Medicare Part B premiums won’t jump as much as expected in 2017

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Medicare Part B premiums won’t jump as sharply as feared next year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the average premium will rise about $4 next year – to $109 per month  from $104.90 (that’s been the premium since 2013). That’s the number for the 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who […]

In-patient or not? New Medicare law requires hospitals to tell you

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You are in the hospital for tests after experiencing dizziness. You are nervous about what the tests will show, but at least you do not have to worry about hospital bills – you have Medicare, so you can relax about healthcare coverage. Or can you? Not if you are in the hospital under “observation status” […]

Automatic enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans drawing scrutiny

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Update on 10/24/16: CMS suspended acceptance of new seamless conversion applications on October 21st, and said it will be reviewing its application procedures. CMS also released data on Medicare Advantage plans currently approved for seamless conversion. Most are managed care Medicaid plans that are doing seamless enrollment into Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs). These are […]

Five ways to tune up your Medicare coverage

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Health care is one of the largest expenses you’ll face in retirement, and making good Medicare coverage decisions is a great way to save money. Medicare doesn’t cover all expenses in retirement, but it’s the most important factor in smoothing out health care costs, which play such an important role in retiree budgets. Medicare data shows […]

Medicare Advantage growing quickly, but provider choice is limited

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Medicare enrollees are moving in greater numbers than ever to the program’s managed care option as a way to save money. But the tradeoff is much less ability to use their preferred doctors and hospitals. Seniors can choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare – which is accepted by most healthcare providers – or a Medicare Advantage […]

Budget cuts threaten SHIP Medicare counseling program

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Would you call a U.S. program that helps 7 million seniors save money on Medicare annually “unnecessary”? Probably not. But a network of more than 3,300 free Medicare counseling services could lose its $52 million in federal funding due to budget cuts. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is on a list of more […]

Not junk mail: This letter from Social Security can cut Medicare drug costs

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A letter arrives in the mail with this opening line: “We are writing to let you know how you can get help paying your Medicare costs.” Your fraud detector probably goes on high alert – the mailboxes of retirees routinely are stuffed with bogus come-ons. But this letter is no scam. More than 2 million seniors are receiving letters this […]

Employer health benefits for U.S. retirees keep declining

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Planning for retirement is tough enough – and it gets even tougher when retirement benefits you expect to receive from an employer are changed on short notice. But a growing number of U.S. employers are capping their risk of rising health insurance costs by sending retirees into private exchanges to buy coverage – often with […]

Medicare end-of-life counseling off to slow start

Dr. Tony Back

Older patients want to talk with their doctors about how they will die, but are doctors ready to have the conversation? Medicare began reimbursing physicians in January for time spent discussing their patients’ end-of-life wishes. While 95 percent of U.S. physicians support the new benefit, only 14 percent say they have yet billed Medicare for advance planning patient visits, according to […]

Employer health benefits for retirees continue their decline

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Planning for retirement is tough enough – and it gets even tougher when retirement benefits you expect to receive from an employer are changed on short notice. But a growing number of U.S. employers are capping their risk of rising health insurance costs by sending retirees into private exchanges to buy coverage – often with […]