Showcase Listing

Life at Heritage Shores is full of amenities, activities and social opportunities. When you live here, each day can be as active or laid ...

Image
Showcase Listing

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tellico Village comprises over 5,000 acres along Tellico Lake. Established in 1986...

Image
Showcase Listing

The Grove is an upscale, manufactured home community for active adults 55+, located in sunny Bradenton, Florida, on 40 lush acres of form...

Image
Showcase Listing

COMING SOON to North Carolina is a vibrant, brand new 55+ active adult community! Cresswind Wesley Chapel is slated for ...

Image
Showcase Listing

Welcome to Cresswind Charlotte!  This nature-rich refuge of inviting streetscapes, manicured landscaping and miles of walking trails...

Image

What to Know When Choosing a Medicare Plan

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

October 20, 2021 – As we pointed out last week we are now in the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which ends December 7. This is the time to re-evaluate your plan and change it if your circumstances have evolved, or you are unhappy with the plan you have. To help out with that process, we going to give a brief summary of some key points from an excellent article that came out last week in the Wall Street Journal, “8 Things to Know When Choosing a Medicare Plan“.

Neal Templin wrote this helpful article and we recommend reading it for more detail (we hope the link above will allow you to access it without being a subscriber). Templin says that when it comes to Medicare you have three choices: Regular Medicare (Parts A, B, and D), Medicare plus a private supplemental plan (some people call it Medigap or traditional Medicare), and Medicare Advantage (Part C). The decision for which one to pick is complicated and depends on your own personal situation.

Supplemental (Medigap) plans are generally better for affluent and older people. You will pay higher monthly premiums, but you usually don’t have to worry about going out of network or running up against spending caps. As you age, chances are you are going to have serious health issues, so a supplemental plan is probably better.

Medicare Advantage plans might be better for healthy people. If you are healthy and don’t anticipate many medical expenses, Medicare Advantage might be the best option. In many cases you can get a zero premium plan instead of one that might cost $200 or even much more per month, and get many extra coverages like Part D (prescription drugs) or vision care as well. Not paying a premium can make up for a lot of deductibles. Recently Medicare Advantage plans began to outsell supplemental plans for these reasons.

Going with traditional Medicare alone (Part A and B) is risky. Part A covers hospital expenses and Part B the doctor’s part. But if you are in an accident or have serious health issues you could have a big financial exposure, particularly if you end up in a hospital or long term nursing facility for more than 20 days. You also need Part D to cover your prescription drug cost exposure.

Switching from Medicare Advantage to supplemental can be tricky. In some states insurers have the right to question you or deny coverage. So thinking you will start out with Medicare Advantage and switching to a supplemental plan down the road might not be an option.

Medicare Advantage plans differ. Some are HMO plans, where you must stay in network. PPO plans, which can have higher premiums of up to $10,000 per year, give more flexibility about who you choose for your health provider.

People who travel or snowbird might be better off with a supplemental plan. That is because you could find yourself having to use an out of network provider and not be covered.

Bottom line

Choosing which type of plan is tricky, complicated, and can change over time. So use this Open Enrollment Period to re-evaluate what you have. Talking to a qualified insurance professional is a great idea. It won’t cost you anything, and they have loads of experience to help you make the smart choice for you.

For further reading:

Comments: What type of plan do you have? Are you thinking about switching? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on October 19th, 2021

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period Starts

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

October 13, 2021 – The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare starts this week on October 15 and ends December. 7. It is an important event for eligible people not currently enrolled in the plan, or who want to change plans or some component of their current plan.

During Open Enrollment, eligible people can sign up for Medicare. They can compare coverage options like Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and choose health and prescription drug plans for 2021. Medicare Advantage plans have started to outsell original Medicare policies because of their increased coverages and low (even zero) premiums. If you are thinking about switching to a Medicare Advantage plan (or type of plan within Medicare Advantage), this is the time to do it. See Original Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage – Which Is Better for You?

Medicare Plan Finder. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year-to-year. CMS urges Medicare beneficiaries to review their coverage choices and decide on the options that best meet their health needs. CMS’s Medicare Plan Finder makes it easier for beneficiaries to:

  • Compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies;
  • Compare coverage options on their smartphones and tablets;
  • Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans side-by-side;
  • Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits;
  • Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets their needs.
  • Free, personalized counseling on Medicare options is also available through the nonprofit State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Highlights for 2021 Open Enrollment include:

  •  The average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower in 2022 at $19 per month, compared to $21.22 in 2021, while projected enrollment continues to increase. The average 2022 premium for Part D coverage will be $33 per month, compared to $31.47 in 2021.
  • Part B Medicare premiums for 2022 have not been released yet, but some experts predict an estimated 6.2% premium increase, with monthly costs jumping from $148.50 to $157.70.

