As we discussed last month, if you’re procrastinating on updating your Medicare choices because you’re unsure about the details, you’re not alone…just don’t wait too long. If choosing or making changes to your Medicare plan is on your “to do” list, move it up to the top. The open enrollment period began earlier this year and ends earlier, on December 7th. Here are some common questions and answers that has some helpful advice on the choices you have available and which plan might be best for you.
There have been some changes to Medicare in 2012. One interesting change is that many Medicare beneficiaries will see lower premiums. Individuals who turned 65 in 2009, 2010 or 2011 last year paid standard premiums of $115.40 a month for Part B (medical insurance). In 2012, they will be paying $99.90.(Some individuals were paying $96.50 per month so it will be an increase in premium of $3.40 for those individuals) That’s the rate for individuals with modified adjusted gross incomes up to $85,000 and couples up to $170,000. Rates will drop for individuals and couples with higher incomes, as well. Details are available at the Medicare website.
But you have to keep in mind, that as wonderful as Medicare may be, it does not cover everything. What about assisted living—-nope! What about long term skilled nursing? It will cover for up to 100 days under certain circumstances but once you go over that 100 day limit Medicare (and most Medicare Supplemental Policies) stop paying. So how does one pay for these services?
A properly configured long term care insurance (LTC) policy would be a godsend for assisted living, skilled nursing, or in home care. Note that I said “properly configured.” That means you should have the assistance of a knowledgeble insurance agent. Yes, I know what you are thinking, the agent gets a commission and if we can circumvent that commission we can get a cheaper premium. So you are going to navigate to any group insurance to which you have access.
I don’t advise the group method in most cases. Let me tell you a story. I’m pretty knowlegeable on insurance matters. Not only am I an attorney dealing with this stuff, but I actually took some courses on the subject. So when it was time for my wife and I to start shopping for LTC insurance, I took a look at what the various groups to which I belonged could provide me in the way of this type of insurance. I dutifully called the group insurance vendors and they sent me the pamphlets.
It quickly became obvious that I was in over my head and needed help. So I called in an insurance agent whom I knew dealt with this product. He helped me compare the policies and configure them so that I obtained what several years later I still believe is what I need. Did I pay more than I would have with the group policy? Of course! But I got what I consider to be the proper coverage. So unless you are more knowlegeable than me about this topic, I would suggest you find an insurance agent to assist you.
What if you can’t afford LTC insurance or you need long term care now. Then we are talking about Medical/Medicaid and the Veterans Aid & Attendance Non Service Connected Pension. Both of these programs can provide money to help pay for the costs of care.