Author: Dan Hoelscher

Dan Hoelscher founded Seniormark in 2007 in an effort to help individuals make a successful transition into retirement. Dan is a Certified Financial Planner™ Practitioner and holds Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)© and Certified Kingdom Advisor™ certifications. Since founding Seniormark, Dan has helped thousands of retirees throughout Ohio.

Warning: New Medicare Scams Coming!

A New Wave of Medicare Scammers

 

Yet another wave of Medicare scammers is on the rise.  As new Medicare cards will be mailed out, seniors are finding themselves susceptible to phone scammers who are calling and identifying themselves as representatives from Medicare.

 

Callers are requesting payment for the new Medicare cards that are absolutely FREE.  Please be wary of such scams and not to give out private information about yourself.  Medicare will correspond only via mail.

 

To report a scam, please use the Better Business Scam Tracker or contact Medicare.gov directly at 1-800-MEDICARE.

 

In this latest attempt at medical identity theft, a caller posing as a Medicare representative will ask for payment in exchange for the new ID.  (The cards, which will be automatically sent sometime between April 2018 and April 2019, are free and require no extra steps.)

 

The same goes for someone asking if you want to purchase Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, known as Part D.  In this case a scammer may try to persuade you to buy Part D or lose your Medicare coverage.  (Part D is voluntary and has no impact on your health plan.)

Another common ruse is that you’re owed a refund from your insurance company and the caller needs your bank account number and Social Security number to deposit it.  A similar fraud also involves a caller claiming to be with Medicare requesting to update or confirm your information.  In each of these attempts at medical identity theft, scammers can then use your insurance to see a doctor, obtain prescriptions, buy medical equipment or even file a false claim.”

Scammers are taking advantage of the new security measures by targeting Medicare recipients before the changes roll out.  North Carolina Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey says fraudsters are calling recipients, asking for personal information before the new cards come in.  He says they’ll ask you to verify your information, pay a fee or offer to track down your new card by using your old card information.”

If you have questions or concerns about the new Medicare cards, please contact our office for assistance:  937-492-8800.

The Diversification Misconception: Why All Your Eggs May Still Be in One Basket

The Diversification Misconception: Why All Your Eggs May Still Be in One Basket

The adage is almost older than investing itself: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, diversify your portfolio so that—if a particular investment tanks—you haven’t lost all your money.

 

So you set off to work, scattering your wealth in various locations over time. $10,000 in a Vangard mutual fund, $25,000 in U.S. Bank, 15,000 in randomly selected stocks. Here a little; there a little.

 

Sounds simple, right? The only problem is that this isn’t diversification. Sure, it is better than betting your entire life savings on a Kraft Mac and Cheese stock.  And it may protect you against any one company going under. But—in almost every other respect—this investment strategy doesn’t leave you any better off than a one-basketeer. Why?

 

Because asset classes are the ticket!

Diversification is not about the variety of companies, but rather the variety of asset classes you invest in. Maybe you’ve heard some of them thrown around at dinner parties as wealthy investors brag about their business ventures: fixed income, large cap growth, international, global, etc.

 

But what is an asset class? In short, it is just a categorization of investments, but this definition doesn’t tell the whole story. An asset class, rather, is a category of investments with comparable characteristics that tend to behave similarly in the marketplace. If one goes up in value, it is likely that the others have gone up as well (at least to some degree). And when one plummets, check the others; they probably aren’t doing so hot either.

 

This means that if you have all of your money invested in one asset class, your portfolio is not diversified. If that one asset class does poorly (since all investments within the category behave similarly), your entire portfolio will suffer.

 

But you can’t stop there!

Haphazardly choosing various asset classes will put you far above those who are randomly selecting investments, but you must go further to truly diversify your portfolio.

 

It’s not just about a variety of asset classes; it is about the right variety of asset classes. Some asset classes behave very similarly to other asset classes. These pairs are considered positively correlated. The general rule is this: you don’t want pairs of investments that are positively correlated. In fact, negatively correlated asset classes are the best. Following this rule puts you in a strong position as an investor. Your investments won’t all go up and down at the same time.

