Insurance

Early in my writing career, I had the opportunity to interview many successful entrepreneurs for an OC-based regional business/lifestyle publication. While the scope of the featured businesses was diverse, the owner/operators all shared an unerring passion for their profession and a common belief that “if you love what you do, the money will follow.” It didn’t take long after meeting Denice and Stephen Merrill for me to discover this energetic, enthusiastic couple were obviously cut from the same entrepreneurial cloth. As specialists in the complex and often confusing Medicare insurance industry, they help educate seniors on the ever-changing nuances of…
I’m getting so much information in the mail! What do I need to keep? I am the presenter at the Mission Hospital Conference Center in Mission Viejo, and we fill the room each month with people just like you that want to know more. You are not alone. Most of you start getting stacks of Medicare information mailed a full year before you turn age 65 and then again, beginning October which starts the Medicare Annual Election Period for changing plans. If you haven’t yet, watch out here it comes! With Medicare Insurance Plans, all the insurance carriers want your…
One of the biggest frustrations that folks have with Health Insurance when going into the Medicare Market is due to the change of terminology. No longer is there a simple PPO or HMO solution. There are terms like Supplemental, Medi-Gap, Medicare Advantage, Part A, Part B, Part D, or Medical Groups vs Insurance Carriers. This is what Denice teaches monthly at her Educational Events. Denice started out as an insurance agent 14 years ago offering individual Health policies, but soon found it to be disheartening when she couldn’t get a client approved, or they would get a decline letter. Denice…
Why do I need a Medicare Insurance Broker/Agent?  I’ve already got a plan! Many of you on Medicare may have enrolled years ago and felt that your plan has been just fine and no need to make any changes. Perhaps you initially enrolled by calling an Insurance Company directly or had an agent enroll you during the Annual Enrollment period, BUT... did you know that the person that had helped you may no longer be in this field, or were a telesales agent of which you would not hear from to do a review? Medicare plans DO change every year!…
One of the questions I am most often asked is this one: what is the best age to buy long-term care (LTC) insurance? A number of years ago Consumer Reports studied this and came up with the following: While I think this is, for the most part, still true, I have refined my advice to a range from 55 to 65 years old (the younger the better) as the best age to buy. I came to this conclusion partly for the reasons outlined above and because folks in this age range really feel the need to add LTC in order…
You are not alone. I get these questions all the time. Many of you attempt to read the giant piles of information that has or will be mailed to you about 4 months before you turn age 65. Also, many of you attend Medicare 101 meetings only to walk away sometimes a bit more overwhelmed. In today’s age, insurance companies need to stay compliant for government regulations and therefore must go over every little detail of benefits so as not to mislead a senior. But, there is an alternative. Did you know you could meet with an Independent Medicare Broker…
I live in Orange County and many of us are still working even after the age of 65…Many people are postponing enrolling into Medicare because they are still on their employer health insurance benefits or their spouses. Below is some information that may clear up a few mysteries… Q: What if I’m still working and on my employer group plan or my spouses employer plan? A: Typically Part A (hospital), is sent to you prior to your 65th birthday. You earned it through your taxes paid. Part B (doctors, specialist, those services outside the hospital), does not need to be…
There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding long-term care. Some people confuse it with medical services and think that it is at least partially paid for by Medicare. It is not. Long-term care does not include medical care. Rather, it is assistance with the “acts of daily living” (called ADLs) such as eating, bathing, dressing, continence (inability to control one’s bowel or bladder function), transferring (getting in or out of a chair or bed), and toileting. Assistance with these activities does not require a medical professional such as a nurse, medical technician, or physician. Further, long-term care may be provided…
With Open Enrollment behind us, many Medicare beneficiaries that are on a Medicare Advantage plan are unaware of the annual Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. From January 1st to February 14th beneficiaries who wish to dis-enroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare are allowed to. They can purchase a Medicare prescription drug plan and a Medicare supplemental plan to round out their Medicare coverage and fully protect themselves. Adding the Medicare prescription drug plan is a guaranteed right for them, but enrollment in a Medicare supplemental plan is not guaranteed unless certain criteria is met. If…
One of the questions I am most often asked is this one: what is the best age to buy long-term care (LTC) insurance? A number of years ago Consumer Reports studied this and came up with the following: While I think this is, for the most part, still true, I have refined my advice to a range from 55 to 65 years old (the younger the better) as the best age to buy. I came to this conclusion partly for the reasons outlined above and because folks in this age range really feel the need to add LTC in order…
