Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Paradox of Our Time by George Carlin




The paradox of our time in history is that 
we have taller buildings but shorter tempers
wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints
We spend more, but have less
we buy more, but enjoy less
We have bigger houses and smaller families
more conveniences, but less time
We have more degrees but less sense
more knowledge, but less judgment
more experts, yet more problems
more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, 
spend too recklessly, laugh too little, 
drive too fast, get too angry, 
stay up too late, get up too tired, 
read too little, watch TV too much, 
and pray too seldom.


We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. 
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. 
We've added years to life not life to years. 
We've been all the way to the moon and back, 
but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. 
We conquered outer space but not inner space. 
We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. 
We write more, but learn less. 
We plan more, but accomplish less. 
We've learned to rush, but not to wait. 
We build more computers to hold more information, 
to produce more copies than ever, 
but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, 
big men and small character, 
steep profits and shallow relationships. 
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, 
fancier houses, but broken homes. 
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, 
throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, 
and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. 
It is a time when 
there is much in the showroom window 
and nothing in the stockroom. 
A time when technology can bring this letter to you, 
and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, 
or to just hit delete.


Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, 
because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, 
because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, 
because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart 
and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, 
but most of all mean it. 
A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt 
when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday 
that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! 
And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, 
but by those moments that take our breath away.



Friday, July 3, 2015

Medicare: All Things Considered

Qualifying for Medicare doesn't mean that all your health care costs will be covered. Take a note of the following marketing shenanigan:
  • Potential costs per month or year
    • According to AARP, basic coverage still costs seniors, on average, more than $3,000 a year, thanks to premiums and deductibles. And if you sign up for a Medicare supplement to help cover additional out-of-pocket expenses, that could cost you another several hundred dollars a month.
  • Potential lump-sum costs
    • Fidelity estimates that a couple who retires in 2013 will need as much as $240,000 beyond their Medicare coverage to pay for health care costs in retirement.[1]
      • The estimate covers deductibles and copayments, out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions and visits to specialists, as well as other expenses, like dental visits, hearing aids, and eyeglasses — all of which aren't covered under Medicare.
The only lesson here is that you need to have adequate savings set aside for your health care in retirement.

Age 65


Starting at age 65, you can enroll in Medicare.[1] You no longer have to rely on employer-sponsored or private health insurance plans. There are 2 main ways to get your Medicare coverage:
  1. Original Medicare
  2. Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C)
Before you make a decision, you can get local, personalized Medicare counseling from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

Remember that filing for Social Security does not automatically include enrollment in the Medicare program. You need to register for Medicare benefits during a seven-month window, including the three months before your 65th birthday, to avoid paying higher premiums for coverage.

Medicare Part A


What Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) covers includes:[12]
  • Inpatient care at a hospital
  • Skilled nursing facility (SNF)
  • Hospice.
Part A also covers services like lab tests, surgery, doctor visits, and home health care.

Most people benefit by enrolling in Medicare Part A at age 65, whether or not they continue to work. There are no premiums, and enrolling now will help you avoid potential penalties or delays down the road.

If you're covered by your employer's plan and your company has 20 or more employees, that plan remain your primary coverage. If you work for a company with fewer than 20 employees, Medicare will be your primary insurer.

Medicare Part B


What Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers includes:[12]
  • Doctor and other health care providers' services
  • Outpatient care
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Home health care
  • Some preventive services
Medicare Part B has high-income premium surcharges, you many be better off sticking with your employer plan if you still work. Once you leave your job, you have eight months to enroll in Part B, or face a penalty.

What's Not Covered by Part A & Part B?


Some of the items and services that Medicare doesn't cover include:[13]
  • Long-term care (also called custodial care)
  • Most dental care
  • Eye examinations related to prescribing glasses
  • Dentures
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Acupuncture
  • Hearing aids and exams for fitting them
  • Routine foot care
You can find out if Medicare covers a test, item, or service you need, click here.

