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Insurance provides an affordable and valuable providing security and protecting you and your assets. As wit other life senior services, it pays to do your research when selecting insurance. There ie a broad range of insurance products that offer quality and value-for-money.

Many insurance companies offer online services that you can easily find the best deals right from your home or office.

The material below is intended as a guide. As with all life senior services, please seek professional assistance when making insurance related decisions.

Life Insurance Settlements divider

Life Insurance Settlements
In a Question and Answer Format

A life settlement is a financial transaction whereby a third party acquires an unneeded or unwanted life insurance policy from the policy holder. Life settlements provide seniors a secondary market for life insurance in which the policy owner can determine fair market value for their policy. This value may be higher than the cash surrender value from the issuing life insurance company. The purchaser becomes the new beneficiary of the policy at maturation and is responsible for all subsequent premium payments.

The following is intended to provide a broad overview of life settlements and answer some basic questions.

You should talk to a trusted financial advisor before making any decision.


What is a Life Insurance Settlement?

A senior life settlement allows seniors typically over the age of 65 to sell existing unwanted, obsolete or unaffordable life insurance policies to investing financial institutions for a lump sum cash settlement.

What are the benefits of a Life Insurance Settlement?
Settlements can help seniors to:

  • Stop paying premiums for unwanted policies and still receive funds higher then the surrender value offered by the carrier.
  • Use funds for retirement.
  • Use funds for health treatments or long term care.
  • Use funds for other investment or any other purpose
  • Other life settlement benefits for seniors
What are the requirements to qualify for a Life Insurance Settlement?
In order to qualify for selling your life insurance policy:
  • The policy holder must be at least 65 years old.
  • The policy must have been in force for at least 2 years
  • The policy holder must be a USA or Canadian Resident.

Life settlements allow seniors to benefit from their policies when they need it the most.

Here are some additional considerations

Why use a Life Settlement Broker?

  • Usually cases are brought to market for purchase through a licensed Life Settlement Broker vs. a Life Settlement Provider. This insures that the policy owner will, usually, get multiply offers and maximize their sale price.
  • Some policy owners go direct to the buyers (Life Settlement Providers) themselves. Working with a Life Settlement Provider directly only gets a single purchase quote, not multiply offers.
  • Providers are companies that manage the life settlement process for the ultimate buyer. We work with approximately 36 providers who represent about 100+ sources of capital. There are some cases where we go direct to the end buyer.
  • Providers want to buy the policy as cheap as possible, with as little competition as possible.
How much money will I get if I sell my Life Insurance policy?

The value of a life insurance policy is determined by a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the age and medical condition of the insured, type of insurance policy, rating of the issuing insurance company and amount of premium payments to keep the life insurance policy in force.

What type of Life Insurance policies can be sold?
Most types of life insurance policies can qualify, however, the most common are Universal Life, Whole Life, and convertible Term Life.

Why would I consider selling my life insurance policy?

  • The policy is no longer needed or wanted
  • To pay for healthcare costs
  • Premium payments have become unaffordable
  • Considering lapse or surrender of the policy
  • Change in estate planning needs

Caregiver Advise divider

Investment Annuities divider

Annuity Basics
In a Question and Answer Format

The following is intended to provide a broad overview of annuities and answer some basic questions.

  • While this overview points out elements that many annuities have in common, there are hundreds of different annuity products available today, each with its own particular features, benefits and pay-out options. Within that very large group of annuity products, it is possible that particular annuities may behave differently than the descriptions given here.

If you are interested in annuities, we encourage you to learn as much as you can about a particular product and talk to a financial counselor you trust before making any purchase decision.

What Is An Annuity?
An annuity is an insurance product designed to provide income -- either at some future date or immediately. With any annuity, the consumer makes at least one payment (called a "premium") to an insurance company. The insurance company, in turn, agrees to provide income payments to the consumer in the future or right away. Because there are several different varieties of annuities, it is easiest to break them into two broad groups -- deferred annuities (those designed to pay in the future) and immediate annuities (those designed to provide income immediately.)


What should one look for in an annuity provider?

