Need Life Insurance?

No one wants to take out the wrong type of life insurance policy, or pay too much for the right policy. Knowing that, here are 10 things to consider before finalizing a life insurance purchase.

If someone turns you down for life insurance, look somewhere else–Companies look at different information and use a variety of methods to figure out who they will insure. So, just because one provider turns you down, doesn’t mean that another provider will do the same. Actually, shopping around is a good idea because it will help you buy a life insurance policy that offers the best coverage, the best rate, or a balance between the two.

Make sure you really need life insurance– If there are people—a spouse, children, parents, siblings—who depend on you financially, life insurance will be a worthwhile expense for you.

Term life insurance or whole life insurance? —The two main types of life insurance are pretty different, so take the time to learn the difference before choosing one over the other.

Term life insurance tends to have lower premiums associated with it (early on, at least), provides a person with coverage for a set number of years (it only pays out if you pass away during this “term”), and doesn’t build up a cash value that can be borrowed against or withdrawn.

Whole life insurance also often called cash value or permanent, usually costs more (especially at the beginning), accumulates a cash value that can be borrowed against or withdrawn, pays out whenever one passes away, and provides protection as long as the premiums are paid.

If your beneficiary is a dependent, determine what sources of income would need to be covered if you pass away in an untimely manner–At the very least, you will want to replace the income you currently generate for your loved ones. You may also want to provide them with extra money that can be used to help them relocate or further their education.

Don’t forget these expenses while calculating your coverage needs–Although it’s doubtful you’ll forget to factor on-going expenses like those related to a mortgage, tuition, or daycare, also consider these immediate (burial costs and estate taxes are two examples) and long-term expenses or goals (such college or retirement savings) that will pop up in the event of your death.

Carefully consider all aspects of the premium payments–A couple of questions to ask yourself before going with one plan over another: can I afford the initial premium? Also, if the premium increases later, will I still be able to afford it?

Make sure you understand the renewal policies related to the plan you’re considering–Although it’s usually possible to renew a term insurance policy for additional terms (even if your health has deteriorated in some way), it’s possible that your premiums will increase with each renewal. We will help you understand what your premium will look like if you renew your policy.

Exercise caution before canceling your existing life insurance policy–Replacing an insurance policy can be expensive, so don’t cancel an existing life insurance policy while you search for a new one. Wait until you’ve received and reviewed your new policy before you even think of getting rid of the old one. You have a certain period (usually 10 days) to study and consider a new policy. If, during that time you decide a p policy isn’t for you, you can return it to me to have it canceled, and then receive a refund.

Pull out your policy every few years to review it–This is especially important if your family grows or shrinks or otherwise changes. Even if that isn’t the case, review your policy on a regular basis to make sure it keeps up with changes in inflation, your income, and your general financial needs.

Don’t hesitate to ask me for help —It’s our job, and responsibility, to help you understand the terms of your coverage, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give me a call if have any questions about any aspect of your life insurance policy.

SaveSave

10 Suggestions To Get 30 Minutes

If you’re struggling to figure out how to make exercise happen for you, check out these 10 suggestions for getting in a half-hour of exercise each day:

 

Picture

 

Use the stairs at work (or home) 

Whether you have just one flight of stairs or you can take advantage of the fact that your office is on the fourth floor, you’ll be able to use this to create a 30-minute cardio workout. Start out with taking the stairs up one floor, then move on to another floor.

Turn a meeting into a walk-a-thon

If you have a one-on-one meeting with a colleague or even a small group of 2-3 people, consider taking the meeting on the road and turning it into a 30-minute walk.  You’ll be surprised how refreshing these meetings will feel.

Make the most of airport time

If you get delayed at the airport, turn the waiting area into your personal walking path. It’s so much healthier than sitting and playing every game on your phone. Walking around the terminal may even make the time go faster.

Walk or bike to work

While it’s not always an option because your commute is too far, you might consider taking public transportation and stopping one or two stops away from the office. Some public transportation now lets you bring your bike on board so you can opt for that type of exercise, too.

Add more “elbow grease” to household chores

You may not realize it, but any time on your feet, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the house or mowing the lawn and doing yard work is an actual workout.

Set up active dates with your significant other or friends

Instead of dinner or the movies, take your significant other or friends on an active date like a game of tennis. Or, considering going for a walk or going on a hike. Most cities have a brochure that lists great hikes in your area and the time they will take.

