Are you confused by Life Insurance? Can’t decide which plan to go with? Or maybe you think you just don’t need it? Well here’s a Hint: You’re thinking about it all wrong.

As an agent, I actually get angry when I hear about people who have children, but they have no, or very little, life insurance. I’m angry at the person, I’m judging them hardcore, and I think:

“You’re a #$!# adult, with people depending on you, and you don’t have the $&%# sense to make sure that if you die they’ll be okay?! You work your butt off, you work that way to provide for them. So if you’re not there to provide for them, then what happens to them?”

It makes me angry that people learn things the hard way, when they don’t have to. They get a mortgage, take care of their family, and think that they don’t need life insurance. Then, one day, something happens – they die, or can’t work anymore, or have out-of-control medical bills. These people come to me and ask for help, when it’s too late. Their only resort then is a damn GoFundMe campaign!!

And don’t over-complicate it. If you die, do you know what the ONLY question your spouse will ask your insurance agent is? Your spouse won’t ask whether it is Term or Permanent Life Insurance. The only question they will ask is, “How much is it?”

As an agent, I don’t even care whether you get the life insurance with me or not. If you’re not asking this simple question, “Do I have enough Life Insurance,” then you’re setting your family up for financial loss.

Enjoying a good life at any age requires some financial planning. Sadly, studies show that more than half of all Americans don’t know how much money they’ll need during retirement. Financial planning ensures you’re able to afford the lifestyle you enjoy throughout your senior years. As a senior, that will mean being realistic about potential healthcare costs, inflation rates, and your budget.

Here are some ways you can manage your money so you can enjoy your golden years.

 

Healthcare Concerns

One of the most significant costs during retirement is healthcare, according to US News. Even if you feel healthy today, it’s wise to plan for whatever the future might hold. 

Spending a few extra dollars on healthcare can save you money by reducing your medical costs in the long run. For instance, an alternative Medicare Advantage plan like those offered by UnitedHealthcare can supplement your healthcare. Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage you can’t get through Medicare Parts A or B. That includes medications, vision, hearing, and some senior-friendly gym memberships or wellness programs. You can also save money on preventative services with a $0 copay through your primary care doctor.

Another important aspect of healthcare is treating your body right. Regardless of age, it’s essential to eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Mayo Clinic reports that malnutrition is a common problem among aging adults. By eating the right foods and caring for your body, you’ll reduce your chances of developing debilitating conditions like compromised immunity and muscle weakness, and be less prone to increased risks of injury, hospitalization, or death.

 

Downsizing

Another way many seniors save money during retirement is through downsizing. If your home is bigger than needed, moving into a smaller space can be helpful. By carefully researching your desired housing market, you may be able to find a home that’s more affordable and easier for you to manage. 

Downsizing can make it easier for you to age in place. As with any move, however, planning is required. How much can you afford to spend, and what’s desired location? Will you move closer to loved ones? Do you need a home closer to public transportation?

According to Forbes, some of the best parts of the country for seniors include Sarasota and Savannah. In addition to having a warmer climate, these areas are surprisingly affordable with a low cost of living and more affordable property values.

After deciding where you’d like to move, you’ll need to declutter and pack your belongings. You’ll also want to determine how you’ll safely transport your furniture and possessions to your new home. To avoid injuries or broken items, it’s usually wise to ask for or hire help for your move. If you don’t have loved ones who can assist, hiring movers can be less expensive than the costs of repairing anything damaged during the move.

 

Living on a Fixed Income

With proper budgeting, you can master the art of living on a fixed income. By tweaking your monthly finances, you can stretch each dollar and still live life to the fullest. Stick to a monthly budget and cut unnecessary spending or nonessential expenses. It also pays to look into senior discounts on housing, insurance, and utilities.

You might also consider hiring an accountant to help prepare your taxes. Seniors who don’t itemize deductions often save money with the highest possible standardized deduction, notes the AARP. You’ll pay a little extra each April for your accountant’s services. Luckily, the potential money you’ll earn back on your tax return could be well worth the cost.

Although many seniors spend less money during retirement, two in five still spend more than they’d anticipated. That’s why it’s essential to have a plan in place. Inflation is expected to rise in the coming years, so account for higher costs in your budget. Budgeting and financial planning are crucial at any age and can better prepare you for the future as a senior. By carefully planning, you can maintain a high quality of life and still participate in many of your favorite activities.

 

Guest post by Karen Weeks: Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Many Americans could not afford an unexpected $1,000+ medical bill, and deductibles are often even higher than that. So just imagine needing $10,000 a month for chemo, or needing open heart surgery! That’s what happens if you’re diagnosed with cancer, heart attack, or other critical illness. You may need help with your deductible.

A critical illness (CI) insurance policy can fill that gap in coverage and keep you afloat. CI pays you a lump sum that you can use however you like – to pay what your health insurance didn’t cover, or to pay household bills while you take time off work to recover.

 

Did you know that there are 2 ways to get CI coverage?

Stand-alone CI policies larger than $50,000 are not avaiable though. That would help with deductibles.

