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Blog

Medicare Costs in 2014

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (141)
           
2014 Medicare Deductibles

Medicare is reporting the 2014 Part A deductible, Part B premiums, Part B deductible and High Deductible Plan F deductible.                         Beginning in 2014:  

  • The Part A deductible will be $1,216 (up from $1,184 in 2013)
  • The Part B premiums will be unchanged and remain at $104.90 per month
  • The Part B deductible will be unchanged and remain at $147 per year
  • The High Deductible Plan F deductible will increase to $2,140 (up from $2,110 in 2013)

Staying Healthy In The Face Of Norovirus

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 1:22 PM Comments comments (105)
Have you heard of a sickness called Norovirus? Chances are you have had Norovirus, also called the "stomach flu," many times in your life. Despite its nickname, Norovirus is not related to the flu.
 
Norovirus is highly contagious and may cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Symptoms usually start within 24 to 48 hours and most people begin to feel better within one or two days and have no long-term health effects.
 
People with the Norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least 3 days after they recover. There is no vaccine to prevent a Norovirus infection and no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus. Antibiotics will not help because they fight against bacteria, not viruses.
 
1 in every 15 Americans will get Norovirus illness each year. Norovirus is also estimated to cause over 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year in the United States.
 
The Center for Disease Control offers the following tips on protecting yourself from Norovirus:
 
  • Practice proper hand hygiene
 
Wash your hands carefully with soap and water—Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. They should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.
 
  • Wash fruits & vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly
 
 Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
 
Be aware that Noroviruses are relatively resistant. They can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish.
 
 
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick
 
You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 to 3 days after you recover.
 
 
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
 
After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 5–25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water or other disinfectant registered as effective against Norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
 
  • Wash laundry thoroughly
 
Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool (feces).
 
You should handle soiled items carefully without agitating them, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after, and wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length then machine dry them.
 
If you follow these tips and use caution when caring for sick loved ones, you may dramatically reduce your chances of contracting Norovirus.

Applying for Medicare

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 4:14 PM Comments comments (0)
Turning 65 and unsure where to start? If you are not currently receiving Social Security Income and you would like to enroll in Medicare you should start by applying for Medicare.  You can apply three different ways:
 
  1. Enroll at your local social security office
  2. Enroll over the phone by calling the Social Security Administration 800-772-1213
  3. Enroll online http://www.ssa.gov/medicareonly/
 
It generally takes about 30 days for your application to be processed and you should receive your Medicare card within 45 days.  However, there are always exceptions and sometimes it takes longer.  It is best to apply early, so you can make sure everything is processed in a timely fashion.  You can apply for Medicare as early as 3 months before you turn 65.  Applying early will also give you plenty of time to apply for a Medicare Supplement.
 
More questions?  Contact us. We are always updating our blog with useful information.  And please do yourself a favor read our information regarding Long Term Care..protect your assets!!

Premium Increases are Predicted for Medicare Part D Prescription Coverage

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 4:11 PM Comments comments (0)
According to a recent article by Weiss Ratings, seven out of the ten most popular Medicare Part D Prescription plans are predicted to increase by double digits next year.
 
  • Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan (23 percent)
  • First Health Part D Premier (18 percent)
  • First Health Part D Value Plus (17 percent)
  • Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One (15 percent)
  • Express Scripts Medicare-Value (13 percent)
  • HealthSpring Prescription Drug Plan (12 percent)
  • Humana Enhanced (11 percent)
 
Three of the ten most popular plans Silver Script (8 percent), WellCare Classic (3 percent) and AARP Medicare RX Preferred are predicted to increase less drastically.  AARP's plan is only expected to increase the least - only $0.57 per month on average.  What does this mean to you? It's no secret that it is difficult for seniors to wade through the enormous amounts of health care information they receive in regards to Medicare and Medicare Supplements.  It is important to make sure all options are carefully considered.  Whether you or one of your loved ones is trying to decide what option is best - call us!  Judi L. Woods agency is an insurance brokerage firm which means we offer many plans throughout the state of Florida, and we can help you make an informed decision! 
 
Remember, Medicare Open Enrollment is from October 15, 2012 until December 7, 2012, so if you are looking for a change in coverage give us a call - we can help! To read the rest of Weiss Ratings article click here.
 

Preventative Cancer Screening for Women and Men

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 10:28 AM Comments comments (2)
As we focus this weeks newsletter on the issue of breast cancer, we want to encourage you to be proactive in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Be aware of the resources that are available to you and take advantage of them.  The Affordable Healthcare Act has made it mandatory for insurance companies to pay for the following services without any cost sharing from the policy holder (YOU!):
 
 
  • Breast cancer mammography every 1 to 2 years for women over age 40
  • Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at high risk for breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer pap test for women
  • Prostate cancer screenings for men
  •  
    Click here to learn about additional preventative care services that are available to women & men under the Affordable Healthcare Act.

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    Posted on September 27, 2012 at 10:24 AM Comments comments (185)
    Most of us know someone who has been affected by breast cancer in one way or another.  Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month we want to help you be aware of the risks and learn about some of the preventative resources that are available to you. 
     
    Consider the Facts:
    In 2012, it is estimated that among US women there will be:
    - 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer 
    - 63,300 new cases of "in situ" breast cancer
    - 39,510 breast cancer deaths.
      
    A Few of the Known Risk Factors*:
    - Being a Woman
    - Getting Older
    - Starting menopause after age 55
    - Never having children
    - Having your first child after age 35
    Being overweight or gaining weight as an adult
    - Family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer  
      
    Mammography and rates of early detection over time  
    As mammography screening rates have increased, more cases of breast cancer have been found at earlier stages, when they are most easily and successfully treated. During the 1980s and 1990s, diagnoses of early-stage breast cancer increased greatly. Since the late 1990s, these rates have remained steady. At the same time, diagnoses of advanced stage (metastatic) breast cancer have remained stable or dropped slightly. 
      
