Who Should Consider a Medicare Advantage Plan

understanding medicare advantage plans

Health insurance has obviously been on the minds of everyone in the U.S. over the past few years with the seemingly never-ending debate about Obamacare. Deciding on your health insurance options when you reach the age of 65 can be a pretty daunting task, but it is an important part of your financial planning. Taking the time to sit down and understand the details of the original Medicare will help you determine whether this would be the best health insurance option for your unique medical needs. The government provides various health insurance options for seniors in order to meet their different health needs. But with all the options available how would you know which one will best address your needs as well as your budget?

One of the options given to seniors for health care aside from the original Medicare is the Medicare Advantage Plan. Simply put, a Medicare Advantage Plan offers basically the same benefits of the Parts A and B of your original benefits with an advantage. Recipients of the Medicare Advantage Plan have the option to include additional benefits into their basic plan and tailor it to suit their unique needs. These additional benefits may include prescription drug coverage, dental check-ups, vision care, preventive care, and health and wellness programs. Medicare Advantage Plans are provided by private insurance companies and the guidelines that they implement with these advantage plans are governed and regulated by Medicare to ensure that their recipients are receiving quality health care.

Original Medicare is already a comprehensive health program, but there are certain medical needs that could be addressed best if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan instead. If you are taking prescription drugs, it will benefit you more to enroll in an advantage plan rather than the original Medicare. The original Medicare will not cover prescription drugs unless you pay extra for Part D coverage. Almost all Medicare Advantage Plans already include prescription drug coverage in its basic benefits and there would be no need for you to pay additional for this extra benefit.

If you want a cap or limit on your out of pocket spending, then you should get a Medicare Advantage Plan. Original Medicare does not have a fixed out of pocket expense maximum and you end up paying for your portion of the service as you use them. By contrast, Medicare Advantage Plans have a set limit on your out of pocket expense and the plan will pay for any expense in excess of that limit.

Seniors who are considering enhancing their health coverage with the addition of a private Medigap can also consider getting a Medicare Advantage Plan instead. Instead of adding this supplement and paying extra for the service when you are enrolled in the original Medicare, having a Medicare Advantage Plan will eliminate the need to purchase this additional coverage and will be more cost effective in the long run.

Original Medicare does not cover dental and vision services, assisted living facilities, as well as nursing home care. If you feel that you will need these services regularly then it will be wiser to get a Medicare Advantage Plan. By careful assessment of your medical needs, your budget, and the options available to you, you will be able to determine which Medicare coverage will best answer your needs.

The Importance of Having an Estate Plan

A WillYou always hear people say that you will not be able to bring with you whatever wealth you have amassed while you were still living.  That is very true, but have you ever thought about what will happen to them when you do pass away?  There are a lot of tales of family feuds that started because the head of the family was not able to leave a will before passing.  And God knows how many secret bank accounts and properties were left unattended only because the owner was not able to make arrangements for them to be passed on to the rightful heirs.  Imagine what will happen to your family in your passing if you were not able to plan for the transfer of all your properties to their name.

This is the reason why more and more individuals are realizing the importance of having an estate plan.  No matter how modest or massive your wealth is, you need to plan for your estate so that you will have full control of how your estate will be divided among your family and any organizations that you contribute to.

Aside from that, there are many reasons why you should consider meeting with an estate planning attorney:

  • To avoid probate. Most people put together an estate plan in order to avoid a probate.  A probate will require hours of court appearance with your lawyer and tons of paperwork to prove the validity of your will.  If you didn’t go through estate planning with your attorney and did not write up a will the court will assign a representative to decide what happens to the estate that you left.  Though you may not be around to witness all that, you should consider estate planning so that you will have peace of mind that your properties are divided as you wish and equally among the people that you love.
  • To reduce estate tax. There are several estate plan techniques available to both married people and individuals to help reduce inheritance tax.  Planning for your estate removes this burden and allows your family to receive more of the estate that you have left behind.
  • To protect your beneficiaries. Probably the main reason why you should think about estate planning is to be able to ensure that you protect the interests of your beneficiaries.  An estate plan will benefit a minor beneficiary in such a way that you can assign a guardian or trustee to take care of his/her portion of your estate until he/she comes of age.  If you happen to have an adult beneficiary who you fear will not be able to handle the money wisely or has a spouse who might squander the money away or take everything after a divorce, an estate plan can be constructed in a way that you can prevent these things from happening.
  • To prevent feuds. An estate plan will enable you to assign someone who can be in charge of managing your estate when you become mentally incapacitated.  It can also dictate which part of the estate goes to which beneficiary and how much each will get.  Having this in place before your death will prevent the big mess of family fighting over what they think is rightfully theirs.