Another, better way to get CI benefits is to get life insurance with living benefits. Living benefits bundles critical illness benefits together with chronic and terminal illness benefits, into a life insurance policy. This isn’t available with all life insurance policies, so talk to your agent about it.

With this type of policy, you can convert 75-95% of your life insurance’s death benefit into something you can receive while you’re still living.

If you need life insurance, this is a much more economical way to plan your benefits. Call us to learn more.

Vision insurance easily gets overlooked. It’s about the least expensive type of insurance that exists — and maybe you can do without a new pair of glasses this year, right? So it’s okay to ignore or push off to next year, am I right?

We disagree. Vision insurance will make a big impact on your appearance and lifestyle. And all for just a few dollars a month. Consider the following:

  • Seeing clearly will ensure you’re productive and successful in your work life and your home life.
  • Glasses need to be replaced from time to time, just due to normal wear and tear.
  • You feel better about yourself when you buy nice-looking new clothes. It’s the same when you get new glasses. You feel good and look great.
  • Vision benefits can be used every calendar year. But most plans offer so much savings that you’re still saving if you only get a new pair of glasses every 24 months!

So don’t put off getting new glasses, and don’t pay full retail price.

The sad fact is that more than half of Americans fail to prepare for retirement. They don’t save enough, and end up almost entirely dependent upon Social Security after retirement.

Then they spend through their savings and have nothing left, living on just a fixed income.

It’s a rough situation. You see it all the time – seniors who need to go back to work while in their 70’s, just to make ends meet.

The good news is that there are resources to help Americans create and protect their retirement funds.

 

Step #1 is awareness.

In 2010, the National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA) designated June as National Annuity Awareness Month (NAAM) to help educate Americans on the important role of annuities as part of a secure retirement savings plan. In 2014, with a common desire to serve consumers by helping them understand annuity products, NAFA and several other industry associations came together to establish the Coalition for Annuity Awareness.

Creating National Annuity Awareness Month started the conversation. But that’s all it did. Annuities and retirement remained confusing, and the average American still didn’t have an unbiased source to turn to.

That’s where AnnuRetirement came into the picture.

 

AnnuRetirement

In 2015, the Coalition for Annuity Awareness launched AnnuRetirement, an impartial, informative website consisting of positive and accurate messages regarding the features and benefits of annuities available free to the public. As the official home of NAAM, this website serves as a foundation for the event’s mission.

Now, American consumers have an impartial, informative website that’s available for free. Educate yourself, so that when you speak with financial companies and agents, you understand what’s happening.

 

Why is this important?

It’s easy to run out of money in retirement. Especially when 51% of Americans have less than $50,000 in retirement savings at the time of retirement.

Currently, there is approximately $430 billion of in-force premium serving roughly 4.2 million Americans. More than nine in 10 consumers believe guaranteed lifetime income is an appealing characteristic of annuities[1] and 72 percent of retirees receiving income from an annuity were satisfied with their investment[2]. In 2017, life insurance companies paid $82 billion in annuity benefit payments providing crucial retirement security to contract holders[3]. In addition, more than 90 million Americans rely on annuities and other insurance products for financial and retirement security, and nearly 16 percent of Americans’ long-term savings is in life insurance and annuities.

[1] It’s All About Income: Inaugural Study on the American Retirement Experience, Insured Retirement Institute, 2016
[2] The Language of Retirement: Advisor and Consumer Attitudes Toward Income in Retirement, Insured Retirement Institute and Jackson, 2017
[3] Life Insurers and Your State, The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), 2018

Image Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey, issued April 2019.

Does Medicare Cover Travel Abroad?

The Center for Medicare Services (CMS) has this to say about travel:

Medicare usually doesn’t cover health care while you’re traveling outside the u.s. There are some exceptions, including some cases where Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) may pay for services that you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S.

Medicare drug plans don’t cover prescription drugs you buy outside the U.S.

 

So where can I find travel insurance?

We at the Rhoads Agency don’t focus on international insurance plans, but we do offer them. They are so versatile and affordable, that we think that everyone should have one when abroad. We work with International Medical Group (IMG) plans, that cover evacuations and medical care. Their plans also help ease trip cancellations and lost luggage.

There are plans for business travelers, globe-trotting seniors, missionaries, marine crew, and exchange students, as well as foreign nationals visiting the U.S. And plans can be customized to last anywhere from 5 days to 2 years, depending on your plans.

If you’re a retiree looking to visit Europe, go on a cruise, or have other international plans, give us a call!

 

New Prescription Product

Prescription medications can be expensive. But until now, the Rhoads Insurance Agency has been unable to offer anything for individuals and families. Now we have a solution. We recently contracted with the IHC Group to be able to offer the RxPay Advance Drug Card.

 

Why Haven’t We Had Options Before?

Prescriptions are an uninsurable risk, except for older consumers who are much more likely to need prescriptions as a demographic. For the rest of us, we only want protection from high prescription costs when we’re sick. So most of us would choose not to have prescription coverage.

The insurance companies would lose too much money, unless everyone got it and not just the sick.