Make it a family affair

Use the 30 minutes as a way to spend more time with your kids, encouraging them to regularly exercise while also enjoying the time together. You can go for a walk or bike ride after dinner. Or, help them practice the sports that interest them such as soccer or baseball.

Take the dog for a walk

Don’t just let the dog out in the back yard, take your fuzzy friend for a walk so that the two of get the exercise you need.  Plus, your dog will be happier and better behaved around the house.

Find a hotel with a gym or pool

When you are on the road for work or a vacation, select a hotel that has a gym. Instead of flipping channels on the TV in the evening or streaming a movie, go downstairs and get moving on the treadmill.

Reduce couch potato time

Whether you are watching regular TV that comes with regular commercial interruptions or you are in the midst of binge-watching your favorite series, you can take some time out from the couch potato routine. On every commercial, get up and jog in place until your show returns.  Or, before hitting the play button on the next episode on Netflix, get up and take a 15-minute break with a quick walk around the block.

The average person spends an average of five hours a night sitting in front of a television so there is plenty of time in there to add 30 minutes of exercise.

Conclusion

Many of these ideas are really about getting you to think differently about moving more and incorporating it into your everyday life.  Additionally, these suggestions show you that you really do have the time for exercise. Start with even one of these suggestions, then add on as you can. All you need to do now is make a conscious decision to get moving.

 

SaveSave

Hospitalized but ‘under observation’? Seniors, beware

A growing number of seniors who think they’ve been hospitalized are finding that they really weren’t.

Under ObservationThe problem isn’t memory loss, confusion or dementia. Instead, seniors on Medicare who did in fact spend multiple nights in the hospital are learning later on that they weren’t formally admitted. Instead, they had “observation status” – a Medicare classification that can cost seniors thousands of extra dollars if they need post-hospital nursing care.

Medicare covers the first 100 days of care in skilled nursing facilities, but only for patients who were first formally admitted to a hospital for three consecutive days.

But federal data shows that the number of Medicare patients classified as under observation has jumped sharply in recent years, to 1.4 million in 2011 from 920,000 in 2006. And the trend isn’t limited to patients who spend short periods of time in the hospital: The number of observation stays lasting more than 48 hours stood at 112,000 in 2011, compared with just 27,600 in 2006.

The problem stems from a well-intentioned effort by Medicare to control costs through a program that audits hospitals for possible overpayments, which began during the George W. Bush administration. When that program identifies improper admissions, hospitals must refund all the Medicare payments it received, and that has spurred many to be more cautious about admissions they think could be challenged. Hospitals receive lower reimbursements for observation status patients – they are covered under the Part B outpatient program, rather than Part A, hospitalization. But at least they know they’ll get something.

The situation prompted the non-profit Center for Medicare Advocacy to file a class action in 2011 (Bagnall v. Sebelius) to force the federal government to change its policy – a legal battle that it has been losing in the lower courts, but continues to appeal. It has also fueled a regulatory skirmish in Washington that is intensifying, with a growing coalition of seniors, advocacy groups and healthcare providers pushing for reform on Medicare rules.

There’s also momentum in Congress for legislation to straighten out the mess. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is sponsoring legislation that would force Medicare to count all overnight hospital stays as formal admissions, and similar legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Medicare is set to apply a new rule in April that would require doctors to admit people they expect to stay more than two midnights, and to classify anyone else as an observation patient. But the change is getting blowback from a large coalition of healthcare providers and advocacy groups, who are seeking a delay in its implementation. They argue that it will be very difficult to comply with the rule, and that it would arbitrarily reward patients who happen to arrive at the hospital at certain times of day. And it doesn’t alter the three-day rule.

“The new rule doesn’t really fix the problem,” says Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a non-profit consumer advocacy group.

Observation status can affect any senior using traditional fee-for-service Medicare; patients using managed-care Medicare Advantage programs, which provide all-in-one care, are subject to whatever rules are set by their insurance plan providers. But for seniors vulnerable to the observation status problem, the stakes are high.

When a patient who meets Medicare’s three-day formal admission requirement moves to a skilled nursing facility, the program covers 100 percent of the first 20 days. Patients are responsible for $152 daily co-pays for the remaining 80 days, if necessary.

