Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Aura Digital Frames are Ideal Gifts for Seniors and Others

Every 15 seconds, the picture in the Aura frame on my side table changes to a new photo of someone in our family.  It does so completely silently, and with no effort on my part.  Each of the several hundred photos which pop up on my frame has been easily uploaded by my husband, our daughters, or me from our smartphones.  The process is surprisingly simple.  We do not have to be at home or near the frame in order to upload a photo.

Our frame contains photos of all four of our daughters and their families, including our eight grandchildren.  It also includes photos of family weddings, trips to Disneyland, vacations, and even old photos of family members who passed away decades ago.  This has been one of the best gifts our daughters have ever given us!

Is Someone You Know Hard to Buy Gifts For?

After telling our daughters several times to stop sending us "challenging" technology gifts, which often involved complex set-up, one of our daughters called last summer and told us that she and her sisters wanted to buy my husband an Aura digital frame (Ad) for Father's Day.  I was unsure about it, but she convinced me that he would love it.  We both do!

Aura Frames Make it Easy to View Our Photos

Our daughter helped each of us download the Aura app to our phones.  When we click on "Add Photos" on our Aura app, it opens up a window on our phone showing us all the photos we have ever taken and stored on our phones.  We simply choose the ones we want to add to our frame and, within a few hours, they begin to randomly show up on our frame, mixed in with the photos which are already there.

Here is the best part.  Our daughters can also add photos to our frame from wherever they are, even thousands of miles away, and our frame will hold an unlimited number of photos!  If one of our daughters takes her children to Disneyland or on a hike, photos will begin to show up on our frame for us to enjoy.  If one of them discovers an old photo in an album, she simply has to take a picture of the photo with her phone, and then add it to our frame.  They can even download pictures from the internet, save them on their phones, and add them to our frame.  It is so easy, my husband and I have enjoyed adding photos of our parents, grandparents and other ancestors who have been deceased for many years.  You can add any photo you would like to see pop up on the frame.

Aura Frames are Like a Private Facebook Page in Your Living Room

Personally, I think of the frame as a private Facebook page that no one knows about, except members of our family.  We see our favorite family photos, as well as the favorites of our daughters, and we can share them with each other privately.

There Are a Variety of Frame Designs to Choose From

You can choose the Aura frame color, size and design (Ad) you prefer. You can scroll through the different options and choose the one which will fit the best with your home d├ęcor.  

You Have Control of Your Frame

In settings, you can set the time when your frame turns on in the morning, and turns off in the evening.  You can also control how long each photo is visible, before being replaced by the next one.  We have them change every 15 seconds, but we could also let each photo stay in place for 30 seconds, a full minute or even longer. You can also move your hand over the top to scroll through them a little faster, or back up to one you just missed.  

You also control who gets invited to add photos to your Aura frame.

No Smartphone?  There is an Aura Frame for That, Too!

If you don't have a smartphone or don't want to use an app, you can still get an Aura frame and add photos to it, using a "photo backup stick to get from phone or computer to frame, with no WiFi."  They have thought of everything!

Personally, now that we have lived with our frame for a few months, I cannot imagine a better gift for someone special in your family.  Our daughters shared in the cost of our Aura digital frame (Ad), and it is now one of our favorite gifts from them.

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeborahDianGifts

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about saving money, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel 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 at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog: http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credits:  Amazon

Friday, November 12, 2021

Gifts Retirees Will Appreciate - Finding the Right Gift for a Senior

 Buying gifts for retirees and the older relatives in your family can be very difficult and frustrating.  Whether it is for a birthday, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas or another holiday, you may find it extremely difficult to come up with an idea, especially if it seems they already own so many things they are currently trying to give away!  

How can you find the perfect gift for a senior citizen in your family?  What do you think they will want or need?  What can you buy an older relative that will not end up being re-gifted or given away?  Here are some basic ideas to get you started, including links to some of the items to make it quick and easy for you to purchase them.  However, not all the gifts need to be purchased online.  Many of the gifts listed here are things you can purchase locally.