Dying Is Expensive

If you have not yet had the experience of burying a loved one, then you wouldn’t know how expensive it is lay a person in his final resting place. Funeral and burial services are taking advantage of the vulnerability of families who have just lost someone in order to hike up their prices because they know that families would desire to provide their dearly departed a lavish farewell.

As you can see, you would need at least 10 to 15 thousand dollars to have a decent funeral service. You would have to pay for the cost of embalming, the casket, the funeral plot, the gravestone, flowers at the funeral, transportation of the remains from the funeral home to the cemetery, and the funeral service. Many are now opting for cremation because it is more affordable, but still if you do not have enough savings put away for your death, even this can be a great financial burden for the family you will leave behind.

This is why most people take out funeral insurance to cover for the cost of death and to make sure that their final wishes on how their remains will be taken care of will be respected. Funeral insurance is a type of pre-need insurance that is specifically tailored to meet your funeral and burial needs.

Having a funeral insurance prepared for the inevitable will save you and your family from the high cost of dying and you spare your family from the possibility of being deep in debt just so they could provide you with a decent funeral. There are also a number of advantages of having funeral insurance coverage:

  • Guaranteed coverage. Taking out a funeral insurance now is like having the guarantee that you have money tucked away for this eventuality. You can be sure to have the funeral service that you want, whatever financial situation you and your family may be in your passing.
  • Less burden for your family and peace of mind. Preparing funeral insurance will alleviate some of the stress that your family will surely feel as they grieve your loss. It is hard to take care of such affairs while you are grieving and having funeral insurance will lessen the emotional and financial burden on your family and allow them to make the most out of the final days they have with you. Having funeral insurance will also give you peace of mind. This is in knowing that you have done the responsible thing for your family by preparing for the inevitable. Taking out one more thing that your family will worry about in your passing, sure shows that you care.
  • Quick pay-out. Unlike life insurance, funeral insurance liquidates fast and can be claimed as soon as 24 hours after the notice of death. Your family need not worry about borrowing money to cover for the expenses while waiting for the proceeds to be processed.
  • Allows choices. When you die, you will no longer have a say in how your remains will be dealt with. Even if you had made your wishes very clear when you are alive, how sure are you that these will be respected? Having funeral insurance allows you to make certain choices when it comes to matters of your death. You can choose whether to be buried or cremated, you can choose the type of funeral service that you will have, you can even decide about small details such as your funeral flowers and the type of casket that you will have.

Why Do I Need Life Insurance in My Senior Years?

As you reach retirement, many questions about your financial security may bother you and you may be given different opinions on the best investments that you can make given the limited amount of money that you may have. You may have envisioned your retirement years to be spent on travelling or finally being able to lay back and relax. But most seniors fail to include in that equation growing medical needs, and continuously providing for you and your family even after your paycheck stops coming in.

Investing your money in life insurance can be a good investment during your senior years, especially now that is has become more accessible and affordable to people in your age bracket. But you ask yourself, do you really need it at this point in your life? Would putting money in monthly premiums be worth it or should you just splurge in that cruise that you have always wanted to take?

Whether you have money saved up for retirement or living on your pension, here are some good reasons why you should get life insurance in your senior years.

To cover for financial loss

They say life insurance is made to protect you, but what purpose does it serve you really when you get benefits after you die? Life insurance is designed to protect the ones that you will leave behind and provide financial security especially if they are dependent on your income. If you have a spouse, children, or grandchildren that still depend on your financial support, a life insurance will make sure that they have a surplus of funds that they can use to start standing on their own feet and pay for the finances until the time that they can support themselves. It can fill the gap that was created by your loss and will be invaluable help as they start to pick up the pieces.

To cover debts and commitments

If you still have outstanding debts or financial obligations that you have yet to pay up, then a life insurance will be a good way to ensure that they get paid up after you pass away. This will free the family that you will leave behind the burden of having to continue paying off the debts that you have left. This is especially wise to do if your family depends on your income or does not have a substantial amount of money saved up to cover for your obligations.

