Saturday, June 27, 2020

Insulin Co-pays Capped at $35 for Medicare Beneficiaries in 2021 - What You Need to Know

Lower Medicare insulin co-pays could benefit many people.
Drug prices continue to be a concern for many senior citizens.  In particular, the cost of insulin has been a problem for several years, as prices have increased, often placing a heavy burden on retirees who are living on a fixed income.  Fortunately, help is on the way in 2021 for the millions of diabetic retirees who are dependent on insulin. 

This week, Baby-Boomer-Retirement is delighted to have a guest post from Medicare Supplement expert Danielle Kunkle Roberts, founder of Boomer Benefits, the 5-Star rated Medigap agency she founded.  In her guest post, below, she explains how the new cap on insulin co-pays for Medicare beneficiaries could benefit you.

Insulin Co-pays Capped at $35 for Medicare Beneficiaries - What You Need to Know


by Danielle Kunkle Roberts
Diabetes has been around for centuries, inciting major health problems for those impacted by the disease. According to the CDC, nearly 80,000 deaths a year in the U.S. can be attributed to diabetes. This makes diabetes the seventh leading cause of death in America.

For many people, insulin is a lifeline for controlling their diabetes, enabling them to live a somewhat normal life. When taking a closer look at seniors with diabetes, specifically, there are over 3 million Medicare beneficiaries who use at least one form of insulin. 

In 2020, one vial of insulin can cost up to $250 and some seniors need more than one vial a month. The co-pays for insulin can fluctuate throughout the year. The inconsistency of costs can make it challenging for someone on a fixed income to budget, and can often make it difficult for them to afford their insulin. 

Fortunately, there is great news coming for Medicare beneficiaries in 2021. After many years of calls for reform in the amount senior diabetics pay for insulin, legislation has been put into place that will drastically reduce the out-of-pocket costs for seniors.

Part D Senior Savings Model

Nearly 10,000 people age into Medicare each day, and 1 out of 3 beneficiaries have diabetes. Even with a national program like Medicare, many beneficiaries are left paying high out-of-pocket drug costs.

On March 11, 2020, the White House made an announcement which introduced the Part D Senior Savings Model. The Part D Senior Saving Model will work with the major drug manufacturers of insulin to dramatically reduce the cost of insulin to Medicare, and then pass those savings to beneficiaries in the form of lower co-pays.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, is encouraging Part D sponsors to offer fixed and predictable co-pays for insulin. The federal government has entered into partnerships with drug manufacturers and created a plan to ensure lower, consistent co-pays can be deliverable.

With the predictable cost of insulin, it is estimated that there will be a 66 percent decrease in out-of-pocket spending for Medicare beneficiaries. 

What to expect in 2021

The response to the restructuring of insulin co-pays under Medicare Part D has been positive from most of the players involved. Along with many of the major insulin manufacturers, 88 private insurance companies and over 1,700 Part D and Medicare Advantage plans have agreed to participate in the new Senior Saving Model. 

The plans which participate in the Model will have government regulated requirements they must follow. For example, all participating sponsors must provide both pen and vial dosage forms for the four types of diabetes in the drug formulary. Additionally, the drug manufacturers which participate in the Model must include all marketed drugs that contain insulin, no exclusions.

As of 2021, Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in one of the participating plans will receive a 30-day supply of insulin for no more than $35 out-of-pocket. Predictions estimate that beneficiaries who use insulin will spend around $420 annually, which is a colossal savings when compared to the fact that many seniors currently pay that much every month. 

The last bit of good news on this is that private plans like Part D and Medicare Advantage plans are competitive among carriers. That said, it is likely you will find plans that are offering co-pays less than the $35 max in the upcoming Annual Election Period.

Enrolling in Part D

In September 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, will release the premiums and co-pays for the participating plans. During this time, you will want to utilize the Medicare Plan Finder tool on Medicare’s website. This tool has been updated to filter out the non-participating plans in the Part D Model, which will make it easier for you to find a plan which is a part of the Model.