Art and Craft Supplies

Does your family member enjoy painting or making crafts?  Paints, canvasses and other art materials (Ad) can be very expensive. Some people actually give up their hobby because they cannot afford to keep purchasing the necessary materials.  If you know their favorite shop, you may want to purchase a gift certificate to it, especially if it is small, locally owned business.  In this way, you not only help your loved one, but also a small business.  If you know exactly what they want however, you can save them a trip to the store by purchasing it for them and having it delivered directly to their home.

Many seniors also enjoy paint-by-number kits, or adult coloring books, (Ad) as a way to enjoy creating works of art, even if they do not feel they are especially talented.  I have even seen some lovely paint-by-number works of art for sale at the art shows they hold in my retirement community.  Often they are spectacular when they are finished. A final thought in this category is to take one of their favorite finished paintings and have it framed for them, so they can hang it in their home and display it with pride. 

A Shopping Trip for their Favorite Clothing Items

My father only likes to wear long-sleeve Polo style shirts with a pocket on the chest.  Although he owns them in a variety of colors, over the course of a year they begin to wear out.  Replacing them regularly with new ones is a nice way to enable him to continue to wear his favorite clothing item.  Almost everyone has a certain type of clothing which they wear frequently, and needs replacing often.  Do they need new walking shoes, a jacket, a sun hat, gardening gloves, or similar useful items?  Many seniors go without because they do not have a lot of disposable income, or they do not know where to buy these things.  If possible, take them shopping, so they can pick out something they actually would enjoy wearing, and you know will fit them.  This also gives you some special time with them ... a gift they may appreciate as much or more than the actual gift itself.

Sports Equipment

Many retirees are still active and involved in sports for decades after they stop working.  You may need to quiz them a little, but find out if they need a new golf putter, a new tennis racquet, a paddle for the paddleball court, a badminton racquet or some other item they need to pursue their favorite sport.  Even grandchildren can buy grandpa a box of golf balls or a tube of tennis balls.  (Ad)  

Photo Gifts

One of our daughters purchased us an Aura digital picture frame, (Ad) which allows all of our daughters to upload photos directly to it, no matter where they are.  Now, we have a constant display of new and old photos appearing on the frame in our living room.  Our frame includes photos taken over 80 years ago of long deceased ancestors, as well as photos which were taken just a few days ago of our grandchildren.  We could watch the pictures glide by for hours!  We have it set so a new photo shows up every 15 seconds, but you can have your photos stay much longer before switching to a new one.

Other photo gifts a retiree might enjoy is a Polaroid camera (yes, they have begun making a new, improved version again) (Ad), or a photo album, especially if you give it to them already preloaded with a few pages of favorite family photos.  You can even send companies like Shutterfly a photo of a beloved family member or pet, and they can turn it into a special photo gift which they will cherish! 

Check out some of the photo gifts from my Etsy store, and see if one of them would be a good gift for someone in your family.  Here is a tote bag designed with a photo of the Canadian Rocky Mountains from Banff National Forest in Alberta, Canada.  

This is just one of the many gifts available for retirees and others on my Etsy store. You can find it here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeborahDianGifts  

Books and Magazines

Does your family member enjoying reading?  You could always purchase them the latest book (Ad) from their favorite author.  

However, has reading become more difficult for them because of vision problems?  Why not purchase them a membership to Audible? (Ad) For about $15 a month, they can download one book a month to their cell phone, laptop, tablet or similar device and listen to the books!  Many of the women in my book club use Audible and enjoy hearing their favorite books read by professional actors and actresses.  No one needs to give up reading, anymore, even if they have vision problems! Our daughter even listens to Audible books during her long commute. It is a terrific way to pass the time.

Consumable Items

Everyone has items which they love to use, but need to replace periodically.  This can include perfumes, after shave, make-up, face creams, favorite candy, wine, bourbon, and similar items.  Some of these items can be expensive to replace, so receiving them as a gift can be very meaningful to a retiree.  You might ask them, first, the brands of their favorite products, so you purchase them something they will actually enjoy. 