To leave an inheritance

It is every man’s desire to leave something behind for their loved ones when they pass away. If you haven’t invested in real estate or if you don’t have any valuable property to leave behind, the payout of your life insurance can be used as your legacy that can be divided by your loved ones as you wish.

To cover your funeral and estate expenses

Funeral and estate costs can be very expensive and in order for you to have the decent service that you deserve, it will be wise to prepare for the inevitable. The final proceeds of your life insurance can be used towards paying for your burial and your estate expenses. We do not always know when passing will happen so it’s better to be prepared by taking out a life insurance and leaving instructions on how you want your final remains to be dealt with.


Effective Ways to Save Money for Your Retirement

It’s something that you have always wanted to do but seem never to get around to doing. Saving for your retirement are one of the best things that you do for you and your spouse as well as your family. Without any income coming in and expenses continuously growing, you wouldn’t want to be a burden to your family who have needs as well. If you have grand plans of things to do during your retirement well, you might as well start saving a small amount as early as now to make sure that you realize that dream.

Here are a few ways of effectively setting aside money for your retirement years. There are many investment and saving options available for you and it’s important that you assess each one and pick those that fit your budget as well as your comfort level when it comes to taking risks.

The good old-fashioned savings

This is probably the most common option that people usually make when they want to put away money for retirement because it is very safe. However, when you want to make your money grow, this may not be the best option because a savings account do not earn that much interest compared to other investment vehicles.

Aside from setting aside a small amount of your paycheck every month, try to put aside any bonus or raise that you might receive throughout the years that you are working instead of blowing it all out for a vacation for the family. Spend some for leisure because you have to reward yourself from time to time, but make sure that you put something away for the rainy day that may come unexpectedly. Try to create a budget for your family and commit to sticking to that budget, the less you spend, the more money you save for emergencies and for your retirement.

Boost your 401k

Most companies have a 401k set up to replace pension plans and a lifetime health insurance. A 401k plan is a type of retirement savings plan that your employer sponsors. With a 401k, a portion of your salary is taken out before tax is applied to it. The beauty of a 401k is that you can control what happens to your money. You can also opt to put in more of your paycheck if you want to save more.

Compute for what you actually need to spend for expenses by creating a budget and if you have money left over, boost your 401k by adding an amount that you are comfortable with. This way you ensure that the money you have left over after paying for expenses is put away in savings for your retirement instead of being used for an unnecessary expense.

Having an IRA

Look into having an Individual Retirement Account to save money for your golden years. This is a type of retirement plan that has tax advantages which makes it very attractive for retirement savings. IRA funds can be withdrawn and the tax applicable to these depends on your income. This will benefit you during retirement as taxes applied to withdrawals will be lower because of your lower income.

3 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Credit Score

Credit scores are intended to help lenders assess your financial standing and how likely you are to repay debts. The number represents an analysis of your payment history, the amount of debt you owe, how long you have had a credit account, how many credit accounts you have and the types, and how often you seek new credit. These factors combined summarize for lenders your credit report and as a result credit scores are used to decide whether or not lenders will grant you credit and on what terms. Scores in upwards of 700 will be granted the most favorable terms but most of us don’t have scores in this range. So how do we get there?

Pay your bills on time! In the FICO scoring system the most significant factor is your payment history. This is because what lenders want to know is what the likelihood is of you repaying the loan. If you avoid making late payments, missing payments and having them referred to collection agencies then your score will start to look better. Declaring bankruptcy will also have a negative effect on your credit scores.

Manage your debt properly. Avoid spending up to the limit on your credit cards. FICO scores also take into account the debt you have as a percentage of the credit you are granted; the higher that percentage the lower your score. It won’t matter if you pay your balances in full each month. Instead of asking lenders to lower your credit limit which may in turn lower your credit score, try spending no more than 30% of your limit on a card each month. This will do wonders for your credit score. Handling all forms of credit responsibly will improve your score. Paying off revolving debts such as credit cards is equally as important as making timely installment payments such as mortgages.

Don’t close unused or old accounts. The length of your credit history is also a factor which may increase your score. By closing old accounts you have less time on your history and this may harm your score. Also, when you close accounts the debt to credit ratio becomes less favourable and you appear to be closer to reaching your maximum credit limit. Lenders like to see time which signifies some stability and a large gap between the debt you owe and the credit granted as a sign of responsibility.

Improving your credit score is really about having a plan, patience, and discipline. Pull your credit scores, find out where you stand and make the effort to get to where you want to be.