Hecht Insurance Advisors, LLC Blog
How to Stay Sane if You Are Isolating
Virtual coffee chats and dinners
Get together with friends you may have planned to meet for coffee, lunch or dinner but via video chat. You have plenty of options in tech that can be used on your computer and/or smartphone and tablet.
Brew yourself some coffee or your favorite tea and start up your Facetime, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Skype or any other app that has a video call feature.
If you want some human contact, you could even arrange to open one of the apps as you and a friend sit down for dinner in your respective abodes and have some nice conversation over a meal.
If you have a regular class with a yoga instructor, see if they want to start conducting their classes by video. There are a few teleconferencing applications that allow for a conference call-type format where participants are given a password to join the meeting.
The instructor can then teach the class to anyone of their current customers that wants to join. This is already happening in Spain and Italy.
Also, if you already have a gym membership, many gyms are starting to offer virtual classes as well. And many are also offering free classes online. Classes that are geared for groups are the most conducive to online training, such as Zumba, Pilates, yoga and aerobics-type sessions.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak, you can use exercise to reduce your anxiety and clear your mind. One of the best ways to fight the stagnation of home quarantine is to continue to breathe properly and keep moving. Movement has an amazing effect on your mood and outlook.
Meet for a walk
You can go on a walk with a friend and keep your social distancing of 6 feet apart to catch up, and also to get the blood pumping. During this time of self-isolation, it's important that you get some form of exercise and long brisk walks are not only good for you, but they also tend to cheer you up.
If you have a dog, you can use this time to give your pet extra walks. Your pooch will never decline an invitation for a walk, and a pup can keep you company.
Also, if the grocery store is a short distance and you need to pick up a few supplies, consider walking or riding your bike.
Reach out to your parents, grandparents
Too many old people are lonely and, because of the self-isolation that the elderly are doing now, that can be compounded.
Use your newfound free time to keep in touch with your parents, grandparents and other seniors.
Use an app with video features. They will appreciate that you are checking on them and they will be happy to see your face. You can even organize one of those coffees or dinners with them, as well.
Establish a routine
Don't just veg out on the couch and binge-watch TV shows all day. It's best if you can establish a routine. If you are telecommuting, this shouldn't be a problem as you will have to be working during a good portion of your day Monday to Friday.
But if you are not working, resist the urge to stay up late watching movies or TV. Try to keep the same routine you had before the outbreak.
Virtual book groups
You may also be taking the time to catch up on your reading. Perhaps you could organize a book group with friends and family. Pick a book that everyone will read for a week or two, and then have regular video chat meetings to discuss the book, your opinions and thoughts.
It's hard to fight boredom and taking the path of least resistance if you are self-isolating, but you should try to focus on taking care of your body, mind and emotional well-being during this time.
Besides the above suggestions, you can try to learn something new, like playing keyboard or learning to make bread or yogurt or homebrewing.
And taking time to be in touch with others can stave off your loneliness and help you keep connected with the people you care about.
The specter of having a severe illness or injury that requires long-term care is a scary proposition for most anybody, not to mention the financial obligations you would face.
But trying to time when is the best age to purchase a policy is not an easy decision. Obviously, you don't want to buy the policy too early and unnecessarily spend thousands of dollars on premium over your life for coverage you may not need until you are much older.
The younger you are when you buy a policy, the lower your premiums. That said, people typically do not purchase long-term care policies in their 30s or 40s since they are looking at a long time-horizon for when they would need to file a claim. After all, the policy may not be needed for 30 years or more.
At the same time, if you wait until you are in your late 60s or early 70s, the premiums may be cost-prohibitive for you - not to mention you may have trouble finding an insurer willing to write your policy.
For example, based on the "Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey," if purchased today, a long-term care policy with a maximum daily benefit of $150 a day for three years would cost an estimated:
As you can see, the ideal time cost-wise is probably in your 50s and 60s.
But before pulling the trigger, you should think about how the premiums fit into your life and other obligations. If you have children who have not yet graduated from college, they will be your major concern. You should carry enough life insurance to see them through.
But after your children, if any, are on their own, you might take the funds you were using to pay for life insurance premiums and use them to finance long-term care insurance premiums instead.
What policies cover
Long-term care insurance covers:
When shopping for a policy, you will have many choices to make:
The trigger - Policies will have a trigger for when payments can commence. Often, policies base qualification on cognitive impairment or the need for assistance in at least two activities of daily living (dressing, toileting, eating, transferring, bathing and continence).
Inflation riders - As you know, health care inflation is never-ending. While $150 may be sufficient to cover your cost of care today, that may not be the case in a decade or 20 years from now.
With long-term care insurance, you often have the option to buy an inflation rider with the policy, which will increase the allowance for daily benefits by a certain percentage a year, like 5% on a flat or compound basis.
But, you need to know that this type of rider comes with a price in increasing premiums. Some experts recommend that buyers aged under 70 purchase an inflation rider, while anybody older than 70 does not need to do so.