If they live in an Assisted Living community where their meals are provided, they still might want to keep a few favorite snack items in their private room.  Put together a care package of their favorite treats, including small boxes of cereal, bags of chips, fun size candy bars, and similar items.  They will love having something to snack on between meals!

Gift Cards

Gift cards to a favorite business can be a greatly appreciated gift.  Is going to Starbucks or some other coffee shop a special treat they often skip because they cannot afford it?  A gift card may be something which makes it easier for them to socialize with their friends.  Many senior citizens enjoy meeting friends at Starbucks, and other coffee shops like Coffee Bean, to get out of the house and chat.

Amazon cards (Ad) not only allow them to purchase whatever they want for themselves, but it also enables them to buy groceries in many parts of the country, by using Amazon Fresh or one of the other services they offer.  For a person who is skimping just to get by, this can be a greatly appreciated gift which enables them to buy their favorite foods.  If they are nervous about shopping for groceries at Amazon Fresh, help them get started.  It took me a couple of attempts to feel comfortable shopping for food online, but now I realize how much easier it has made my life!

Gifts to Avoid

Unless specifically requested, it is best to avoid things which most seniors do not need.  This would include decorative items for their home, such as new vases, dishes, picture frames, candles, collectibles, and any other items they have not specifically requested.  

In addition, do not give a gift of anything living which an elderly person may find challenging to take care of, unless they ask for it.  This means do not give them a plant, puppy, kitten or parakeet, unless they requested one and are involved in selecting it.  

Other things to avoid would be items which could involve using unfamiliar technology they are unprepared or unable to learn how to use.  A new cell phone, tablet, digital camera, computer game, or similar item might seem like a great idea to a young adult, but can end up being left in a closet or re-gifted to someone else by a senior who feels that using it will be too challenging.  

Technology Gifts Which Might Be Helpful

If you do purchase a technology gift, make sure it is something the recipient wants and will be able to use, with a minimum of assistance.  There are some "senior friendly" phones and other types of technology which can be a good choice.  

It took us a while to become accustomed to talking to our "Alexa" devices, (Ad) but now "she" turns on some of our lamps, reminds us when to take food out of the oven, and answers questions about the weather and other things.  Many seniors would enjoy having one, but be prepared to help them learn to use it. 

If you know someone who loves to garden, they might appreciate this lovely t-shirt with a photo I took of hydrangeas and the words "Happiness Blooms in my Garden."  There is also a matching coffee mug.  

You can find more gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeborahDianGifts

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel 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 at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credits:  Morguefile

Friday, November 5, 2021

Should You Change Your Medicare Plan? What to Consider

Every fall, from October 15 to December 7, Medicare beneficiaries are given the opportunity to change their insurance plan.  Most people are happy with their current plan, and approximately 90% do not move to a different insurer. However, in some cases, they may actually be missing out on the opportunity to save money and/or improve their Medicare experience.

Whether you are completely satisfied with your current Medicare insurance coverage or you think you might want to investigate other opportunities, there are a few situations when AARP recommends that consumers should at least check out their other choices and possibly make a change.

However, before you make ANY change, it is important for people who are currently on a Medicare Advantage Plan (such as Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage) to understand that they should not switch back to original Medicare unless they have been accepted by the Medigap plan they want.  

Medigap insurers are allowed to turn you down or charge you more for preexisting conditions, if you have been on Medicare Part B for at least six months, with or without a different insurer.  Do not make a change in haste until you are sure you will be accepted by a new company at a reasonable price.

Everyone should also consider reading the highly rated book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make."  (Ad) It could save you a lot of money in the future, and was written by a Medicare agent who is licensed in nearly every U.S. state. 

After taking all that into consideration, now you need to look at the reasons why you might want to change your current Medicare policy to a new one.

Why You Might Want to Change Your Medicare Plan

1.  If you have seen a sharp increase in your prescription drugs.  In this case, if you are on Original Medicare, plus Medigap and a drug plan, you may want to investigate other Part D drug plans to see if there is one with a formulary which will cover your drugs at a lower price.  Your pharmacist may be able to help you choose the one that covers most of your prescriptions at the lowest price.

