The Link Between Medicare and Social Security

It would seem logical to call Medicare when you’re first eligible for Medicare,  because of nearing age 65, losing employer coverage, or due to disability.  However, the first step is to call Social Security regarding enrollment in Part A and Part B of Medicare.

Lots of folks are suprised to learn that their Medicare Part B and Part D premiums are based on their income. In fact, Medicare beneficiares can pay more than three times the current standard Medicare Part B premium of $104.90/month. 

Early Signs of HIGH Health Insurance Rates for 2016

It’s still early in the summer, but we have some solid information this year on what to expect in terms of rate increases for 2016. All individual (and many group) plans are now based on a calendar year.  In other words, new plans and premiums will be available during Open Enrollment — starting November 1 — for plans to begin in 2016. So, everyone needs to compare plans and make a decision for the new plan year.

Medicare Recipients and Identity Theft Protection

If you’ve lost your Medicare card, there’s a form on the Medicare ...

Yes, this post is geared mainly towards people on Medicare, but it’s good information you can share with a family member or friend regardless of your age.

Almost every Medicare beneficiary carries their red, white and blue Medicare card with them.  This card shows their social security number plus a letter — also known as the Medicare Claim Number.  It’s a good idea to make a copy of your Medicare card and then black-out the last four digits of your social security number.

Paying Too Much For Your Medications?

Paying Too Much For Your Medications? - Rx bottle

People who have been prescribed expensive brand-name drugs know how much it can hurt their wallet.  The good news is that close to 80% of all brand-name medications have a generic counterpart. Oftentimes, generics are perfectly fine; other times a generic isn’t available or is not recommended by your doctor.  So, most people accept the higher cost brand-name drugs and figure there’s not much they can do.  Well, depending on the situation, there can be some very good ways to lower drug costs.

Georgia Hospitals Graded on Safety: Northside Hospital ‘A’, Piedmont Hospital ‘D’

A recent article by Georgia Health News reports on the patient safety ratings for Georgia hospitals. According to the article, the intent of the hospital safety report is to aid consumers in their selection of hospitals based on a very important measure of care: “the ability of hospitals to prevent errors, injuries and infections.”  They should have added “deaths” to the list.

The article cites a statistic that is quite alarming: “More than 1000 people die each day in the United States because of preventable hospital errors”

Open Enrollment for 2015 in Georgia: Marketplace Plans

This post is geared towards people who might qualify for a health insurance subsidy based on their income. What I wrote below is actually an email I sent to my clients who currently have an Exchange policy they purchased within the past year.  I thought it might be helpful for others in a similar situation.  If you know someone who needs health insurance, but they think they can’t afford it, please direct them to this post. Thank you!

Is Medicare Open Enrollment Really That Confusing?

Open Enrollment for Medicare is quickly approaching. Otherwise known as the “Annual Election Period” or AEP, the season to make changes to Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription Drug Plans (Part D), runs from October 15 through December 7.

I read an article in the New York Times today that gives some good basic information about Medicare Open Enrollment (not to be confused with open enrollment for those under age 65), so I’m providing the link here

2015 Health Insurance Rates in Georgia: An Early Look

It’s the middle of August and Open Enrollment is still a few months away, but in my world, the emphasis is on PREPARATION!  For those people who have personal health insurance plans, Open Enrollment is the period of time when almost everyone will want to evaluate their plan options for the next year.  The time to do this has been compressed into a very short span of time — from November 15 to February 15.  The vast majority of people will make their decisions before December 15,

Play or Pay for Personal Health Plans — Penalty Going Up in 2015

In 2014, choosing not to have a compliant health insurance plan was (and is) a viable option for many people.  The tax penalty — or to use the proper name — the “Individual Shared Responsibility Payment” for 2014 was not very high.  Some people decided to take the risk and go without coverage, while some decided to get a low-cost non-compliant plan.  Either way, the penalty wasn’t a huge deterrent.

The penalty is increasing significantly in 2015,

Can Employers Pay for Employees Individual Health Policies Pre-tax?

The IRS recently issued clarification on whether or not employers can contribute money (or reimburse payments) for employees who have individual (non-group) health insurance on a pre-tax basis.  The answer is no, they will not allow it.  See this article for details.

Many employers are sick and tired of the increasing costs of providing health insurance to their employees — this is well known.  However, employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalents (FTEs) are not required to offer health insurance and they can drop their group coverage —