    Prevention is key, and as a result of the Affordable Healthcare Act many of these preventative services are available to you with no out of pocket costs through your health insurance carrier. Check our other blog articles to learn more about Healthcare Reform.
      
    References:
    *This is not a complete list of risk factors. Consult a medical professional to learn about all of the risk factors of breast cancer.

    Health Savings Accounts

    Posted on September 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM Comments comments (218)
    Health Savings Accounts are rising in popularity as a method of paying for medical expenses with tax sheltered dollars.  To be eligible for a health savings account (HSA) you:
    1. Must be enrolled in a qualified high-deductible health plan
    2. Cannot be a dependent on someone else's tax return
    3. Cannot be enrolled in Medicare
    How it Works
    When a person enrolls in an HSA compatible health insurance plan they have the option of setting up a side-fund to pay for their medical expenses.  Any monies that are contributed to their HSA fund are tax preferred, and they can withdraw these contributions tax-free to pay for qualified medical expenses.  Any interest that is accrued through their HSA account is also tax-free.  
     
    Not only are HSA funds tax-preferred, but health insurance premiums are also tax-deductible when a person is enrolled in this type of HSA compatible plan.  One of the advantages of these plans are the tax-benefits, but they also offer lower premiums when compared to other plans with comparable deductibles.  With an HSA compatible plan you will still receive the same preventative care benefits that are required by the Affordable Healthcare Act. In addition, the funds in your HSA account belong to you and will accumulate if not used within the calendar year. 
     
    The maximum contributions for 2012 are $3,100 for an individual and $6,250 for a family, and for 2013 the limits are $3,250 for individuals and $6,450 for families. Please contact your tax advisor regarding the specifics of your personal contributions and tax benefits. 
     
    Click here for more information about 2013 limits, or contact us to learn more about how you can enroll in an HSA compatible insurance plan.

    Aflac Cancer Indemnity Insurance

    Posted on September 27, 2012 at 9:47 AM Comments comments (8)
    Aflac products are returning to Judi Woods Agency!  In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this article will highlight the Cancer Indemnity Insurance Policies offered by Aflac.
      
    How it Works
    Aflac's Cancer Indemnity policies supplement Major Medical insurance.  These policies "fill in the gaps" and provide policy holders with cash for unexpected medical expenses caused by cancer.  Medical bills are not the only financial strain caused by illness. To offset some of these additional expenses, the cash benefit received from Aflac can be used for:
     
    • Travel Expenses
    • Child Care
    • Everyday expenses: groceries, mortgage, utilities, etc
    • Out-of-pocket expenses that are not covered by Major Medical such as copays and deductibles
     
    Why purchase a Cancer Indemnity Product?
    According to CNN Money 49% of Americans do not have enough money saved up to cover 3 months of expenses.  Should these families experience a major medical expense it could be devastating.  Unfortunately, the risk for this type of expense is high.  Slightly less than 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer, and for women the risk is slightly higher than 1 in 3 (American Cancer Society).
     
    Aflac offers affordable options for almost any budget that will help individuals and families avoid some of the financial hardships that are brought on by major illnesses.  
     
    Click here to learn more about one of the cancer indemnity insurance policies that are offered in the state of Florida.

    New from Aetna - Teledoc

    Posted on September 10, 2012 at 12:26 PM Comments comments (667)
    Attention Aetna Policyholders!
     
    The common cold and flu have a way of sneaking up on us without warning or consideration of what is on our agenda for the day. Have you ever needed to go to the doctor but couldn't work your schedule around doctors' office hours?  Aetna has launched a new program for people like you who live busy lives and can't always make it to the doctor when they are sick.  It is called Teledoc.
      
    How it Works
    Not feeling well? Pick up your phone or computer and chat with a doctor without stepping foot inside their office.  Aetna is now providing a new network of board-certified doctors that are accessible 24/7.  This service is intended to help those who are experiencing common illnesses such as:
     
    • Cold and flu 
    • Ear infections
    • Bronchitis
    • Allergies
    • Urinary tract infection
    • Pink eye
    • And more 
     
    At $38 a "visit" Teledoc saves you money when you use their services for after-hours treatment!
     
    Interested in learning more?  Click Here.

    New Preventive Care Gudelines

    Posted on August 15, 2012 at 1:41 PM Comments comments (0)
    Did you know that many preventive care services are now required to be provided to you without cost-sharing?  Check out the list below from www.informedonreform.com for a general list of services to be offered without copay, coinsurance, or deductible.
     
    Evidence-based preventive services:
    This list of items is from the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force. This broad list generally includes:
    • Breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings
    • Colon cancer screenings
    • Screening for iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy
    • Screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
     
    Routine vaccinations:
    A list of immunizations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are included in the rule. They are considered routine for use with children, adolescents, and adults and range from childhood immunizations to periodic tetanus shots for adults.
     
    Prevention for children:
    The rule includes preventive care guidelines for children from birth to age 21 developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Services include regular pediatrician visits, vision and hearing screening, developmental assessments, immunizations, and screening and counseling to address obesity.
     
    Prevention for women:
    The regulation mandates certain preventive care measures for women. These recommendations will be in place until new requirements for prevention for women are issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force or appear in comprehensive guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The new requirements are expected to be released by August 1, 2011.
     
    Breast cancer screening:
    All women age 40 and over should have an annual mammogram.
     
    To see a more extensive list of services offered Click Here.