2. If you have cancer or need surgery and you want to use a physician or surgeon who is not part of your Medicare Advantage or HMO network. Switching your policy may be the best policy, especially if you need highly specialized care.

3.  If you have a serious chronic condition, and you are not sure your current plan offers the best type of treatment for you.  This sometimes happens to people who are on Original Medicare, but never chose a Medigap plan.  In this case, you may want to see if you qualify for a Medigap plan which will offer the care you need, or you might want to see if there is a Medicare Advantage plan in your area which will offer a comprehensive treatment for your medical condition no additional premium, above the cost of Original Medicare. Switching to a Medicare Advantage plan or adding a reasonably priced Medigap plan, instead of paying out-of-pocket, could save you a lot of money.

4.  If your former employer changes its retiree health benefits, you may be required to choose a different Medigap policy.  If this happens to you, you can call the Medicare Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center at (855) 798-2627. They can help you get accepted by a different Medigap carrier without paying a penalty based on a preexisting condition.  This phone call could save you thousands of dollars a year in unnecessarily higher premiums, if you are forced to make a change through no fault of your own.

5.  If you spend part of the year living in different states, your Medicare Advantage plan may not work in both places.  This could force you to have to see out-of-network doctors in one of the states, especially if you have a serious or chronic illness.  If you cannot find a Medicare Advantage plan which works in both states, you may need to go back to Original Medicare, plus get a nationally accepted Medigap plan and Part D drug plan. You will want to shop around to find the plan which will meet your medical needs and allow you to see doctors in each of the states where you reside.

6.  If your income has dropped during retirement, you might discover that most Medicare Advantage plans are less expensive than Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a Part D drug plan.  Whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, you will pay the same basic monthly premium for your Medicare coverage.  However, most Medicare Advantage plans charge very little in additional premiums, and sometimes nothing at all. On the other hand, people with Original Medicare usually also need a Medigap plan plus a Part D drug plan, and there will be additional monthly premiums for those.  If you are trying to save money during retirement, finding a good, low-cost Medicare Advantage plan in your area may save you thousands of dollars a year in additional premiums.

7.  If you really want to keep your current doctor, and he changes to a different Medicare plan, then you may want to change plans, too.  However, even if you have a good reason to change, do not forget that if you are switching to a new Medigap plan, you can be denied coverage or be required to pay higher premiums for any preexisting conditions.  Do not make the change until you are sure you will be accepted by the new Medigap plan at a price which is acceptable to you. 

Currently, about 42% of Medicare beneficiaries use a Medicare Advantage plan, with the percentage increasing every year.  However, as you can see, there is no one choice which is right for everyone.  When you first sign up for Medicare, it is important that you consider the advantages and disadvantages of a Medicare Advantage plan vs. getting Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan and a Part D drug plan.  In addition, each fall you should reexamine your choice and make sure it is still meeting your needs.  

You may also want to read the other post on this blog:  "Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage Plans - What are the Differences?"  It will also help you clarify your decision about which system of obtaining your Medicare benefits will be the best for you. 

Source of facts: AARP Bulletin, October 2021

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeborahDianGifts

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel 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 at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credits: Amazon book cover

Friday, October 29, 2021

Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage Plans - What are the differences?

While chatting with a friend of mine recently, a woman who has been retired for over 15 years, she referred to her Medicare Advantage plan as a Medicare Supplement. She did not know the difference.  This might not have been a serious problem, except she told me that she was giving retirement advice to one of her daughters who plans to retire in a few years, and much of what she was telling her daughter about Medicare was incorrect.  

Signing up for Medicare is more complex than many people expect it to be.  We have so many decisions to make, and they have to be done at exactly the right time, or we can end up paying higher premiums for the rest of our lives!  Often, our personal physicians cannot answer our questions, because they do not do the Medicare billing themselves.  They hire a company to do it for them.  It is important for retirees to do their own research.  While this post cannot answer all your questions, it will clarify some basic information and help you get started on making the best decisions for yourself.

What Medicare Choices Will You Have?