There are exceptions, such as when the government forces companies to include prescription benefits. This is the case for the ACA Marketplace. Another exception is for Group insurance, when everyone at a company is required to join the plan whether they need it or not.

 

Most Private Plans offer only Discounts

Discount plans usually don’t work. We’ve tried a lot out and have been underwhelmed. The best situation you’ll be able to find are plans that reimburse you a fixed amount, for up to 12 pharmacy visits per year. Those benefits help, but there are many cases where the reimbursement amount is miniscule compared to the cost of, say, a specialty brand name drug.

 

How does this RxPay Plan work?

No prescription plan has to cover all medications. Instead, each plan establishes a formulary – a list of medications that are covered under the plan. Formularies are established with input from doctors, pharmacists, and administrators.

The Advance Drug Card focuses on generic and other low cost brand name drugs. This program is designed to help you find drugs within the same therapeutic class as a drug you may currently be taking. Most of all, this program is designed to save you money on your prescription drug costs.

Tiers indicate retail pharmacy pricing and position. Drug quantities listed must be adhered to in order to receive tier pricing at participating retail network pharmacies.

 

Contact Us for More Details

Want to get a quote and enroll in the RxPay Advance Drug Card? Set an appointment with us here:

Request a Free Quote

Trends in Group Coverage

Many people I speak with still hold employer-provided Group plans as the best kind of health insurance. Trends in group coverage actually suggest otherwise. This point of view is expressed in an article on the Harvard Business Review recently:

As a result of these trends, employers have shifted costs to employees; one common example is the implementation of high-deductible insurance plans, which increase consumers’ out-of-pocket costs. High costs can hurt employees in other ways, too: there’s evidence that as employer-provided health costs rise, employers are constrained in their ability to increase wages.

Consumers will see with their employer-provided insurance plans, all things being equal, that deductibles will rise, and they will have to pay more out-of-pocket for healthcare. I’m not about to suggest you turn down your employee health insurance plan though. Your employer is paying for most of it. But it will cover less in the future.

What to do then, if you’re in this situation? I’d suggest you get a hospital and doctor plan to go with your employer coverage. That could help pay all or part for doctor and outpatient healthcare expenses, before your deductible is met. That would be the best way to manage your healthcare costs.

Talk to me today and I’ll explain how we could help.

Dan Rhoads

ACA premiums rising beyond reach of older, middle-class consumers

Sixty-year-olds with a $50,000 income must pay at least one-fifth of what they earn for the least expensive premiums for health plans in Affordable Care Act marketplaces across a broad swath of the Midwest, the analysis shows. In much of the country, those premiums require at least one-sixth of such people’s income.

And that’s just the beginning. I’ve seen plans as high as $4400/month! Obamacare is too expensive.

So what do you do? Well, let me give you my perspective.

Yes, there should be options that cover pre-existing conditions, and I’m concerned for uninsured people out there who will be caught in the trap should the ACA become unsustainable.

But, THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES. Talk to me. Get health insurance BEFORE your health takes a turn for the worst.

I have plans and options that are affordable and can stay with you until you turn 65 and get Medicare.

 

Multiplan PPO Plans

What is the Multiplan PPO Network?

Multiplan started in the 1980’s as a regional NY hospital network, and has grown to be the largest PPO in the US. There are over a million healthcare providers in network. They’ve grown so much because they provide a great value to both insurance companies and to consumers. Multiplan helps insurers reduce the cost of care, which those insurers pass along to consumers with more competitive rates vs benefits. It has a flexible network structure, and covers all specialties. This PPO really does make healthcare flexible.

 

A Better Reference for Pricing

Often, health insurers base the amount they pay doctors and hospitals on Medicare reimbursement rates, under the name of Reference-Based Pricing. Sadly, Medicare is not only a flawed pricing strategy for many healthcare services, but it also can cause unintended consequences. For instance, doctors frequently raise their rates for Medicare patients, which ends up raising everyone’s rates. And you, the consumer, end up paying more for health insurance as a result.

The better way to set billing rates ties the expense to a doctor’s or hospital’s own operating costs.

 

Extending the Power of Bill Review

Multiplan uses analytics to find wasteful or abusive medical billing practices, then works to fix those problems. That means that when you go to a doctor who is in-network, you have a netogiating team there to prevent over-billing. And, every in-network doctor had their billing practices reviewed before joining the network.

Let’s see an example:

A spinal fusion procedure billed at $42,452 was reduced by bill review to $24,956. Payment integrity analysis determined that a spinal fusion and lumbar laminectomy were separately billed. Citing CPT Assistant, American Association of Neurosurgeons and the NCCI manual, the lumbar laminectomy is included in the spinal fusion if performed at the same spinal level, and is only as extensive as necessary to prepare the site for the fusion.

After discussion with the provider, the bill was reduced, with provider signoff, by an additional $5,852.

 

How this affects you

Multiplan is a PPO network that many insurance plans can use for their healthcare payer services. So the Multiplan network encourages even more competition. There are many plans out there that work on this network, all getting cost-reducing benefits, and all fighting to earn your business. It gives you more options and more competitive insurance rates.