Note: Most of the above information is from the Medicare.gov website. For more about see Medicare Open Enrollment.

For further reading:

What Is Your Medicare IQ

What You Need to Know About Medigap Insurance

Original Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage – Which Is Better for You?

Comments? Do you ever change your Medicare plan, or do you tend to stick with the same one over and over? Please share your experience in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on October 12th, 2021

Are Better Hearing Aids in Your Future?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

October 1, 2021 — No one wants to wear a hearing aid. They can be unsightly, embarrassing, and usually don’t work well in noisy situations. They are also very expensive ($2,000 to $12,000 a pair), and generally not covered by any kind of insurance, including Medicare. Unfortunately, if your hearing is bad enough, not wearing one leads to being shut out of the conversation and social isolation. Fortunately there might be less expensive, and more effective ones coming on the market.

Jane Brody recently wrote an article in the NY Times that promises some hope: “Will Hearing Aids Ever Be Hip“. While two thirds of people over 70 suffer from hearing loss, only 20% of adults who could benefit from a hearing aid use one. Clearly there is a demand for a better product.

(more…)
Posted by Admin on October 1st, 2021

Medicare Advantage Overtakes Medigap Plans

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

July 7, 2021 — Not so long ago the two most common types of supplemental medical insurance for retirees were employer sponsored plans and Medigap insurance. Medical insurance for retirees is increasingly rare, with very large corporations and governments about the only employers providing it. Medigap plans, which cover additional expenses over and above their Part B (doctors and other medical) coverage insurance, are being eclipsed by the increasing popularity of Medicare Advantage plans (Part C). Run by insurance companies and funded by subsidies from the government, Medicare Advantage has doubled its enrollments in the past decade.

The main reasons for Medicare Advantage’s increased popularity are their low cost and extra coverages. According to kff.org, about 60% of Medicare Advantage enrollees pay no premiums, and another 34% pay less than $100/month. Advantage plans also usually offer a wide number of other coverages not available under Medigap policies. For example, about 3/4 of Advantage plans include vision, dental, fitness, over the counter drugs, and hearing benefits. Nearly all (90%) Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage.

(more…)
Posted by Admin on July 6th, 2021

Great Retirement Towns for Biking

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

June 26, 2021 — Getting around on a bicycle is becoming more and more popular. People use their bikes to get to work, for exercise, or just for fun. Biking is inexpensive transportation, gets you outside, parking is a cinch, and it’s a healthy activity. The growing popularity of electric bikes, with the extra help they provide on long rides and hills, has helped to get even more people into cycling. So, just as they do for every popular activity, publications are coming out with lists of the cities and towns that are “best for biking”. We will highlight some of their choices here.

But first, what makes for a great biking town? The website Lawnstarter used a long list of considerations to score and rank the largest 200 U.S. cities on biking. Their multiple rating criteria fell into five categories: climate, bike lanes and routes, bike shops and bike share programs, safety, and community support. Safety features like bike lanes separated from car traffic and dedicated crossings were among the most important considerations, since biking isn’t fun and can be dangerous if speeding cars get too close. Icy cold winter weather, steamy hot summers, and car traffic were negative factors used in the ratings. PeopleforBikes.com rated even more towns, including smaller ones, to find out which are the best for biking. It used similar criteria to rate the towns it considered, such as the number of bike lanes and trails, ability to use multiple routes to get to the same place, bike parking, number of bike shops, safety, and slow speeds for cars. See video below from PeopleforBikes on what makes a best biking city. When you are checking out places to retire, don’t forget to keep your eyes open to what it would be like if you wanted to get around there on two wheels.