Elimination period - The elimination period is the time the insured must wait before the policy starts paying out. During that period of waiting, you will be on the hook for long-term care expenses. Typically, the waiting period is anywhere from one to 90 days, but it could be even longer.
The longer the elimination period, the lower the premium. That said, the premium savings you achieve by choosing a longer elimination period may not be worth it for you.
Don't fall into the disclosure trap
One thing you have to be very careful about when applying for long-term care insurance is full disclosure about your pre-existing conditions or prior illnesses.
If you fail to tell the insurer about an illness, the company may refuse you coverage at the time you file for benefits. It's in your best interest to be upfront about your health, as you would rather be denied during the application process than have your claim denied after paying your premiums for years.
There are other options available:
There are life and annuity products with long-term care options available depending on your health, age, and resources that can work well too.
Ready find solutions to your long-term care needs?
Medicare: Planning for Out-Of-Pocket Drug Costs
Once you qualify for Medicare, you have some choices regarding paying for prescription drugs.
Basic Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover prescription drug costs. You will have to either pay out of pocket, arrange outside coverage, or buy coverage via Medicare Part D or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) with prescription drug coverage (MAPD).
You will have to pay premiums in order to get coverage under Part D or Medicare Advantage - but the benefits are often well worth the cost. If you are low-income, you may qualify for a reduced premium. If you do not enroll in a Part D plan while enrolling in a Medigap or Medicare Supplement policy, when you are eligible, you will incur a financial penalty for the rest of your life.
Ultimately, the costs you pay out of pocket will depend on:
Some drugs cost hundreds of dollars per dose, and occasionally even more, so without drug coverage you run the risk of paying a significant portion of these costs out of your pocket if you need prescription drugs, or of forgoing important treatments if you cannot afford to pay for them.
Medicare Part D can be broken down into these phases:
The deductible period
Some Medicare Part D plans have a deductible, which is what you must spend on covered drugs before your Medicare drug plan coverage kicks in. The maximum deductible allowed by law in 2020 is $435 for the year. Deductibles will vary from zero to $435.
For example, if you have a Part D plan with a $200 deductible, you're required to pay the first $200 of costs for covered drugs in a calendar year out of your own pocket. Once you meet your deductible, your Part D plan helps pay for all covered drugs for the remainder of the year.
The initial coverage period
After you meet your Part D deductible, you enter the initial coverage period. During this phase, you pay a copayment for each covered prescription or coinsurance.
Copayment and coinsurance amounts will vary by plan. Many plans will feature different amounts for generic and brand-name drugs. You can check with your plan formulary (drug list) to learn more about what your costs might be for different drugs.
Generic drugs are typically on a lower tier and have lower costs than brand-name medications, which are typically on a higher tier.
A copay is a set amount you must pay with each new prescription after you have covered your deductible. Each plan has a different copay, but $10 to $25 per new prescription filled and covered by Medicare is not unusual.
Coinsurance is a percentage of the cost you pay for the prescription drug.
Here's how copays and coinsurance work: If you have an 80-20 plan with a $10 copay and a $435 deductible, and you pick up a prescription that normally costs $1,000 - and it's your first covered prescription of the year - you'll have to pay the following costs out of pocket:
So that prescription will cost $488 out of pocket. But if you need to get it filled again before the end of the year, it will only cost you $210. That's 20% of the $1,000 drug cost, plus a $10 copay.
The coverage gap
Once you and your plan combine to spend for drugs during the calendar year in 2020, you enter the coverage gap.
Medicare part D has a coverage gap, sometimes called "the donut hole."
This means that once you and your plan have spent a combined $4,020 on covered prescription drugs for you (as of 2020), you will have to pick up some more of the cost.
Starting in 2020, Medicare Part D plan beneficiaries pay 25% of their brand-name and generic drug costs while they're in the coverage gap.
The coverage gap does not apply to some lower-income individuals who qualify for a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
The donut hole ends when you and your plan have spent $6,350 on medications in 2020. You then enter the final phase of Part D coverage, called catastrophic coverage.
During the catastrophic coverage phase, you only pay a small coinsurance or copayment for your covered prescription drugs for the remainder of the year.
How to lower costs
You may be able to lower costs by using generics rather than name-brand drugs, by choosing a plan that has more coverage if you enter the coverage gap, using a pharmaceutical assistance program or applying for a SHIP program.
What changes can you make during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (January 1 - March 31)?
Medicare General Enrollment Period
If you have any questions, please email Patrick Hecht or call 540-712-2199
4 Important Vaccines for Seniors
One of the important parts of Medicare’s role in keeping people healthy is the coverage of preventive services. Vaccines are a key part of avoiding diseases that can prevent you from aging well. Medicare helps pay for four different vaccines that you should discuss with your doctor to help protect yourself!
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Take advantage of your Medicare coverage to protect your life and health.
Getting these vaccines is an important step toward ensuring the health of yourself, your family and your friends. Speak with your doctor today to see if these vaccines are right for your health, and then check with your Medicare provider about where you can get them and what to expect it to cost out of pocket.
Please share this information with anyone you know who may not be vaccinated so they can take the next steps toward protecting themselves and their loved ones.