MY COLA IS GETTING FLAT

THE BIG SQUEEZE

Yesterday, I went into our local supermarket to pick up a few items and I became instantly sticker shocked”. It seemed like it was hard to find any item for less than five dollars. My money didn’t seem like it was buying nearly as much as it had in the past.

That unfortunately is true.

Our COLA ( cost of living adjustment) issued annually was adjusted to 1.35% this year. But recent government data showed the cost of living actually rose 2.3% faster than previously forecasted. Higher prices for gas, rent, healthcare (and groceries) mean we will fall nearly 1% behind inflation this year. Regarding healthcare, greedy big pharma hiked drug prices nearly 6%! Now the fact our COLA is lagging may not seem too important until you realize that 21% of married couples and 45% of singles rely on the program for more than 90% of their income. More Americans are falling into poverty and having trouble just getting food on the table every day. Add to that high unemployment and our COLA is not only flat, but too many citizens are being crushed by the burden.

  • Lou Reinitz LJR Insurance Solutions

MEDICARE INSURANCE T.V. ADS? READ THE SMALL PRINT!

KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE YOU CALL

Throughout the day they assault your senses, ad nauseum. Call today to get all the wonderful Medicare benefits you are missing, and get money back every month too! Dental! Vision! free meals! free! free! Medicare ads on TV are relentless. But do they deliver what they promise. Before you dive in and start calling what is a national call center read the small print that appears on your screen. What? YOU SAY YOU CAN’T? BECAUSE IT JUST FLASHES BY TOO QUICKLY TO READ?

Well….here it is. I have capitalized the wording that is really important to make it easier to understand that in many cases this could be just another ” bait and switch ” presentation:

….IS NOT CONNECTED WITH OR ENDORSED BY ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY OR THE FEDERAL MEDICARE PROGRAM. Members can enroll in a plan ONLY IF THEY MEET CERTAIN CRITERIA. Free eyeglasses, meals, Hearing aids HAVE LIMITATIONS. COPAYMENTS AND RESTRICTIONS MAY APPLY. Free Transportation LIMITATIONS ON MILAGE AND NUMBER OF TRIPS. Requires coordination with the carrier for approval…..PLANS NOT AVAILABLE IN ALL AREAS…..BENEFITS SUBJECT TO LIMITATIONS…THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LISTING OF PLANS AVAILABLE IN YOUR SERVICE AREA….

You are much better off working with a local broker who has your best interest in mind, who knows the local marketplace. Also, an experienced broker like LJR Insurance Solutions will make sure your doctor takes the plan you are interested in, without pressure, and all the B.S. you might run into when looking at all the “free” stuff online that is subject to so many limitations and restrictions. Beware! There are Medicare beneficiaries who have called who find themselves enrolled in a plan that they didn’t even know they were being enrolled in.

  • Lou Reinitz LJR Insurance SolutionsMedicare made stress free

IS YOUR HOSPITAL OVERCHARGING YOU?

OVER 80% OF HOSPITAL BILLS HAVE ERRORS

The cost item that is raising the cost of health insurance is not prescription drugs. Rather, it is the cost of hospitalization that is straining our healthcare budgets. Over 59% of Americans have had debt collectors contacting them due to past due bills. We are currently carrying well over 80 billion dollars in medical debt. Some hospital systems have become monopolies and have continued to raise prices albeit without improving services. With others, trying to read and figure out hospital billings seems veiled in foggy understanding when we try to decipher the complicated bills. It is a continuing and growing problem that Medicare plans to address in January.

Starting in 2021 CMS will begin to audit hospitals for price transparency, according to a recent statement. The new Hospital Price Transparency rule takes effect next month and will require hospitals to post their standard charges online. They must also define them in over 300 services that can you can compare nationwide. Medicare has agreed to investigate overcharge complaints. Hospitals not in compliance will be subject to civil penalties. After a warning, should the institution not correct their deficiency they could be subject to fines up to $300 daily. The American Hospital Association has requested a delay of implementation of this new rule because of the additional burden of the pandemic. It is our feeling that we need relief from hospital’s questionable and often unfair and complicated billing practices, and that the new rule should continue to be in effect.

-Louis Reinitz LJR Insurance Solutions

WE REALLY DON’T KNOW…

Was it Lincoln? Barnum? We really don’t know…BUT

We really don’t know who said it. Was it “Honest Abe” or P.T. Barnum, but it is as true today as it ever was:

“YOU CAN FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE SOME OF THE TIME, AND SOME OF THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME, BUT YOU CANNOT FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME!

Proverbs 19:1 – Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse

Words to live by.

