News Articles

Where to Keep Your Will

I was recently asked for my advice on where to store important documents. With so many of us relying on computers today, safe deposit boxes and in-home fire boxes may seem terribly out of date. However, each of these storage devices has a place in safe-keeping our records.

It is a good idea to keep hard copies of your will, power of attorney forms and any advance directives where they are safe, but easily accessible. Hospitals usually request a copy of your medical power of attorney and living will any time you are admitted for treatment. A trusted family member or the person you designate as your representative should know where to find these papers so your wishes will be followed in the event of an unexpected emergency.
Many people mistakenly keep their only copy of these documents in a bank safe deposit box. But storing them in a bank may prevent anyone from accessing them when they are needed. Banks usually require court papers before they allow anyone other than you to open your safe deposit box.

Bank safe deposit boxes remain your best choice for protecting jewelry, valuables and original documents you do not need often, including original birth certificates, property deeds, social security cards, paper bonds and securities.

As an added level of security, you can duplicate and store copies of important papers on a computer thumb drive kept with your valuables. Consider duplicating these:
– Insurance policies and agent contact information
– Original will and powers of attorney
– Passport
– Digital files of family photos
– Living wills and advance care directives

One last suggestion . . . keep a list of your access information and passwords for your digital files in a safe storage location or a secure website. Include access information for your computer, cellphone, bank records, google account and other social media accounts and let someone you trust know where to find this info. This step will save you time and frustration in case you are unable to access your accounts on your own.

Safeguarding your documents and valuables is a personal decision. You may want to discuss your situation and needs with a lawyer, financial advisor or other trusted professional.

How to Avoid Problems with a New Insurance Plan

Every year, many people like you take the opportunity during the Open Enrollment period to make changes in their insurance. If you made changes, there are a few things you can do now to avoid problems getting started with your new plan.

1. If you are dropping any insurance coverage including Medicare Supplements, Vision or Dental coverage, make sure you have cancelled you coverage with your insurer. Your insurance may not be automatically cancelled when you switch plans. Although some companies will cancel and make changes over the phone, others require a written request so give your insurer a call and ask what they require.

2. Cancel your automatic withdrawals for your old plan. I recommend you cancel your withdrawal with the insurance company and then follow up with a call to your financial institution to make sure the automatic withdrawal is stopped.

3. Tell your doctor that you have different insurance. If your doctor unknowingly files for reimbursement with the wrong insurance company, it will cause confusion and delays in payment. Let your doctors know about your new plan the first time you see them in 2018.

4. Check your Prescription Drug coverage to find out which pharmacies are the preferred pharmacies for your plan. If it is a different pharmacy than the one you have been using, arrange to transfer your prescriptions now so they have your information ahead of time. You should also present your new insurance cards to your pharmacy before you need your next prescription. Don’t wait until you need a refill or have an emergency before you make this change.

5. Determine whether your new plan has different requirements for your prescriptions. Some plans may require a pre-authorization before your prescription will be filled. Take steps ahead of time to let your physician know what is required by your new plan.

For your other questions on Life, Health, Dental, Vision, Annuities or Medicare Advantage Plans, please contact me at 440-255-5700 or email Lmutsko@mutskoinsurance.com.

Who is Responsible for Grandkids’ Health Care?

An increasing number of grandparents are taking on the responsibility of the care and upbringing of their grandchildren. In fact, more than 100,000 grandparents in Ohio are raising their grandchildren today. How to provide for their health care is a pressing concern for many.
Your options for health insurance for your grandchild will depend on a number of factors, including your legal status and whether you have employer provided health insurance.

What is your legal relationship? Is your arrangement to care for your grandchild informal or have you been established as his or her legal guardian or custodian? If you lack legal guardianship or custody of your grandchild, it is likely to be more difficult for you to seek medical insurance for him.

Will you claim your grandchild as a dependent on our federal income tax return? You need to be aware that a grandparent who claims a grandchild as a dependent on his or her federal income tax return is responsible for obtaining health insurance for that child. The penalty for not insuring your grandchild can be costly.

Do you have employer provided health insurance?  If you are working and have insurance through your employer, contact your human resource department and health insurance company to find out whether your grandchild can be covered under your policy. There is no clear cut rule concerning insuring grandchildren. You will likely have to prove that you have legal guardianship of your grandchild in order for your insurance provider to accept him/her as a dependent child.

Other insurance options.  Relative caregivers may apply for free or low-cost health and dental insurance for the children they are raising through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program provides health coverage to eligible children through both Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. Check with your state insurance department to find out if your grandchild qualifies. If you have questions, you can contact me at 440-255-5700 or email your questions to me at Lmutsko@mutskoInsurance.com. I look forward to serving you.

New Medicare Cards to be Issued

Medicare will mail new Medicare cards to all Medicare beneficiaries between April 2018 and April 2019. Your new card will have a new number that’s unique to you using a combination of eleven letters and numbers, replacing your Social Security number. The new card will not change your coverage or benefits.
This change in ID numbers is required by a law enacted two years ago and will help to reduce identity theft. You do not need to take any action to get your new Medicare card. Until you receive a new card in the mail, you should take steps to protect your current card. Do not carry your Medicare card unless you are on your way to a health care appointment. Instead, make a copy and black out all but the last four digits.
Be wary that scammers may devise ways to take advantage of you during the transition to the new cards. Do not be fooled if someone calls or visits you demanding you allow them to switch out your card. Medicare will not send someone to your home or phone you asking for personal information such as your Medicare number. Other points to remember:
• Medicare does not email or visit homes unannounced to “update’ or “verify” data that it already has.
• Medicare will never threaten you with a loss of your benefits for not making an immediate change.
• If you receive a phone call about this, ignore that your caller-id may show that the call is from Medicare or CMS. This is likely a phony caller-id that helps the scammers look more believable.
• When in doubt, contact the Medicare helpline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-633-4227.