 

 

Allow me to give you an example to illustrate this concept.

Imagine a friend of yours just caught a big break at work. His salary just doubled. Since he doesn’t know what to do with this expendable income, he decides to invest. The first thing he purchases is 100 shares of umbrella stock (the umbrella industry is rockin’). Then—to diversify his portfolio—he also buys 75 shares of stock in a poncho company. He’s in the clear, he thinks, but just to be sure, he goes online and buys 90 shares of stock in a company that sells rain boots.

 

How do you think he’s doing?

Yeah. It’s a disaster. In fact, his miniature portfolio is so imbalanced and hopelessly one-basket-ed that you internally cringe by his second purchase. You don’t need to know much about investing to know that his stocks are positively correlated. They will behave the same way! When it’s dry weather, they will all crash and burn. When it’s wet, they will likely do well.

 

What your friend should have done is invest in a sunscreen company to offset his investments in the umbrella company. In a basic sense, this is diversification.

 

Now, this is definitely an oversimplified example. Anyone can see it from a mile away. But people are doing this in the real world, with real money. Not because they are dumb, but because—in reality—correlations aren’t nearly as obvious.

 

In my practice, I’ve seen it all too many times. People come in for a financial consultation, thinking they have a diversified portfolio, and I find that 70% of their investments are in a single asset class. And this isn’t even taking into account the correlations!

 

Needless to say, it’s a scary situation. No one knows how well a particular investment is going to do from year to year. And no one knows how a particular asset class will do either. The only thing we can do is develop a well-balanced, well-rounded, well-diversified portfolio to smooth out the ups and downs, and then watch the money grow over time. It’s the time-tested, statistically- verified choice.

 

But as long as investors believe the misconceptions, thinking that their portfolio is diversified, they will never change the reality that their eggs are still—in fact—all in one basket.

 

Concerned that your portfolio isn’t diversified? Call Seniormark at 937-492-8800 for a free consultation with a Certified Financial Planner!

 

7 Candies That Will Bring Back Childhood Memories

7 Candies That Will Bring Back Childhood Memories

My grandma used to pick out a small bag of candy every Saturday when her family visited their local meat locker. While her dad was stacking slabs of beef in the chilly deep freeze, she was in the nearby candy shop with her sister, carefully selecting candies from glass jars. Their favorite? Maple nuggets.

 

When they got home, they would all play cards together and share a small bag of potato chips, but (because they had to share with the rest of their brothers and sisters) they had to wait until the next morning to eat the tantalizing maple nuggets.

 

The anticipation. The chewy center and creamy, maple covering. The memories.

 

I’ve found that a lot of boomers have similar experiences with old time candies. It only takes one look, one smell, one word, and they are back in that candy shop with just a nickel or dime to spend. Here are 7 candies that may just take you down memory lane.

 

  1. Atomic Fireballs

These red, plastic-wrapped wrapped jawbreakers don’t start out too hot, but give it a few minutes, and you start to feel the burn. Let it set a while longer, and your mouth is on fire… a real face-contorting, tear-jerking, sweat- inducing treat. Did you make it until the end…or were you a wimp?

 

  1. Candy Cigarettes

Way back when, kids were chain-smokin’ these babies by the carton. They’re practically a chalky and sugary gateway drug to real tobacco…

 

All right, that’s probably taking it too far! But for real—did you know that candy cigarettes are banned in many countries for this very reason?

 

  1. Neccos: “The Original Candy Wafer”

Spearmint. Black licorice. Cinnamon. These chalky discs of sugar were stacked into a cylinder and wrapped in paper. They are basically glorified tums, but when you’re a kid, you don’t care! Candy is candy, after all!

 

  1. Clark’s Teaberry Gum (and the rockin’ commercial)

What made this gum special was not its flavor or the pink packaging, but its commercial. Does anyone remember the teaberry shuffle commercial? I bet some of you recall soldiers, shoppers, and football players alike popping a piece of gum and then busting a killer dance move… “Clark’s teaberry gum presents the teaberry shuffle!” After a little jig, they continued as if nothing happened. If you are having trouble picturing it, click the link to view the video. I had a good belly laugh…I’m sure you will too!

