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Medicare benefits: 7 frequently asked questions

Here are seven things all Americans should know about Medicare

Medicare covers, or will eventually cover, virtually all American workers, but this massive health care program isn’t well understood by millions of people. Many don’t know when they will become eligible for Medicare, what it covers (and doesn’t), and what it costs.

With that in mind, here are seven frequently asked questions about Medicare and the answers to each.

1. When can I get Medicare benefits?

Unless you’re disabled, the answer is 65 years old. A common misconception among Americans is that you can get Medicare as soon as you claim Social Security benefits, which can be as early as age 62. Unfortunately, even if you retire early and claim your Social Security benefit early, you’ll have to wait until 65 before you’ll be covered for Medicare.

2. How do I apply for Medicare?

You may not have to. If you’re already receiving Social Security retirement benefits when you turn 65, you’ll be enrolled in Medicare automatically. If this is the case, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Parts A and B of Medicare (more on the parts in a bit), and you can expect to receive your Medicare benefits card about three months before you turn 65.

If you aren’t receiving your Social Security retirement benefit when you turn 65, you’ll have to apply for Medicare, which you can do quite easily on the Social Security Administration’s website. Your initial enrollment period begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday and extends for three months after.

3. What are the “parts” of Medicare?

There are four “parts” of Medicare. Here’s a quick rundown, along with links to learn more about each part:

•Part A is Hospital Insurance, or HI. This primarily covers hospital stays and some stays in skilled nursing facilities.
•Part B is Medical Insurance. This covers doctors’ visits, lab tests, and outpatient procedures, just to name a few.
•Part C is Medicare Advantage. These are plans offered by private companies to provide Medicare benefits.
•Part D is Prescription Drug Coverage. This is optional for beneficiaries.

Parts A and B are collectively referred to as “Original Medicare,” and are generally what’s being referred to when I use the term Medicare.

4. How much does Medicare cost?

Medicare Part A is free for the vast majority of American seniors, but has a deductible of $1,340 per benefit period, as well as coinsurance requirements if your hospital stay lasts more than 60 days or if your skilled nursing stay extends beyond 20 days.

Medicare Part B has a monthly premium. For 2018, the standard monthly premium is $134, but high-income seniors pay significantly more than this. At the high end, seniors with incomes over $320,000 (joint tax return) or $160,000 (individual) have to pay $428.60 per month. In addition, Medicare Part B has an annual deductible of $183 for 2018.

Part D, prescription drug coverage plans, come with an average monthly premium of $35.

5. What does Medicare not cover?

One of the most important things for seniors to know is what Medicare doesn’t cover. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, dental care, eye exams or glasses, dentures, acupuncture, hearing aids, and routine foot care.

This list is what Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn’t cover. Certain Medicare health plans may cover some of these services.

6. What is Medigap?

Since there are many copays and deductibles, private insurers sell Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans, or Medigap plans. There are 10 different varieties of Medigap plans, with Medigap Plan F (the most comprehensive) the most commonly chosen option. While Medigap plans are standardized in terms of the coverage they provide, costs can vary significantly.

7. I have health insurance already through an employer. Do I have to enroll in (and pay for) Medicare at age 65?

It depends what kind of health insurance you have. If you have insurance through your employer or your spouse’s employer and the primary insured is still working, you may not be required to enroll in Medicare as long as the company sponsoring your coverage has at least 20 employees. In this case, you’ll have a special enrollment period after you (or your spouse) retire or leave that employer.

On the other hand, if your insurance is through an employer you’ve already retired from, you still have to sign up at 65. If you are required to sign up for Medicare Part B, and don’t, you’ll face a permanent penalty of 10% of the Medicare Part B premium for every year you were supposed to enroll but didn’t.

It’s also worth noting that since Medicare Part A is free, it generally doesn’t make sense to delay signing up for it, even if you’re not required to. Your employer’s insurance will be your primary coverage, and Medicare will be secondary. However, since Part B comes with a premium, it does make sense to wait if you’re still covered by your employer’s plan.

