Health and Education Updates

It’s Veterans Day, and before I touch on the financial topics, I must send my thanks to all those who have risked their lives to protect our world – not just my fellow armed forces veterans, but police and firefighters as well. And to my father (and all you Army veterans out there), you have my deepest sympathy regarding the crushing defeat of the Black Knights by the Falcons last Saturday – Go Air Force! Beat Army.

Medicare Part B Premium Changes  Medicare Part B premiums may rise 52% in 2016 for some Social Security Recipients. Are you part of the 30% of Social Security Recipients who will be hit with the 52% increase in Part B costs? If you pay standard Part B premiums and have them deducted from your Social Security check, then you do NOT need to worry about this increase. Those who do face the increase include:

  • People who pay higher-income Part B premiums
  • People enrolled in Part B but pay premiums directly to Medicare (perhaps because they’ve delayed Social Security benefits)
  • People who pay permanent penalties because they signed up late for Part B
  • Those who are not yet enrolled in Part B, but will sign up in 2016

There are several great articles on the ironically titled “Medicare Hold-Harmless Provision.” Just google ‘Medicare 2016 premium increase’ and read the stories from Kiplingers, AARP, or other news sources.

Education Planning – FAFSA UPDATE  The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) filing timeline is changing next year. Students will be able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date is a permanent change which will allow students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year. (There is NO CHANGE to the 2016–17 schedule, when the FAFSA will become available January 1 as in previous years.)

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Long Term Care Policy to Provide Less for More

A client recently purchased LTC insurance after two years of thinking it over.  Whew, I thought, just in time!  Genworth’s newest policy becomes available next week, complete with 30% higher premiums and the following reduction in benefits:

  • Maximum Daily Benefit amount changed from $400 to $300
  • Maximum Monthly Benefit amount changed from $12,000 to $9,000
  • Minimum issue age will now be 40
  • Benefit multiplier options no longer include 6, 8 or 10 years
  • 2% compound inflation protection option added
  • Future Purchase Option changed from 5% to 3% compound
  • Home care services require an Agency, if available
  • The following riders are no longer available: Transition Benefit, Restoration Benefit and Refund of Premium Benefit

I suspect the other carriers will follow suit over the next year.  If you’ve procrastinated on reviewing Long Term Care policies, don’t delay any further!  If you’ve recently received a quote from an insurance provider for LTC, make sure you’re comparing Genworth to other coverage options.

Critical Illness Insurance: An Alternative to Long Term Disability Insurance

Are you past the optimum age to be approved for Disability insurance coverage, but you plan to continue working until age 70? I recently learned from Low Load Insurance Services of a viable alternative to long term disability coverage for critical conditions such as cancer, heart attack, organ transplant, kidney failure, paralysis, loss of sight, speech, or hearing, advanced Alzheimer’s, coronary artery bypass, and stroke.

Critical Illness plans fill a niche for people: Read more

Medicare – Time to Validate Your Choice

It’s open enrollment time through December 7th for Medicare participants.   Clients who have already selected a Medicare plan should take a few minutes to compare your existing plan to others currently offered.  Validate your costs and coverages.  Go to for a quick review and comparison of your plan.

Medicare Open Enrollment: Oct 15 – Dec 7

Medicare Open Enrollment Period Starts Sooner and Ends Earlier:  In years past, open enrollment ran from November 15th through December 31st.  This year, it begins on October 15th and runs through December 7th.  Changes made during open enrollment are effective as of January 1, 2012.

During open enrollment, people with Medicare can make new choices and pick plans that work best for them. Each year Medicare plans typically change what they cost and cover. In addition, your health-care needs may have changed over the past year. The open enrollment period is your opportunity to switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans to better suit your needs.

If you have a Medicare plan, take a few moments to review it.  How is the coverage and level of care you’re receiving with your current plan? Do you see the medical professionals of your choice, or are you restricted as to the staff and facilities you’re able to use?  Are your premium costs or out-of-pocket expenses too high? For example, Medicare Part B and Part D premiums can increase if your income exceeds a certain level. On the other hand, if you have a Medigap or Medicare Supplement plan, you may find that your out-of-pocket costs are increasing due to co-payments and deductibles. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Part C plan, those benefits and costs may change as well.  Has your health changed, or do you anticipate needing medical care or treatment? Now is the time to determine if your current plan will cover your treatment and what your potential out-of-pocket costs may be. If your current plan doesn’t meet your health-care needs or fit within your budget, you can switch to a plan that may work better for you.

Where can you get more information?  Take advantage of help available by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or by visiting the Medicare website, We can also help you find the information you need to make decisions about Medicare.