Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

Posts Tagged ‘Insurance’

September 3, 2013

Long Term Care Insurance Premiums for Women to Rise 30% or More

Because women represent most of the long term care claims, major insurance companies will be rolling out their new gender-based pricing. That means, by the end of the year, female premiums will increase by 30-40%. However, this does not affect premiums for women who apply before the increase takes effect.

According to the Department of Health Services, 70% of Americans will need long term care in their retirement years. As part of a strong financial safety net, every family should have a long term care protection strategy. Strategy options include: purchasing traditional long term care insurance and/or designating a specific asset(s) to cover the potential costs of long term care. Having a long term care plan in place helps to maintain quality of life, while minimizing the burden on the family.

by Guest Author Denise Michaud ( is an independent insurance broker specializing in Long Term Care Planning and a consultant for the California Partnership for Long Term Care.

March 22, 2013

The Best Birthday Present, Ever

For my upcoming 65th birthday, the Federal Government will start “gifting” me several thousand dollars each year for the rest of my life.  Come April, I am eligible for Medicare, which in effect transfers a significant share of the cost of my healthcare to the Federal government.  I was walking on air when I got my little red, white and blue eligibility card.  This is hands-down the most valuable birthday present I have ever received.

Gone will be a $600 per month (and rising) premium for a high-deductible health insurance plan.  Gone also will be most of my out-of-pocket medical costs.  In place of expenses that typically have run between $8,000-$10,000, I will instead be out-of-pocket $3,000-$5,000 per year.  What to do with this four figure annual windfall is a pleasant dilemma.

As excited as I am at this “found” money – and I am, no kidding – there is this nagging problem. Someone is going to have to pay for the shortfall between the actual (e.g. market) costs of my coverage and what I will pay in Medicare premiums and share of cost.  Studies show this shortfall to average in excess of $100,000 per person over a current retiree’s lifetime. With 50 million Americans receiving Medicare today, rising to a projected 80 million over the next 20 years, it is not hard to understand why Medicare’s own projections show it facing an unfunded liability of $35 trillion.  How the government is going to pay this inconceivable amount over the next 20-30 years is a question that no one has yet been able to answer.

As they say, what cannot go on forever, won’t.  We are going to have to come to terms with the reality that that we either pay more in taxes to sustain current subsidies, find a politically acceptable way to significantly reduce costs and/or trim Medicare benefits. But while I wait for the political forces to figure this problem out, I am unhesitatingly seizing my opportunity to join the millions of American seniors already enjoying their Medicare “free ride,” courtesy of our Federal government.

NB:  The time to sign up for Medicare Parts A & B is the period three months before to three months after your 65th birthday.  You can do so quite easily here.

March 1, 2013

A Must Read

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, Time magazine’s cover story on healthcare, should be the one thing every American reads this year. Author Steven Brill concludes that we have been debating entirely the wrong question. It is not “Who should pay for healthcare” that we should be arguing about, but ‘Why healthcare in the US costs so much more, for the same or less result, than in any other developed nation?”

Brill finds a healthcare delivery and billing system rife with conflicts of interest and incentivized to increase costs. It is a system where providers have all the cost and pricing information. Consumers have little bargaining power, and third party payers are losing theirs. Over-provision of services is not just common, it is the norm, as is a fantastical concept called the “Chargemaster.”

Brill’s is a long article but written with the depth of research and clarity you would expect in a book, not a news magazine article. Anyone concerned about the cost of healthcare, or our nation’s finances, needs to read it.

At nearly 20% of GDP, the cost of healthcare in the US acts as a brake on our productive capacity. And it is a major contributor to our government’s deficit with Medicare/Medicaid now representing 24% of our Federal Government’s spending. Healthcare is one of the few budget areas that is not shrinking. The only way we are going to get our national debt problem under control will be to address face-on our structural problem with healthcare delivery and finance. To do that will require a body politic and a public ready to face some difficult truths.





November 1, 2012

Highly Recommended

The Waiting Room follows 24 hours at an ER in Oakland, CA.  To my mind, it is neither sensationalist nor political.  It just tells the story, with great compassion, of the realities of living without medical insurance or access to primary care in America today.  If you have ever thought about healthcare delivery in the US, you should see this film.

October 2, 2012

Medicare Part D Premium Increases

Reuters is reporting that double digit average price increases are expected for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in 2013.  That, and a good discussion of the infamous “donut hole” and related Medicare coverage issues, can be found here.

September 30, 2012

Medicare Open Enrollment, Oct 15-Dec 7, 2012

Medicare enrollees can review and change their Part D, Medicare Advantage or Supplemental Insurance plans once a year during this time period.  It is an opportunity to comparison shop, especially if your health needs have changed.

The surprisingly readable, if long, Medicare Handbook, explaining Parts A, B and D, Medicare Advantage and Supplemental Insurance Plans can be found here.

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