If you would like to learn more about Medicare, please join me for my class, Getting Started with Medicare. You will find a list of upcoming classes at www.mutskoinsurance.com/seminars. For all other questions on insurance, including life, health, dental, vision and Medicare Advantage plans, contact me at 440-255-5700. I look forward to helping you.

Please explain more about the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS).

The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) is a survey of people who currently have Medicare. It is used to provide feedback to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on how people get their health care, the rising cost of health care, and how satisfied people are with their care. The information is used to help CMS better understand the needs of Americans on Medicare.
You may be selected to be a part of the sample group of 16,000 individuals who are asked to participate in this survey each year. Letters from Medicare go out to potential participants in late summer explaining that someone from NORC at the University of Chicago will be in touch to set up an interview.
A professional interviewer will contact you in person or by phone to setup a visit. If you agree to participate in the study, the interview will take about one hour. Your participation in the survey is strictly voluntary.
Those selected to participate represent thousands of other people similar to them. If you are selected, literally no one else can take your place in the study. All of your information will be strictly confidential as prescribed by The Federal Privacy Act of 1974. Your participation is voluntary and your Medicare benefits cannot be affected in any way by the answers that you provide, or by whether or not you choose to participate.
If you are invited to participate and would like to verify your selection in this study, please contact NORC toll free at 1-877-389-3429. You can also visit the respondent website at www.mcbs.norc.org for more detailed information.
The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey is important to the future of Medicare. Please consider helping in this national effort to improve your Medicare program.

Do Marketplace insurance plans cover mental health and substance abuse services?

Yes.  All Marketplace insurance plans cover mental health and substance abuse services as an essential health benefit.

Health insurance plans available in the Marketplace must cover 10 categories of essential health benefits. One of these categories is mental health and substance abuse services, also known as substance use disorder.

These services include behavioral health treatment, such as psychotherapy and counseling. They also include mental and behavioral health inpatient services and substance use disorder treatment.  There is a full list of what each plan covers in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Mental and behavioral health and pre-existing conditions
Marketplace plans can’t deny you coverage or charge you more just because you have a pre-existing condition. This includes mental health and substance use disorder conditions.
Coverage for treatment of pre-existing conditions begins as soon as your Marketplace coverage is in effect. There’s no waiting period for coverage of these services.

There are also no lifetime or yearly dollar limits for mental health services. Marketplace plans can’t apply yearly or lifetime dollar limits on coverage of essential health benefits which includes benefits for mental health and substance use disorder services.
Parity protections for mental health services

Marketplace plans must provide certain “parity” protections between mental health and substance abuse benefits on the one hand, and medical and surgical benefits on the other.
This means that in general, limits applied to mental health and substance abuse services can’t be more restrictive than limits applied to medical and surgical services. The kinds of limits covered by the parity protections include:

· Financial, like deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket limits
· Treatment, like limits to the number of days or visits covered
· Care management, like being required to get authorization of treatment before getting it

(taken from HealthCare.gov)

 

Allergy Strategies before Medicine

How to keep your spring allergies in check.

Suffering from springtime allergies?  Your first impulse may be to reach for allergy medicines. Instead, think about taking some practical steps to help reduce the pollen, dust mites and other allergens inside your home. 

1.  Windows: Wash curtain and wipe down blinds. Keep windows closed to keep pollen outside.

2.  Bedding: Wash pillowcases, sheets and blankets regularly – at least once a week or more. Cover your pillows, mattress and box springs with covers that are dust-mite-proof.  

3.  Stuffed Animals:  If you cannot wash your kids’ stuffed animals, run them through an air fluff cycle in the dryer. Store stuffed animals in a plastic bin to keep dust to a minimum.

4.  Clothing:  Leave your shoes at the door, change your clothes and take a quick shower after being outside to reduce pollen inside your home.

5.  Flooring:  Replace carpeting with hardwood floors, tile and linoleum.  All of these harbor  fewer allergens than carpeting and rugs. If you cannot replace your carpeting, wash your rugs regularly and deep clean your carpeting.

6.  Smoking:  Allergies are simply one more reason to ask smokers not to light up inside your home.



Search for Unclaimed Funds

The Department of Commerce has released a new list of unclaimed funds accounts.  You may have hundreds, even thousands of dollars waiting for you to claim.

Unclaimed funds are accounts that have gone dormant. They may be a forgotten insurance policy, an uncashed check or a forgotten rent, phone or electricity deposit.  More than 53,000 claims were paid out in 2013, with each one averaging $1292.

An updated list of unclaimed funds accounts is available on the Department of Commerce’s Online Treasure Hunt at http://www.com.ohio.gov/unfd/.  The website also has forms for individuals and organizations to use in claiming their money.

Anyone with questions about unclaimed funds can call the Division toll free at 1-877-644-6823 (OHIO UCF).