Author Archives: Diane Woodhead

567

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College: http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/misconceptions-about-social-security/ There are 567 ways for a married couple to file for Social Security benefits. Social Security is the most important source of retirement income for most workers. Yet too many older Americans lack a basic understanding of certain aspects of Social Security benefits. The U.S. Social Security Administration calculates pensions using a formula based on the average of a worker’s 35 highest years of earnings. This information is important, because each additional year of work could substitute current earnings for an early year of low earnings – or even zero earnings prior to the worker’s entry into the labor force.

According to www.ssa.gov the average retirement benefit is $1285 per month. Growing at 2% for 20 years, that’s a cumulative benefit of over $493,000.00 or almost $1,000,000.00 for a couple

Are you treating social security like it’s a million dollar decision? Here is a free tool that you can use to optimize your own benefits: http://www.bedrockcapitol.com/ssanalyze/

KEEP THOSE INSURANCE FILES!

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, health care is now reported as part of your tax return. That means record keeping is even more important than ever. In years past people have switched plans and never even thought about the importance of keeping proof that they had the previous plan. From this point forward you will need to keep those old insurance cards right along with your tax receipts. If you are audited by the IRS, proof of insurance will need to be given just like your W-2. According to the IRS website: “keep records for three years from the tax filingdate you filed your original return or two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.” * Certain exceptions apply for record keeping. See www.irs.gov for more details or contact us. Remember to keep a file for medical expenses.
If you itemize your deductions for a taxable year on Form 1040, Schedule A, you may be able to deduct expenses you paid that year for medical and dental care for yourself, your spouse, and dependents. For more information, see Questions and Answers: Changes to the Itemized Deduction for 2014 Medical Expenses on www.IRS.gov.

New Rules on the Horizon for Medicare Cards

It is official and about time! Medicare will no longer use your Social Security number on your Medicare card. I have been telling people for years not to carry their Medicare card unless necessary since it contains your Social Security number. With feedback from providers and the spike in identity theft, Medicare has decided that it makes sense to change the current practice. Medicare-cardThe change is coming a bit late compared to the rest of the industry. Private insurance companies no longer use Social Security numbers to identify card holders, and the federal government has also forbidden insurers from using the numbers on insurance cards when medical or drug benefits are provided through Medicare contracts.
This new change will take time to implement. Medicare has up to four years to start issuing the new cards, and four more years to reissue current cards.

Healthcare Paperwork: Is yours in order?

Healthcare distortion can involve a host of medical and legal complications. At best, these issues may affect you financially; at worst, they could mean the difference between life and death. Whether you go to the hospital for a routine procedure or for an emergency, there are 19405290_s (1)steps you can take to help avoid complications.

  • Is your Medical POA or Advanced Medical Directive (“Living Will”) up to date?
  • Make sure your name and all other personal information is completely accurate at each doctor’s appointment, outpatient surgery, and/or hospitalization.
  • Have you read and do you understand your health insurance coverage?
  • Are you saving documents and bills you receive regarding your health care?
  • Does your personal representative have current copies of your directives and documents?

       Educational event at Woodhead Insurance July 18th at 10am — come learn more RSVP

Is retirement in your near future?

Woodhead Insurance, in partnership with Hellenbrand Financial, is hosting an event on July 14th and 16th at NWTC. This informative event is meant to help people learn what they need Medicare-cardto know as they head into retirement.

It will teach attendees:
Basics of Medicare:
How to enroll
How it works
What it covers
When to sign up
When to delay enrollment

Retirement 101:
Social Security – How to get maximum benefits
Annuities – The different types, the positives and negatives of each
Long Term Care – Learn how different programs work, and about new “hybrid” options

This event is free and open to the public. It is not a sales pitch and there is no obligation. Space is limited, however, so your reservation is required. Please call the office at (920) 544-0058 to RSVP.