  • Lou Reinitz LJR Insurance Solutions LLC

WHOOPS!

THE POWER OF SANITIZING

The COVID crisis has seen countless little spray bottles of sanitizer being sold throughout the country. I carry a couple in my car, and one at home. But using care with these products is important. Just remember, smoking can be bad for your health, as witnessed here.

  • Lou Reinitz LJR Insurance Solutions LLC

WILL THE ACA SURVIVE?

SUPREME COURT TO TAKE UP CASE IN NOVEMBER

On November 10th the Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The potential impact of their decision will have major impact on the healthcare coverage of millions of Americans. Last year a federal appeals court ruled the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was unconstitutional, and cut the tax penalty to $0. Currently in California however the penalties for not being enrolled in creditable health insurance are in effect. The administration previously argued that the pre-existing protection in the plan should be overturned, but now has stated that all of the ACA should be invalidated. Individual enrollments in ACA plans have risen 2.3 million in the last three years, so the court’s decision will have a far reaching effect on our healthcare system.

  • Lou Reinitz LJR Insurance Solutions LLC

PRAY FOR THE CHILDREN

The Coronavirus pandemic has been especially bad for kids, according to a Medicare news release, especially for the young of those in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). That’s over 40 million children living in poverty, many with special needs, who because of the health emergency are receiving reduced health services, including speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. For these children staying healthy depends upon routine healthcare. Compared to last year they are receiving 22% fewer vaccinations, and 44% fewer services to access physical and cognitive development. Autistic children are particularly vulnerable during this crisis. Adding to the problem is the uncertain reopening of schools as these students do not fare as well with virtual learning. This situation, if not corrected, will impact our country negatively in the years to come. We must be aware this could result in a national tragedy. It is time to pray for the children, the families, and for our troubled nation.
  • Louis Reinitz LJR Insurance Solutions LLC

LET’S KICK BROADWAY JOE TO THE BENCH!

Day after day on TV channels that are watched by many senior citizens we find the old quarterback Joe Namath pitching the so called “Medicare” help line. The “pitch” implies that beneficiaries can obtain all kinds of FREE benefits and to call for all the FREE information.. Now, in his day he was a great quarterback but this presentation calls for a 15 yard penalty for misleading information. First, this TV ad has nothing to do with a Medicare sponsored presentation. Furthermore, nothing is FREE. There are good benefits, many with $0 premium for plans, however we support the Medicare system with a monthly payment of $144.60 minimum currently, paid through Social Security for part B coverage. When you call the number Joe calls the signal for, you will be connected to a national “call center” who will then sell your lead to a broker. That individual may not be familiar with the resources in your area. Some great local lines may not be available to them either.

So, you should be dealing with a LOCAL independent licensed broker (like LJR Insurance Solutions) because we know the physians, specialists, hospitals, and all the ins and outs of all the plans we are certified with. As fiduciaries, our job is to do the very best for you and we suggest the plans that fit your need for not a penny extra ever.

And who do you call when you have a question or a problem? Broadway Joe? An agent who you really don’t know? If they put you in a plan that your doctor doesn’t take, what do you do then…punt?

My opinion is that they are doing a major disservice to Medicare beneficiaries by this type of advertising. We really are there to help, so score a touchdown every time by using a qualified local agency!

  • Lou Reinitz LJR Insurance Solutions LLC

CURES, AND UNSURES

CONTROVERSY ABOUT MEDICARE CHANGES

While Medicare recipients have been enjoying lower premium rates for Part D drug coverage, several new developments may change that in the future. Although plan specifics cannot be released until Oct. 1st,Medicare has announced some notable changes. First, there is the “Cures Act” just passed by Congress that gives those with ESRD the right to enroll in plans designated for those with kidney failure. This will be the first time those beneficiaries these plans will be available. Also, there will be a much needed $35.00 cap on Insulin prescriptions, just announced by CMS. These changes alone could add to beneficiaries’ costs, but muddying the waters are three recent Presidential executive orders that could also negatively affect consumers according to an article published in a Healthpayer Intelligence news release.

The so-called “Rebate Rule” would restrict the ability of Pharmacy managers to obtain medications from foreign sources which could result in large savings. In addition, $100 billion is slated for drug makers as a “bailout”. There is much disagreement as to what these changes could bring. According to the American Health Institute Providers (AHIP) Medicare part D premiums could escalate as much as 25%, and we could see our current part D budget of 2.7 billion soar to about 7.9 billion by 2029. All this means more money out of our pockets for premiums and prescription medication. Let me know your comments by emailing me at louisreinitz@ljrinsurance.solutions