You have more choices in Medicare than you realize, whether you are purchasing it on the open market, or your former employer or union will help pay for your retirement coverage. You may get a good deal through the plans they offer, or you may find just as good a deal on your own, unconnected to your former employer.  You need to evaluate as many different choices as possible, to make sure you get the best plan to meet your healthcare needs.

The age you start Medicare is NOT connected to the age you retire.  They are completely separate. You can retire anytime you are financially able and can afford to retire.  You can start receiving Social Security Retirement Benefits anytime from age 62 or older.  You can retire from some government jobs at an even younger age.  

Regardless of when you retire, you are not eligible for Medicare until you are at least age 65, unless you became eligible for Medicare Disability at a younger age.  In some cases, you can sign up for Medicare if you are older than 65, particularly if you are still working and covered by an employer plan when you turn 65. If you are not working, and you wait longer than three months after you turn 65 before you sign up, you may pay a Medicare penalty for the rest of your life.  The best time to sign up for Medicare is during a time window which consists of the month you turn 65, or the three months before, or or the three months afterwards.  This could change in the future, but currently, the eligibility age is still 65.  It is important that all retirees pay attention to any changes which may be made to Medicare coverage.

If you want to make sure you do things correctly when you sign up for Medicare, and at the lowest possible cost, you will want to read the book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make." (Ad)  It is well worth the $10 it will cost you.  

TWO Separate Options for Your Medicare Benefits

There are two different systems for obtaining your Medicare benefits.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but research has shown that medical outcomes are the same, no matter which system you choose. 

Whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will still pay your basic Medicare premium.  The amount of the premium changes annually, and is higher for retirees with a higher income.  In 2021, the premium was $148.50 for most people, but the premium rose to $207.90 for people with an individual income of $88,000 or more, and is as much as $504.90 for retirees with an individual income of more than $500,000.  Each year, the basic Medicare premium usually rises a small amount. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, your premium will be deducted from those benefits.  If you are not receiving Social Security, you will be billed separately.  

These premiums pay for what is known as Medicare Part B.  In return, Original Medicare will pay for 80% of what is they consider normal medical expenses.  If you want coverage for the remaining 20%, which nearly everyone does, you need to decide if you want to keep your Original Medicare and add a Medigap plan and a Part D drug plan OR select a Medicare Advantage Plan which is a single payer system where you deal only with one company, similar to what you are used to doing when you had regular health insurance before you were old enough for Medicare.

What should you know about the two different options, so you can decide which one would be best for you?

Original Medicare plus a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) and a Part D Drug Plan  

What most retirees expect to do when they reach age 65 is sign up for Original Medicare, pay their monthly premium for it, and then purchase an additional Medicare supplement (Medigap) policy, plus a Part D drug plan.  There are many Medigap plans and Drug Plans to choose from, and they all have different premiums and co-pays, in addition to the monthly premium you are charged by Medicare. 

The top Medigap plans (such as Plan G or F) can cost several hundred dollars a month, and this is above and beyond your basic Medicare premium. In addition, you will usually have to sign up for a separate drug plan and, in most cases, a separate plan for certain types of specialty medical care such as dental and vision.  Altogether, depending on your plans, you can end up paying an extra $300 to $500 in monthly premiums, in addition to what you pay for your Original Medicare premiums. 

Medigap plans are available as both HMOs and PPOs.  The premiums are higher for PPOs, but you can choose your own doctor (as long as they accept Medicare).  In addition to the premiums, in most cases you will also have some co-pays and deductibles.  The more you pay in premiums, the greater your choice of doctors, and the less you will pay in co-pays and deductibles, which makes this option attractive to some people.  

Medigap billing can be complicated, because everything has to be billed first to Medicare and then to your Medigap supplement. You are sent copies of all the bills, which can be overwhelming if you are receiving frequent treatments by a number of different doctors, and this is common as you get older. It can also be confusing, if you are uncertain what part of the bill you owe, and what portion of the bill is still being reviewed by Medicare or your Medigap plan. 

