Tag: Medicare Dayton Ohio

Attention Seniors…Beware of Sharks!

A feeding frenzy is about to begin.  No, I am not talking about real sharks.  I am referring to the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).  The Annual Enrollment Period is the time of year, set aside by Medicare, during which Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in or change their Medicare Advantage or Prescription drug plans.  The AEP runs from October 15 to December 7, although insurance companies and agents can begin marketing to you beginning October 1st.

The problem arises due to the fact that this is the only time of the year that insurance companies and agents can market their Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans to you – unless you are new to Medicare.  In my opinion, this leads to very aggressive marketing behavior.  Now don’t get me wrong, just like every shark in the ocean is not out to bite you, not every agent and insurance company is out to take advantage of you, but you do need to be aware.

So what steps can you take to protect yourself?

Know what you have.  It is extremely important to know what type of plan you have.  Do you have Traditional Medicare Parts A&B paired with a Medicare Supplement policy, or do you have Part C of Medicare which is a Medicare Advantage plan?  If you have a Medicare Supplement policy, what plan do you have (A – N)?  If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, do you have a HMO, PPO or PFFS plan?  Do you have a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan or is it part of your Medicare Advantage plan?  These are all important questions to ask yourself.

Know what you should do.  The first thing you should know is that you don’t have to do anything, unless your plan is terminated for some reason.  If that is not the case, and you are completely happy with your plan, you can just leave everything “as is.”  With that said, it is important to review any benefit, premium or formulary changes to your plan.  If you have a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan, your plan will send you an “Annual Notice of Change” packet explaining any changes to your plan for 2013.  Don’t assume that because your medication was covered this year that it will automatically be covered next year.  Finally, don’t let any agent or insurance company lead you to believe that you have to make any changes.

Know what you can/can’t do.  There are a lot of rules surrounding Medicare, so be careful when you do make any changes.  Some changes could get you disenrolled from a plan you didn’t intend to get disenrolled from.  Don’t assume all agents know these rules.

Know what agents can/can’t do.  It is important to know that agents cannot cold call you in any way, meaning that if you didn’t invite them, they can’t contact you – except by mail.  Be careful when requesting free information whether by mail or on the internet.  Many times when you request this free information, you have just given an agent permission to contact you.  If you have made this mistake in the past, you know how many phone calls you can get.  The Ohio Department of Insurance put out an excellent flyer called, “Medicare & You: Understanding & Protecting Yourself from Predatory Sales practices.”  You can view this form on their website.

Work with a trusted advisor.  When you do have questions or need to make changes to your plan, make sure you work with a trusted advisor.  An advisor is someone who listens to you and helps you find a plan that is right for you based on all the options available.  A salesperson is someone who will tell you what you want to hear so they can sell you a product.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, so do your homework on this one.  How long have they been in the business?  Are they a jack of all trades or do they focus on senior insurance?  Do they have a local office?  Do they have a website to help you research your options?  Do they work with someone you know who can vouch for them?  Are they available during working hours to help you, or do you just get their voicemail?

If you will do your homework and become knowledgeable in these five areas, you will have come a long way in protecting yourself and making sure you don’t get bitten when the feeding frenzy begins October 1st.

Stock Market Returns without the Risk…Are you kiddin me?

Am I kidding you?  ABSOLUTELY!

If you have retired recently, or are going to be retiring soon, you have probably been hit up to purchase an Equity Indexed Annuity (EIA).  No?  Oh, that’s probably because the financial service industry has done a bang up job of marketing.  You may not have even been told it’s an annuity.  You’ve probably heard how you can get “Stock Market Returns without Risking your principal.”  WOW!  If that were the case, who wouldn’t do it.  The sad truth is, retirees are doing it by the truckloads.

Total 2011 indexed annuity sales set a record at $32.3 billion dollars, capping off a fourth consecutive record year.  So why are retirees flocking to these investments while the state insurance departments and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has issued warnings about these products (click here to see the FINRA warning)?  The answer is simple.  Financial salespeople motivated by large commissions and incentives!

