Can You Hear Me Now?

Not hearing so well lately?  Here is some great information on the signs and the causes of hearing loss.

Have a great day!
George Litchfield
CA Lic#OB56846
GeorgeLitchfield.com

 

Nearly one in five Americans has some level of hearing loss.1, 2 It is the third most common chronic condition among older Americans.1, 2

Hearing loss can contribute to social isolation, higher risk of falls, depression and dementia. Seniors with severe hearing loss can have five times the risk of getting dementia as those with normal hearing.3 In addition, the brain loses its ability to hear when deprived of sound. Preserving hearing can help the brain perform at its best.4

It’s important to understand the signs and causes of hearing loss. That way, you can take charge of your hearing health.

Signs of Hearing Loss

You may suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from hearing loss. Watch for these signs:

  • People complain that you turn the TV volume up too high
  • You have trouble following conversations when more than one person is talking
  • People seem to mumble or not speak clearly
  • You have trouble hearing in noisy backgrounds

Causes of Hearing Loss

Aging is the most common cause of hearing loss. The inner ear can change over time and affect hearing. Other factors include:

  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Ear wax
  • Auditory nerve damage from head injuries or tumors
  • Infections
  • Changes in blood supply to the ear due to heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes

You can take steps to help prevent hearing loss. Here are some things you can do:

  • Turn down the volume on your television, radio, phone, etc.
  • Wear ear protection when you’re in noisy places or using loud equipment, like a lawn mower
  • Get enough vitamins A, C and E, and N-acetylcysteine. This can help protect ear cells against free radicals generated by loud noise

Get Your Hearing Tested

The effects of untreated hearing loss are serious. You may have problems in your relationships with friends and family. Your overall health and quality of life can suffer.

It’s best to get help as soon as you notice signs of hearing loss. You can get a simple hearing test. It can help you decide whether you might need more help. Medicare Part B may cover hearing exams that your doctor orders.

1. Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov 14, 2011

2. National Institute on Deafness & Other Communication Disorders, 2011.

3. Archives of Neurology, Feb 2011

4. The Journal of Neuroscience, Aug 31, 2011
–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear

For more help with your Medicare question call us at (888) 891-5557 or visit GeorgeLitchfield.com and fill out our no obligation consultation form and we will call you.

Understanding Medicare Advantage Plans – Litchfield Agency

Medicare Advantage (formerly known as Medicare + Choice) is Medicare’s term for managed care plans offered by private insurers and supported by Medicare, and is an alternative to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to cover medical expenses. Many Medicare Advantage plans now offer a Prescription Drug benefit included in the plan. Senior Educators can help you Select a Medicare Advantage Plan that fits your needs. How The Litchfield Agency Helps You Select a Medicare Advantage Plan

About Medicare Advantage Plans

In Medicare Advantage plans, the government contracts with private insurance companies to add Medicare beneficiaries to the rolls of those covered under the insurance company’s plan. Payments to the plan are from Medicare (diverting the Part B premium payments), and potentially from the enrollee. Many plans however do not charge additional amounts; specifics will vary in every county in every state. Enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans are still part of Medicare. Most counties have at least one Medicare Advantage option.

Medicare Advantage Plans Come in 4 Main Types:

  • Medicare Advantage Preferred Provider Organization plans (PPOs)
  • Medicare Advantage Private Fee for Service Plans (PFFS)
  • Medicare Advantage Point of Service (POS)
  • Medicare Advantage Managed Care plans (HMOs)

–George Litchfield
Turning65-NewtoMedicare.com
1-888-891-5557

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE CHOOSING A MEDICARE PLAN

When choosing their Medicare plan, most Seniors fail to consider the major differences in these plans leaving themselves exposed to potentially thousands of dollars in unnecessary medical expenses. For the most part most of the Medicare Supplement plans offered by different insurance companies have identical benefits. These plans are identified by a letter A-J and the most popular (F & J) cover almost everything that Medicare does not. These plans offer the greatest flexibility in regards to choice of Doctor and Hospitals. These plans DO NOT contain the Part D drug coverage, so you need to add a RX plan to cover your prescription drugs, which will add additional monthly costs. The differences between company offerings of “med supps” are usually found in the monthly premiums and those are based on age and county of residence. The typical cost for a Medicare Supplement is about $140-$270 per month depending on age then you’ll need to add on your Part D RX plan which could range from $20-$60 more per month.

In contrast, the differences between Medicare Advantage plans offered by different companies may appear subtle initially. However, upon further evaluation, you will find dramatic differences that could be very costly. Most Medicare Advantage plans have a $0 monthly premium which has made them very attractive and popular. However, you give up the flexibility of a Medicare Supplement because most Medicare Advantage plans are HMOs. So you will need to choose a primary care Physician and will need to be referred to a Specialist within the plan network.

Most Seniors, especially those new to Medicare, when evaluating Medicare Advantage plans, typically look first at co-pays for Doctor’s visits, Hospital Charges and generic RX drugs. This is a mistake because those costs are minor compared to the four critical areas that can rack up thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Furthermore, those benefits are usually at the top of the “explanation of benefits” because it’s what the insurance company wants you to focus on! The four critical areas in these plans that can be far more costly to you then Doctor visits or Hospital charges are: skilled nursing facility, diagnostic/treatment radiation, durable medical equipment and RX formularies. These areas can not only be costly but there is typically no “out of pocket maximums” to protect you. Here a few tips when evaluating a Medicare Advantage plan:

  • Look at the daily co-pay for Skilled Nursing Facility beyond the 20th day. The difference between plans can be as much as $125 per day and these costs could mount up quickly.
  • Look for co-pays versus percentage of cost for Radiation Diagnostic/Treatment benefit (chemotherapy and radiation) for Cancer. There is a HUGE difference between a $20 co-pay and 20% of costs.
  • Look for the lowest percentage for Durable Medical  Equipment. These items can be VERY expensive and a 10% difference could save you thousands of dollars.
  • Check each of your medications on the plan formulary. Each company rates or tiers each drug differently and this potentially could cost you hundreds more dollars each month. Also look for the highest initial threshold before you enter the GAP or so called “doughnut hole”.

— George Litchfield
888-891-5557
http://Turning65-newtomedicare.com

These are just a few ideas that could save you from making a costly mistake by choosing the wrong health plan. Make sure you and your agent take these points into consideration when evaluating your health plan.

Medicare = Freedom and Flexibility of Choice

If you’ve already signed up for a Medicare plan, are you locked into your choice? The simple answer is no. Medicare offers you the freedom to add, switch or drop coverage every year. This gives you the flexibility to change your coverage as your needs change.

Am I getting what I want from my plan?

The things you want and need from your Medicare coverage can change from year to year. The things you don’t need can change, too. So which type of coverage is right for you?

Original Medicare might be right for you if:

  • You need basic health care coverage for doctor visits and hospital stays.
  • You want to see any doctor who is accepting new Medicare patients—even if you travel out of state.
  • You already have prescription drug coverage or don’t mind buying a standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
  • If you have other insurance—like from an employer—that you want to keep, but you also want to take advantage of your Initial Enrollment Period.
  • Your current insurance provider doesn’t offer Medicare-approved plans.
  • You like the convenience of having one type of coverage for each health care need—medical, hospital, prescription drug coverage, etc.

Medicare Advantage (Part C) might be right for you if:

  • You want the same coverage as Original Medicare plus extra benefits, like dental coverage, wellness services or a fitness benefit.
  • You are comfortable choosing a doctor from within a plan’s network.
  • You like having the option to choose a plan with prescription drug coverage built in.
  • You have a chronic illness, like diabetes, and want a Special Needs Plan designed for your unique needs.
  • Your current insurance provider offers Medicare-approved plans and you’d be more comfortable sticking with a plan you know.
  • You like the convenience of having all your coverage and benefits in a single plan.

