The Senior Insider

Am I eligible for a lung cancer screening?

Your first step should be to discuss your concerns about your smoking history with your doctor. You and your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening and decide whether lung cancer screening is right for you.

If screening is recommended, Medicare Part B covers Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) once per year to detect lung cancer for people who currently smoke or were heavy smokers and have no symptoms of cancer.

To qualify for coverage of LDCT, Medicare Part B beneficiaries must meet all of the following conditions:
· You are age 55-77
· You do not have signs or symptoms of lung cancer
· You are a current smoker or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
· You have a history of smoking an average of one pack a day for 30 years
· You have an order from your physician or qualified non-physician practitioner

After the first scan, a written order for the scan can be provided during any visit with your health care provider. A separate counseling visit is not required. Your doctor or other health care provider will also provide information on smoking cessation services to current smokers.

If you have Original Medicare, there is no coinsurance or deductible for the lung cancer screening if you use providers who take assignment. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, your plan will not charge you deductibles, copays, or coinsurances as long as you see in-network providers.

Medicare covers the cost of many preventive services to help keep you healthy, including exams, immunizations, screenings and lab tests, as well as counseling services. You can learn more about Medicare’s preventive services by visiting Medicare.gov and enter preventive services or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and ask for your copy of Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services.
Please contact me if you have questions concerning life, health, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Advantage plans or other insurance questions. I can be reached at 440-255-5700 or Lmutsko@mutskoinsurance.com.

What if I Don’t Enroll in Medicare?

Delaying your enrollment in Medicare can have a lasting impact on your future health-care costs. Before you put off enrolling, be aware of the consequences.

Let’s begin with Medicare Part A. Part A is premium-free if you or your spouse worked and paid taxes for ten years or more. If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A and you delay enrolling, you will be assessed a 10% penalty. You will be charged the penalty for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn’t sign up.

Not enrolling in Medicare Part B when you first become eligible will result in a penalty of 10% of the Part B premium for every 12 months you put off signing up. In most case, you will pay the penalty as long as you have Part B coverage.

There is an exception. You are not required to take Part B if you or your spouse is still working and you have coverage as a result of that employment. Once this qualifying insurance ends, you and your spouse would be able to enroll without penalties.

The late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part D depends on how long you go without Part D or other creditable prescription drug coverage. Medicare calculates the penalty by multiplying 1% of the ‘national base beneficiary premium’ ($35.63 in 2017; $35.02 in 2018) times the number of full, uncovered months you did not have Part D or creditable coverage. You will pay this penalty for as long as you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan.

 

Marc’s is now a Preferred Pharmacy for Aetna & Coventry MAPD & PDP Plans

I am pleased to announce that Marc’s is now a preferred pharmacy for Aetna and Coventry MAPD and PDP plans.W

Preferred pharmacies provide prescription drugs at your lowest copays/coinsurance. This means you may pay less for certain drugs when you fill their prescription at preferred pharmacies like Marc’s. There are 38 Marc’s pharmacies to serve you. For the location of a preferred pharmacy near you, click here:

visithttps://www.aetnamedicare.com/en/prescription-drugs/find-pharmacy.html 

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.

Seniors are Warming Up to Tech Gifts

One of the biggest misconceptions I often hear is that people over age 60 are out of touch with technology. While today’s older adults may not be snap-chatting each other, they are far from being left behind in the tech world. In fact, older adults are figuring out new ways to make the most of gadgets and adapting them to their specific needs.

For example, some older people have difficulty reading normal size text because of vision problems. Others cannot easily get to their local library or bookstore. E-Readers offer an alternative. The text size is adjustable with many low-cost and free resources available. While it takes some time to adjust to not turning paper pages, many find the convenience well worth the trade-off.

Voice activated assistance devices are some of the latest gadget to find favor with seniors. You may know it as an Echo or simply, ‘Alexa” and savvy seniors are increasingly depending on Alexa for a myriad of day to day tasks. They call out to Alexa to set their cooking timer, add items to their shopping list or get quick weather updates. Need a reminder to take a pill?  Ask Alexa to tell you when. Want a new joke when your grandkids are coming for a visit? Ask Alexa. Music can be requested by artist or genre and is the No. 1 reason people use Alexa with sounds — like thunderstorms, rain, and ocean waves — also among the top requests.

While Alexa won’t call 911, the Ask My Buddy feature can be used to alert one or all of your friends, family members, or caregivers via email, message or a phone call of an emergency.

Some people have taken steps to give joint access to their devices to their children or caregivers. For instance, the Find My Phone app can be used to provide location updates for a senior who is traveling. Some are using joint access to their Echo so their family can see they are up and around in the morning or what items are on their shopping list. They say it is less intrusive than being checked up on by phone.

