medicare plan won’t cover this but if you can get it for this low of a price, it might be the way to go.
I have been helping my mom with a few of her legal affairs and was reminded of a few things I thought I would pass on. First is the Health Care Power of Attorney (POA). This authorizes another person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to. It is different from a Living Will which states how you want to use artificial life support if you become terminal or permanently unconscious. Although a person can change their living will anytime, it does over rule a health care POA regarding end of life treatment.
A Financial POA can be used to appoint someone to act on their behalf regarding personal, financial, and business matters. Ohio revised this POA in 2012 to prevent elder abuse from agents abusing their power and providing a remedy if it occurs. So, if you have a POA from before 2012, even though it may still be good, you probably want to see an attorney as an updated one would probably protect you more.
So what’s the difference between a Living will and a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order? A Living Will document can be completed by you at any time where a DNR must be completed by your doctor and is usually done at a time where your current health conditions warrant it. A Living Will may not protect you from receiving CPR or other medical interventions to prolong life because it only takes effect if you are certified terminal or permanently unconscious state.
Now this is a very brief and incomplete explanation of each of these documents. My intent is to bring it to your attention and give you an idea of what each one does. You can get a more complete description from the Ohio Bar Association at www.ohiobar.org or call them at 800-282-6556. It’s also a good idea to see an attorney.
File of Life – I mentioned this before but this time I have included a copy of the “File of Life” for you to complete for each person in your home. Please do so and place it somewhere visible on the outside of your refrigerator. Medical Emergency workers are trained to look for it on the refrigerator. This gives them a quick reference to your medical history/conditions and medications. This could save your life in the event you are unable to answer their questions. I had a client use it last year. Although she was conscious it was helpful to her, EMS workers and the ER staff. There is also a pink paper that has two boxes with “File of Life” on them. The small one can be cut out and taped to the front door or window so when EMS show up they see it as they enter the door and know to look on the refrigerator. The larger one can cover the medical information paper on the refrigerator once you fold it up into quarters. Remember to update this every six months like changing your smoke detector batteries. I have “File of Life” kits of these with a plastic holder and magnet at my office if you would like to pick one up. They are also available at the Senior Center on Oak Street in Ravenna.
On a personal note, my wife, Cathy, is back to working six days a week as tax season is now in full swing. My son Nathan is back at the university of Akron this semester and he and his wife are moving closer to home this month as their current apartment lease is up in March. My other son, Andrew, is now studying abroad in Jerusalem and is learning a lot. He also got engaged before he left. She is a great young lady and they plan to get married in May 2019. Business is going well for me. I am helping an antique dealer set up a charity auction for antiques, collectibles, and tools on August 4th in Ravenna. The proceeds will benefit the Haven of Portage County that will help the homeless and trafficked women. If you have an item you would be interested in donating, please let me know. We will be holding a donation day at Portage Community Chapel on S.R. 14 in Ravenna on June 9th for people to bring anything to donate.
I hope this letter is helpful and informative. If you know of anything you would like to share that could help fellow Medicare beneficiaries save money, again, please let me know.
Thank you to everyone who passed my name along to someone looking for help with Medicare plans and/or life insurance. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate those referrals and how much I value your trust.
Thank You Again!!