Source of this content is Matthew Frankel of The Motley Fool via USA Today. Original link found hereShould you want more information on Medicare and Medicare Supplements please call Beck Insurance Agency at 419-446-2777 and ask to speak to either Bill Beck or Natalie GrieserOr click here to request a call back.

How Much Home Insurance is Enough

How Much Home Insurance is Enough

The cost to rebuild your home is its replacement value. This can be very different from the estimated market value or actual purchase price. In most cases, it costs more to rebuild the home you own than to buy a new one.

Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia How much home insurance is right for you?

Based in Archbold, Ohio, Beck Insurance Agency understands the home insurance needs of our customers. We’ll work with you to estimate the replacement cost for your home and to adjust your policy limits from time to time as needed.

It is critical that you provide us with accurate, updated information about your home and contents. If your dwelling limit accurately reflects your home’s true replacement cost, some companies will pay more than the limit if a covered loss is greater than the limit on your policy.

Once a review of your home and possessions indicates you are properly insured, it’s a good idea to reexamine your coverages and limits from time to time, especially whenever you make additions or improvements. Beck Insurance Agency can help you re-evaluate your insurance needs, just give us a call at 419-446-2777 to speak with one of our agents.

Be Sure You Have Enough Homeowners Insurance
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the danger of being seriously underinsured:

1. Call Beck Insurance Agency.  If you have questions or concerns about the limits in your policy, ask us to show you how those amounts were calculated. This will also give you an opportunity to make us aware of any overlooked information.

2. Read your policy. Certain property, such as jewelry, and certain perils, such as earthquake or flood, is better insured or only available separately. Knowing what is covered and for how much will help you insure properly. If there is anything in your policy you don’t understand, contact Beck Insurance Agency at 419-446-2777 and ask for an explanation.

3. Review. At each annual renewal of your policy, you receive a new Policy Declarations page showing limits of coverage and optional coverages. Review this information. If you do any significant remodeling or add a family room, extra bedroom or bathroom, etc., tell us about these changes so your coverage limits can be adjusted to cover the improvement.

4. Consider carefully whether your policy provides all the protection you need. Does it provide coverage for extra costs resulting from building code changes? Does it automatically increase coverage limits annually to keep pace with inflation? Does it provide additional funds if the cost of rebuilding your home exceeds the policy limits?

Make sure you know:

• Will your insurance company stand behind agreed upon repairs after a claim? Some companies are willing to put this guarantee in writing.

• Does your policy include replacement cost coverage for contents (clothing, furniture, appliances, and other personal property inside your home)? If not, you can add it by endorsement. The cost is small, the protection valuable. Replacement Cost Coverage pays for losses to your possessions at the cost of brand new items. Without this option, a covered loss to your personal possessions would be depreciated by their age and condition, reducing the size of your claim settlement.  If you have an art collection, antique furniture, jewelry, or other valuable possessions, talk to your agent about supplemental coverages, such as fine arts or scheduled property endorsements, to adequately protect your investment in these items. The cost is modest for the extra protection, and often the deductible is waived.

Consider whether you should have more coverage for personal property (contents) than your policy provides. Personal property coverage is usually 50-70% of the coverage limit for the structure. . Supplemental protection is available for a small additional premium.  Inventory your home. Prepare an inventory of personal property items, update it periodically, and keep it in a safe place outside your home, such as a safe deposit box at your bank. It will save you hours of time trying to list everything damaged or destroyed if you need to make a claim. It will also help ensure you don’t forget some items. Beck Insurance can advise you on ways to simplify the job of preparing a personal property inventory such as videotaping each room with descriptive information on the sound track.

Personal Liability

Besides making sure you have enough protection to cover possible damage to your own home and contents, you should also evaluate your exposure to liability risks. These result from damage to the property of another, or injury to a person, not a member of your household, for which you can be responsible.  In recent years it’s become common for homeowners to be sued for injuries or damages to others, even when there is no evidence of negligence by the homeowner. The reality today is if you have any appreciable assets, you are exposed to the risk of being sued. Even if you ultimately prevail in court, your legal fees and the months or years of worry and uncertainty can be a terrible burden on you and your family.