  1. Wax Lips

Ridiculous? Yes. Flavorless? You bet. Still pretty awesome? Of course! This Halloween gag is exactly what it sounds like: lips made of edible wax—fun to play with, not so much to eat.

 

  1. Squirrel Nut Zipper

These nutty, creamy, vanilla caramels are a classic. But do you know how they got their name?  I read this story on oldtimecandy.com. It’s quite funny: After coaxing a drunken man down from a tree, the cops asked him to explain himself. He said, “It must have been the nut zipper,” referring to a popular alcoholic beverage in the town. One of the managers of the Squirrel Brand read the police report in the newspaper. He thought it was a great name for their new candy…and the rest is history.

 

  1. Sky Bars

Yellow wrapper. Red lettering. Milk chocolate compartments with a different delicious filling in each: one section of vanilla, one of caramel, one of peanut, and one of fudge. Eat your favorite section first or last. It’s up to you.

 

That’s all I got folks! I hope this post awakened your sweet tooth. And if it awakened any childhood memories as well, please share them in the comments. We want to reminisce with you!

 

Retiring soon? Not sure what you have to do next? Give us a call at 937-492-8800 and we’ll help you get on the right track!

 

 

 

Aren’t All Medicare Supplements the Same?

Aren’t All Medicare Supplements the Same?

Yes.

Well…no.

Well— it’s at this point that I realize cut and dry answers don’t get along very well with Medicare. Or the federal government. Or really anything related to government for that matter.  And I am forced to give you the incredibly vague answer that sometimes isn’t an answer at all: yes and no. Allow me to expound.

 

Yes, they are all the same because…

 

Medicare Supplements Are Now Standardized.

Starting in 1992, the federal government came out with 11 plans labeled A through L, each with their own distinct coverage level and associated benefits. These 11 plans are identical no matter where you purchase them, which means that Plan F is still Plan F (offering the same coverage) whether you buy from AARP or Aetna or any other company.

 

However, just because the plans are standardized, that does NOT mean the prices are!

 

Which brings me to the inevitable…

No, they aren’t all the same because…

 

Prices Can Vary Dramatically—

As much as $100 a month.

And for the exact same benefits! Here’s an example. Let’s say you are a 65-year-old male from Sidney, Ohio who doesn’t use tobacco. If you purchased Plan F Supplement insurance from Banker’s Fidelity Life, it would cost $152.06 a month. However, if you purchased Plan F from Physicians Mutual Insurance, you would pay $294.33 a month. This is like having the option of identical minivans. Same make and model. Same gas mileage. Same features. Except one is almost twice as much. The choice is a no-brainer, right?  (Prices are current as of November, 2017).

 

 Now it’s time for something definite:

 

You should ALWAYS go to a trusted Independent Advisor (see my blog for reasons why here) for help.

 

They will get you into a plan that is right for you. Since they are independent, they are free to shop with a lot of companies to find the plan with the best benefits for the lowest cost.

 

Ahhh…the best value.

Now that is cut and dry.

 

Still have questions?  Sign up for our next workshop here:  workshop signup.

 

If you need help shopping for a Medicare Supplement plan, call us at 937-492-8800  for a free consultation!

 

Take Advantage of What Medicare Covers in FULL

Take Advantage of What Medicare Covers in FULL

Medicare alone doesn’t cover very much in full. There’s almost always some sort of coinsurance or copayment or other out-of-pocket cost.  This is why many people purchase Medicare Supplement Insurance to fill in the gaps (I recommend that you do so as well).

 

But there is something that Medicare fully covers—and that is preventive services. This includes lab tests, screenings, vaccinations, virtually any service performed to ensure that health problems are caught early—before they become…well…even bigger and more threatening problems.

 

This means that—as long as you meet basic eligibility requirements—you won’t pay a dime for most preventive services. The only ones I found that required any out-of-pocket costs were glaucoma screenings, diabetes self-management training, digital rectal exams (to detect prostate cancer), and barium enema (to detect colon cancer).