The Annual Election Period is when a beneficiary can change, switch, or drop their Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. The AEP will begin on October 15, 2020 and end on December 07, 2020. You will receive an Annual Notice of Change in the fall, and you will want to thoroughly examine it to ensure the Model’s plan has more to offer before you enroll.

In 2021, Medicare beneficiaries will finally receive their insulin at a reasonable price that is long overdue. CMS has mentioned that if this insulin savings model turns out to be a success, they hope to eventually expand it to other drugs. When researching the different plans, make sure you choose the most cost-effective option that covers the medications you need. 

About Danielle Kunkle Roberts:  She is a founder of Boomer Benefits and a frequent contributor to the Baby-Boomer-Retirement blog.  Her 5-Star rated company is a member of the National Association of Medicare Supplement Advisors and the National Association of Health Underwriters.  They are licensed in 48 states.  Several readers of this blog, as well as some of my personal friends, have used her agency and been very satisfied with the assistance they received.  You can contact them at 855-732-9055.

Are you confused about how to get the most out of Medicare?  You are not alone.  You may find it helpful to get the handy reference book, "Maximize your Medicare: 2020-2021 Edition."  It provides useful information which will quickly answer common questions. (Ad)

If you are interested in learning more about Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as we age, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission to support this blog, at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credit:  Pixabay

Saturday, June 20, 2020

How to Downsize without Moving and Earn Extra Money, Too

The Downsize Side Hustle
Are you thinking about downsizing to a smaller home, but do not want to leave your current one?  Are you attached to your friends and neighborhood, even though you really do not need all that space?  Are you facing the dilemma of wanting to save money by downsizing, but realize that the savings would be small?

If you would love to stay where you are, but need to have extra income in order to manage it, this week's guest post by Art Berry, the author of the inexpensive book, "The Downsize Side Hustle," may be perfect for you.  The book describes the personal experiences of the author and his wife in creating an extra source of revenue from their home, and avoiding the need to relocate.  (Ad)

The book explains exactly how the author and his wife were able to carve out extra living space in their home, which they were then able to rent out.  It includes very specific details on how much it cost them to convert some of the living space in their home into a separate apartment, how much rent they were able to charge, the estimated increased value it added to their home, and the difference it made in their utility bills.  The author is very thorough in the information he provides, and even explains issues you may want to consider before doing the same thing ... such as checking with your city and HOA to see if there are restrictions on creating a second living space within your home.

You can read more about the process in his own words, below, and then decide if you would like to order a copy of the book to learn more.

Is a Downsize Side Hustle for you?

by Art Barry

I, for one, grappled with the question of: Do we age in place or downsize and move? There are many possibilities. I spent a lot of time researching what might be best for me, my wife, and the four-legged pack we affectionately refer to as "the mutt sisters." Our dilemma was that, if we downsized, we would spend nearly as much for a new, smaller home as we would receive for our existing home in the same city. I wondered if there was a way we could downsize in place and turn the unused portion of our residence into a private guest quarters which we could lease. The research I did led me to believe that we could convert about 25 percent of the space to a guest quarters or, if you will, a "granny pod," and rent it to traveling nurses and other medical personnel who work with the four major hospitals in our city. We call it our downsize side hustle.

Recent articles seem to indicate a "Silver Tsunami" is coming with regard to housing in the U.S. The author of one article pointed out that many seniors are opting to stay put because of the high cost of living in a retirement community. This phenomenon may have extreme effects on the housing market for the foreseeable future. This makes a downsize side hustle worthy of consideration as a way to age in place and increase retirement income. Let me point out that downsize and dilemma start with the same letter of the alphabet. Downsizing presents opportunities, as well as dilemmas, for those about to retire, as well as for current retirees. Early in the process, I decided to publish a book about the project. I hope it will help others enjoy the success we had. It is one way to make money in an economic environment which is absolutely shifting away from and creating real obstacles for retirees and older homeowners. 

What did it cost? How long did it take? Who should we lease to? Were we successful? I provide the details for everything we did in the book and how it turned into a success. Our first tenants, an ICU nurse and his wife, leased our property for $1,000 per month.

