Quality issues keep dogging Medicare Advantage plans

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Seniors have flocked to Medicare Advantage in recent years, attracted by savings on premiums and the convenience of one-stop shopping. But as the annual Medicare enrollment season began this week, a memorandum from federal officials to plan providers surfaced that serves as a big red warning flag. The upshot: Assess the quality of any Advantage […]

Shining a light on a murky election-year Social Security debate

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In North Carolina, a television ad attacks incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan for supporting a “controversial plan” that “raises the retirement age” for Social Security. The ad comes from Crossroads GPS, the super PAC run by Republican Karl Rove. A Republican attack on a Democrat for cutting Social Security benefits? It’s just one instance where […]

Timing your Social Security filing: Where to get assistance with the big decision

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Deciding when to file for Social Security is one of the most consequential financial decisions most Americans will make about their retirement. Opting to claim benefits early, at the Full Retirement Age (FRA), or later can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in higher–or lower–lifetime benefits for a married couple. But Social Security’s rules are […]

Why it pays to shop your Medicare coverage this fall

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Your Medicare prescription drug plan sent you a letter recently. Chances are, you didn’t read it – and that could be costing you money. Health insurance companies must send an annual notice of changes for the coming year to Part D prescription drug and Part C Medicare Advantage plans. The notice, which must be delivered […]

How to shop for a Medicare Part D plan

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The annual Medicare enrollment period starts on October 15th and ends of December 7th. This is the opportunity for seniors to review their prescription drug or Medicare Advantage coverage, and to select new plans. With dozens of plans available in most parts of the country, Medicare shopping can be a complex chore. Re-shopping your plan annually […]

How to shop for Medicare Advantage plans

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Medicare Advantage is a fast-growing form of private Medicare plan that offers all-in-one medical and drug coverage. About 33 percent of Medicare enrollees are expected to opt for an Advantage plan in 2015. Most Medicare Advantage plans are managed care programs, such as HMOs or PPOs. Some private fee-for-service and specialty plans are offered, although […]

When can the government garnish your Social Security?

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It’s a rude awakening for a growing number of seniors: They file for Social Security, then discover that the federal government plans to take part of their benefit to pay off delinquent student loans, tax bills, child support or alimony. The practice came under a spotlight this month when the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) […]

Extreme retirement abroad: How one footloose couple sees the world

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For Americans looking to retire abroad, deciding where to live can be a challenge. But Lynne and Tim Martin took that question off the table by deciding to retire everywhere and anywhere. In 2011 the couple opted for what might be called extreme retirement abroad: They sold their Paso Robles, California, home, jettisoned all but […]

Time to declare “game over” for active fund management?

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Is it time to declare “game over” in the contest between active and passive fund management? Funds are pouring into Vanguard Group’s passively-managed index funds, with total assets at the firm nearing $3 trillion. No less a stock picking legend than Warren Buffett is endorsing passive – he has advised his own trustees to put […]

Retirement insecurity: Two studies underline housing and income challenges

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Next Monday marks the sixth anniversary of the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers, a key event in the Wall Street meltdown that led to the Great Recession. The recession wreaked havoc on the retirement plans of millions of Americans, and two studies released last week suggest that most of us haven’t recovered well. The Joint […]