 

To give you an idea of the scope of preventive services that Medicare offers, here is a quick list:

  • Colonoscopies
  • Mammograms
  • Annual Wellness Visits
  • Diabetes Screenings
  • Vaccinations
  • Blood Tests
  • Depression Screenings

And this is just scratching the surface.

For a more comprehensive list with all the details, click here to access the Medicare preventive services guide.

 

Keep Track of Preventive Services on mymedicare.gov!

Some of these services are offered every year, some every other year, and some less or more often. Your risk level for certain diseases (based on age, gender, or family history) can also play a factor in how often you are eligible for services. Needless to say, it can be a lot to manage, which is why I recommend using mymedicare.gov. This free online account (among other things) allows you to see which preventive services you are eligible for and when.  Sign up here:  MyMedicare.  You can also print off a personalized report to bring to your doctor. This will help the both of you plan out when and if you should receive the various services.

 

I hope you consider taking advantage of what Medicare has made available. The reason they made it free is because they know how important it is for retirees to take care of themselves in a proactive way. It is good for them, and it is good for you—money wise and otherwise.  No one likes to spend time at a cold doctor’s office, especially when getting a colonoscopy (geesh). But staying on top of your health now, can save you having to deal with major health issues later. It can keep you on the go and healthy during retirement, an era of life that I believe should be as (if not more) fulfilling and exciting as all the rest.

 

Have any questions or concerns about Medicare? Call Seniormark at 937-492-8800 for a free consultation.

Turning 65 and not sure what to do?  Consider signing up for one of our FREE workshops in Sidney or Vandalia, Ohio!  Sign up here:  Seniormark workshops.

Can I Really Get a Medicare Advantage Plan For Free?

Can I Really Get a Medicare Advantage Plan For Free?

Yes, for quite a few Medicare Advantage plans, you will not have to pay a dime in premiums. And to sweeten to deal, you can even get extra benefits like gym memberships or a built in drug coverage with some plans. But I’m very stingy with my use of the word “free.”

 

From my experience, an Advantage Plan is free in the same way the newborn puppies of your best friend’s dog are “free.” You may not have to pay for the puppy, but how many know having man’s best friend around the house isn’t exactly a recipe for super savings (especially if you’ve got furniture and footwear that look especially appetizing in black and white)?

 

You see, a Medicare Advantage Plan might not cost anything in premiums, but it may eat up your money in the end. I’m not saying they aren’t right for some people, in fact; I’ve placed people in $0 Advantage Plans to their long-term satisfaction. For the cost-conscious retiree who is romping into retirement, healthy as a horse, it may be the best option. But before you purchase one, make sure you understand the hassles and extra costs that come along with the decision. I’ve outlined a few of the most important ones:

 

Networks

Advantage Plans have networks of health care providers that they have contracted with, usually within a fairly tight geographic area. If you do not receive care at one of their pre-picked providers, it can mean much higher copays and coinsurance amounts. If you are in an HMO plan, they may not even cover you at all while receiving care out of network. This can work just fine for a person who stays local most of the year, but it does put the burden on you to ensure that your health care provider is in-network. Making mistakes could cost you heavily.

 

Inconsistency

With a Medicare Supplement, the benefits are stable, but with an Advantage Plan, this is hardly ever the case.

 

Since the private insurance companies that offer Advantage Plans re-file their contract with Medicare every year, the benefits always change—sometimes dramatically. One of your preferred doctors could go out of network. Copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles can all shoot up. This is why you must review your plan every year so you won’t be caught unaware. If you set your plan to the side and forget about it (see “Don’t Set it and Forget It!) for even one year, it can be quite upsetting financially.

 

Potentially High Out-of-pocket Costs

I always like to remind people that Advantage Plans have more of a “pay as you go” approach. You pay less in premiums, yes.  But you may make up for it in deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. For example, almost all Advantage Plans still keep you on the hook for the 20% coinsurance on Part B. That’s fine for an x-ray, but not as much for an outpatient surgery that may be $20,000 or more.

