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Understanding Medicare

Understanding Medicare

Come your 65th birthday, and you’ll enter into a whole world of benefits, discounts and special deals. Whether you’re out to see a movie, looking for a meal or searching for insurance, you can be sure to find a specific deal just for you! Medicare is available to anyone 65 and older and who have worked full time while paying taxes for at least 40 quarters or the equivalent of 10 years. And while Medicare may be an unfamiliar topic to those approaching their golden years, here we have broken down and explained each part and every option available to you. Upon your eligibility for Medicare, do not hesitate to reach out for consultation in choosing the plan that is best for you.

What are the four parts of Medicare and what do they cover?

Medicare has four parts and two ways in which you can put your plan together. The first part, A, includes hospital coverage. Upon reaching retirement age, you will be automatically enrolled into part A, and it does not include a premium. Part B covers physician and outpatient medical care. Unlike A, you must select this option as this does include a premium, regardless of how much you’ve worked. This premium is a sliding scale, dependent on your income. You can find more info on this premium cost at Medicare.gov when you search for Plan B premium. In a nutshell, if you earn less than $85,000 a year in retirement or $170,000 as a couple, then your monthly premium for Part B in 2019 will be $135.50.

Understanding Medicare

Parts A and B do not cover everything, however. With these, you will still be responsible for paying for several other services. So, how can you supplement? One option is to opt for Part C which is referred to the Medicare Advantage Plan. This plan bundles together parts A, B and the fourth part of Medicare, Part D all into one package. This product is known as a Medicare HMO. If you decide to enroll in this plan, you’ll select a primary care physician who will direct your care and will refer you to any specialized care you might need.

The final option, besides the HMO, is a Medigap plan or a Medicare Supplement. This is a health insurance policy that you’ll buy from an insurance company with an additional premium. These vary quite drastically, typically ranging from $80-$150, depending on what coverage you require. The Medigap plan does not bundle in Part B which includes drug coverage. Therefore, you’ll have to buy drug coverage which generally costs anywhere from $12 to over $100 a month. This is all dependent on the type of coverage you need.

Understanding Medicare

So what’s best for me?

With so many options, it is often difficult to determine which plan is best for you. We suggest that you take a look at your budget as well as the sort of coverage you received before retirement. Consider what you can afford. For guidance, we suggest that those nearing age 65 on a fixed income and those that do not have a large income, opt for the Medicare Advantage Plan. This will require little out-of-pocket cost and no additional premium payment to the typical $135.50. For those with a higher income, which are used to a PPO health plan, Medigap or Medicare Supplement plan will be the best option. With this, you can expect to pay about $300 a month. This breaks down as: $135.50 + $145-150 for supplementary coverage + $20-30 for drug coverage. With any plan, you ought to refer to your income and health care needs. It is important that you enter into retirement with confidence in your health insurance plan.

As you approach 65, you will be presented with several options for health care coverage. Do not be overwhelmed however by the magnitude of this choice. There are simple ways to break down the decision and choose what is best for you. Please, give us a call with your questions and concerns. We’re here to assist you as you enter into the years of getting the best deals on just about everything!

Special Enrollment Period

It’s Not Too Late If You Have a Life Event Coming Up

The final date to apply for open enrollment, effective January 1, 2019, in California was December 15, 2018. Though we are now past this period, you can still apply in the case that you are going through a life event. These life events can include marriage, divorce, aging out of a parents’ policy, loss of a job, moving/relocating or having a child.

In these instances, you can still purchase insurance outside of the enrollment period. You will have 30 days to withdraw from the day your other policy ends to enroll in a new plan of coverage in what’s called a Special Enrollment Period.

Special Enrollment Period

Here Are The Life Events That Will Qualify You For Such An Enrollment Exception:

Loss of health coverage

  • Loss of a job
  • Aging out of parents’ insurance plan at age 26
  • Losing eligibility for Medicaid, Medicare, or CHIP

Change in residence

  • Changing your zip code or county
  • A student moving from the place they attended school

Changes in your family

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Having or adopting a child
  • Death in the family

A significant change in income

  • Becoming a US citizen
  • Leaving prison or jail

These events will make you eligible for this special enrollment period wherein you can purchase insurance at the time of the event. Please contact us at Bernardini and Donovan for any questions you might have about obtaining coverage in the post-enrollment period.

