Blindly Renewing 2013 Medicare Plans Could be a Mistake

The modest projected increases for Medicare 2013 Advantage Plans are nothing compared to the double-digit increases predicted for some Medicare prescription drug plans in Part D. medicare2012In a recent article published in Morningstar, it’s not the year for what the author terms “inertia” — that only one in three Medicare participants will comparison shop this fall. We agree, and encourage our clients and their families to review and compare Medicare plans as soon as possible before the December 7 cut off.

Who is subject to the largest increases? According to research and advisory services firm, Avalere Health, Medicare Part D is expected to rise by 6% next year, but that the biggest spike is from Humana Walmart’s Preferred PX Plan – a whopping 23% increase in premiums. Cigna Medicare RX Plan and First Health Part D Value Plus will increase 15%, and overall  seven of the current top 10 prescription drug plans have double digit increases in premiums. You see the chart here for the Top Ten Medicare prescription drug plans and their projected premium increases or on the Avalere report.

On the bright side, Avalere found some low-cost options too. Remember, not all plans are available in all areas, so be sure to check to see if any of these increases or decreases in Medicare plan coverages apply to your specific area of the country.

Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

halloween witchAs Halloween approaches, I can’t help but think of the throngs of happy ghosts, goblins, witches, ballerinas, spidermen, and vampires that will soon trample our landscapes and beg for candy on our doorsteps. But the dark side of the season also brings to mind how our elders can so easily be trampled upon as well.

The financial elder abuser stalks day and night. It could be a professional thief, an unassuming neighbor who drops in for coffee periodically, or even an unscrupulous relative.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Caregivers or family members who isolate the senior or prevent the senior from speaking for themselves
  • An uptick in the frequency of bank account withdrawals
  • Unusual credit card charges that don’t make sense
  • ATM withdrawals when the senior is home-bound

Sadly, the abuse could be committed by family members as well as complete strangers. Be sure a responsible, trustworthy person serves as your parent’s agent to be sure your parent’s money is used only for their benefit. Name a trustworthy power of attorney for finance.

This may mean some painful but frank conversations with family members about loans, gifts and receipt keeping. It may mean checking the senior’s finances on a regular basis, looking for fraud or outright theft. Better yet, find a certified professional to monitor the finances for you.

Be sure the goblins in yours and your elder parents’ lives are the harmless kind. And enjoy the haunting!