So be aware, Advantage plans do limit your annual out-of-pocket spending, but these caps are generally pretty high. If you have a period of extended illness, you could spend anywhere from $3500-6000 per year or more!

 

That doesn’t sound like free to me.

 

Need Expert Help Navigating Medicare? Confused About Your Options?

Click here to sign up for our free Medicare workshop or call our office at 937-492-8800 and get the guidance you need! No high-pressure sales pitches here, just in-depth discussion about the ins and outs of Medicare!

6 Annual Enrollment Dates You (Quite Literally) Can’t Afford to Forget

6 Annual Enrollment Dates You (Quite Literally) Can’t Afford to Forget

I know you’ve got a lot of dates to juggle: birthdays, anniversaries, holiday get togethers, or departure dates for long awaited travel plans. But you have to leave some empty space—in your memory and on your calendar—to add these 6 dates.

 

Why?

 

Because the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is upon us, a time when the Medicare marketplace is bustling with transactions. Beneficiaries such as yourself are switching Drug Plans, Advantage Plans, or transitioning from an Advantage Plan to a Medicare Supplement or vice versa. These are strategic moves you can only make during Annual Enrollment!

 

Now, if you are thinking, “I’m perfectly fine with my health insurance. I’ll just let it go this year,” I’d like to offer a word of warning: Not reviewing your Medicare health insurance plans this Annual Enrollment Period could cost you thousands. You see, Benefits and premiums change from year to year, so you have to review your plans with a professional to ensure you are still in the best-valued plan for your needs.

 

It doesn’t seem like letting it slide just one year could end up being so costly, but I’ve seen it happen again and again. In fact, I recently had a man come into my office in January, confused about why his approximately $190 per month prescription wasn’t covered anymore. As it turns out, he missed Annual Enrollment. The insurance company dropped his prescription from their formulary (list of covered drugs) for the new year. Unfortunately, I had to tell him, he was stuck in the ill-fitting Drug Plan for the whole year, the consequences of a mistake that would (by the end of the year) cost him $2,280. Ouch.

 

So, if you are a current Medicare beneficiary, get your pen ready and calendar ready. Annual Enrollment (October 15—December 7) is chock full of clear-cut deadlines. Don’t find yourself locked into a financially draining health insurance plan! You (quite literally) can’t afford to miss these 6 dates:

1. October 1st

This is the day we, as an insurance agency, receive all of the new information regarding plan changes.

  • Did your Drug Plan drop your most expensive prescription from its formulary?
  • Was there a premium hike?
  • If you have an Advantage Plan, is your doctor still considered “in-network?”

October 1st is the day we have all these answers and can speak to you about the possibility of switching to save you money and hassle.

 

Note: You can call about your options anytime during Annual Enrollment, but the earlier is truly the better. This time of year is quite busy!

2.October 15

The marketplace is open!  Annual enrollment has officially begun, and you can now enroll in a new plan.

3.December 7

I hope you have made all the necessary changes, because—at this date—you are locked into your plans for another year. Annual enrollment is closed.

4.January 1

It’s a new year, a new resolution, and—quite possibly—new insurance. This is the date any changes you made during the open enrollment period go into effect.

5.January 1

Nope, you didn’t just read the same line twice, and you are not seeing double! I know this is a repeat, but I want to clarify why this date is worth the extra mention: It is also the first day of the Advantage Plan disenrollment period. Just in case you’re second-guessing your decision, Medicare set up a disenrollment period where you can get out of your Advantage Plan with no penalties.

6.February 14

Finally, this is the last day of Medicare’s disenrollment period. If you are in an Advantage Plan and don’t like it, this is your last chance to drop it!

BONUS: February 14th is also Valentine’s Day. You’re welcome.

 

Looking to Review Your Plans With a Medicare Expert?

Even if you are not yet sure if you want to switch, I recommend giving Seniormark a call at 937-492-8800! Our friendly and caring staff is more than willing to be a resource during this bustling Annual Enrollment season. We will help ensure you meet all the deadlines and end up in a great plan for your needs and pocketbook as the New Year rolls around.