Tracking Your Health

3 Tips for Tracking Your Health

One of the best ways to help with your health is to make it a priority. In our rushed society, it is easy to put your general health and well being on the back burner. Many people will instead settle into bad habits that will keep them from being their most healthy selves. But once you’ve resolved to put your health first, how do you keep it? One of the tools at your disposal is to keep track of your health. Often your motivator can be seeing over time how your efforts are working towards getting to your goal. Here are a few different ways that you can Track Your Health:

Tracking Your HealthKeep a Log

One of the most basic forms of Monitoring your Health is to write it down. This can look very different for people based upon what their health goals are. For some, they will keep a food journal to write down what they are eating and when. This log can help many find an association between eating habits and emotional connections to food. Others will write down measurements of their body to keep track of what areas are growing in muscle and what areas are trimming down from weight loss.

Use Your Phone

Another way that many people are now using to track their health is to utilize their smartphones. The apps that come standard on your phone may be helpful as one utilizes the notes feature or even a way of counting your steps. But there are additional apps that can help you as well. There are ones that can use your GPS to track your routes when you run or walk. There are even apps that can use your phone’s camera to measure your heart rate. This industry has blown up, and a simple search will yield plenty of results about apps that you can use to track your health.

Health Tech Gadgets

Outside of your phone, you can use other gadgets that are specifically designed to help track your health. Fit bit, Jawbone, or Spark are all tools which capture your steps and can let you know when you have reached your step goals for that day. You can also look into a heart rate monitor. Many people with high blood pressure will have a monitor like this available so that they can keep track of their hourly or daily needs.

There are many more possibilities when you are keeping track of your health to reach your New Health Goals. We hope that this blog gave you some ideas on ways that you can be a healthier version of you today!

American Heart Month Blog Cover

American Heart Month

Living healthfully is one of the best forms of health insurance. There are countless ways in which we all can give ourselves the best chance for a long and happy life with simple, health-conscious lifestyle modifications. We at Bernardini and Donovan strongly believe in the value of good health and the protection of oneself from preventable conditions. And out of recognition for the importance of a healthy way of life, this February, we celebrate American Heart Month!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US. It is responsible for one in four deaths every year and is seen in all ages. As heart disease has become an epidemic among Americans, it is crucial that we implement the necessary measures of prevention. So this February, look out for ways to celebrate American Heart Month in the promotion of good heart health.

Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate!

  1. Take the #MoveWithHeartPledge and pledge to be more physically active in the promotion of your heart health.
  2. Start a walking or jogging club in your neighborhood.
  3. Wear red on the first Friday of February to raise awareness for heart health and the prevention of heart disease.
  4. Speak out on social media about your commitment to heart health so to encourage your friends and followers to maintain their health.
  5. Modify your cooking! Finding heart-healthy recipes with a simple Google search is easy. Even some of your favorite dishes can be prepared healthfully!

 

We hope that you’ll join us for this critical time of health promotion and taking action for disease prevention. Treat your body with exceptional care and give yourself the best chance at a full and happy life!

Vision Insurance

Vision Insurance

There’s nothing less productive than a blurry-eyed employee fumbling around the office, squinting at the whiteboard or misreading the small font on an important memo. Do not underestimate the value of vision maintenance, especially among those on whom you depend for the success of your company.

If your budget allows, we recommend that you offer your employees vision insurance. We at Bernardini and Donovan uphold the philosophy that employers should provide as many benefits to their employees as possible. And while it is only a secondary-level benefit, we find it deserving of your consideration, budget permitting.

Vision insurance covers an individual’s exam and hardware. It does not include any necessary medical procedures. Rather, these, such as eye surgery, are covered by the employee’s medical plan. Vision insurance does, however, offer discounts for additional glasses and Lasik surgery.