Patients leaving the hospital for a nursing facility after an observation stay pay the full cost out of pocket. The daily rate for skilled care in a private room averaged $230 last year, according to an annual survey conducted by Genworth Financial, although the cost can go much higher – $344 in New York state, for example. At that rate, a New York patient covered under admission status who needed a 100-day stay in a skilled facility would pay $12,160 out of pocket, compared with $34,440 for an observation-status patient.

Medicaid would cover the stay if the patient met the program’s low-income requirements. The only other option would be private long-term care coverage, although private policies often have “elimination” features (deductibles) that require patients to pay the first 90 days out of pocket, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

It’s difficult for seniors and their families to protect themselves against this risk. Hospitals generally aren’t required to notify patients that they’re on observation status, although the state of New York recently passed legislation requiring notification of patients. It’s hardly something most families would think to check during a health crisis – and it makes no sense that a patient spending multiple days in the hospital hasn’t been admitted.

Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy, urges families to ask their doctors about admission status, although she cautions that physicians may also not know whether the patient is on observation status. “If you do find out that the person is on observation status, do what you can to get it changed at the time. Get your doctor to go to bat for you.”

Patients who arrive at a nursing home after an observation-status hospital stay will have to appeal to Medicare later. That can be done through Medicare’s standard appeals process, but it’s not easy. “The process is lengthy, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to people,” Edelman says.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy has a self-help packet on its website that explains the observation-status issue in detail, and provides detailed guidance for filing appeals (bit.ly/KTa5LJ).

(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)
​For more from Mark Miller, see link.reuters.com/qyk97s
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or hereEditing by Douglas Royalty)

By Mark Millerwww.reuters.com

Calculating the Medicare Part D Late Enrollment Penalty

 

Medicare Part DOne of the more common questions agents get asked from their Medicare clients is “what is the Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty?”

It is fairly easy to explain that if a Medicare member spends more than 63 consecutive days without having Part D or creditable drug coverage, they will be required to pay a late enrollment penalty should they choose to enroll in a Part D plan in the future. The typical follow-up question is “will I have a late enrollment penalty?” This is also usually pretty easy to answer, assuming the agent asks the proper questions of the client and the client responds with accurate answers about prior coverage.

The more difficult answer is the one that usually comes third: “How much is my late enrollment penalty going to cost?” To properly answer this question, there are a couple assumptions the agent is required to make:

  1. The client is past their Initial Enrollment Period and has gone more than 63 consecutive days without having either a Part D plan or creditable prescription drug coverage.
  2. The client knows how long they’ve gone without having either a Part D plan or creditable prescription drug coverage.

Once an agent has these assumptions in place, the agent can then help the client calculate what the late enrollment penalty should cost. The late enrollment penalty is calculated by multiplying 1% of the “national base beneficiary premium” times the number of full, uncovered months the client was elgible for, but did not enroll in, a Medicare Part D plan or other creditable drug coverage.

What’s the “national base beneficiary premium?”

It was $32.42 in 2014, it is $33.13 in 2015, and you can find these values at Medicare.gov. So now that the agent has all of their assumptions in place and knows the “national base beneficiary premium,” the agent can walk their client through a simple calculation to determine what the Part D late enrollment penalty should be. Here’s an example:

James Senior enrolled in a MA only plan with no Part D drug coverage during his Initial Enrollment Period that went effective July 2014. During AEP Mr. Senior decided to enroll in a MAPD plan that will be effective January 2015. Mr. Senior spent six months (July 1 to Dec 31, 2014) with no Part D coverage. Agent Dan Smith will multiply $33.13 (the “national base beneficiary premium” for 2015) by 6% (1% for every month Mr. Senior went without Part D coverage). Agent Smith knows that Medicare will round the penalty to the nearest $0.10, so he estimates the penalty for Mr. Senior should be $2.00. Here are the calculations:

.06 (or 6%) x $33.13 = 1.9878

1.9878 rounded to the nearest $0.10 is $2.00

Agents should be cautious not to tell clients EXACTLY what the late enrollment penalty will be. The agents are forced to make assumptions about a client’s insurance history oftentimes without having actual facts. Medicare clients aren’t always aware of what their past coverages consisted of, or they may not be aware that they had creditable drug coverage through a retirement health plan, for example. Agents should also make the client aware that although Medicare calculated the late enrollment penalty, the invoice will come from the company through whom they are enrolled for their Part D or MAPD coverage. Clients often ask why their plans are charging them additional fees, unaware that these charges are being required from Medicare.

If you have any questions about the Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty, feel free to Contact Medicare.