How Much Does Medicare Cost in 2017?

How Much Does Medicare Cost in 2017?

The cost of health care is a big question mark for soon-to-be retirees. Perhaps you’ve been on a trusty employer plan for the last few decades or have come to know and love a private insurance plan that fits your needs and budget.

But now you’ve got to switch to Medicare. And although you’ve always been able to pay your premiums, the cost of Medicare is an unknown number among a sea of unknowns associated with health care in retirement (or retirement in general, for that matter).

Although I can’t grant you any magical, one-size-fits-all answer, I can give you some solid estimations based on my experience working as a local Medicare expert to help you compare what Medicare costs with your current plan.

I always like to start with some good news…

 

  • Medicare Part A (Inpatient Care) Is Free

Have you paid into Social Security for at least 10 years (40 quarters)? Then your premiums for Part A are paid for!

Unfortunately, though, it can’t all be free…

 

The Associated Part B (Outpatient Care) Monthly Premium Is $134.00

This figure is adjusted for high income, but that is not a concern for most people. $134.00 will be your monthly premium unless your income exceeds $85,000 per year or more as an individual or $170,000 filing jointly with your spouse.

This is where there is a fork in the road. From this point, the cost of Medicare is heavily affected by which path you take. You can boil down all the madness into two basic choices (“Swamped with mail? Here’s what it all means”): Medicare Advantage or Original (traditional) Medicare.

 

The Traditional Medicare Route

If you take this path, I always suggest picking up a Medicare Supplement Plan. It might seem unnecessary (“Do I Really Need a Medicare Supplement?”) to some, but without the extra coverage, there is no limit to your out-of-pocket spending.

A Supplement’s price range is anywhere from $50-150, but a standard, middle of the road Plan G usually costs about $110 per month. This is the typical plan I recommend to my clients.

Then, since a Supplement does not cover those sky-high prescription drug costs, the vast majority of retirees purchase a Part D Drug Plan. Although the prices span anywhere from $14.60 to $157.40 per month, the average cost for a drug plan is $35.63 as of 2017. The out-of-pocket costs associated with Part D vary greatly depending on your medications. Just keep in mind that there will likely be copays and coinsurance regardless of which plan you choose.

 

The Medicare Advantage Route

The other choice is the less beaten path. From my experience, most people feel very cozy in the stability of a Medicare Supplement. However, an Advantage Plan often appeals to the more cost-conscious, risk-taking retirees. Offered as an alternative to Traditional Medicare, Advantage plans range from $0-179 per month with most settling in around $70. To make them even more attractive, a Drug Plan is almost always included as a part of the package.

Caution: Check For Possible Out-of-pocket Costs
At first glance, it looks like choosing a Medicare Advantage is a no-brainer, but there is a reason it appeals to risk-takers. With a Medicare Supplement (only available with Original Medicare), the maximum out-of-pocket is only $183 annually for Plan G (not including prescription drug costs). However, in an Advantage Plan, the coverage is a bit spottier. You pay less in monthly premiums, but copays, coinsurance, and deductibles are much higher. The potential out-of-pocket for an advantage plan can be as a high as $3500-6000 per year or more! Some years you will save money because of the cheaper premium, but one year of bad health can turn that around really quickly.

The Costs At a Glance For a 65-Year-Old

Original Medicare
Free Part A
+
$134 per month Part B
+
$110 per month for Medicare Supplement Insurance
+
$35.63 for Part D Drug Plan
= $279.63 monthly
(with LOW out-of-pocket spending limit)

Medicare Advantage
Free Part A
+
$134 per month Part B
+
$70 per month for an Advantage Plan (Part D included)
= $204 monthly
(with HIGH out-of-pocket spending limit)

 

Interested In A More Personalized Analysis?

So there you have it! This should give you a good idea of what Medicare costs for the average 65-year old. But—as I said before—the cost of Medicare is different for every person. If you are interested in more personalized figures, call us at 937-492-8800 for a free consultation. We will assess your financial and health situation to find an overall plan that meets your needs, concerns, and pocketbook. Ensuring you a successful and secure transition into retirement is our number one priority.