* * * * *
If creating a second living space in your home is something you may want to consider doing, Art Berry's inexpensive book, "The Downsize Side Hustle" contains a step-by-step narrative of what Art and his wife Sharon did, their research, sources, expenses, reference materials, and author FAQ's.  Anyone who is considering trying the same thing will find the information they provide very helpful.  As the author of this blog, I was very impressed by their accomplishment, and the detailed information they provide in their book.  (Ad)

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Medicare, Social Security, common medical issues as we age, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission to support this blog, at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credit: Amazon cover photo by Deborah Lynn Johnson

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Start an Online Business for Retirement Income

Could a home-based business be next after you retire?
Millions of Americans are discovering that their Social Security benefits and savings are not going to provide nearly enough income for them to maintain a satisfying retirement over the next two or three decades of life. Many of them are also concerned about avoiding boredom and finding something to do which will maintain their mental acuity after they leave their former career behind. They may have long dreamed that someday they would run their own business, work their own hours, and build a company they own, control, and could even pass on to another family member.  These are all great reasons to start a home-based business after retirement.

There are many ways to come up with ideas for retirement businesses. For example, you could start with the book "Top Home-Based Job and Business Ideas."  (Ad)  However, even after you come up with a business idea, you may not know where to go from there.  Not everyone can get all the help they need by reading a book.

As a result, this month I invited Mike Lieberman, the founder of Retirement Redefinition, to share some information about the benefits of starting an online business to increase your retirement income and exert more control over your future.  You may discover that his website is another good way to find help with your overall retirement planning. His guest article is below:

Why You Should Start an Online Business

by Mike Lieberman

Retirement is changing.

Your retirement is likely to be very different from your parents, and unrecognizable from your grandparents.

This stage in your life will likely last 20-30 years, compared to the 10-15 years it used to.

How the time is spent is also vastly different. The vision used to be of endless golf, relaxation and travel.

While that still exists for some retirees, it is not enough, and many of them want to experience something more during their retirement years.

They want to stay sharp and engaged during the second half of their life.

This is apparent in the statistic from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report which states, “Self-Employment in the U.S. -- the self-employment rate among workers 65 and older (who don’t incorporate) is the highest of any age group in America: 15.5%.”

People in the retirement stage of life are starting businesses.

So you’re interested in starting your own online business?

I mean, why not?

The benefits can be rewarding not only from the money standpoint, but also mentally.

When you start an online business some of the benefits include:

     Easing the transition from your work years to your retirement years
     Having additional money coming in to increase your savings
     Keeping you mentally engaged and on point

Here’s the deal though:

In the digital age we’re in, the barrier to entry is extremely low to start a business.

Couple that with the variety of businesses you can start, and it can quickly become overwhelming to know what makes sense for you.

It is key to put yourself in the right mindset and recognize what fits with your vision.

How do you recognize what will work for you?

Fantastic question.

That’s my smooth segue to say....

A question is where it begins

Like anything, you can Google the answer, but that will likely make you feel overwhelmed.

That is why I reached out to Kevin Lyles and had a conversation with him.

Kevin specializes in assisting Professionals and Executives as they make retirement transitions with the lifestyle side of retirement planning.

The question I asked him was “What’s the most important thing you’d ask someone who was thinking of starting a business in retirement?”

He said, “What do they want to get out of the business?  That will lead to how I could counsel them, because there are many possible answers.”

We will get into what those possible answers are, but first let’s get into the importance of this question.


The importance of answering this question

It might be easy to give a quick response and move on. Before you do that, pause for a moment and reflect back on your career.

Total up the number of hours you spent over the year on your career between commuting, working, and the time after hours you spent thinking about your job.

It’s near impossible to calculate. The number is A LOT.

The role your career played was that it dictated your life and your time. This was required, though, in order for you to survive.

So, as you think about starting a business in retirement, work takes on a new meaning and you dictate how much time you will spend on it.

The business you decide to start should support the vision of how you want to spend your time.

You are now in control of that aspect of your life.

That is why it is important to become crystal clear about what you would like to do, so you can create something which supports your vision.

Following me?

5 reasons to start a business

Kevin shared five common answers to why people start a business.

1.  I need the income

As you approach retirement and you need extra income on a monthly basis to survive, you are likely best suited to continue with your current work or start seeking new full-time opportunities.

If you are a few years away from retiring, you might consider starting your online business now to get a head start.

That will definitely ease the transition.

2.  I want the extra spending money

Let’s say you have a strong retirement financial plan and your immediate financial needs are taken care of.

If that describes you, then starting a business could help to put some extra money into your savings account or give you the flexibility to do some things you have always wanted to do, such as donating to charity or planning a big vacation.

The income from your business can allow you to do these things and not be concerned about reducing your retirement savings.

3.  I want to build a legacy

Legacy is a word which can mean different things to different people.

It might mean the legacy of having your kids take over your business.

Maybe it is accumulating more wealth to hand down to future generations.

It might also be that you want to set an example for your kids and grandkids, or there may be more personal reasons.

4.  I want to solve problems for others

Typically this is what people think of first. They’ve done something for so long and wish to continue to do it in retirement, in a consulting role.

You might also be really good at something, and find people are willing to pay you to do it or teach it.

5.  It gives me purpose and meaning

Filling the void of time you will have after leaving your traditional career is one of the biggest obstacles people face after they retire.

 “If they have been working 10-12 hours a day for 30-40 years, now they wake up and don’t know what to do with themselves,” said Kevin. “Having a business can really fill that void and give them a purpose and a reason to get up in the morning.”

In closing

By becoming clear about what you want to get from your business, it enables you to better identify opportunities that support your vision.

Let us know in the comments if you’re thinking about starting an online business and why.

About the Author:
Mike Lieberman is the founder of Retirement Redefinition.  He created the site to help you define your retirement lifestyle and start an online business which fits it.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, common medical issues as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission to support this blog, at no extra cost to you.

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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Vaccines for Senior Citizens - Which Ones Do You Need?

While the world waits for a successful vaccine to help us fight the Covid-19 coronavirus, it is important that we make sure we are taking advantage of other vaccines which have been proven to help us age better, with fewer unnecessary diseases.  We currently have access to a number of important vaccines which can protect us from a variety of serious illnesses.  You may want to talk to your physician to find out which vaccines would be right for you.

Vaccines Can Protect Your Family

When our daughter became pregnant a few years ago, her pediatrician told her that all the adults in the family, including grandparents, should get a Tdap booster shot before handling the baby, to protect the infant from whooping cough. There was a good reason for the pediatrician's concern. More than 48,000 people in the U.S. developed whooping cough in 2012.  That was the highest number of cases since 1955.  The disease can last ten weeks or more, and is highly contagious. It can be serious for anyone, but is potentially fatal for infants. It is important that everyone who will be handling a baby has an up-to-date whooping cough vaccine.  The one you had as a child may no longer give you immunity.

If you are uncertain how vaccines can protect you and your grandchildren, you may want to read the handy book, "Your Baby's Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives."  The information in this book about vaccines for infants will pertain to adults as well, especially if they may have missed some childhood vaccines, and the book is very reassuring about the benefits and safety of vaccines. (Ad)

In addition to getting vaccinated to protect our grandchildren and other family members, there are a number of vaccinations which are recommended for senior citizens in order to protect their own health, and reduce their risk of an unnecessary and untimely death.  According to an article in the September, 2019 issue of AARP Bulletin, "The Vaccines You Need," below is a list of the vaccines which every senior citizen should discuss with their physician and receive, if their doctor deems them appropriate.

Vaccinations for Older Americans

Flu Shot - Every year the strains of influenza which are traveling around the globe change, and we need a new shot to protect ourselves.  Approximately 36,400 to 61,200 people in the United States die from the flu each year, and the majority of the deaths are in people over the age of 65.  Getting a flu shot can protect you and, if you get the flu despite having the shot, the symptoms are likely to be milder.  In addition, Medicare will cover the full cost of the shot, so seniors have no out-of-pocket expense. If you protect yourself from influenza, it will be one less thing to worry about, especially while we wait for a Covid-19 vaccine, since the initial symptoms of the two diseases can be similar.

