Monday, November 19, 2007

More private health insurance companies market to early retirees; what happens at age 65?

MSNBC and the AP have a recent story "Insurers catering to early retirees: Baby boomers are financially stable, and they don't qualify for Medicare, yet" here (Oct. 31, 2007). Many people have been "forced" to retire early and may have inadequate health insurance, and some companies do not offer it at all.

I do have health insurance from United Health Care from ING, and it is about 2/3 company paid, but still a high-deductible plan with only 70% inpatient hospital coverage costs about $200 a month out of pocket. I am holding off on some things (like hernia surgery) until I am 65 and inpatient care is "free". Is that a market-driven decision? UHC does offer extremely effective in-network discounts for out of pocket expenses (up to 70% discount on most procedures). Medicare eligibility starts at 65, and requires a premium for Part B, but not for Part A if the employee had enough FICA credit (40 quarters) to qualify for social security. Apparently, my ING policy becomes supplementary (like many Blue Cross Blue Shield supplementary policies for seniors) when I reach 65 as Medicare would cover much of the expense, but I will have to pay a Part B premium of almost $100 and may want Part D (but my ING plan covers many prescription drugs much better than Medicare does).

Other references on Medicare eligibility: Moheban Law Firm


Medicare PDF document is here. This covers 2007. Note the discussion of Medigap policies and the copays and deductibles even for Part A hospitalization, on P 44. It conveys a sense of how difficult it is to cover unlimited health care expenses for seniors. (We [Michael Moore, anyway] ask, then, what about Canada? Britain?)

Medicare enrollment

I followed the questionnaire this morning and eventually reached this page:

The following is a listing of the Medicare premium, deductible, and coinsurance rates that will be in effect in 2008:

Medicare Premiums for 2008:

Part A: (Hospital Insurance) Premium

Most people do not pay a monthly Part A premium because they or a spouse has 40 or more quarters of Medicare-covered employment.

The Part A premium is $233.00 per month for people having 30-39 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.
The Part A premium is $423.00 per month for people who are not otherwise eligible for premium-free hospital insurance and have less than 30 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.

Part B: (Medical Insurance) Premium

$96.40 per month*

Medicare Deductible and Coinsurance Amounts for 2008:

Part A: (pays for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and some home health care) For each benefit period Medicare pays all covered costs except the Medicare Part A deductible (2008 = $1,024) during the first 60 days and coinsurance amounts for hospital stays that last beyond 60 days and no more than 150 days.

For each benefit period you pay:

A total of $1,024 for a hospital stay of 1-60 days.
$256 per day for days 61-90 of a hospital stay.
$512 per day for days 91-150 of a hospital stay (Lifetime Reserve Days).
All costs for each day beyond 150 days

Skilled Nursing Facility Coinsurance

$128.00 per day for days 21 through 100 each benefit period.

Part B: (covers Medicare eligible physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment)

$135.00 per year. (Note: You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for services after you meet the $135.00 deductible.)

The specific link was this:

Today show discusses Sandwich generation

This morning (Monday Nov 19) the NBC Today show again discussed the caregiving responsibilities of the "sandwich generation" many of whom cope with eldercare, raising children and work (with some employers who may resist family responsibility time off). Tom Nelson from the AARP appeared. I could not find the web link for this specific item yet (despite the fact that the show said it should be there) but the website for the Today show is this.

I'll add a link from "New Retirement", blog here.

Update: Nov. 24

A story on another blog mentions stability of bonds and oil prices, certainly important now to retirees, here.

I followed up on Nov. 26 with another report on a USA Today story on the same topic, and investigated further, and found some contradictions. Link.

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