There will always be some unknowns when it comes to health care costs in retirement, but sitting down with a professional in order to assess your situation can diminish even the biggest question marks and settle your deepest concerns.

Disclaimer: Numbers are based on Sidney, Ohio.

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Beat The Medicare Supplement Premium Creep by Shopping Around!

Beat The Medicare Supplement Premium Creep by Shopping Around!

If you’ve been in your Medicare Supplement Plan for 3-5 years or more without switching, it’s likely that you are overpaying big time.

 

You see, Medicare Supplement rates change from year to year. The one that was the best value last year may not be the best value now. In fact, they tend to creep—up and up and up.  And here’s why:

 

What Goes Up, Won’t Come Down

Medicare Supplement rates depend on total claim dollars the company pays out. Makes sense, right? The more money a company spends in claims, the more it needs to make, and the more it has to charge.

 

So as health care costs rise and policyholders make more expensive claims, premiums will slowly increase. And it doesn’t just stop. It continues to click upward, slow and steady, like a roller coaster.  Until—after a while—people unhitch their harnesses and exit in search of a more affordable plan.

 

But here’s the problem: the policyholders who leave aren’t the sick ones. Most of them wouldn’t be able to qualify for other insurance based on their health. No. The policyholders who leave are the healthy ones. The ones who balance out the budget, make fewer claims, and (ultimately) keep insurance companies in the black. This leaves an unhealthy pool of beneficiaries behind, the ones who need insurance the most and make the most (and the most expensive) claims.

 

So how does an insurance company cope? They let their premiums creep up even more, even faster. Click. Click. Click. But unlike a rollercoaster, the premium will never peak. It will never come back down.

 

Beat the Creep by Shopping Around!

But fortunately, most people don’t have to be stuck on that ever-climbing rollercoaster. Even if you have less-than-perfect health, you can shop around. As I said before—if you haven’t switched your Medicare Supplement Plan for 3-5 years or more, you’re probably paying too much! It’s time to switch.

 

Some More Good News

And this doesn’t mean you have to reduce your coverage either. You can get the exact same benefits for much less. Because of standardization, a plan F at one company is identical to a plan F at any other company. The same goes for all 11 Medicare Supplement Plans. So as long as the provider is decently rated (we usually recommend a B+ or above), you can go with the least expensive plan without sacrificing anything!

 

The bottom line is this: there’s really no reason to not take a look. We’ve had clients save hundreds a year by switching. So check the competition. Bargain hunt. Shop. You have nothing to lose, and a much lower premium to gain.

 

Need a quick way to compare Supplement prices? Use our Supplement Quoting tool to get you started. If you have any questions about what you find, call Seniormark at 937-492-8800. We’re here to help.

 

Resources

7 Reasons Why You Should Choose a Retirement Advisor (Instead of a Salesperson)

7 Reasons Why You Should Choose a Retirement Advisor (Instead of a Salesperson)

Are you turning 65 soon and thinking about retirement? Then buckle up. An onslaught of sales mail is coming your way. You might even get a few sales calls and knocks on your door as well. Salespeople are definitely assertive. And once you are between 3-6 months of your 65th birthday, hundreds of them will be vying for your attention, Medicare Advantage Plans and Supplement insurance extended in hand.

 

But I don’t think you should buy from them.

 

It’s not that I have a special vendetta against salespeople. You just have a better choice available: the reserved, resourceful guys on the fringes of the chaos, just waiting for you to come to them. That’s right, I recommend seeing a retirement advisor, and here’s why:

 

Advisors Have More Certification

I’m not saying there aren’t well-studied salespeople, but it isn’t the norm. An advisor, on the other hand, will almost always have some form of certification. They have to. Because they aren’t just sweet talking you into a healthcare plan, they are working with you to develop a comprehensive retirement strategy based on your unique situation. You need skill to do this. You need to know your industry backwards and forwards. This takes reading the right books and completing the right classes. It takes a certain level of certified expertise.