Prescription Drug Plan


There are 2 ways to get your Medicare prescription drug coverage:
  1. Adding a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)
  2. Getting a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) such as an HMO or PPO that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage
You can join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan when you first become eligible for Medicare and each year from October 15th to December 7th. Similar to Medicare Part B, Medicare Part D also has high-income surcharges, you many be better off sticking with your employer plan if you still work. However, you should know that if you drop or lose Creditable Coverage offered by your company, you should join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan as soon as possible.

Remember that: if you go 63 continuous days or longer without creditable prescription drug coverage, your monthly premium may go up by at least 1% of the Medicare base beneficiary premium per month for every month that you did not have that coverage.

For example, if you go 19 months without Creditable Coverage, your premium may consistently be at least 19% higher than the Medicare base beneficiary premium. You may have to pay this higher premium (a penalty) as long as you have Medicare Prescription Drug coverage. In addition, you may have to wait until the following October to join.
To find out which plans cover your drugs. click here.

Medicare Part C


When you decide how to get your Medicare coverage, you might choose a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and/or Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).

There are specific times when you can sign up for these plans, or make changes to coverage you already have. You don’t need to sign up for Medicare each year. However, each year you’ll have a chance to review your coverage and change plans.

For further information, do

Further Considerations


Finally, there are some details that you might also want to consider:
  • Medicare doesn’t cover care provided abroad.[9]
  • Once you enroll in Medicare, you're no longer eligible to contribute to a health savings account (HSA).[11]
    • If you're relying on your HSA to boost your savings, you'll need to postpone Medicare.
  • Medicare probably won't pay for long-term care
    • Even if it does, it will only cover you for up to 100 days
    • With the annual cost of a nursing facility averaging around $78,000, it's the kind of expense that can quickly wipe out your nest egg.
  • Medicare premiums will be going up for many[15,16]

References

  1. 8 Retirement Milestones That Affect Your Investment Decisions
  2. For more information about Medicare Prescription Drug Plan coverage:
    • www.medicare.gov
    • Call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program for personalized help
    • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
  3. Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan - Notice of Creditable Coverage
    • Medicare Prescritption Drug coverage became available in 2006 to everyone with Medicare.
    • if you will become Medicare eligible in the next 12 months, pay attention to this
    • for more information about Medicare Prescription Drug Plan coverage, visit www.medicare.gov
    • if you have limited income and resources, extra help paying for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage is available. For information about this extra help, visit Social Security on the web at www.socialsecurity.gov.
    • it is very important that you retain this Creditable Coverage notice (from your company). If you decide to join one of the Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, you may be required to provide a copy of this notice when you join to show wether you have maintained Creditable Coverage and, therefore, whether or not you are required to pay a higher premium (a penalty).
  4. A Better Alternative To Nursing Homes
  5. The Pitfalls of Working Past Age 65
  6. Obamacare: Six Tools to Make You a Smarter Health-Care Shopper
  7. Why Shopping Is So Important in Health Enrollment
  8. When You Should Sign Up for Medicare
  9. 20 Best Foreign Retirement Havens For 2015
    • Uruguay is that rare country that allows foreign retirees to use the national healthcare system.
  10. Is Travel Insurance a Waste of Money?
    • Medicare doesn't cover you outside the U.S., but many Medicare supplements do.
  11. Not Ready to Retire (Charles Schwab OnInvesting Summer 2015)
  12. What Medicare Covers? (Medicare.gov)
  13. What's not covered by Part A & Part B? (Medicare.gov)
  14. What Health Care Will Cost You (AARP)
  15. Medicare premiums will be going up for many
  16. Medicare Costs Set to Skyrocket for Seniors
  17. Obamacare "Observations" and the Elusive Search for Improvements; Seniors Beware!
    • Make sure you are being "admitted, not observed". The difference can set you back $20,000 or more.
  18. Here’s What’s Really Going On With Obamacare Premiums
  19. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS.gov)
    • The federal agency that oversees the Medicare program.
    • Many Medicare beneficiaries have other insurance in addition to their Medicare benefits.  Sometimes, Medicare is supposed to pay after the other insurance.  However, if certain other insurance delays payment, Medicare may take a "conditional payment" so as not to inconvenience the beneficiary, and recover after the other insurance pays.