How would GOP’s Medicare “modernization” proposals affect enrollees?

Not much was said during the presidential election about Medicare reform, but “modernization” of one of our most critical retirement programs is on the agenda in Washington. The term applies to a basketful of reform ideas long favored by Republicans. But if Medicare modernization moves forward next year, it will set in motion a long-term […]

Older Americans at risk as Congress takes ax to Obamacare

Anyone nearing retirement – or already retired – should pay very close attention to the doings of the 115th Congress that was sworn in this week. Repeal of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) tops the agenda for Republicans, who will control the White House as well as both houses of Congress when Donald […]

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

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 […]

After the election, retirement security heads for a crash

Retirement security already looked like a looming train wreck for most U.S. households before Election Day. Now, the consolidation of Republican control of government threatens to accelerate the crash. It is too early to predict the agenda Donald Trump will bring to the White House on retirement policy, or where it might fit on his […]

Medicare open enrollment 2016: Shopping tips

Medicare enrollees can save hundreds of dollars on premiums and out-of-pocket costs by doing a checkup on their coverage in the weeks to come. But few bother to review what they’ve got or make changes. Medicare’s annual open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 – the period when enrollees can shop for […]

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

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

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

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

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

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 […]