Healthy Investment

Kristine Hayes  |  Oct 2, 2021

DURING THE FIRST FEW months of the pandemic, my almost-daily trips to the gym ceased. I was home more of the time and snacking became a habit. I found myself five pounds heavier than I’d been a year earlier. Knowing that, at age 54, my metabolism isn’t quite as vigorous as it once was, I took action. I started a ketogenic diet and quickly dropped the extra weight.
As we contemplate growing older, much of our time and energy is spent planning the financial aspects of our retirement years.

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A Large Bite

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 2, 2021

IN DECEMBER 2020, my wife got an infection at the site of an old root canal. The dentist initially thought it could be treated with medication. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so an extraction and implant were planned.

The process took several visits and several bills, with the charges accumulating along the way. Some of this pain could have been relieved by a modest dental plan that I had from my former employer. That was not to be,

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Doesn’t Apply to Me

Sonja Haggert  |  Aug 16, 2021

DURING A HEATED discussion, the chairman at my old employer grew exasperated with me. “Rules are meant for other people, not me,” he snapped.
I had no idea how prevalent that attitude was—until recently. It seems some hospitals and drug companies also feel that the rules don’t apply to them.
There have been articles in The Wall Street JournaI about a new rule that went into effect requiring hospitals to show how much they charge for procedures.

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Qualifying for Care

Richard Connor  |  Jul 19, 2021

A NEIGHBOR WAS recently telling me about the increasing amount of care he and his wife have to provide to his 90-year-old mother-in-law, and the challenges and expenses he expects in the near future.
I was able to offer some advice—because this is an area where my wife and I have significant experience. Together, we took care of her parents and mine, both medically and financially. If this is something you’re experiencing, or may soon,

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Happy I Had Medicare

Dennis Friedman  |  Jun 8, 2021

I WENT TO SEE MY primary care physician about a medical problem. I actually felt pretty good and wasn’t in any pain. I was fairly confident there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with me, so—when the doctor greeted me and asked how I was doing—I said, “I’m doing well.”
When he responded, “No, you’re not,” I knew this wasn’t going to go well.
I gave him my explanation of what might be causing my physical condition.

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Healthy Gains

James McGlynn  |  Apr 19, 2021

IT’S BEEN CALLED the stealth IRA. We’re talking here about health savings accounts, which offer a triple tax play. First, contributions are tax-deductible. Second, the accounts grow tax-deferred. Third, if the money is used to pay permitted medical expenses, there’s no tax on the sum withdrawn.
That might sound similar to an employer-sponsored flexible spending account for health care costs, but those are more restrictive. If much or all of the money isn’t spent by the end of the year,

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Caring for Mom

Phil Dawson  |  Apr 7, 2021

IN NOVEMBER 2019, my 92-year-old widowed mother took an uncontrolled trip down a flight of wooden stairs in her home and got a helicopter ride to the regional trauma center.
Before her fall, we had a tenuous but semi-functional system of care in place. But the chaotic aftermath plunged us into unknown territory and claimed incalculable amounts of time, money and other resources from her caregivers. We spent months struggling with a new, impossibly complex set of rules and referees.

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Price of Success

Sonja Haggert  |  Jan 7, 2021

MY HUSBAND AND I are planners. We can tell you where we’ll be living 15 years from now, the trip we plan to take in 2022 and how much we’ll likely pay in taxes this year.
What we didn’t plan for: Paying more for Medicare—a lot more.
If you’re covered by Medicare, you’ll likely know that this year you pay $148.50 in monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, plus a premium for the Part D prescription drug benefit,

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For Your Benefit

Richard Quinn  |  Nov 3, 2020

ONE OF MY SONS has to choose health insurance for the year ahead—and his employer provided a 95-page pamphlet. Let’s face it: If you need that amount of information to make a choice, something is wrong.
The pamphlet describes three medical options, plus dental options and vision coverage. Two options get you an employer health savings account contribution—or it is a health reimbursement account? There are three levels of deductibles and coinsurance and, of course,

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Filling the Gap

James McGlynn  |  May 4, 2020

REACHING AGE 65 is a financial relief for many folks—because they’re finally eligible for Medicare. But then disappointment often sets in.
Why? Medicare might cover just 80% of medical expenses, leaving the patient to handle the other 20%. How will you cover that 20%? The usual solution is to buy a Medigap policy. But there are so many choices that it can be overwhelming.
My goal today: Help you narrow that choice a little—by comparing two Medigap plans,

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Care to Choose?

Dennis Ho  |  Apr 16, 2020

DESPITE THE NEGATIVE press, long-term-care insurance can be a smart buy. In fact, policies can be affordable for those as old as age 79. But as with any financial product, it’s important to understand what you’re buying—and make sure it fits with your goals.
In my last article, I discussed how much money you might earmark for long-term-care (LTC) costs. Need insurance to hit your goal? Today, the two main products are “traditional policies” and “hybrid life and long-term-care policies.”
Both types of policy offer similar LTC benefits.

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Don’t Ignore It

Dennis Ho  |  Apr 9, 2020

AS BABY BOOMERS and Generation X march toward retirement, they face a daunting issue: What steps should they take, given the risk they’ll require long-term care?
Long-term care—defined as needing help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating—is something that almost 70% of retirees will require at some point, according to Problem is, Medicare only provides limited coverage.
Yes, Medicaid does cover long-term care. But it was designed as a last resort for low-income folks.

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Danger: Cliff Ahead

James McGlynn  |  Jan 29, 2020

MEET IRMAA. You won’t like her. IRMAA is short for income-related monthly adjustment amount. It’s a premium surcharge levied on those covered by Medicare Part B and Part D—and who have income above certain thresholds.
In 2020, the standard premium for Part B, which covers outpatient care, is $144.60 a month. That’s what you pay if you file taxes as a single individual and your modified adjusted gross income is $87,000 or less, or if you’re married filing jointly with annual income of $174,000 and below.

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Triple Play

Richard Connor  |  Jan 24, 2020

I’M A BIG FAN of health savings accounts, or HSAs. They’re becoming more popular as a way to pay for medical costs—and, in the right circumstances, they can also be a valuable addition to your retirement plan.
What’s so great about HSAs? If used properly, they’re triple tax-favored. You get a tax deduction when you deposit funds. The growth thereafter is tax-deferred. And if you use distributions to pay for qualified medical expenses, withdrawals are tax-free.

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Don’t Get an F

James McGlynn  |  Nov 25, 2019

MEDICAL EXPENSES are a big worry for retirees—leading many to purchase supplemental insurance. But you need to think carefully about which Medigap policy you buy.
What does this insurance get you? Medicare Part B, which covers doctor’s visits and other outpatient care, typically only pays 80% of the expenses that retirees incur. To plug this and other coverage gaps, many folks buy a Medigap insurance plan. Want to keep your current doctors and not be restricted to the network of medical professionals offered in a Medicare Advantage plan,

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