This double billing after each medical appointment is different from how things were handled before you were on Medicare, when everything was just billed to your insurance carrier, and then you were billed for any co-pays and deductibles you might have.  Basically, with Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan, you are covered under TWO separate insurance plans ... Medicare and your supplement.  In addition, you may have to deal with one or two other insurance carriers for your prescription drugs and dental coverage, which means you may receive a lot of different bills.  Some people become so confused that they hire people to review their medical bills for them, to make sure they are being billed correctly.

Option 2 is an All-in-One Medicare Advantage Plan 

Approximately 42% of Medicare beneficiaries turn to Medicare Advantage plans, which are generally less expensive and less complicated to use than Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a drug plan.  The way Medicare Advantage plans work is similar to the system you were used to when you had medical insurance before you were on Medicare.  You only deal with one company for most things. 

The main difference is that Medicare pays a premium on your behalf to your insurance carrier each month, so that one company can handle all or most of your medical needs.  The Medicare Advantage companies are required to offer you everything that Original Medicare does, but most of them offer much more.  For example, they may offer gym memberships, vision, hearing and dental coverage, and other special services.  You only deal with your insurance carrier, not with Medicare directly.  Billing is much less complicated.  

Medicare Advantage plans are available to ANY retiree. Your choice depends on the state where you live.  For example, Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage (the plan I use) is available in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.  Other states have different Medicare Advantage plans available, such as Scan, United Healthcare, Humana, Blue Cross, or CVS Health.  You will have to research which plans are available in your state.  In particular, you will want to make sure that your local doctors are part of the Medicare Advantage network you want to use, since these plans require that you only use their network doctors and medical facilities in most cases. 

Of course, anyone on any plan can always choose to pay full price and see an out-of-network doctor, anytime they want.  Seeing an out-of-network doctor will cost you substantially more, however, unless it is an emergency.  It is always best to use in-network doctors, whenever possible. 

Do you worry about what will happen if you become sick or get injured when you have a Medicare Advantage plan and are away from your network? Most Medicare Advantage plans, such as Kaiser, will also cover the cost of an out-of-network doctor if you are traveling in another state or if, in an emergency, you have been taken to an out-of-network hospital in your area.  

Just in our family alone, we have had two examples of family members who were treated well, despite using an out-of-network doctor in an emergency:  

When our daughter had a medical emergency, Kaiser covered the cost of the first hospital she was taken to, until she regained consciousness and was transferred to the ICU at a Kaiser hospital.  In fact, because she had a brain aneurysm which needed to be treated quickly, she was flown by helicopter to the nearest Kaiser facility that had an available surgical team and an ICU unit.

When my husband developed bronchitis while visiting a different daughter in Delaware, we were not forced to drive to a Kaiser facility in Maryland for him to get medical care.  We were able to get him treated at an Urgent Care in Delaware, and we were charged the same as we would have been if we had gone to a Kaiser facility at home.  If you are getting a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure you understand what medical care will be available to you when you are away from home.   If you like to travel overseas, find out what care your insurance company will provide, and whether or not you need to purchase a short-term travel medical emergency policy.  Original Medicare does not cover you when you are out of the country.

Most Medicare Advantage plans, like Kaiser, usually have no additional premiums, other than your regular Basic Part B Medicare premium.  In some cases, you may have a very small premium, such as $20 to $40 a month. You may also have some low co-pays and deductibles.  In most cases, using a Medicare Advantage plan is much less expensive than using Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a Part D drug plan.  However, some people are willing to pay extra to use Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan and drug plan, because they have a wider choice in doctors.  The decision is entirely up to you.

Billing is simpler with Medicare Advantage plans, because the Advantage plan handles everything.  Doctors do not bill Medicare first, and then your private insurance.  You are only dealing with your private insurance company. Medicare Advantage plans are generally less complicated than using Original Medicare, plus a Medigap and drug plan.  Most people are satisfied with Medicare Advantage plans, as long as they are happy using the doctors in their network. In addition, many Medicare Advantage plans include their own drug plan and dental plan.  

Research has shown that the medical outcomes are virtually identical, regardless of which type of Medicare plan you use. 

Is It Hard to Find a Good Medicare Plan?