When purchasing an annuity from an insurance company, you are placing your money, your trust and part of your future financial well-being with that company. Be sure that the company you choose has a long track record of meeting its financial obligations and is financially strong. By researching and comparing the financial condition and credit ratings of several insurance companies you will be able to make an informed decision.

  • Check the insurance company's financial condition. Ask your financial counselor or your state's insurance department for this information.
  • Research the credit ratings of the insurer versus those of other providers. The rating applies to the company that issues the annuity, not to any specific annuity product or to any underlying investments. The most widely-known credit rating agencies are Standard and Poor's, Moody's, Fitch, and A.M. Best.

Investment Annuities Divider

For more information on either deferred or immediate annuities.

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Deferred Annuities Divider

Deferred Annuities

What is a deferred annuity?
A deferred annuity is an insurance product designed to provide income at some time in the future - typically during retirement. The idea is to let the premium payment you made to the insurance company accumulate tax-deferred for a number of years.

If you choose a fixed, deferred annuity, your money will accumulate at a fixed rate guaranteed* by the insurance company for a specified period of time.

If you choose a variable, deferred annuity, your money will accumulate at a variable rate, based upon the performance of the underlying investments. The investment return and the value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

When you no longer wish to keep accumulating funds in your annuity, you may take the money out as a lump sum or annuitize it (convert it to income payments). If you annuitize, you have a choice of several standard pay-out options. Liquidations of earnings are subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, a 10% federal income tax penalty may also apply.

Fixed, deferred annuity

Variable, deferred annuity

* Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurer.
Fixed, Deferred Annuities Divider

Fixed, Deferred Annuities

What is a fixed, deferred annuity?
A fixed, deferred annuity is an insurance product that offers a fixed interest rate guaranteed* by an insurance company for a specified period of time (sometimes called a guarantee period ). With this form of retirement savings, the premium you pay to the insurance company accumulates on a tax-deferred basis and the insurance company usually guarantees* the return of your principal investment.

Example
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, both in their early 50's,
have received a $40,000 inheritance and would like to use this money for their retirement income later on. Their financial advisor has explained that an annuity may be a suitable product for them. The Smiths have a very low risk tolerance and they will need this money for their retirement. They decide that a fixed, deferred annuity is perfect for them because they do not need the money right now and they do not want to risk losing their principal investment.

What are the advantages of a fixed, deferred annuity?

Tax-deferred accumulation

Guaranteed return of principal*

Guaranteed interest rate*

Choice of guarantee period with many fixed annuities

Not subject to stock and bond market fluctuations

No fees or charges with many fixed annuities.

* Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurer.

What are the disadvantages of a fixed, deferred annuity?

No flexibility. You may not change any applicable guarantee period or interest rate once you pay your premium.

Not a liquid investment. Liquidation of earnings is subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, a 10% federal income tax penalty may also apply. Early surrender charges may also apply.

For what type of investor is a fixed, deferred annuity suitable?
It may be a suitable investment for someone:

Seeking a fixed rate of return

Wishing to diversify their overall retirement investment portfolio

Who has already reached maximum contribution levels in a 401(k) plan and any IRAs they may have.

Not wanting to worry about market fluctuations or having to actively manage their investments.

May one make withdrawals from a fixed, deferred annuity?
Certain withdrawals from fixed, deferred annuities may be subject to:

Surrender charges

On many annuities, the insurer may assess a surrender charge -- typically ranging from 7 percent to 1 percent of the withdrawal amount, based on a schedule where the amount of the surrender charge declines over time. There are some exceptions. Some annuities allow the annuitant to annually withdraw a certain amount (for example 10%) without a surrender charge.

Market value adjustments

Some fixed annuities contain a market value adjustment that applies when you take a full or partial distribution. With some types of fixed annuities, the market value adjustment may increase or decrease the value of your distribution, depending whether the interest rates currently being offered for your type of annuity have risen or fallen since your guarantee period began. If they've fallen, the adjustment may result in a higher payment. If they've risen, your payment may be lower. With some types of annuities, there is no market value adjustment if you surrender your annuity at the end of a guarantee period.

Federal income tax penalties.

