Hello, Oct. 2019
I hope you had a nice summer. I know it went by fast. It seems like the older I get the faster time goes by. I want to thank you for the referrals this year. My business has been growing thanks in large part to your referrals so please keep them coming.
Well, regarding general changes in Medicare plans for 2020 – its mostly good news. In short, a few copays are going up and a few are going down and many are adding new benefits. Overall the plans are not changing much. So, if you are happy with your current plan then just stay put and let it roll into next year. If, however you are not happy or just want to compare your plan to one you may have heard about, just call me and we can do a review.
I want to remind you that if your plan has Dental coverage, eye exams and glasses coverage, hearing aids coverage, meals delivered after a hospital, Personal Emergency Response System, quarterly Over the Counter Catalog benefit, not to mention Silver Sneakers – be sure to take advantage of those benefits. If you are not sure if you have these benefits, call me.
Most of the Medicare Plan companies have added a “Community Resource” benefit. This is where you can call customer service for almost anything. If you need a handyman, a dogwalker, help with bills – anything (except maybe a winning lottery number), and they will connect you with a charity or some organization in your neighborhood to help you.
Latest SCAMS – Storm damage scams from hail to wind etc. Imposters claiming to be government officials to inspectors to utility workers claim immediate work is needed. Be sure to ask for credentials and do not give away financial info or money without checking them out. Get someone to help you check them out if you’re not sure like a friend, neighbor, or pastor. Look at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts for tips to avoid these scams.
TAX SCAM – 2 versions. Scammer claims to be able to suspend your social security number (which they cannot do). The other threatens a taxpayer with bills from a fictional government agency like “The Burea of Tax Enforcement”. Call the IRS to report these.
Genetic Testing SCAM – Scammers offer free genetic testing claiming Medicare will cover it – so they can get your Medicare number and use it to commit fraud. Only a doctor can order this test otherwise Medicare will likely NOT cover it. So never try to do it through a telemarketer or a health fair or someone knocking on your door.
Did you know you could contribute to a Roth IRA for your grandkids if they earned any income this summer up to $6,000? Let that grow for 50 years at just 6% and they would have over $110,000. That would be one present from you they would never forget.
Veterans – Dept. of Veteran Affairs says you may now elect to receive healthcare in their community if a service is not available at a VA facility that is over 30 minutes away. There are other rules for this to work so go to www.missionact.va.gov or call 844-698-2311 for more details. Also beware that some Medicare Plans are offering cash back if you take their plan over your current plan. While it is true you can get cash back BUT if you need to use their plan benefits you will be limited on the doctors and hospitals you can use and many benefits are not as good as you currently have. Call me if you are approached about this and have questions.
Social Security COLA – Kiplinger Magazine estimates the increase will be about 1.6% for 2020 and 2% for 2021. (Whoohoo! Don’t spend all that extra cash in one place. That might get you a McDonalds coffee and an Egg McMuffin once a month.)
Funeral costs – Its hard to compare costs but a new website is helping – funeralocity.com. Enter your zip code and it will compare prices for things like a simple burial or full service cremation.
Medical Debt – If you or someone you know owes a lot of money for medical bills use the National Council on Aging Benefit checkup tool (www.benefitscheckup.org) to find out if you qualify for a Medicare Savings program or other health care cost assistance that may be offered in your area. Also, if you have a choice, get treatment from a nonprofit hospital like University Hospital. They have programs to help lower income people. Many people I know have had their hospital copay waived when they were an inpatient.
Save money on Car Insurance. Take a driver’s safety course. They are now available to older drivers. Its never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, right? Check with your insurance carrier to see how much they will reduce your rate for taking the class. Most classes are in classroom but some are online. Those of you who have GBU for life insurance or annuities can get reimbursed for the class after you take it.
Prescription coverage – Good news and bad. The good news is you now have $4,020 to spend on drugs before the donut hole starts. Also, if you hit the donut hole you will only have a 25% copay on your drugs (which I know can still be a lot of money). This is the last of the scheduled changes for donut hole copays. It will stay at a 25% copay into the foreseeable future. The bad news is they raised the max out of pocket to $6,350 before the catastrophic coverage starts.
On a personal note- Cathy and I have been busy working and adjusting to a quiet house with just the two of us. Weird how things stay clean for so much longer now that the last child has moved out. Speaking of him, he had a beautiful wedding in May and he and his wife Allie are back in Chicago for their last year of college. They used to love it there but are really looking forward to graduating and getting out of the city. (It may have something to do with driving there whereas before they walked and took the train.) Our oldest, Nathan and his wife LaRee just bought a house in the area this summer and are expecting their first child early next year. We are excited.
Thank you again for your trust in me and your referrals. Call me with any questions. I hope you have a nice Fall season and great holidays.