(more…)
Posted by Admin on June 25th, 2021

Dementia – or Ordinary Age-Related Change?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

May 12, 2021 — Just about everyone struggles with a word or a name occasionally. As in, the name of person coming toward you in the supermarket is right on the tip of your tongue, but it just won’t come out. So embarrassing, and yet so common. The Alzheimer’s Association has some great information that can help differentiate between normal age-related change and the more serious signs of approaching dementia. We will recap some of those points here, but their article, Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s, has even more detailed information that everyone will find useful. It seems that the difference between Alzheimer’s and ordinary age-related change are degree (how serious the behavior is), and length of time it is displayed.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are many other forms of dementia as well. Here are 10 warning signs, along with examples of normal age-related changes:

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
(more…)
Posted by Admin on May 12th, 2021

Vaccine Acceptance Almost Unanimous: Other Survey Findings Too

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

March 6, 2021 — Thanks to the 300 people who took our Covid Vaccine Survey. Everyone in this community is in your debt for the few moments you donated to let us know about your vaccination trials and successes. Here are the results of the survey, with several surprises mixed in with findings that were more predictable.

Comparison with our Sept., 2020 Coronavirus Survey.

It is also interesting to compare the results of this survey with a similar one we conducted last September. The biggest change from then to now is the new willingness to take the vaccine: while 29% of Members said in September they would not take the vaccine, only 2% in this latest survey said they would decline it. There is continued caution around willingness to eat inside a restaurant. Mask compliance around non-family members remains high, although at slightly lower levels than in our September survey.

Overall Conclusions:

The overwhelming majority of our Members want to get the shots, with only 2% saying they won’t get them. Almost half have already had two doses, with a third reporting they have had one dose.

Folks are evenly split about the difficulty or ease of getting the vaccine.

(more…)
Posted by Admin on March 7th, 2021

Take Our New Coronavirus Vaccine Survey!

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

February 25, 2021 – By now most of the Topretirements audience has probably had a chance to get at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Please take our quick survey of how that experience went for you. There are just a few questions on how you found out where to get your shot, how good a job your state did on that, and how your life and activities might change once you have been administered both doses and your immunity is established.

Here is the link to the short survey:

Take the Vaccine Survey

We will publish the results next week – should be very interesting to compare with the survey we did last year. If you have Comments you would like to make, please free to add them below.

Posted by Admin on February 25th, 2021

Fact or Myth: The Villages Is the STD Capital of the US?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

February 5, 2021 — Any time the subject of The Villages (TV) in Central Florida comes up in conversation, the chances are that someone will chime in with the tidbit that the popular active community is the STD capital of the US. In many circles this bit of false news is taken as the gospel. Everyone chuckles and they move on.

The rampant STD rumor about The Villages first erupted in 2006 after a gynecologist who had moved to the area stated that she’d treated more cases of herpes and human papillomavirus in The Villages than when she practiced in Miami. She later modified her account, but the damage was done. The New York Post picked up the salacious report as did other media outlets across the country. Andrew Blechman’s Leisureville, which depicted Mr. Midnight’s late night adventures as a senior citizen Lothario, also helped to perpetuate the image of TV as Gomorrah in Central Florida.

(more…)
Posted by Admin on February 4th, 2021

Florida Snowbirds Still Eligible for Vaccine – But Is Governor Playing Politics?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

January 23 — Outrage over media reports of Canadians and other foreigners paying big dollars for charter flights to Miami for coronavirus vaccine shots generated understandable blowback. Reacting, Florida Gov. DeSantis took steps to eliminate this form of medical tourism this week. While that made most residents happier, Florida’s many snowbirds became concerned that the new rules might effectively shut them out of getting inoculated. Fortunately the new rules for snowbirds and other seasonal visitors have been clarified, and most should be eligible for a shot (if they can get an appointment!)

Playing politics?

Elsewhere, there is concern that groups with close ties to the Governor, who is touting his decision to prioritize residents age 65+ over essential workers, are getting priority access to the vaccine. Residents in communities like The Villages were quick to an allocation, while almost everyone in Century Village and Kings Point has had a chance to get their shots by now. Meanwhile, millions of other FL residents not so well connected are stymied by non-existent web sites, lengthy queues, and fragmentary information. This has led to speculation that the Governor or his staff is steering vaccines to organizations he has ties to. Speculation has also arisen over the Publix supermarket chain’s donation of $100,000 to the Governor’s political campaign. The chain has since become a major source of Covid 19 vaccines administered in the state. The Governor’s office has denied any connection, according to WUSF Public Media.

Who is Eligible for the Vaccine in Florida?

Eligibility for non-Florida residents starts with being able to prove that they reside in the state for at least 31 consecutive days. Then they have to scramble to come up with two other types of documents. The first document might be easy to come by, but the second could involve more effort.

(more…)
Posted by Admin on January 23rd, 2021