Withdrawals before age 59 1/2 may be subject to a 10 percent Federal Income Tax penalty.

Ask your financial consultant if any of these apply with the annuity you are considering.

Pay-out options available

Most annuities offer several standard pay-out options - ranging from pay-outs for a specified period of time (Period Certain), to pay-outs for life.

Click for more pay-out options information.

Variable Deferred Annuities Divider

Variable, Deferred Annuities

What is a variable, deferred annuity?
A variable, deferred annuity is a long-term insurance product that enables the premium paid to the insurance company to accumulate tax-deferred with a variable rate of return. Within the annuity, there is a choice of investment options (called sub-accounts) that will allow for management of investment choices over time. The sub-accounts invest in underlying funds that, in turn, invest in various types of securities (i.e.,stocks, bonds, money market instruments) each with a different risk/return profile. The return on your annuity will depend on the performance of the investment options you choose.

Example
Nancy Edwards, 56,
makes the maximum contribution to her 401(k) plan at work each year and also has an IRA to which she contributes the maximum annual amount. This year, she receives a bonus for which she doesn't have an immediate need. She decides she would like to invest $15,000 of her bonus and let the earnings accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. Knowing that Nancy is financially savvy and is a moderately aggressive investor, her financial advisor suggests a variable, deferred annuity with a mix of equity and bond investment options. Nancy is willing to take the risk of either profiting or losing from this investment.

What are the advantages of a variable, deferred annuity?

Tax-deferred accumulation

Ability to choose among investment options

Potential for more rapid accumulation than with a fixed annuity.

What are the disadvantages of a variable, deferred annuity?

No guaranteed rate of return on variable investment options

No guarantee of principal

Not a liquid investment. Liquidation of earnings is subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, a 10% federal income tax penalty may also apply. Early surrender charges may also apply.

Subject to fees and charges from the annuity contract and from the underlying investments.

For what type of investor is a variable, deferred annuity suitable?
A variable, deferred annuity can be a suitable investment for someone:

Who does not require a fixed rate of return and with a tolerance for risk

Who has already reached maximum contribution levels in his or her 401(k) plan and in any IRAs

Who likes to manage their own investments

May one make withdrawals from a variable, deferred annuity?
Certain withdrawals from variable, deferred annuities may be subject to:

Surrender charges

On many annuities, the insurer may assess a surrender charge -- typically ranging from 7% to 1% of the withdrawal amount, based on a schedule where the amount of the surrender charge declines over time. There are some exceptions. Some annuities allow the annuitant to annually withdraw a certain amount (for example 10%) without a surrender charge.

Federal income tax penalties

Withdrawals before age 59 1/2 may be subject to a 10 percent Federal Income Tax penalty.

When speaking with your financial consultant, ask if any of these apply with the annuity you are considering.

What pay-out options are available when I get ready to receive income from my annuity?
Most annuities offer several standard pay-out options - ranging from pay-outs for a specified period of time to pay-outs for life.

Click for more pay-out options information.

Immediate Annuities Divider

Immediate Annuities

What is an immediate annuity?
An immediate annuity is an insurance product designed to convert assets into income immediately (typically within 30 days and seldom longer than 12 months from the date of purchase). The consumer pays a premium to the insurance company and the insurance company makes a stream of periodic, income pay-outs** to the annuitant. As is the case with deferred annuities, immediate annuities can either be fixed or variable.

** Taxable Distributions (and certain deemed distributions) are subject to ordinary income tax.

With a fixed, immediate annuity, your periodic pay-out amount will always stay the same. With a variable, immediate annuity, your periodic pay-out amount will fluctuate, based on the performance of the investment options you have chosen within the annuity.

Fixed Immediate Annuities Divider

Fixed, Immediate Annuities

A fixed, immediate annuity is an insurance product that offers a fixed, periodic payment to you, the annuitant, to begin shortly (usually about a month) after you pay your premium to the insurance company. You choose the time frame over which you will receive your pay-outs

Either for a specified period (called a Period Certain )

Or for the rest of your life.

The most common usage of this type of annuity is to convert assets into a steady income during retirement.