The IPad is one of the most popular devices among older adults. It is easy to operate and offers a wide variety of applications. Some seniors use it to watch television programs with headphones to help with hearing problems. Others enjoy games, internet surfing and free access to newspapers and magazines.

New gadgets can be intimidating and requires patience to become adept at their use. But don’t give up!  Learning new skills is good for everyone, especially seniors, and the benefits far outweigh the frustration of getting through the learning curve.

If you would like to learn more about your health, life or other insurance options, please call me at 440-255-5700 or email me at Lmutsko@mutskinsurance.com.  We can discuss the various options and I will help you find the right insurance plan for you.

2018 Dates for Getting Started with Medicare Seminars

Get the facts on Medicare. Join me for one of these upcoming

Getting Started with Medicare Seminars

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mentor Library-Main Branch

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

8215 Mentor Ave., Mentor, OH 44060

440-255-8811 x216

 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Kenston Community Education

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Gardiner Center C7, 9421 Bainbridge Rd., Chagrin Falls, OH 44023

440-543-2552

 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chagrin Falls Community Education

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

400 E. Washington St., Chagrin Falls, OH 44022

440-247-5375

 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Eastlake Library

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

36706 Lake Shore Blvd., Eastlake, OH 44069

440-942-7880

 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Willoughby Hills Library

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

35400 Chardon Rd., Willoughby, Hills, OH 44094

440-942-3780

 

 

The Ins and Outs of Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance means many things to different people. Some people are looking for protection against trip cancellation. Others are more concerned about emergencies, such as evacuations, rental car losses or terrorism. Some are looking for plans that cover just about anything and everything that could go wrong during a trip.

Unfortunately, many people overlook the kind of emergency they are most likely to encounter which is an accident or health care emergency. Don’t take risks. Contact your health insurance agent or provider and make sure your health plan covers you during your travels

If you’re not on Medicare, your health insurance policy may cover you anywhere in this country and sometimes abroad. If you are on Original Medicare, you will not be covered while you are in Europe, Asia or on some cruises.

Government health insurance, including Original Medicare and many other health insurance plans do not pay for medical care, evacuations, prescriptions or supplies you receive outside the U.S. except in very limited situations. For example, on a cruise Original Medicare may cover medically necessary health care services you receive on board the ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S. However, Medicare will NOT pay for health care services you get when a ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port, regardless of whether or not it’s an emergency.

Because of these limitations, it is a good idea to consider travel medical insurance, especially if you have a preexisting or chronic condition. Travel medical insurance policies are designed to pick up where your primary health plan leaves off and offer a choice of varying limits and coverage. If you do not have health coverage, some plans act as primary insurance while you are out of the country.

Please keep in mind that this is general information and your circumstances or insurance coverage may be different. You need to talk to your insurance company or agent to verify your coverage.

If you would like to learn more about travel medical insurance, call me at 440-255-5700 or email me at Lmutsko@mutskoinsurance.com. A travel medical insurance plan can be the difference between a trip ruined by unexpected illness or injury, versus a trip with access to quality care and financial help should an emergency arise.

E.R., Urgent Care Center or Other Choices.

Imagine. Your doctor’s office is closed for the weekend and you are hit with a sudden illness or a painful injury. The conventional choice has been to head for the hospital emergency room and plan on a long wait for treatment.

But, today, there is a shift away from using hospital emergency rooms for non-life threatening emergencies. Hospital costs are skyrocketing and insurers are passing a bigger portion of these costs on to the patients.

There are a growing number of good alternatives to the ER for those times when you need immediate attention, including:

Urgent Care Centers: Most urgent care are equipped to handle a wide array of non-life threatening health needs, including fevers, coughs, sprains and stitches. Some give you the option of checking in online so you can avoid long delays in crowded waiting rooms. Most urgent care clinics offer extended hours and are open seven days a week, including holidays.

Video visits with a physician: You can skip the waiting room completely by doing a video visit. Video visits provide access to board-certified doctors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all from the comfort of your home, office or anywhere you have an internet connection. Video visits are most often used for common complaints, such as upper respiratory infections, allergies, flu symptoms and coughs. The physician you chat with online is able to assess your condition and send prescriptions to your pharmacy, with some insurance plans covering 100% of the cost.

24/7 nurse line:  Many health insurance plans now have a 24/7 nurse line that you can call for help determining the severity of your symptoms and advice on where to go for care.

In non-emergency situations, it is best to call your doctor’s office first. They may want to see you or suggest their preferred alternatives to the emergency room.  Your insurance provider can also help you find a conveniently located, licensed and accredited care setting and determine whether your plan covers the alternative facility’s services.

I want to stress that you should always call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room in any life threatening situation including:

  • Chest pains, shortness of breath and signs of heart attacks
  • Signs of stroke
  • Poisoning
  • Severe cuts or limb threatening injuries
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings