Long-term care: Why your location really matters


Location, location location: Not only is it key to the value of real estate, it’s also a big driver of the cost of long-term care. A study of long-term care costs in the United States released this week shows that the cost of long-term services and support varies dramatically by location. For example, the national […]

Getting a handle on health care in retirement


Health care is one of the largest expenses most Americans will face in retirement – and it’s among the most difficult to predict. At the recent Morningstar Individual Investor Conference, I joined a panel discussion of strategies for meeting health-care funding needs using Medicare, Medigap, long-term care insurance health savings accounts – and the Affordable Care Act. […]

Medicare reform redux: How Ryan’s new plan would squeeze seniors


Imagine a Medicare reform plan that boosts your premiums 50 percent. If you like your doctor, you won’t be able to keep her. The wealthy will subsidize healthcare for poor seniors. An Obamacare takeover of Medicare? Nope. It’s the latest iteration of “premium support,” the plan for Medicare unveiled this week by U.S. Representative Paul […]

AT&T move underscores employer shift of retiree health care to insurance exchanges


A growing number of companies are dropping single-employer group insurance plans in favor of privately run insurance exchanges, where a third party sets up a marketplace offering Medicare coverage offered by dozens of carriers, with costs subsidized by their former employers. The trend was underscored by news this month that AT&T Inc will move its […]

Your Medicare card: Go ahead, leave home without it


What’s in seniors’ wallets? Most likely, a Medicare card that puts them at risk of scams and fraud. In an era of rising worry about financial scams and frauds targeting the elderly, we still have this peculiar anachronism: Social Security numbers are printed on every Medicare card – and the back of the card instructs […]

Medicare cost shifting: The next big worry for seniors


Seniors can breathe a little easier now that Social Security benefit cuts are no longer part of this year’s federal budget debate, But the other shoe hasn’t dropped in Washington. That would be Medicare cost shifting. Last week, President Barack Obama’s administration ditched one of its worst retirement policy ideas, the “chained CPI” for Social […]

The war on elder poverty – however you measure it – is not over


“Without Social Security, nearly half of seniors would be living in poverty,” President Barack Obama said last month, noting the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. “Today, fewer than one in seven do. Before Medicare, only half of seniors had some form of health insurance. Today, virtually all do.” Is the war on elder […]

Hospitalized but under “observation status”? Seniors beware


A growing number of seniors who think they’ve been hospitalized are finding that they weren’t. The problem isn’t memory loss, confusion or dementia. Instead, seniors on Medicare who did in fact spend multiple nights in the hospital are learning later on that they weren’t formally admitted. Instead, they had “observation status” – a Medicare classification […]

How to navigate benefits if you’re working past age 65


It’s no secret that Americans are working longer. But some are working well past traditional retirement age: the fastest-growing segment of the labor force is workers over age 65, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – and the growth is especially pronounced among workers over age 70. Working longer certainly can boost the […]

Retirees get a slim COLA boost next year


Seniors and retirement savers finally got the word last week on three critical inflation adjustments for next year – and the word was — not bad. The burst of fall cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) announcements was delayed by the recent government shutdown. Now the COLA figures for Social Security, Medicare and limits on contributions to retirement […]