Example
Mr. Johnson, age 71,
is a conservative investor who wants to have additional monthly income. He plans to sell about $50,000 of mutual funds that he currently owns and use the proceeds to buy a 10-year Period Certain Fixed, Immediate Annuity. His fixed pay-outs will begin in about a month. He likes the idea that he won't have to worry about market fluctuations with the mutual funds any more and that his pay-outs will be the same every month. He also likes the fact that, should he die before the 10-year period is over, his beneficiary will receive any remaining payments from that Period Certain.

What are the advantages of a fixed, immediate annuity?

Guaranteed* periodic pay-outs**.

Pay-outs begin immediately.

Pay-out amount is not subject to market fluctuations.

* Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurer.
** Taxable Distributions (and certain deemed distributions) are subject to ordinary income tax.

What are the disadvantages of a fixed, immediate annuity?

No choice of investment options.

No flexibility. You may not change your pay-out option or your periodic pay-out amount once the pay-outs begin.

Not a liquid investment. Withdrawals are not allowed unless the annuity has a commutation (cancellation) provision.

For what type of investor is a fixed, immediate annuity suitable?

Is seeking a fixed, periodic pay-out

Does not want to worry about market fluctuations and have to manage their investments.

Can one make withdrawals from a fixed, immediate annuity?
No. Withdrawals from a fixed, immediate annuity may be made only if there is a commutation (cancellation) provision written in your annuity contract.

What pay-out options are available from a fixed, deferred annuity?
Most fixed, deferred annuities offer several standard pay-out options - ranging from pay-outs for a specified period of time (Period Certain) to pay-outs for life.

Click for more pay-out options information.

Variable, Immediate Annuities Divider

Variable, Immediate Annuity

What is a variable, immediate annuity?
A variable, immediate annuity is an insurance product designed to produce pay-outs that will vary depending upon the performance of the investment options you choose. At the time you pay your premium to purchase the annuity, you choose from several underlying investment options (called sub-accounts). The sub-accounts, in turn, invest in underlying securities that can range from stocks to bonds to money market instruments. You choose the investment options based your assessment of their potential performance and on your own risk tolerance.

Unlike a fixed, immediate annuity, you may make some changes to your variable, immediate annuity after the pay-outs begin. You may change your investment options as frequently as your particular annuity allows. You may not, however, change your pay-out option.

Example
Mr. and Mrs. Ford, ages 70 and 72, have a sum of money that they would like to use to purchase an annuity. They have discussed with their financial advisor that they already have enough income to fund their retirement. They would like to purchase an annuity and be able to choose their investment options with the potential of profiting from favorable performance. Because the Fords are savvy investors, their financial advisor suggests a variable, immediate annuity because they want to receive pay-outs immediately, but they do not need a defined pay-out.

What are the advantages of a variable, immediate annuity?

Ability to choose underlying investment options

A stream of periodic income payments**.

Potential for higher returns than a fixed annuity.

** Taxable Distributions (and certain deemed distributions) are subject to ordinary income tax.

What are the disadvantages of a variable, immediate annuity?

Pay-outs are not guaranteed - they are subject to market fluctuations

No guaranteed return of principal

No liquidity. The only way that withdrawals can be made from an immediate annuity is if there is a commutation provision written in your annuity.

Subject to investment management fees and other charges.

For what type of investor is a variable, immediate annuity suitable?

Is willing to have his or her periodic pay-outs fluctuate

Does not mind managing his or her investments.

Can one make withdrawals from a variable, immediate annuity?
No. The only way you can make a withdrawal from a variable, immediate annuity is if there is a commutation (cancellation) provision written in your annuity contract.

What pay-out options are available from a variable, immediate annuity?
Most annuities offer several standard pay-out options - ranging from pay-outs for a specified period of time (Period Certain) to pay-outs for life.

Click for more pay-out options information.

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Annuity Pay-out Options Divider

Annuity Pay-Out Options

What are the pay-out options if I choose to annuitize (convert my assets to income payments)?
Both fixed and variable annuities offer similar pay-out options. The most common options are listed here.