Shingles - If you have ever known someone who developed shingles, you know how miserable it made them.  Shingles is actually caused by the chicken pox virus, so if you had chicken pox as a child, you will definitely want to get vaccinated against shingles. The newest vaccine is called Shingrix and can result in some mild side effects such as fever, chills or muscle pain.  It also requires two shots which are given several months apart.  However, it works better than the older vaccine, called Zostravax.  You should get Shingrix, even if you had the Zostavax vaccine, as long as the Zostavax vaccine was given to you more than eight weeks ago.

Chicken Pox - If you have never had chicken pox, you may assume you have nothing to worry about by the time to reach your 60s.  However, this is the time you need to be more careful than ever about catching any "childhood diseases."  These diseases are more dangerous than ever as you age.  Even if you are never around someone with chicken pox, you could still be exposed by someone with shingles.  If you want to know whether or not you have ever had chicken pox, to help you decide whether you should get the shingles shot or the chicken pox vaccine, your doctor can perform a blood test to determine if you have had an immune response to chicken pox.  If you are unsure, it is worth getting the test.  My husband always swore he had never had the chicken pox.  However, when he was tested, they found chicken pox antibodies in his blood. He must have had a mild case when he was young, and didn't realize that he had it.  After discovering that he had, indeed, had chicken pox as a child, his physician gave him the shingles vaccine.

Pneumonia - As you age, your risk of dying from pneumonia increases.  There are two different vaccines, PCV13 and PCSV23. They both protect against different strains of the bacteria which cause pneumonia and other illnesses, but PCV13 targets strains which are now less common. The CDC recommends the PCSV23 for anyone age 65 and older.  If you have any serious chronic health conditions such as kidney failure, heart disease, liver disease or HIV, it is especially important you get vaccinated against pneumonia as early as possible.  Remember, this shot only protects you against bacterial pneumonia. It is still possible for you to get viral pneumonia, so see if a doctor if you develop a serious respiratory illness.

MMR or Measles, Mumps and Rubella - You may already be protected against these illnesses if you were born before 1957, simply because you probably already had these diseases and now have antibodies against them.  You may also be protected if you got vaccinated after 1957, but not during the years between 1963 and 1967, when the vaccine used at that time was ineffective.  Confused or uncertain about whether you are protected?  It will not hurt to get vaccinated again. Over the past few years, there have been a number of cases of measles in the U.S. You do not want to risk being exposed to something like the measles or mumps if you are also suffering from another chronic condition.

Tdap or Tetanus, Pertussis and Diphtheria - When my physician discovered that I was regularly horseback riding and spending time in an old barn, she immediately gave me a Tdap shot to boost my tetanus protection.  Everyone needs to have a booster every ten years, but many people stop bothering as they age. For me, there was a second advantage to getting a Tdap booster. It also protected me against pertussis, or whooping cough, just at the time my daughter's pediatrician insisted all the relatives be inoculated.

Hepatitis A and B - You may have already been vaccinated against hepatitis, but it is worthwhile to confirm that fact with your doctor.  In addition, you should get tested for Hep C, too.  Hepatitis A is a very contagious viral liver infection which causes abdominal pain and jaundice; it is often spread through contaminated food.  Hepatitis B is a separate illness which is usually spread through sexual contact.  The combination Hep A and B vaccine can protect you from both. Hep C is common in Baby Boomers, but there is no vaccine available, yet.  Should one become available, you should discuss with your doctor whether you should get it.

I want to assure my readers that I have taken my own advice and had all the above inoculations.  I have gotten the flu shot annually for decades.  I have had both variations of shingles shots, and both types of pneumonia vaccines.  When my Tdap inoculation expires, I will get another booster.  The worst side effect I ever had was a sore arm for a couple of days and occasional tiredness after an inoculation. In particular, I felt tired for a few days after getting my second Shingrix inoculation, but not after the first one. However, if you have a chronic illness or had side effects in the past, you should discuss any potential side effects with your doctor. Your personal physician knows your medical condition the best and can help you weigh the pros and cons of any recommended vaccinations.

If you are interested in learning more about common medical issues as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission to support this blog, at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:

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