But be careful: Not all certifications are equal.  Here is a link to some of the most significant certifications.

 

They Specialize

Be leery of those who “specialize” in Medicare Supplements, Long-term care insurance, home and auto, life insurance, annuities, rollovers, and pet insurance. If their list is long and their Santa bag of products is larger, there is a good chance they’re the proverbial Jack-of-all trades who is—unfortunately—a master at none. Typically, an advisor isn’t like this. They will pick a few areas of finance or insurance and specialize. Their specialization leads to mastery. And their mastery leads to good advice and service.

 

They Are Accessible

They have an office space, so you know where to find them. They have office hours, so you know when they are available. When you call, they pick up. When you email, they respond. Predictability is the key. This is because their job isn’t just to sell (although they do this as well); it is to service their products afterwards. Claim issues? Questions? Concerns? An advisor sticks around long enough to tackle them.

 

They Educate You

The goal of an advisor is not to decide for you. It is to educate you, so you can make a decision for yourself. They will give you recommendations, of course. They aren’t just going to slap down 11 supplements, 24 drug plans, and several dozen Advantage Plans and say, “Choose!” But the point is, you make the choice to buy. You know the advantages and disadvantages of different options (because they taught you).  And you become the driving force of your own fate. So when plans go well, you don’t just have an advisor to thank; you can also thank yourself.

 

They Challenge You

Advisors aren’t just “yes men”. They are straight up with you. When you wander onto a questionable path, they care enough to stop you. I remember when a client of ours stormed in, fighting mad about the weak points of his employer plan. He wanted to get off it immediately and onto Medicare. But I knew this was an emotionally charged decision. Sometimes employer plans can be frustrating, but it was going to be way more expensive for him to get on Medicare. It took quite a bit of convincing, but I challenged him. It’s what an advisor does. Your first instincts are not always the best ones.

 

They Give You Time to Process

A lot of salespeople try to communicate something called “urgency”. This isn’t always a bad thing. Some situations are just urgent! For instance, I almost always recommend getting on Medicare when you are first eligible because not doing so can result in life long penalties. But a lot of this communicated “urgency” is just to rush you into buying a product. But advisors give you time to think things over. They realize that you want a methodical approach, a framework for weighing all your options.

 

They Are Client-Centered

 An advisor focuses on you, not the product. The whole process starts with an analysis of your situation and ends with your decision. Advisors advise people that buy products. Salesmen sell products that people buy.  This seems like splitting hairs, but listen to the people around you. Have you ever heard someone say, “Yeah, this guy came by my house and sold me this?” Notice the lack of agency. They didn’t buy it. Someone sold it to them. That is a sure sign of a product-centered approach: a sense of buyer’s guilt and a subtle, underlying regret.

 

Before I end this post, I want to make something very clear. I am not saying that salesmen are bad people. And I am not saying that all advisors are these haloed angels in disguise. But I know what it is like to be on both sides. I’ve worked for a large brokerage firm, a large insurance company, and a large bank. And in all 3, I had the same problem: I felt bound by the ever-present pressure of sales quotas. I tried to advise and do what was best for the client, but—for all intents and purposes—I was a salesperson. My job was to sell products that people buy.

 

Now that I’ve switched sides, I will never go back. The advising side is just better. It is better for clients. And it’s better for everyone, really.

 

But enough about me. Now back to you. You are approaching retirement, readying yourself to leave that stressful job behind and explore new hobbies, new places, and new experiences. Or maybe you just want to stay local and spend more time with family.

But whatever your situation, I want to make a suggestion. As an advisor, I want to advise. Whoever you choose to help you with retirement, makes sure it is someone you can absolutely trust. Makes sure it is a person who is knowledgeable in the area you need the most help. And make sure they aren’t just there to sell products to people, but rather to invest in people who buy products.

 

Your retirement decisions are just that important.

 

If you are confused and interested in some Medicare planning help, click here to sign up for our free workshop! No high-pressure sales pitches here, just in-depth discussion and Q and A about Medicare.