Pay-out Option Length of Payments Payment to Beneficiary Example
Life Only Annuity The annuitant will receive pay-outs for the rest of his or her life. Under this option, it is possible to receive only one pay-out No death benefit with this option. John purchases a life annuity and lives for three more years, receiving pay-outs over that time. Upon his death, no death benefit is payable. Susan purchases a life annuity and lives for 25 years, receiving pay-outs over that time. Upon her death, no death benefit is payable.
Period Certain Annuity The annuitant will receive guaranteed* pay-outs for a specified period of time (Period Certain). This period is typically expressed as a number of years (i.e., 10, 15, or 20 years). If the annuitant dies before the specified period ends, the beneficiary will receive pay-outs for the rest of the Period Certain. Bill buys a 10-year period certain annuity and he dies in the 3rd year. The beneficiary will receive payments for the remaining 7 years.
Life Annuity with Period Certain The annuitant will receive periodic pay-outs for the longer of his/her lifetime or a specified period (Ex. Life with 10 years certain). The beneficiary will receive payment if the annuitant dies before the specified period has expired. Maria buys a Life with 10-year Period Certain annuity and she later dies in the third year. Her beneficiary receives payments for the 7 remaining years. However, if she were to die in the 11th year after purchasing the annuity, the beneficiary would receive nothing.
Joint and Survivor Annuity Payments are made for the duration of 2 lives. Upon the death of the first annuitant, the second annuitant receives a percentage (typically ranging from 50-100%) of the amount the first annuitant received. No death benefit with this option. Tom has chosen a Joint and Survivor with 50 percent continuation benefit for him and his spouse, Jill. When Tom dies, Jill will continue to receive pay-outs for the rest of her life, but each pay-out will only be 50% of the periodic pay-out he received. When Jill dies, no death benefit will be payable.
Joint and Survivor With Period Certain Payments are made for the duration of 2 lives. Upon the death of the first annuitant, the second annuitant receives a percentage (typically ranging from 50-100%) of the amount the first annuitant received. In addition, the annuitants may choose a minimum period (Period Certain) over which they will receive guaranteed payments*. If both annuitants die before the Period Certain ends, a beneficiary will receive any remaining guaranteed* payments. Jim and Martha purchase a Joint and Survivor Annuity with 50% continuation benefits and a 10-year Period Certain. If Jim dies in year 3, Martha will continue to receive pay-outs, but the amount of each pay-out will be 50% of the amount he received. If Martha dies before the end of the 10th year, any remaining pay-outs will go to a beneficiary. If Martha dies after the end of the 10th year, no death benefit will be payable.
Life Annuity with Cash Refund With this option, the annuitant receives guaranteed* periodic pay-outs for the rest of their life. If the annuitant dies before receiving the amount of his/her premium payment back as pay-outs, any remaining pay-outs go to a beneficiary. NOTE: For immediate annuities, a beneficiary will receive any remaining premium if the annuitant dies before receiving the amount of his or her premium back as pay-outs. For deferred annuities, if the annuitant dies before receiving any pay-outs, the beneficiary will receive the account value of the annuity. Upon the death of the annuitant, the beneficiary will receive the remainder of the premium (or in the case of a deferred annuity, the account balance.) Juan makes a premium payment of $100,000 to purchase an immediate Life Annuity with Cash Refund. He dies several years later, after having received only $75,000 back in the form of pay-outs. His beneficiary will receive the remaining $25,000.

* Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurer.
** Taxable Distributions (and certain deemed distributions) are subject to ordinary income tax.

How the pay-out option choosen affects the monthly benefit

This chart, for an immediate fixed annuity pay-out only, shows how a monthly annuity benefit amount is affected by the pay-out option chosen.