The Personal Liability coverage provided by your Homeowners Policy usually provides a limit of $100,000 or $300,000. We recommend increasing this protection with a personal umbrella policy. Not only will it increase your personal liability, but also your auto liability. Limits are available from $1 million to $10 million and beyond. The cost of this coverage is usually very reasonable.
The right coverage for you is unique – talk to Beck Insurance Agency today to find out how to get the best price and value on home insurance for you.

New Hours at Beck Insurance Agency

Effective today Beck Insurance is adopting new office hours. Beck Insurance will be open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am until 4:30 pm.

Evenings and weekends will remain by appointment.

If you have any questions please let us know. It is our pleasure to serve you!

Joe Beck, CIC, VP

Conventional long term care insurance is too expensive now.

Fortunately, many of our life insurance markets have rolled out unconventional products that provide affordable long term care insurance solutions. One such solution available through Beck Insurance is Lincoln Financial Groups “Money Guard II”.

Planning ahead with Lincoln MoneyGuard® II gives you flexible options beginning at age 40. This universal life insurance with an optional long-term care benefit rider gives you a choice of premium payment options of one through 25* years.

Unlike traditional long-term care insurance, your policy costs are set at issue and will never increase provided your premiums are paid as planned and no loans or withdrawals are taken. Your policy provides benefits, even if you never need care, provided all total planned premiums are paid.

You’ve got benefits:

Benefits if you need care

You get more for your money because your policy provides income tax-free reimbursements for qualified long-term care expenses worth more than your premium payments.1 Once eligible, there’s no deductible or waiting period, which could make a real difference in your total out-of-pocket costs for qualified long-term care expenses.

Return of premium Options

You have options. You may choose to maximize your long-term care benefits. A return of 80% of your paid premiums is available once all total planned premiums are paid.3

Or you can maximize your return of premium — 100% return of premium is available after year five, subject to the vesting schedule below, provided all premiums are paid as planned; additional cost applies.3

Vesting schedule
Year 1: 80%
Year 2: 84%
Year 3: 88%
Year 4: 92%
Year 5: 96%
Year 6+: 100%

Stay in control with added advantages

Take the next step toward your future with Lincoln MoneyGuard® II.
1. Add inflation protection options4 to help keep pace with rising long-term care costs.
2. Feel confident if you live abroad because your policy includes international benefits.
3. Help protect your savings and your legacy.

Call Beck Insurance today at 419-446-2777, or click here for more information on alternative, affordable Long Term Care solutions.

Client BrochureClient Guide

7 Tips to Help Keep Your Teen Driver Safe

Getting a driver’s license is an exciting time for teens, but it can be stressful for parents. Drivers who are 16 have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age, and 20% of teens have an accident in their first year of driving.

Like other drivers, teens have some good and bad habits. The good—they are twice as likely to wear seat belts as their parents. The bad—56% of teens use their phones while driving.

Helping create good driving habits involves talking to your teen and being a good example yourself. Some areas to discuss include:

•Phone usage. Avoid talking on the phone. If necessary, use a hands-free device. Absolutely NO texting, social media, or other Internet usage.

•Seat belts. Always wear them and insist your passengers do too.

•Speeding. Obey the speed limit—going over the limit doesn’t add up to getting there much faster.

•Passenger distractions. The more people in the car, the more likely you are to be distracted.

•Plan your playlist. Turn on your playlist before you start driving, and don’t keep changing the song. If you’re listening to the radio, avoid changing the channel. At highway speeds, your car will travel more than the length of a football field in the time it takes to look down at a radio for just a few seconds.

•Yellow means caution. Don’t speed up to chase a yellow light. Likewise, be careful when the light turns green and watch for drivers who may be running a red.

•Say something. If you’re a passenger and feel unsafe, speak up!

When both parents and children pledge to drive safely and hold each other accountable, it is most effective. Agree on rules they—and you—will follow behind the wheel.

Credit to Acuity Insurance!