When you turn 65, you choose whether you want Original Medicare plus separate Medigap and drug plans, OR if you want to use a Medicare Advantage plan.  All Medicare plans, including Medigap and Advantage plans, HAVE to accept all new retirees regardless of the patient's preexisting conditions.  If you change your mind later, however, Original Medicare still has to accept you, but the Medigap plans can reject you or charge you more for some health conditions.  Once you are on a Medicare Advantage plan, do not cancel it and go to Original Medicare until you are sure a Medigap plan has accepted you at a price you are willing to pay.  

Remember that the above information just covers the basics. You will still want to make sure you do things correctly, and are getting the most for your money, by reading the book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make." (Ad)  It was written by a Medicare insurance broker who has seen many people make the same mistakes over and over again, and the book could save you a lot of problems later in life. 

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeborahDianGifts

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive one weekly email containing the most current post. 

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel 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 at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credits:  healthnet.com 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Landline Spam Call Blockers Bring Peace to Your Home Phone

At 6:30 a.m. on a recent morning, our phone rang.  Since we have four adult daughters and eight grandchildren, we automatically answer phone calls, even when we receive them at a ridiculous time, because we worry that it could be emergency. Instead, it was someone calling to talk to me about changing my Medicare insurance plan, which I have absolutely no interest in doing.  My husband and I were very annoyed to be awakened by a spam caller.

Later that day, my husband called AT&T to complain about the constant barrage of spam phone calls we get all day long, every day.  We were tired of getting calls from garage door companies, travel companies, roofers, charities, politicians, surveys, Medicare and other insurance companies, and so many others.  We immediately hang up on all robocalls, but we still received plenty of calls from real people.  

During the AT&T call with a very pleasant young customer service representative, he did two things which immediately brought peace and quiet to our home!

First, he renewed our phone number listing at donotcall.gov.  We had registered our number on that service 16 years ago.  Apparently, it is important to renew the listing frequently, or your registration becomes so old that companies ignore it.  

However, I knew that being on the do not call list would not permanently end all the calls, especially those from smaller companies, and local businesses.  I casually said to the customer service representative, "I wish we could block calls on our home phone line as easily as we can on our cell phones."  He shocked me by saying, "if you get a landline call blocker, (Ad) you can stop any calls you do not want to receive."  I had never heard of such a thing!

The customer service representative told me that Amazon, Walmart and some other sites offer these call blockers.  He even went online with me to help me choose one.  (This is service above and beyond what I expect from any company!)

You can find a number of different companies which offer call blockers at: landline call blockers (Ad).  While I will not suggest a particular brand to you, the AT&T rep gave me some practical suggestions for choosing the best one for you.  He said that I should look at ones that have received at least a four star rating from a large number of customers.  He also suggested I read the product description and comments thoroughly to make sure it would work on our phone and that it sounded like something that would meet our needs.  Finally, he mentioned that we also need to have Caller ID in order for a call blocker to work.  We already have Caller ID, so that was not a problem.

The landline call blocker (Ad) that we selected had a 4.5 star rating from nearly 600 reviewers. It sounded easy to connect and, when we received it, my husband did not have a problem plugging it into our wall jack and phone.  It came with 14,000 spam numbers which it was already programmed to block, and we can add up to 2000 new phone numbers as they come in.  After setting it up, we have only had about 10 spam calls in the past several weeks, and it was easy for us to block those numbers, so the spammers cannot use those same numbers to call us again. 

Since we know that some companies have many phone numbers they use to place calls, we could get a few more calls from that same business but, hopefully, we will gradually block them all.  At worst, we now only receive one or two unwanted calls in a day, which is a huge improvement over what we experienced in the past.  Many days, we do not receive any unwanted calls.

My husband did encounter problems registering the device online with the manufacturer, but that does not seem relevant to the fact that the device is working, our phone is quiet, and we are not being interrupted every half hour to answer the phone. 

Whether you want a landline call blocker (Ad) for yourself, or for an elderly relative who keeps getting into conversations with spam callers, choosing one of these devices could be a good way to keep your sanity and prevent spam calls. 

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DeborahDianGifts

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