    Assumptions
    Annuity type: Fixed, Immediate
    Premium Amount: $100,000
    Annuitant: Male, Age 60
    Joint Annuitant (if applicable): Female, Age 62
Example: How Choice Of Pay-out Option Affects Benefit Amount
Pay-out Option Monthly Benefit paid to annuitant Provisions for beneficiary or co-annuitant
10 yr. Period Certain Annuity $1,125.13 If the annuitant dies before the 10-year Period Certain ends, the beneficiary will receive the remainder of the payments for the 10-year period.
Life Only Annuity $724.96 No death benefit.
Life Annuity with 10 yr. Period Certain $714.41 If the annuitant dies before the 10-year Period Certain ends, the beneficiary will receive the payments for remainder of the 10-year period.
Life Annuity with cash refund $698.72 If the annuitant dies before receiving the $100,000 premium back as pay-outs, the beneficiary will receive the difference.
Joint and Survivor Annuity with 50% continuation $693.51 The co-annuitant will receive a monthly benefit of $346.75 upon the death of the primary annuitant.
Joint and Survivor Annuity
With 50% continuation and 10-Year Period Certain
$688.42 The co-annuitant will receive a monthly benefit of $344.21 upon the death of the primary annuitant. If both annuitants should die before the end of the 10-year Period Certain, the beneficiary will receive any remaining payments at the 50% level.

Annuities Divider

The above information was provided by
Hartford Life Insurance Company

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Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance Divider

Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance

Some companies are now offering Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance to people whose age, health or pocketbook may prohibit them from being able to purchase life insurance. Unlike underwritten life insurance policies, you are not required to answer any health questions or take a physical. Usually these plans include a limited benefit period. If death occurs during the first few years, a reduced benefit is payable or the company will return the premiums paid plus interest. This allows the company to guarantee your acceptance. Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance provides extra protection to help cover final expenses, unpaid medical bills, outstanding loans and credit card payments. Even if you already have some form of life insurance, you may still be underinsured due to inflation and the rising costs of final expenses.

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Health Insurance

Health Insurance

eHealthInsurance, Custom Fit Your Needs, 468 x 60

Medicare Divider

Medicare

Those who have worked for a time in the United States, and their spouse, are generally eligible for Medicare. The age of eligibility is 65, unless there is a disability involved, in which case one may be younger to qualify.

A person who is 65, a legal resident of the United States and has been so continuously for 5 years, may be eligible to buy into Medicare by buying into Part A and also Part B coverage of medicare. The buy-in amount varies and can be determined for you by workers in your local Social Security office.

Even if you are not going to file for Social Security at 65, FILE FOR MEDICARE at 65. If you delay filing, it may cost you more money to file later!

Medicare is divided into Part A and Part B coverage.

Part A, provided free of patient premiums to those who have worked the necesary number of quarters, includes:

In-patient hospital care for up to 90 days in a benefit period.

A Benefit Period ends when you've been out of the hospital 60 consecutive days.

There is no limit to how many benefit periods you can have.

There are 60 reserve hospital days that can be used in any benefit period.

  • There is a deductible of $840 per hospital stay per benefit perior.
  • The deductible is paid by the patient (or a medigap insurance provider).
  • From 61-90 days there is a per day co-pay.

Inpatient care in a participating skilled nursing facility

Home health care (distinguished from non-medical home help)

Hospice care

    Part B is provided at a premium "which most people pay through an automatic deduction from their social security check" and helps pay for:
    • Doctor services.
    • Outpatient hospital care.
    • Diagnostic tests.
    • Durable medical equipment.
    • Ambulance services.
    • Many other health services/supplies, not covered by Part A.
    • Part B deduction is $78.20 per month starting in 2005 with a $110 deductible.

If you live in a rural area Medicare regulations enable some reimbursement of home care visits. Your closest Social Security Office can provide details regarding availability in your state. This is another segment of trying to provide better services overall for seniors in rural regions of the country. Earlier efforts to provide for rural patients was approval of limited telehealth services for "teleradiology" and "telepathology".

Some seniors qualify for Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) because of a "disability" or other exceptional circumstance and "low income". Eligibility for maximum payments under SSI are reduced by "countable" income and assets beyond home ownership. Some states supplement the SSI payment from Medicare when a qualified recipient lives in a care home. SSI recipients may also qualify for additional help i.e. food stamps or medicaid.

Apply for Disability Benefits with Freedom Disability

Medicare and SSI information provided here is meant to be a primer, and a place to start. It is not meant to replace information available from Medicare.

