Fit to Retire

James Kerr  |  Dec 2, 2021

I WAS RECENTLY talking with a younger acquaintance about my decision to leave the workforce early. I’d left a demanding career to pursue my personal passions, while I was still young and healthy enough to do so.
My acquaintance is in his early 30s. He’s single and makes a boatload of money working in IT for a pharma company. He’s also a big proponent of the FIRE (financial independence-retire early) movement. He takes part in Reddit boards and reads every investment article he can get his hands on.

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Strikes Me as Fair

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 18, 2021

THE FEDERAL government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services just announced the new income-based Part B and Part D premiums for 2022. Many people aren’t happy.

Next year’s basic Part B premium jumps to $170.10 a month, in part because Congress artificially limited this year’s premium increase to only 25% of the true amount. It’s time to play catchup—and deal with rising health care costs.

But a small group of seniors will pay more than $170.10 a month—sometimes much more.

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Mind the Gap

Michael Flack  |  Nov 15, 2021

MY WIFE WILL BE eligible for Medicare in March 2022. To better understand the process, we signed up for a webinar given by Matt, a Medigap insurance broker. Matt did a good job explaining the issues we faced, so we made an appointment to talk with him on the phone—even though he gave off a used car salesman vibe when, at the end of his presentation, he exhorted us to make an appointment before they all filled up.

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Phoning It In

David Powell  |  Nov 14, 2021

THOSE PAPER COVID-19 vaccination cards weren’t designed for heavy use. Yet many jurisdictions require proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant, theater, museum or sports event. How do we avoid wearing out the card when we’re constantly pulling it out of our purse, pocket or wallet? Simple. Provide digital proof of your vaccine status.
There are some state-specific mobile apps that do this, like New York’s Excelsior Pass, as well as proprietary apps like Clear and Azova.

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Not Too Late

Mike Zaccardi  |  Nov 6, 2021

HEALTH SAVINGS accounts are frequently praised on HumbleDollar—with good reason. A lesser-known benefit: Health savings accounts, or HSAs, can be a boon for new employees, thanks to the last-month rule.
What’s that? If you have a qualifying high deductible health plan (HDHP) as of Dec. 1, you’re eligible to make a full-year HSA contribution, even if you only just bought an HDHP. On top of that, if you continue HDHP coverage,

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One Step at a Time

Howard Rohleder  |  Nov 3, 2021

IN MY LATE 20s, I found that I was 15 pounds heavier than when I was in high school. My cholesterol was over 200 and rising. I was huffing and puffing while mowing the lawn.
I didn’t like where this was going, plus I didn’t want to buy a new set of business suits. I decided that investing in my health was as important as investing for my wealth. If my health was shot by the time I retired,

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Compare and Contrast

Richard Connor  |  Oct 28, 2021

IT’S OPEN SEASON for many of us—time to choose our health insurance for the year ahead. It’s a topic I got seriously interested in when I took over management of 500 mathematically astute engineers. They challenged me daily to understand how the various plans stacked up against each other. I spent a lot of time looking at various ways to assess the value of the different plan choices, and came up with a framework that worked for my family.

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Feeling Better

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 27, 2021

“I SORELY MISS the peace of mind that comes with universal health coverage.”

Those are the words of a 32-year-old woman from Canada, who is currently a PhD student residing in the U.S. When I read them recently in the comment section of a blog, they changed my thinking about health care.

I’ve been involved in health benefits, health insurance and health plans of various types since 1962. I’ve designed employer plans. I was on the boards of four health maintenance organizations.

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Triggering IRMAA

James McGlynn  |  Oct 27, 2021

THIS IS THE LAST year that my income won’t affect my Medicare premiums.
At issue is IRMAA, or income-related monthly adjustment amount, which is the premium surcharge for Medicare Part B and Part D if you exceed certain income thresholds. The surcharge is based on your modified adjustment gross income from two years earlier. Like almost all retirees, I’ll begin Medicare at age 65. That means IRMAA will be based on my income for the tax year when I reach age 63,

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No Complaints

Dennis Friedman  |  Oct 26, 2021

AS A RETIREE WHO HAS traditional Medicare, my health insurance premiums will cost $4,696 this year. That comes to $391 a month. I’ve had no other out-of-pocket costs in 2021, except Medicare Part B’s $203 deductible.
Here’s how much I’m paying in 2021 for each of my health care plans:

Traditional Medicare: $148.50 per month or $1,782 total
Prescription drug plan: $29.20 per month or $350 total
Medigap policy: $213.68 per month or $2,564 total

I know some people are critical of federal-run programs.

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Managing to Profit

Howard Rohleder  |  Oct 25, 2021

THE GAMBLING TRUISM says you can’t beat the house. That brings me to a recent HumbleDollar article that discussed choosing either a Medicare Advantage plan or traditional Medicare with an accompanying Medigap policy. Almost two dozen readers weighed in with comments.
My two cents: Never forget that the managed-care companies offering Advantage plans are mostly for-profit companies that are publicly traded. The government’s purpose is to transfer its insurance risk to those companies.

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Bill Him Not Me

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 23, 2021

NOBODY, INCLUDING ME, wants to spend their hard-earned money on health care. That, of course, is illogical if you’re being treated for an illness or relieved of discomfort. Nevertheless, we don’t want to use our own money. That’s why we have health insurance—to cover everything. Or at least that’s our expectation.

When I ran employee benefits, I had many debates with workers about their health care bills. When a doctor charged significantly above the reasonable and customary fee,

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Fighting IRMAA

Richard Connor  |  Oct 18, 2021

I TURNED AGE 64 over the Labor Day weekend. One of my goals for my 65th orbit of the sun is to really dig into Medicare.
Luckily, I have a few friends and relatives who have blazed the trail before me. I’ve also studied Medicare as part of some financial planning courses I took a few years ago. Still, one topic I’ve never researched in detail is Medicare’s income-related monthly adjustment amount, otherwise known as IRMAA.

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Picking Plans

Mike Zaccardi  |  Oct 16, 2021

HAVING LEFT the nine-to-five world, I face a decision: What to do about health insurance? I’m a single, generally healthy millennial. Historically, I’ve not run up major medical bills. But as with the financial markets, past performance doesn’t guarantee future outcomes. Here are the five options I’ve been considering:
1. Continue COBRA. When I left my job, I kept my old employer’s health plan, but I have to pay the full cost of coverage.

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Medicare and Me

Ron Wayne  |  Oct 15, 2021

AND SO IT BEGINS again—trying to figure out the mess that is Medicare.
A 132-page book from the Department of Health & Human Services arrived in the mail recently. “Medicare & You 2022” is four pages longer than the 2021 edition I received earlier this year, when I was turning age 65. I could barely bring myself to pore through the pages of that one, as I endeavored to understand the myriad choices facing me as I hit that magic milestone.

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