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 […]

2017 Social Security COLA likely to lack fizz

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Retirees will receive a paltry increase in their Social Security checks in 2017 – the second consecutive year of flat or near-flat benefits, and the fifth year of inflation adjustments below 2 percent. Next year’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be just two-tenths of 1 percent, according to predictions in the annual report of the trustees […]

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 […]

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 […]

Five questions for Emily Brandon

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In the days when defined benefit pensions roamed the land, retirement income was automatic: you worked for a company, the company contributed to the pension fund. Checks started arriving when you retired, and didn’t stop until you did. End of story, for the most part. Plenty retirees still have traditional pensions, but they are on […]

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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 […]

Bipartisan solutions on long-term care come into view

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Ask Americans what they fear most about aging, and many will tell you it is the possibility of needing nursing care – and not being able to pay for it. They are right to worry. Federal data shows that about half the people who turn 65 today will not have any need for long-term care. […]

Inflation in retirement: What you can do to keep up

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The news that Social Security beneficiaries didn’t receive an inflation adjustment this year has renewed debate about how we measure the cost of living for seniors. A strong case can be made that the current formula driving Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is out of whack. The COLA is tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban […]

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