Toledo Lead Ordinance Deadline Looms

Reminder to all landlords and property investors with owned rentals in Toledo.  The city’s deadline for compliance is fast approaching. (depending on the zone)

I personally own one rental property in Toledo and just found this out by accident.  While reaching out to several of our clients who own similar properties in Toledo I’ve found I wasn’t the only one unaware.  (which is why we are boost posting this all over)

The fines are steep for not being in compliance, so I urge all owners of rental houses in the city of Toledo to visit the Lucas County Health Departments webpage for information. The link is here. You can also search your address to find out what zone your property is in, and what your deadline is.

Joseph D. Beck, CIC, VP

Beck Insurance Agency, Inc.

joe@beckinsurance.com / 877-446-BECK (2325)

Kylie Schultz moves from customer service to sales and consulting role.

Beck Insurance Agency is pleased to announce that Kylie Schultz has moved into a sales and consulting role. Since 2016, Kylie has focused primarily on customer service while learning the industry, products, carriers, and processes.

Kylie’s role going forward will be in personal lines, focusing on Home and Auto Insurance as well as other lines that tend to go along with that.  (boat, RV, motorcycles…..)

Kylie’s objective is to identify and solve your coverage issues by providing solutions and other options available to you, at the fairest rate possible.

She can be reached at kylie@beckinsurance.com / 419-446-2777 / 877-446-2325 (BECK) / Or here via the web

 

 

How to Request an Upgrade to Your DOT Rating

Though your team does a good job managing your operations and you’re proud of your safety performance, you still ended up with a Conditional or Unsatisfactory rating. In other words, the FMCSA auditor has determined that your company failed to have “adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with the safety fitness standard.”

We all understand why a Satisfactory safety rating is important to motor carriers. Negative ratings can bring many repercussions—your fleet is scrutinized on roadways, customers may have concerns about you hauling their goods, there can be a reluctance to pass on available rate increases offered to better-rated carriers, you may get questions from your insurance company’s underwriters and loss control people, and it can be difficult to attract quality drivers. The best drivers tend to align themselves with well-managed carriers who are not being scrutinized by enforcement officers.

One of the interesting things I notice when visiting motor carriers—especially with smaller, well-managed trucking companies that have been in business for many years and have not had large safety issues—is that they can be unaware of how FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program works and how it can drastically affect their company. CSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) uses a motor carrier’s data from roadside inspections, crash reports, and investigations to calculate performance in the 7 Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): unsafe driving, hours-of-service compliance, driver fitness, controlled substances and alcohol, vehicle maintenance, hazardous materials compliance, and crash indicator. Based on BASIC CSA scores, FMCSA determines what interventions are taken against a carrier.

Following a compliance review, one of three safety ratings is issued—Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unsatisfactory—based on the following categories:

1.Documented, adequate safety management controls.
2.Frequency and severity of regulatory violations received by motor carrier.
3.Frequency and severity of driver and vehicle regulatory violations.
4.Frequency and severity of out-of-service driver and vehicle violations.
5.A pattern demonstrating an increase or decrease in similar types of regulatory violations.
6.Frequency of crashes and incident rate are indicators of preventable incidents, whether they are increasing or decreasing.
7.Number and severity of violations of FMCSA regulations.

If you receive a Conditional or Unsatisfactory rating, the first step in obtaining a Satisfactory rating is to understand the deficiencies and controls that were deemed inadequate or missing during your audit. Once your updated safety management plan is developed and you have implemented controls to ensure safety compliance, you will need to provide FMCSA with documentation that deficiencies have been rectified and an upgrade to a Satisfactory rating is an appropriate step for your company.

The FMCSA has a user-friendly guide and accompanying form, 385.17 Upgrade Request, outlining how to request an upgrade to your safety rating based on correction action, or visit Acuity’s Motor Carrier Toolbox to learn more.  Source Acuity Insurance

 

Kids, free ice cream “tickets” are back!

Beck Insurance Agency has once again teamed up with the Archbold Police Department and Rivello McDonalds to encourage Archbold youth to wear their bicycle helmets this summer.

Archbold Police Officers will be “ticketing” kids who are practicing bicycle safety by properly wearing their helmets.  Each ticket is good for 1 free ice cream cone at Rivello’s Archbold McDonalds.

