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 […]

Healthcare quality for seniors all over the map

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Seniors living in Manhattan spend an average of nearly 25 days a year at doctor visits or at a hospital. But in Lebanon, New Hampshire, contact with the healthcare system is far lower – just 10 days on average. New Yorkers probably are not that much sicker than their New England neighbors. Instead, the statistic […]

How Health Savings Accounts complicate life for Medicare enrollees

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Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are surging in popularity – and that can lead to some complications for older workers who enroll in Medicare. HSAs are offered to workers enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans. The accounts are used primarily to meet deductible costs; employers often contribute and workers can make pretax contributions up to $3,350 […]

How will higher health costs impact your retirement plan?

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If you haven’t done a check-up on your retirement health care costs lately, it’s a good time to update the numbers. Medicare’s premiums and out-of-pocket costs will jump over the next several years due to rising health care costs and changes in the program made by Congress. After several years of minimal health care inflation, […]

Wondering what your 2016 Medicare Part B premium will be? Here’s the skinny

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The chaos surrounding Medicare premiums for 2016 finally has settled down, and we now have final figures on  monthly premiums will look like in Part B (outpatient services). If you’re already on Social Security, your premium stays at $104.90. You’re held harmless due to the lack of a Social Security COLA for next year.   […]