News from the Woods

With the weather finally warming here in Wisconsin, Spring brings a time of change. At Woodhead Insurance, we would like to remind you of the importance of notifying us of any life changes you may have. Changes in your life can have an effect on many things, including insurance. Notifying us of these life changes allows us to make sure your health insurance continues to serve you. If you are not sure, call us at 920-544-0058! We’d love to hear from you and celebrate life’s milestones together.  Remember we don’t always receive your notices so you have to let us know if you want us to help.20441344_s

As your advocates, we want to make sure your benefits are protected and that updates are made promptly and accurately. Ensuring you get the most bang for your insurance buck, we offer a host of products around health insurance such as: accident policies, funeral trusts, simple life insurance, dental coverage, and a legal protection plan. You already know we don’t pressure anyone to purchase our products. A good product does not require a pushy salesperson, so feel free to give us a call and, “Window Shop” any of our products.  Find out the benefits and costs so you can make your own decision. Being an independent agent, we have a vast network of reputable companies and products.  If we don’t carry what you need, we can recommend a reputable and trustworthy provider to assist you.                                                                                                             Happy Spring! Diane Woodhead

Healthcare Legal Tips

Not preparing for healthcare concerns can involve a whole host of medical and legal complications. At best, these issues may affect you financially; at worst, they could mean the difference between life and death. Whether you go to the hospital for a routine procedure or an emergency, there are steps you can take to help avoid complications.

  • Have an up-to-date Medical Power of Attorney or Advanced Medical Directive (“Living Will”).In the event you cannot make medical decisions yourself, these documents entrust decisions about your care to a person you designate. Advise your family of your designation so that person is notified when decisions must be made.
  • Make sure your name, identifying information and all other information is completely accurate at each doctor’s appointment, outpatient surgery and  hospitalization. Serious problems involving medical care sometimes begin as simple clerical errors. A small error can create a major treatment crisis. Reduce the chance of error by carefully reviewing all of your doctor’s office or hospital admissions paperwork. During hospitalization check your hospital wristband for errors. I know this may sound cheeky but read the documents you are signing.
  • Understand your health insurance coverage before you get sick. It is important that you understand all of the limitations and exclusions in your insurance policy. Your policy may require you to obtain preauthorization for medical procedures. In addition, you may need supplemental coverage or disability coverage in the event of a long recovery. Review your health coverage now. It is too late to make critical changes after you get sick. If you have questions about your policy reach out to us as we are here for you!
  • Save any documents you receive regarding your care or billing. Retain all of your medical documentation in the event of a fee dispute, insurance dispute or medical malpractice claim. Documents can be easily misplaced in the confusion of care and recovery. If you are too ill to organize your own paperwork ask someone you trust to help manage your documentation. It is also a great idea to keep a running journal of the dates of service and procedure’s done. If you call regarding a bill it doesn’t hurt to document who you spoke to, when you spoke to them and what information was received.
  • Ask for a second opinion if you are unsure about your diagnosis or treatment. You always have the right to speak with another doctor or caregiver if you are uncomfortable with the diagnosis or treatment recommendations being made. If someone wants you to have an expensive procedure or treatment make sure to be the smart consumer who asks lots of questions.
  • Advocate for your own quality care! It is important to speak up for yourself in healthcare situations. If you or a loved one have been hospitalized and have concerns about the quality of care, speak to a doctor or nursing supervisor. If you are unable to advocate for yourself due to the nature of your illness, medications or treatments, have a friend or family member stay with you. Many hospitals have a designated advocate on staff. If you feel your concerns are not addressed ask to speak with a patient advocate.

What YOU Should Know About Estate Recovery in Wisconsin

16506311_sSome important changes are taking place in the Estate Recovery Program as a result of the 2013-2015 biennial budget that was passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2013. These changes will begin August 1, 2014.