Now, before I get a bunch of angry emails from EIA reps…Can an Equity Indexed Annuity ever be a good choice?  Possibly, but you probably won’t find it from the rep who is inviting you to a free dinner seminar or giving you a “complimentary consultation.”  So, how do you protect yourself?  Knowledge!  You need to know enough about the product to recognize it when you see it.  So keep reading and you will…

An EIA is simply an annuity that links its return, interest rate, payout, annual credit (whatever they may call it) to the return of an associated index…typically the S&P 500.  In other words, the return you get on your money will be linked to what the S&P 500 index return is for the year.  Sounds simple enough…but the truth is that it is far from simple.  These products are extremely complex and the crediting methods are even more.  The return you get may be tied to the S&P 500, but it is far from equal to that return.  Why?  Because the insurance company has to guarantee your principal.  Let’s just say they compensate themselves by taking part of your return, charging you a fee or both.

Most plans take part of your return by setting a cap on the return they pass on to you or setting what is called a participation rate.  For example, they may set a cap of 8 % meaning you will get whatever the S&P 500 returns for the year up to a maximum of 8%.  So, if the S&P returns 6% for the year then you get 6 %.  If it returns 15% for the year, you only get 8%.  A participation rate is similar but is a percentage of the total return.  For example, 90% participation rate would mean you get 90% of whatever the S&P 500 returns for the year.

“So what is the problem?” you may be asking.  Join me for Part 2 of this series where I will discuss some of the problems and what you can do to protect yourself.

New and improved website~

Things are changing all over the place at Seniormark! We are so excited about these changes, because it means we will be able to provide the same excellent service our clients are used to, while being able to add even more ways of teaching and expanding the knowledge base of our clients.

Today’s exciting announcement is that our website has been completely redesigned and has a fresh new look! We hope you will head over there and take a peek. We will continually update it with new videos, keep our prices current, etc.  Bookmark it and visit often for changes!

Please check out the new website at https://www.seniormark.com and let us know what you think!

We moved!

 

Our Sidney office has moved!  It’s just temporary, but for the time being our office is located at:

1271 Wapakoneta Avenue 

Sidney, OH 45365

(Yes, we are just down the street from our old office!)

Our phone number is staying the same….so you can still contact us at 937-492-8800 or toll free at 877-492-8803.

Our Troy office is not affected by this move.

The Two Faces of Your Financial Planner

I recently read an excellent article in AARP Magazine about the inherent conflict of interest that many so called “financial planners” have and what they do to hide it from you.  It’s the same thing I have been teaching people about for over 15 years and why I am a “fee only” Certified Financial Planner™.

Definitely worth the time…what you don’t know can hurt you!

Announcing our summer gas card giveaway!

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SUMMER GAS CARD GIVEAWAY!

Celebrate summer with our gas giveaway!!!  We will be giving away a $200 gas card to a random person the week of August 1, 2012. 

It’s easy to enter!  Just tell people about us!!  You will receive one entry for every person that calls and tells us that you sent them.  So, the more you spread the word, the more chances you’ll have in the drawing!

They do not need to purchase anything for you to be eligible.  However, they do need to mention your name during their first phone call to our office or their first workshop they attend, so make sure you remind them!

As always, our current clients will still receive a $20 gift card to Bob Evans for every referral.  But during the Summer Giveaway your fun is doubled because your name will also be thrown in the hat for our free gas card.

Good luck to everyone!

Announcing……our next Medicare Workshop!

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Are you turning 65 and wondering what the next step is?

We will be holding our next Medicare Solving The Medicare Puzzle Workshop:

Tuesday, May 15 @ 5:30 pm – Location: Sidney office — 1602 Wapakoneta Avenue.

This is an introductory session explaining the 4 parts of Medicare and what an individual’s options are when they turn 65 or retire and go on Medicare.  We have had an excellent response to these workshops, so if you know of someone who could benefit, please let them know.

Seating is limited, so please RSVP:  Toll Free – 877-492-8803, or comment on this post!