Navigate HealthCare

Sound familiar?

Have you heard this before?

If you’re starting to get mail from AARP its time to start looking at healthcare options for retirement or it’s that time of the year “open season” to be making choices. Unforutitly healthcare choices are always changing and you have to go back and re-evaluate your coverage and options every year, For example, The Part B premium remained steady (for most enrollees) at $104.90 from 2013 through 2016. It increased in 2017, although because the Social Security COLA was just 0.3 percent for 2017, Part B premium increases for 2017 were very small for most enrollees. Unless the enrollee’s income exceeds $85,000, net Social Security checks cannot decrease from one year to the next. So the maximum increase in Part B premiums (which are deducted from Social Security checks) is limited to the amount of the COLA. In my case, I did get raised from $104.90 in 2016 to $106.00 in 2016 and $110.00 in 2018 as well as a reduction in my social security check. As far as what I have read I should not have had any net decrease of my social security check under the  “held harmless” provision which states monthly social security checks should not be reduced. “If I am wrong Please correct me” and help me understand where my calculations were wrong or if I am misunderstanding the rule. In the meantime, if anyone has seen an increase of their Medicare and a decrease of the net social security check they receive you may want to get in touch social security to have them to straighten it out or at least explain why your check went down.

My plan on how to deal with my healthcare cost increase.

My insurance costs are  16% of my annual income which is good but I am lucky enough to be able to get it down to 8% by dropping my supplemental insurance which is the biggest chunk of insurance. I am a veteran but never took advantage of my VA benefits and by asking questions and filling out a one-time financial assessment after that the VA will get your information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). How you are assessed is determined by your military service. and income using a banding system. What this amounts to for me is I have no co-pay to any VA services that require medical attention including regular wellness visits. The only thing I  pay for is my prescriptions which for me are two and I pay $5.00 per month for each which comes to $30.00 every three months under the VA. Under SSA Part – D prescription plan I pay $8.00 ever three months for one and nothing for the other so technically my VA prescription refills are more expensive but if you add in what I pay for Part-D for perceptions under Medicare I pay ($20.40 premium per month + $2.67 Rx) =  $276.80 per year. But under the VA I pay only $120.00 per year which is for prescriptions only. I could conceivably cancel Part-D and pay nothing for premiums which would be a savings of  $156.80 per year for prescriptions. Looking further If I canceled my Part-B I would save an additional $1,320 per year or $110.00 per month for a total annual savings of $1,476.80 or $123.07 per month so you see with a little creativity the savings mount up. But before you go canceling any insurance you need to understand 100% of the posable consequences.

Keep these things in mind and check with insurance providers as well as Medicare and the VA.

  • VA health coverage isn’t set in stone and isn’t the same for everyone. The VA assigns enrollees to different priority levels according to various factors, such as income and whether they have any medical condition that derives from their military service. If federal funding drops or doesn’t keep pace with costs, some vets in the lower priority levels may lose VA coverage entirely.
  • Having both Medicare and VA benefits greatly widens your coverage. If you need to go a non-VA hospital or doctor, you’re automatically covered under Part A and/or Part B — whereas, with VA coverage alone, you’d very likely end up having to pay the full cost yourself, even in emergencies.  This is an important point to consider if you live some distance from the nearest VA facility.
  • You may be subject to penalties in the future. If someday, when you’re well past 65, you happen to lose VA coverage or otherwise decide that you need Medicare and are not already signed up for Part B (or have insurance from a current employer), you would likely have to wait a while for coverage and you’d be liable for late penalties that are permanently added to your Part B premiums.

Its a lot to digest I know and I would not make any of my decisions without careful consideration and consultation with at least two experts at each department (VA, SSA, AARP, Medicare and insurance providers)

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