Late Fee

James McGlynn  |  Nov 11, 2019

I’M JUST A FEW YEARS from age 65—and being eligible for Medicare. One of my concerns: making a mistake that could trigger penalties.
If you file for Social Security before age 65, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. What if you’re still working at 65? Ask your human resources department for advice. Your coverage at work will dictate whether you should file for Medicare.
If you aren’t covered by an employer’s health insurance plan and you aren’t yet collecting Social Security benefits,

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Decision Time

Richard Connor  |  Oct 31, 2019

FALL IS MY FAVORITE time of year, but there used to be one thing I dreaded: picking a health plan for the year ahead.
Many folks don’t know how to evaluate their health insurance options. I used to be in that group—until I adopted a fairly straightforward process. Bear with me while I walk you through the sort of choice you might face as an employee. The same analysis can be used if you’re buying insurance on your own.

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Financial Pilates

Mark Eckman  |  Oct 18, 2019

NOTHING COMPARES to the human body when it comes to the combination of strength, flexibility and control. Build a strong core, and the possibilities are limitless. Through the discipline of Pilates, you can strengthen your core, while developing flexibility and control. It’s a wonderful tool, but one that’s underutilized.
The same can be said for health savings accounts, or HSAs, which can be funded if you have a high-deductible health plan. With an HSA,

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Open Season

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 3, 2019

PICKING A HEALTH plan used to be easy. Not anymore. Today, whether you receive coverage through your employer, buy insurance on your own or are covered by Medicare, you likely face a slew of choices.
Problem is, just as too many investment options in a 401(k) plan can paralyze employees, the same happens with health care. Indeed, a third of employees say they either don’t understand or know nothing about their health care coverage,

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Healthy and Wealthy

Dennis Friedman  |  Sep 4, 2019

I STILL KEEP IN touch with three high school buddies. One of them, Brent, isn’t doing well. He has high blood pressure, poor eyesight caused by glaucoma and creaky knees that make it hard to get around, and he’s recovering from heart surgery.
My other friend, Robert, is a diabetic with poor vision, suffers from neuropathy pain in the foot, needs a cane to walk and is on medication for various ailments.
Burt, my third pal,

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Package Deals

James McGlynn  |  Jun 24, 2019

THE INSURANCE MARKET for long-term-care coverage has had a checkered history—and yet there’s an increasing need for LTC insurance among aging baby boomers. My advice: Forget the original standalone insurance products and instead focus on the new hybrid policies.
What went wrong with the original standalone products? They proved to be underpriced. With policyholders living longer, insurers found themselves paying out more than anticipated. Policyholders also didn’t drop their policies as often as insurers expected—and the low lapse rate meant insurance companies had less chance to book profits while incurring no LTC expenses.

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Bad to Worse

Richard Quinn  |  Jun 21, 2019

IF YOU’RE IN a financial hole, is it prudent to keep digging?
There are 60 million Americans covered by Medicare, including 20 million who have opted for Medicare Advantage. These beneficiaries paid for their coverage through payroll taxes during their working years, and they currently pay with premiums and out-of-pocket cost sharing, as well as through taxes on Social Security benefits.
Still, this covers only a portion of total costs. In 2013, 38% of Medicare’s costs came from payroll taxes and 13% from Medicare premiums,

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Nursing Dollars

Jonathan Clements  |  Jan 12, 2019

LONG-TERM CARE is the elephant in the room that many of us try mightily to ignore. It’s a potentially huge expense: A semi-private room in a nursing home costs an average $89,297 a year, according to Genworth Financial.
But what should we do about it? For answers, I turned to Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Chicago financial researchers Morningstar Inc., where she’s worked for more than 25 years. Benz has written extensively on long-term care (LTC).

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Healthy Change?

Richard Quinn  |  Jan 8, 2019

SOME PEOPLE SEE Medicare-for-All as the utopia for health care, resulting in lower costs, higher quality and universal coverage. Others see M4A—a common shorthand for Medicare-for-All—as destroying health care in America, with total control residing in the hands of government bureaucrats.
Neither assessment is correct. Consider eight points:

Every health care system in the world has problems. Each system struggles with rising costs driven by factors like aging populations, development of new drugs and new medical technology,

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Time to Choose

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 26, 2018

IT’S OPEN ENROLLMENT season for many employer health plans, Medicare and plans offered through the health care exchanges. The window of opportunity can range from a few weeks to perhaps a month.
Sadly, in my experience, most people wait until the last day or two and then make a quick decision. Even worse, they ignore the communications they receive and make no decision, leaving in place for another year the coverage they currently have.

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Get Me the Doctor

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 25, 2018

BEGINNING IN 1961—and for the 48 years that followed—I administered, designed, managed and negotiated health plans covering some 40,000 employees. In the late 1970s, cost became a growing issue. Over the years, we tried every trendy thing to control costs, from HMOs to wellness programs to shifting costs to employees. Nothing worked then and nothing seems to work today.
Before you jump to the most common conclusion, there was no insurance involved in any of the plans I managed.

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Taking Your Lumps

Richard Quinn  |  Jul 19, 2018

READ THE MEDIA and you’ll likely be convinced that health care costs in retirement will be overwhelming. One example: The Motley Fool says the average couple will need $400,000 for retirement health care expenses—if they’re healthy.
Pretty scary stuff. But let’s be realistic: Every ongoing living expense stated as a lump sum looks scary. For instance, my total property taxes over my retirement will come to $435,000, excluding annual increases.
Not reassured? Consider this from a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute: “For the majority of surveyed people,

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Unhealthy Increases

Henry Hebeler  |  Feb 20, 2017

LIKE ALMOST everybody else, my wife and I faced large health care cost increases this year.  It wasn’t all from changes in our health insurance. We’re getting up there in years. We go to the doctor more often. Not all hospital charges are covered by Medicare or our health insurance. And there are some costs that aren’t covered at all–namely dental, ear and eye problems.
We’re fortunate: We can afford the cost growth. Many of our acquaintances can’t.

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