We hope this will continue to promote bicycle safety and build a good relationship between our communities youth and police officers.  Have a great (and safe) summer!!

Don’t make this dangerous Medicare mistake

“I hadn’t gone to a doctor in over 40 years! So I didn’t think I needed an insurance plan to supplement Medicare when I reached age 65, since I was very healthy.”

That’s what a neighbor, Mary, recently told my wife and me as she shared an unfortunate story. She had signed up for Medicare at age 65, but she hadn’t bought either a Medigap plan or a Medicare Advantage plan to supplement Medicare, nor had she signed up for a prescription drug plan under Medicare Part D.

But at age 70, in spite of being in excellent health, Mary suffered a stroke. We were all surprised, given that she dances, practices yoga and tai chi, and walks regularly. She’s slim, athletic, doesn’t smoke and eats very healthily. She’s one of the last people we thought would have a stroke, but we’ve since found out that strokes can strike anybody, including people who are otherwise very healthy.

Mary spent about 10 days in a hospital, followed by many days in a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. Now she’s facing many thousands of dollars in bills for hospital, doctors, physical therapy and rehab charges because she wasn’t aware of Medicare’s high deductibles and co-payments.

As a result of her experience, Mary is now interested in buying a plan to supplement Medicare. The problem is, insurance companies are allowed to apply medical underwriting for Medigap plans once you’re beyond your initial enrollment period at age 65. That means it’s very likely the insurance companies will either deny her outright because of her preexisting condition — the stroke — or they’ll charge her a higher premium.

She can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, but these plans will require her to use the health care providers in their network, instead of the doctors she currently sees.
Here’s how the costs are adding up for Mary for Medicare’s deductibles and co-payments and other items not covered under standard Medicare:

• Medicare Part A applies a $1,340 deductible for each stay in the hospital.
• Medicare Part B applies another $183 deductible for doctor and outpatient services, plus a co-payment of 20 percent of the services of doctors and rehabilitation specialists. These charges are adding up to many thousands of dollars for Mary because her share of 20 percent is a large amount.
• She’s also paying the full freight for drugs she has been prescribed.

If Mary had spent more than 20 days in a skilled nursing facility following her hospital stay, Medicare would have imposed a co-pay of $167.50 for each day after her 20th. Fortunately, she was discharged before the 20-day mark.

The fact is, Mary made a common mistake among retirees who are approaching their Medicare eligibility age: She assumed that because she was healthy at that time, she probably wouldn’t need substantial medical care in the future. This usually turns out to be a short-sighted decision that has unfortunate lifelong implications.

Need a quote?  Click Here.

How many Americans make Mary’s mistake? Let’s try to estimate the number.

According to the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance, 13.1 million Americans owned a Medicare Supplemental Insurance plan (Medigap) in 2016 and 18.5 million Americans participated in Medicare Advantage plans, for a total of 31.6 million people buying some form of insurance to supplement Medicare. However, the population of Americans age 65 and older surpassed 50 million in November 2016, according to the website SeniorCare.

Subtracting the number of seniors with some sort of supplement from the total senior population results in an estimate of around 18 million people who might also be making the same mistake that Mary did. The actual number is most likely much smaller, though, because many people might not need a supplemental policy due to other coverage, such as Medicaid, Tricare or from the Veterans Administration. Still, it’s safe to assume that millions of older Americans are making this mistake.

The bottom line: If you’re approaching age 65, investigate a health care policy to supplement Medicare, no matter how healthy you think you are now. If you’re beyond your initial Medicare enrollment period and don’t have supplemental insurance, check out your options — it’s not too late. You might still qualify for a Medigap plan if you don’t have preexisting conditions.

Alternatively, a Medicare Advantage plan might help you. And you can still enroll in a Medicare Part D plan to cover prescription drugs during Medicare’s next open-enrollment period.
If you’re confused or intimidated by these options, find qualified people who can help you.

At some point in your life, you’ll need more than just Medicare. And your health and well being could depend on getting it.

Credit:  Steve Vernon / CBS Money Watch  Source