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Monday, August 26, 2013

Medicare and the New Insurance Marketplaces

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Every week, "Medicare Monday" features a Medicare question or issue. If there is a Medicare-related topic you would like to be addressed here, please write in to ask@lawforthelonghaul.com. Please, do not send any information that should be kept private. Your question may be edited to appear on this site. 

Q:    I'm on Medicare. What do I need to know about the new insurance marketplaces from the Affordable Care Act? Do I need to sign up?

 

A:   No, you do not need to sign up. If you have Medicare, you are already covered. Your benefits are not changing because of the new insurance marketplaces (also known as "exchanges"). 

Publicity about the new insurance marketplaces can be confusing. However, those covered by Medicare will not be affected. Keep in mind that, in spite of new changes in the law:

  • You will not lose Medicare coverage.
  • You do not need a new Medicare card.
  • You do not have to re-enroll in your Medicare advantage or supplement plan through the marketplaces.
  • You do not have to buy supplemental insurance if you have Medicare.
  • You will not fined if you don't buy coverage in the marketplaces as long as you have Medicare Part A.

***This is not an official statement by Medicare or any organization affiliated with Medicare. It is my own interpretation of the Medicare rules and offered solely as general information, not as personalized advice. To answer specific questions about your own situation, please, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE(4227) or visit Resources to find your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program.***
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Friday, August 23, 2013

End of the Week Review

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This week on Law for the Long Haul:

This week, elsewhere: 

Thanks and take care!


 
Via Youtube
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Veteran Retires at 71, After Over 50 Years of Service

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"Thankful Thursday" is a time for us to share a heartwarming story, express our gratitude, and reflect on the week. If you have something you would like to see featured here, please write to: tips@lawforthelonghaul.com.

Major Bill Ray has served in the military since he joined the Army in 1959. He joined the Reserves, then returned to the Army in 1970, worked in intelligence, "retired" in 1990, became a Department of Army Civilian ("DAC), went to Kuwait, served three tours in Iraq, "retired" again, taught in Arizona, and then last year, heading to Afghanistan at the Army's request. 


Now, at age 71, he has returned from his tour of duty overseas and says he is ready to retire for good. 


The father of six and grandfather to eight was greeted by his family as he came home from Afghanistan one last time on Tuesday, August 20th. 

Thank you for your many years of service!

What are you thankful for this week? Please, let us know in the comments.
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What is a Living Trust?

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Every week, "Trusts & Estates Tuesday" features an estate planning question or issue. If there is an estate planning topic you would like to see addressed in this feature, please write in to ask@lawforthelonghaul.com. Please, do not send any information that should be kept private. Your question may be edited to appear on this site.

The revocable living trust is an increasingly popular estate planning tool to avoid probate. It is a written agreement that designates someone to be responsible for managing your property. It is "revocable" because you can change or dissolve the trust at any time, at your own discretion, for any reason (as long as you are mentally competent). It is a "living" trust because it is established while you're alive. 

Unlike a will, a living trust does not enter the probate process upon your death. This means that a living trust maintains your privacy because, in most circumstances, it does not become part of the public record. It also means that your property will be passed on to your heirs in a more timely manner, since your estate will not need to pass through probate court beforehand.

Any mentally competent adult can be named trustee of the living trust. Typically, it makes sense to name yourself and your spouse as trustees because you want full control of the property during your lifetime. You can name your children as successor trustees or, if you prefer, choose a professional fiduciary, such as the trust department of a bank, a professional trust company or a private fiduciary. 

Revocable living trusts are more complicated to draft than a will, so it depends on your assets whether it is worth it for your estate. Consultation with a qualified attorney should help you decide.

***This is not meant to serve as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney for help with your own estate planning needs.*** 
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Medicare Eligibility

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Every week, "Medicare Monday" features a Medicare question or issue. If there is a Medicare-related topic you would like to be addressed here, please write in to ask@lawforthelonghaul.com. Please, do not send any information that should be kept private. Your question may be edited to appear on this site. 

Q:     Who is eligible for Medicare?

 

A:    You are eligible for traditional Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) if you meet the following criteria:
  • You must be a citizen of the United States, OR
  • You must have been living in the United States legally for at least five years straight.
  • You must be age 65 or older, OR
  • You must be over 18 and under 65 AND meet one of these conditions:
    • You must have received Social Security disability benefits for at least 2 years, OR
    • You must have been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease ("ESRD"), AND
      • You must have been on dialysis for three months, OR
      • You must have had a kidney transplant, OR
    • You must have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (also called Amyotrophic Lateral Scleroris, "ALS"), AND
      • You are starting to get Social Security disability benefits. Usually, you can get Medicare the 6th month after Social Security found that your disability started.  
***This is not an official statement by Medicare or any organization affiliated with Medicare. It is my own interpretation of the Medicare rules and offered solely as general information, not as personalized advice. To answer specific questions about your own situation, please, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE(4227) or visit Resources to find your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program.***
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Friday, August 16, 2013

End of the Week Review

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This week on Law for the Long Haul:

This week, elsewhere: 

Have a good weekend!