How much do I want to pay?

It’s important to make sure your Medicare coverage fits into your budget every year, especially if your situation has changed. Original Medicare generally offers set costs. In other words, most people will pay the same cost for the same services. Medicare Advantage plans offer you flexibility to choose the cost sharing that best fits your needs and budget.

Plan premiums are one part of your overall costs. But there are a few other things to consider, as well. Deductibles, copays and coinsurance are all pieces of the cost puzzle. Original Medicare also doesn’t have an annual out-of-pocket expense cap, but Medicare Advantage plans do. Is this important to you when comparing costs?

Timing – When can I make a change?

The best time to make a change to your Medicare coverage is during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), October 15 to December 7 each year. During this time, you can add, switch or drop most types of Medicare coverage. There are also General Enrollment periods (GEPs) for specific types of plan changes. Visit Medicare.gov to find out more. If you need to change plans because of a change in your life—like moving to another state—you could also qualify for a Special Enrollment period (SEP). Learn about general rules for SEPs here.

Use your freedom of choice.

Change is a constant. Personal, medical and financial changes can mean your Medicare coverage no longer meets your needs. It’s good to know Medicare gives you the freedom and flexibility to get the coverage you need no matter how those needs change.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear

http://www.turning65-newtomedicare.com – Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. The Litchfield Insurance Agency assists the Beaver Medical Group in Redlands. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. We will find the right plan for you. Serving Redlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire. Call us today 888-891-5557

How Can I Find Out What My Medicare Plan Choices Are?

When you first enroll in Medicare, and every year after that, you have choices to make. Is Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan the best choice for you? Do you want to add a prescription drug plan or a supplement insurance plan to Original Medicare? Which Medicare Advantage plan will best meet your needs?

Before you can make choices, you need information. You need to know what your plan choices are. And you need to know what coverage each plan offers as well as its costs.

Go to the Official Medicare Web Site

Perhaps the most obvious place to start looking for Medicare plans is Medicare.gov. The site is a great source of information about Original Medicare Parts A and B, including coverage and costs, which can change every year. It also has an online tool that you can use to find Medicare Advantage, supplement insurance and prescription drug plans in your area. You will get a list of plan names with summaries of the plan coverage and costs. You can even enroll right from the site or link to the plan sites for more information.

Use Community Resources

Keep an eye out for local community Medicare educational events. These are sometimes sponsored by local or national organizations, like AARP, or insurance companies. You might see notices for these events posted in your local newspaper or on bulletin boards in pharmacies, libraries, etc. Community events can be a convenient and personal way to get the information you’re looking for. And don’t forget your pharmacist. He or she is often well informed about which Medicare plans are offered locally.

Other community resources include local insurance agents, your local Social Security Office and your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

Ask the Plan Sponsors

Once you identify plans in your area, or if you already know which insurance company you want to use, you may want to call customer service representatives or go to each plan web site to further investigate the plans that interest you. Many company web sites have online tools that allow you to search and compare specific plans that have the features you’re looking for.

When considering a plan, it’s important to read the Evidence of Coverage (EOC). Plan sponsors are required to provide this document, which gives a thorough description of what services the plan covers. You can ask for a copy to be sent to you or, often, view or download it from the company web site.

Keep Your Needs in Mind

Medicare coverage isn’t the sort of thing that you can just decide on once and then forget about. Things change—benefits, costs, your health, your finances—even where you live. Any of these can affect your Medicare plan choices. You need to pay attention to your needs and to what plans are available to you, so you can make the best choice for you—every year.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear

http://www.turning65-newtomedicare.com – Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. The Litchfield Insurance Agency assists the Beaver Medical Group in Redlands. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. We will find the right plan for you. ServingRedlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire. Call 909-790-7748.