Some conversations are really hard to have. Especially those related to our, or a loved one’s, end of life. Most people are hesitant to have the “talk.” I call these “3D” conversations as they are subject to denial, delay, and deflection. Let’s have one. In the vast majority of couples there will be a survivor, one who lives longer than the other. The survivor probably has been a caregiver for the other half of the couple: possibly the primary, if not only, caregiver. If she is the last one standing, how will she get the care she needs? That is…
In my three decades of focusing on long-term care coverage, I have seen it many times. The woman of the house – who did the majority of the child raising, managing the house, and caring for her aging husband (probably an income earner too) – never was planned for and had very limited resources when she needed care. It is no one’s fault, really. Families are just used to thinking of mom as the rock that will always be there. Usually the kids help as much as they can, if they live close enough and they find time while raising…
The short answer is, well, maybe. While it depends on why a person is not qualified for long-term care (LTC) insurance, there is an option, a, single premium, fixed, deferred annuity that is designed with built-in long-term care benefits. The advantages of this option are that it is easier to qualify for than insurance, has long-term care benefits, and if you don’t need long-term care, the money in the annuity can be used as income or passed on to heirs. What is a fixed annuity? Simply stated it is a long-term, tax deferred, insurance contract designed for retirement. With a…
Long-term care (sometimes referred to as LTC) can be confusing and there are lots of misconceptions regarding what it actually is and who pays for it. While it is impossible to cover everything about LTC in these few words, we can get a good start. What is Long-term Care (LTC)? Simply put, LTC is services and assistance to an individual who has severe limitations in his/her ability to function independently and will require assistance and care over an extended period of time. Long-term Care is not medical care and is not provided by medical professionals such as nurses and therapists…
Long-term Care Coverage with a Twist Traditional long-term care insurance can do a lot for you. It covers non-medical assistance with the “acts of daily living (eating, dressing, bathing, continence, transferring, and toileting).” It pays for the assistance we need to stay at home and the cost of care in a facility. It provides peace of mind, allows us to be independent longer, prevents us from being a burden to loved-ones, and conserves our assets. But what if we never really need it? The insurance man in me wants to answer that with “what you paid for is insurance against…
To Know About Medicare Plans It’s that time of year again. Time to look at the benefits of your Medicare insurance plan and decide to keep what you have or make a change. Here are 10 important things to think about when evaluating a Medicare Advantage insurance plan. 1. You must have Medicare Part A and Part B to be eligible AND you must continue to pay your Part B premium. 2. Joining a Medicare Advantage plan may affect your current coverage. If you have existing coverage or employer- provided health insurance and plan to work past 65, be sure…
Where does D come in?   You are not alone. I get these questions all the time.   Many of you attempt to read the giant piles of information that has or will be mailed to you about 4 months before you turn age 65. Also, many of you attend Medicare 101 meetings only to walk away sometimes a bit more overwhelmed. In today’s age, insurance companies need to stay compliant for government regulations and therefore must go over every little detail of benefits so as not to mislead a senior. But, there is an alternative. Did you know you…
When a person reaches the half-century mark, it is time to start planning the details of a comfortable retirement. One of the most important of these details is providing for your own long-term care. Hopefully you have been saving for retirement for many years before your 50th birthday. Your savings (and related investments) will be your primary source of funding for retirement income (usually augmented by Social Security, pension income, dividends, etc.), travel and other fun things, “rainy day” needs, your share of health care expenses, long-term care for you and your spouse, and your legacy that helps the kids…
I live in Orange County and lots of us are still working even after the age of 65. Many people postpone enrolling into Medicare because they are still on their employer health insurance benefits or their spouses. Below is some information that may clear up a few mysteries... Q: What if I’m still working and on my employer group plan or my spouse’s employer plan? A: Typically Part A (hospital), is sent to you prior to your 65th birthday. You earned it through your taxes paid. Part B (doctors, specialist, those services outside the hospital), does not need to be…
When long-term care insurance came on the scene in the mid-1980s, the policies were comparatively simple, with only a few options. While there are lots of choices today, there are still some basics that are important to understand. How does ltc coverage finance the care? What LTC coverage does is create a “pool of money” or a dedicated “long-term care fund” which will be used to pay for covered care. The size of the pool or fund is one of the principle factors that determine the cost of the coverage. How is the amount of money in the pool or…

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