I hope you had a great Christmas and New Years. Ours was very nice. It was restful too after being so busy during the annual enrollment period for Medicare. Thank you so much to those of you who referred people to us. It means a lot. Thanks again for your trust in us. I had so much information I wanted to share with you there is a third page on my website you can read.
Medicare changes for next year. Medicare will be making changes for 2025. Some of these changes, if implemented, will likely have a significant impact on your benefits. For one thing, they are capping the maximum out of pocket expense for prescription drugs to $2,000. That should be a good thing on the surface – especially if you hit the donut hole every year or come close. They are using a new format to calculate your prescription costs. For 2025, it’s proposed to be a $590 deductible, then you will have a 25% copay until you pay a maximum of $2,000 out of your pocket. We’re not sure if that will affect the zero copay you are paying for some generic drugs now or not. We just don’t know yet. The problem with this is that it is another unfunded government mandate so as usual they are not giving the insurance companies any money to fund it. That’s why for those who have a Medicare supplement and a prescription drug plan, you could see your prescription drug plan premium double or quadruple. For those who have a Medicare Advantage plan, there could be significant decreases in extra benefits or increases in medical copayments or both or it may just affect prescription coverage. I have no idea exactly what’s going to happen, but I just wanted to give you a heads up so that you are not shocked when you receive your annual notice of change in September. Hopefully, I will know more in my next newsletter this summer.
A note for those of you with Medical Mutual. I think I mentioned this before, but I just wanted to be sure. They have a 20% copay for observation stays in the hospital. So, if you have to go to the hospital for a length of time make sure that you are “Admitted” and not under “Observation”. It will save you money.
For those of you who are diabetic, a company called Advanced Diabetes Supply is used by most companies (Devoted being an exception). The clients I know who have used them have been very happy. They set up home delivery of diabetic supplies. They seem to be very knowledgeable on how to avoid any billing issues. They do blood glucose meter replacements, and they have free shipping on 90 day supplies with each order. They also have the continuous glucose monitoring systems which allow no more finger sticks. So, if you’re looking for somewhere else to try you may consider them. Their phone number is 877-868-9856. Laura Clinansmith is my personal contact there.
Reminder, since it’s the beginning of a new year, ask yourself this question: When was the last time I updated the beneficiaries on my life insurance, bank accounts, investments, annuities, IRA, or anything else where there is a title or account number? It’s just something to think about if you haven’t looked at it in a long time.
Kiplingers magazine said there’s been a sharp increase in fatal falls. Between 1999 and 2020, seniors population over age 65 grew by 52% but the number of fatal falls rose 261% for that group. So, if you have a concern for yourself or a loved one, remember several of the Medicare Advantage plans offer the personal emergency response system as a free benefit.
Fraud & Scams The FBI reported that in 2021 more than 92,000 people over 60 were scammed online to the tune of $1.7 billion. Most common financial scams include government impersonators posing as IRS agents telling you that you owe taxes. Also, sweepstakes scams where the caller tells you you’re a winner but must send them cash or gift card before you can receive your winnings. Never purchased gift cards as payment for anything. Protect yourself by never giving any information to people who contact you unsolicited by telephone, e-mail, text, or even in person. Medicare, the IRS, and most businesses will never call you to sell you anything or visit your home unless you contact them first. Only give personal information to your doctors, insurance companies, or trusted people. They should be able to give you the last four digits of your Social Security number, for example, so that you can verify it rather than you providing it. To report fraud and predatory sales practices, you can contact Ohio Senior Medicare patrol at 1-800-488-6070.
Another growing fraud is when your grandchild calls needing money right away. Called “Family Emergency Scams”, thieves are now using artificial intelligence (AI) and social media to make it seem even more real. They can now mimic voices with AI and learn lots of details from social media about your grandchildren. One thing you could do is come up with a code word so that your grandchildren can use it if they ever need to call you.
Last thing regarding fraud is never buy anything over the phone when they call you. This includes Medicare plans. If you hear something that sounds really good, and you wonder why I didn’t tell you about it, please call me and ask. There’s very little I have not heard of so when you hear of a great benefit that you don’t have, there is a reason for it. Call me and I can explain why it doesn’t apply to you. I have already put you in one of the richest benefit plans there are.
Family Update: Things are going pretty good for our family. We have a new addition to the family! Micaiah was born the day after Thanksgiving. She and her mother are doing very well. She’s already over 12 lbs and her two brothers just adore her. Mom and Dad seem to be doing well after adjusting to the new normal.
Thanks again for the referrals! Please keep them coming.
Chris & Cathy Boring
Kiplingers has a nice article about how nursing homes have changed. There are several different retirement communities offering different levels of care, some even have many different levels on the same campus. They’re still very expensive. The national average cost is $108,000 per year for a private room but it also widely varies by location. One very important thing to look at when looking for a retirement community is staffing. You want it to average over 4.1 hours of nursing care per resident per day, the higher the better. Only 26% of nursing homes in the United States provide that level of care. That’s because most of the nursing homes in the United states have staffing shortages and one of the big reasons is because of low pay. Another good thing to look for is who owns the nursing home. They could be for profit, nonprofit, or government entities. On average nonprofits provide 4.28 hours of staff attention per resident each day while the “for profits” averaged less than four hours. Nursing homes should welcome families to visit anytime and if you have one that is very rigid in visiting hours, that should be a red flag. There are many people who go into nursing homes and spend three or more years there, but the majority of people are there for a year or less. So, while the odds of going into a nursing home are high, the odds of being there for a long time or not.
The Portager newspaper had an interesting column about finding good care for elderly loved ones. The writer listed lessons learned and the first was contact the Area Agency on Aging for assistance and gathering information on where to go and what your options are. Contacting “A Place For Mom” is also a good idea. The article also said you need to speak up to staff members regarding the care of your loved one and not to be afraid to do that. There are also rating systems in place that rate facility care, one being Medicare. Kiplinger has also rated many nursing homes and are probably more accurate than Medicare. You can look at the report at https://health.usnews.com/best-nursing-homes. It also says they learned that just because the place looks very nice and fancy doesn’t mean you’re getting good care for your loved one. So, if you or someone you know needs help regarding this, call the Area Agency on Aging at 330-896-9172.
For those of you who are frustrated with trying to buy your grandkids or great grandkids something they will appreciate, you might consider buying them a whole life insurance policy. I know it may sound weird, but this would be one way for your grandkids to remember you when they are your age. I have a few companies that are very cheap. You can pay them up in three years, do a single premium or monthly payments. Set it up any way you want from $5,000 to $50,000 in coverage.
An independent think tank study found that 22% of coronary stents that were approved were unnecessary. It said US hospitals performed over 229,000 unnecessary coronary stents on which Medicare wasted as much as 2.4 billion from 2019 to 2021. Remember you have the right to a second opinion on anything as long as they’re in network.
More Fraud alerts: Be very careful of your e-mail. Many thieves are imitating trusted brands like banks and legitimate businesses like Target and Netflix. They are also using the phrase “Rewards Program”. It frequently comes in Gmail. They seem OK but then eventually get to where they’re asking you private information like bank account and Social Security numbers. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s a red flag. They’re also getting very good at doing it on social media like Facebook. Be careful and never give any of your information. If somebody wants something, tell them you will verify it if they give it to you. If you’re worried about your credit, you can put a credit freeze at each of the credit bureaus for free. Once you freeze it, it’s easy to unfreeze if you decide you want to apply for a credit card or some other loan. FYI credit freezes are free, but credit locks usually come with a subscription service and you may have to pay a fee.