Via Youtube
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Study Says Happier Times Later in Life, Starting at Age 50

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"Thankful Thursday" is a time for us to share a heartwarming story, express our gratitude, and reflect on the week. If you have something you would like to see featured here, please write to: tips@lawforthelonghaul.com.

Last week, Law for the Long Haul posted about a recent happiness study based on geo-tagged Tweets. Now we'll take a look at a study that predicts happiness not based on where you live, but on how old you are. Contrary to popular belief, the peak of happiness is not in youth! 

According to a Gallup telephone poll of 340,000 people, happiness tends to decline from age 18 until age 50. At that point, happiness progressively increases as we get older, reaching the highest peak at age 85. Other studies on happiness over the life span have resulted in similiar findings. 

Via Tumblr.
 
It's good to know that our happiest days lie ahead!


What are you thankful for this week? Please, let us know in the comments.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Do You Read A Life Insurance Policy?

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Every week, "Trusts & Estates Tuesday" features an estate planning question or issue. If there is an estate planning topic you would like to see addressed in this feature, please write in to ask@lawforthelonghaul.com. Please, do not send any information that should be kept private. Your question may be edited to appear on this site.

Many people have life insurance policies, but few people take the time to fully read and understand the contract. It is important to keep in mind that the declaration page is just a snapshot. The contract is the language that the company will rely on if they refuse to pay your benefit to your family. Insurance companies write policy contracts to protect themselves from risk. When reading the fine print, there are a few crucial sections to highlight.

  • The "Definitions" section defines certain keywords used throughout the contract. These definitions may be different from what you would assume.
  • The "Coverage" section is often very brief, explaining the extend to which your family is covered in the event of your death.
  • The "Exclusions" section covers situations in which the policy does not pay out your benefit. Make sure to read this section thoroughly. Common exclusions in a life insurance contract include suicide, plane crashes, and certain risky behaviors. 
  • Lastly, the "Conditions" section outlines what is required of the policyholder in order for the carrier to fulfill the payout.
 If you decide that life insurance makes sense for you, be sure to take the time to understand the policy you are buying.
 

***This is not meant to serve as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney for help with your own estate planning needs.*** 
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Exceptions under Part D

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Every week, "Medicare Monday" features a Medicare question or issue. If there is a Medicare-related topic you would like to be addressed here, please write in to ask@lawforthelonghaul.com. Please, do not send any information that should be kept private. Your question may be edited to appear on this site. 


Q:     The other week, you mentioned that asking for an exception may be an option when a Medicare Part D plan doesn't cover a new prescription. Can you explain more about how to go about asking for an exception?

 

A:     When your plan grants you an “exception,” you have special permission to get a prescription plan covered when it normally it would not be under the plan’s rules. Exceptions are also sometimes referred to as “coverage determinations.”

You can ask for an exception when:
  • your Part D plan does not include the drug you need
  • your Part D plan sets limits on or has special rules about the drug you need, or
  • you cannot afford the drug you need.
Your Part D plan may grant you an exception if you and your doctor can show that:
  • the drug you need is medically necessary, and
  • no other drug on your Part D plan would work as well for you.
Your Part D plan will need to know what other drugs you have tried, how they worked, and how the drug you want is working for you. Without this information, your plan does not have to act on your request.The doctor can give this information to your plan on the phone or in writing.

You should check with your plan to see if you need a specific form to file an exception. Otherwise, you can use Medicare's standard coverage request form

Your Part D plan must make a decision on your exception within 72 hours, or 3 days. If your doctor believes that waiting 72 hours would cause serious harm to your health, then he or she should ask the plan to "expedite" your request. In this case, the decision would be made within 24 hours. 

If your Part D plan approves your request for the exception, you should also get the drug under those terms for the rest of the calendar year. You should not need to ask again for the exception that year. However, at the end of the calendar year, you should check with your Part D plan to see if you will need to make a new exception request for the following year.

If your plan denies your exception request, you can file an appeal. More on this in a future post. 

***This is not an official statement by Medicare or any organization affiliated with Medicare. It is my own interpretation of the Medicare rules and offered solely as general information, not as personalized advice. To answer specific questions about your own situation, please, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE(4227) or visit Resources to find your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program.*** 
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Friday, August 9, 2013

 

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