Three Tiers of Service

Broken up into three tiers of service, this benefit covers exams, lenses, and frames. These are organized by one’s frequency of use of these services. The most common way in which a company will break up these services is by a plan that provides a yearly exam and lenses and biyearly frames. However, this frequency break down can be modified according to an employer’s plan and budget. A company can also offer yearly exams and biyearly lenses and frames, or yearly exams, lenses, and frames. This all depends on the employer’s budget. However, we see that companies typically choose the middle-of-the-road option.

Prevent blind office mayhem and offer your employees the vision coverage they need. With well cared for employees, the dynamic of your company will strive. Reach out to us at Bernardini and Donovan for consultation on your business’s group insurance plan.

7 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us, it is essential that you take good care of yourself! Here are a few tips and tricks to keep you happy and healthy this holiday season.

Make time to move

This season is one where we tend to let a lot of things slide. Exercise is one of those things. Make sure that you are setting aside time to move regularly. Just walking 30 minutes 3 times a week can have a significant impact on your health!

Plan out your meals

Tis the season for holiday parties and at these parties are lots of food. And where getting to indulge every once in a while is not a bad thing, satisfying yourself fully on every meal can be hurtful. That’s why we suggest planning out your meals, so you know that you will have a super healthy and lite lunch before you go to the party where grandma brings your all-time favorite dessert.

Wash your hands

Viruses, colds and the flu run rampant these times of the year. So make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep from getting sick. Wash your hands regularly and keep your hands away from your face. You should also be taking vitamins every day.

Get some rest

One of the best ways to ensure that you stay healthy during the holiday season is to get enough sleep. That means 7 or 8 hours every night. Plan out your days, so you know what time you need to be up the next morning and then work, so you know exactly when you need to be crawling into bed.

Me time

Where physical health has vital important, mental health during the holiday season is also extremely critical. Take a few minutes each day for yourself. If you want to sit quietly, meditate or even read a book. A few minutes each day where you actively take care of your mental health will help in times when stresses of the season can try to overwhelm you.

Safety First (don’t drink and drive)

Make sure you are practicing proper safety by not drinking and driving and please always buckle up when you are in a car. These simple rules will help keep you safer on the roads.

Utilize your health insurance

If you start to feel sick, please do not go about work or school as usual. Stay home and rest! Also, you will want to see your doctor sooner rather than later. The quicker that you are can receive treatment, the sooner that you can start feeling better.  Also, please get the flu shot. This one vaccine can help save you from being sick for weeks at a time.

If you need help getting health insurance during this holiday season, please call us. We can help get you signed up while open enrollment is here!

Unemployed?

Losing a job is never easy. It can come for a variety of reasons, but the news that you are no longer employed is always a tough pill to swallow. And while your health insurance may not be your very first concern, for many it does rank up pretty high worries after that initial shock.

If your job provided health insurance for you, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you have continued coverage. First, you will want to look into COBRA. If your employer paid for part of your health insurance, COBRA allows you after your termination to continue with the same care that you had previously, though you will be paying the entirety of the premiums. This is something to seriously consider if you are currently receiving care that cannot be disrupted or you are receiving care from a doctor that you may not be able to see if you were to switch providers. However, when faced with paying for their health insurance many people opt to look at other options.

You can also look at Covered California. Because you just had a change in jobs, you would most likely qualify for special enrollment through Covered California because of this life event. However, timing is essential here. If you miss applying for coverage during this window, you will have to wait until open enrollment.

You may also want to look into MediCal. MediCal provides coverage to a countless number of California residents with limited incomes or disabilities. To qualify you will need to report your income to see if you are eligible. You will need to take into consideration the income of your entire household, not just yourself. You will also need to report on any other revenue that you may be receiving.

If you have questions and just feel overwhelmed by the whole process, please feel free to call us. At Bernardini & Donovan, we want to ensure that you receive the best health insurance possible and would love to answer any of your questions. Please call us today.

Healthcare Options

What Are Your Healthcare Options?

If you are over or close to the age of 65, Medicare is something that you might be utilizing or thinking about using. If you are in that boat, then it is essential to know your open enrollment times. If you are looking to go with the Medicare Advantage Plan, open enrollment is upon us.