Background
Through the Estate Recovery Program, the state seeks repayment for the cost of certain long term care services paid for by Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus, and all services paid for by the Wisconsin Chronic Disease Program (WCDP). Repayment is made from the member’s property after they pass away or from liens placed on their homes. The money recovered from the member’s estate is returned to the program and used to pay for care for other members. It is important to remember that the state does not seek repayment from a member’s property while the member is survived by a:

  • Spouse
  • Child under age 21
  • Disabled or blind child of any age.

Repayment is made only after the member or the surviving spouse passes away or, in some situations, from a lien on the member’s home. Liens are not filed against homes of members while they are living in the community. The Estate Recovery Program is paid after certain other expenses are paid according to standard probate procedures. Costs paid prior to the Estate Recovery Program include:
• The costs of administering the estate, including attorney fees.
• Reasonable funeral costs.
• The costs of the last illness, if any, that were not paid by Medicaid, BadgerCare Plus, or WCDP.

Policy Changes
Beginning August 1, 2014, certain new assets and services will now be part of the Estate Recovery Program.

The assets below will now be  part of the Estate Recovery Program:
• Joint Tenancy Property
Repayment will be made after the member passes away from joint tenancies created on and after August 1, 2014. Repayment will be made from the interest in the property that the member has at the time the member passes away. Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of
1982 (TEFRA) liens will continue to be filed on joint tenancy homes and repayment will be made from joint accounts at financial institutions, no matter when the joint tenancy was  created.
• Life Estates
Repayment will be made from a life tenant’s interest in life estates that are created on and after August 1, 2014.
• Life Insurance Policies
Repayment will be made from a member’s life insurance policy, no matter who is named as the beneficiary, for life insurance policies created on and after August 1, 2014.
• Marital Property
Repayment will be made from 50 percent of the surviving spouse’s estate.
• Revocable Trusts
Repayment will be made after the member passes away from revocable trusts created on and after August 1, 2014. A TEFRA lien will continue to be filed on a home in revocable trust regardless of when the trust was created.
• Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 Liens
Repayment will be made through TEFRA liens placed on life estates that are created on and after August 1, 2014.
• Other Non-probate Property
Repayment will be made from non-probate property not listed above for any member who passes away on or after August 1, 2014. These assets will be used as repayment for members who pass away on and after August 1, 2014.
Services
The cost of the services below will now be included in the amount that the Estate Recovery Program will seek repayment for:
• All services received while participating in a long term care program
Repayment will be made for all services received on and after August 1, 2014, by a member age 55 years and older participating in a long term care program. This
includes members participating in home and community-based waiver programs, and the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
• Capitation payments
Repayment will be made for the entire capitation payment made to a managed care organization (MCO) beginning August 1, 2014, for a member participating in a long term care program. Repayment of these services applies to services received and capitation payments made on and after August 1, 2014, for any member age 55 and older participating in a long term care program. Long term care programs include all home and community-based programs and PACE.
Program Dis-enrollment
Members should contact the source listed below for their program before July 18, 2014, for benefit counseling if they do not want the new services recovered and will need to dis-enroll from their program. This will allow for case closure and dis-enrollment from Wisconsin Medicaid, BadgerCarePlus, or WCDP prior to the new rules taking effect:
• Medicaid — Contact your local Aging and Disability
Resource Center (ADRC).
• BadgerCare Plus — Contact your agency.
• WCDP — Contact Member Services at 1-800-362-3002.
For More Information

http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p1/p13032-C.pdf

 

ACA Subsidies Challenged in Courts

You may have seen or heard two stories in the news about two conflicting federal court decisions regarding the legality of federal subsidies for low- and middle-income people who bought health insurance through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM), or Exchange, in certain states, including Wisconsin.

Woodhead Insurance wants all of our members to know that their health plans are safe and they are still covered. Premiums are not going to change at this time.

You may assure that we will continue to closely monitor the situation. If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 920-544-0058

Sincerely,

Diane Woodhead

As always we strive to not only be your agent but also your health insurance advocate.