Recipients of Medicare have a choice between the Medicare Advantage Plan or the Medicare Supplement Plan which is like a PPO plan. The difference between the two is that in the Advantage plan you will pick a primary care physician who will direct your care. They are known as the gatekeeper. If you need to see any specialist, they will provide a referral for that. Under a PPO contract, you have the flexibility to direct your care. You do not have a primary care physician, and you have a choice of any doctor in your provider network. This option does have a higher cost in comparison to the Medicare Advantage Plan so we often see people in this area choose the Advantage Plan and it works well for them. Many doctors prefer this plan over the PPO option, as well, because there are Medicare Reporting standards that they are held to and it is easier to capture that data on this particular plan.

The Medicare Advantage plans and Part D have open enrollment starting on October 15 and ending on December 7. So if someone has original Medicare and purchases a drug plan without any other supplemental coverage that is the time that they can change their drug plan because Medicare by itself does not cover medication.

At Bernardini & Donovan, we work very closely with a majority of our clients who utilize the Medicare Advantage Plan. If that is something that you know that you want to look into, there is no one better for you talk to than us. Our years of experience allow us to help you plan and see how you can have the low cost of the Advantage Plan while having the best possible health care available to you. Please feel free to call us today to set up an appointment if you have questions.

Healthcare Insurance Options

Healthcare Insurance Options

At the end of every year, we come to the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas all play a significant part of how we spend our time. But along with these celebrations, we are also very aware of another season. Open Enrollment Season. For a short period, at the end of each year, there is an opportunity to change your health care insurance options.

If you are already enrolled in a particular program before the open enrollment period begins, your provider will contact you and tell you if there are going to be any changes to your benefits or your premiums. This is particularly important to know so that you can assess if you are happy enough to stay with your current provider or if it is time to change so that your needs are better met.

Then open enrollment starts

This year it opened on October 15. During this time you have access to sign up for health insurance coverage or change your current provider. It is important to note that your signup date does affect the start of your coverage date. If you sign up between October 15 to December 15, then your coverage will begin on January 1, 2019.

But open enrollment does not end on December 15th. It continues until January 15, 2019. So if you find yourself overwhelmed by the holiday season, and have no time to review your health care needs, do not be worried. You have until mid-January to finalize your plans! Of course, your start of coverage date will be different. If you sign up between December 16 to January 15, then your start date will be February 1, 2019.

At Bernardini & Donovan, we love to help you make the best choice possible for your health care insurance coverage. We will help walk you through the process, help you see what tax credits may be available to you and help you sign up. Please call us today to so that we can help you during open enrollment season!

Flu Prevention

Last year’s flu season was one for the books. “Every year, influenza kills between 12,000 and 49,000 people and can send more than 700,000 people to the hospital,” the CDC says. With numbers like this, doctors are recommending that people get their flu shots early. What many people do not know is that it can take up to two weeks for the immunization to become fully effective with the flu vaccine; which means that if you get your flu shot later in the season, you are still in danger of contracting the flu during those two weeks. The flu shot is available at most pharmacies, doctor’s offices and various other locations at this time. We recommend getting a flu shot as soon as possible, especially during the fall and winter months.

Prepare For The Flu

There are also a few steps you can take to help you go through flu season.

Flu Prevention #1 – Wash your hands

This one simple step can help prevent the spread of germs. This step is critical before you handle your food, after coughing or sneezing, and after touching a new surface. Make sure that you are using warm water and plenty of soap to wash your hands.

Flu Prevention #2 – Cover your mouth

Keeping your mouth covered if you are feeling sick goes a long way in preventing the spread of germs. We recommend carrying tissues to help in this process.

Flu Prevention #3 – Don’t touch your face

The flu virus can be introduced through different mucous membranes like your eyes, nose, and mouth. It is best to avoid touch your face during flu season.

Flu Prevention #4 – Stay home if sick

This is a biggie! If you or a family member are feeling ill or showing flu-like symptoms, please do not go to work or school. Many people have reported that they do go to work or school while feeling ill, but you are putting your coworkers and schoolmates at high risk for the flu if you do this.

Flu Prevention #5 – Take your vitamins

Make sure that you are getting your needed amounts of vitamins C, D and omega 3’s. You may also want to keep Oscillococcinum on hand as it can reduce both the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, body aches, chills, and fever.