The Medicare Hotline is 1.800.633.4227. They can provide:

  • "Your Medicare Handbook" (the latest update version) free of charge. The Handbook, Publication No. HCFA 10050 provides explanations about Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) of Medicare coverage. It lists carriers of Part B coverage by state and explains Part B enrollment procedures. It also lists, by state, where to call for information regarding the quality of care in Medicare-certified facilities. There is an application for sending away for additional free publications, that deal with Medicare questions relating to specific medical conditions and treatments.
  • A toll free number for your State Counseling Office.

The Medicare Fraud Hotline is 1.800.447.8477.
It is operated 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m Eastern Standard Time.
They are interested in suspected instances of Medicare fraud.

suplemental or 
medigap insurance divider

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Supplemental Insurance to Medicare

Medical Insurance and medical coverage can be obtained from private providers to help pay for doctor and hospital care costs not covered by Medicare A and/or B through:

suplemental or 
medigap insurance divider
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Diabetes Coverage for seniors divider

Medicare Coverage for Diabetes

For seniors, Medicare provides a wide range of coverage for diabetes and it related symptoms. Original Medicare is fee-for-service coverage under which the government pays your health care providers directly for your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Part B (Medical Insurance) benefits.

The information here provides a quick overview of some of the services and diabetes supplies covered by Medicare (Part B and Part D). Generally, Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers the services that may affect people who have diabetes. In addition, Medicare Part B covers some preventive services for people who are at risk for diabetes. Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) also covers diabetes supplies used for injecting or inhaling insulin. You must have Part B to get services and supplies covered under Part B. You must be enrolled in a Medicare drug plan to get supplies covered under Part D.

HMO insurance for seniors divider

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's)

  • These organizations negotiate pricing and coverage agreements with private physicians and hospitals.
  • They accept government medicare payments as premium payments, or the bulk of the premium payment.
  • They may provide patient treatment with little or no deductibles or a small or no co-pay.
  • Are run as a business.
  • They have many regulations regarding circumstances of care.
  • They control patient out of pocket costs if patients accept their services.
  • They can only be expected to cover emergency care when care is received outside their service area from non-group providers.

Things to compare between HMO's:

  • Patient co-pay requirements for:
    • Hospitalization
    • Choice of doctors
    • How nurse practictioners are used in patient care
    • Doctor visits
    • Prescription limitations and coverage
    • Dental care
    • Eye care
    • How existing conditions are handled
    • Which procedures available for your present conditions are included or exempted
    • Number of consecutive days you may travel away from home
    • Conditions of coverage when out of the USA or their service area - Convenience of doctor groups and hospitals

Links for More HMO Information

medigap divider

Medigap or Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Legislation standardizes this insurance into ten plans. They are referred to by letters A - J. All plans offer some coverage for what is not covered in part A of Medicare. Plans B - J, offer insurance covering for additional "services" medicare does not cover. i.e. J includes coverage for Part A costs, as well as many non-covered charges from part B.

In comparing policies, remember that all insurance providers must provide categories A - J with similar features. So within each designated category, compare insurance coverage by:

  • Quality of service they will provide
  • Premium costs
  • Existing condition clause
  • Built-in premium increases
  • Age triggered increases
  • Inflation factors for increase in benefit coverage
  • Guarantee of renewability
  • Ability to upgrade to a higher letter coverage at a later date

medicaid divider

Medicaid

Medicaid is federally funded, and administered by states under their State Department of Insurance ( found in Resources by State). How "poor" you have to be to be eligible for Medicaid varies by state. Divesture of assets including spousal impoverishment (through asset transfers) in order to qualify for Medicaid may differ. How much a couple may have in "assets" is presently approximately $87,000, $2,000 for an unmarried nursing home resident. For a couple, the maximum monthly income is approximately $2,200, but again this differs by state. The asset limit and income for a married couple are adjusted annually by each state.

If you want Medicare and Medicaid to work together to cover the cost of medical care, select providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) that accept both Medicare and Medicaid.

Check at http://www.hcfa.gov for your state information.

Exemptions to your "assets" value may be:

  • The permanent home the well spouse occupies, or that the nursing home patient wishes to return to
  • One car
  • The value of the premium in an annuity
  • (The annuity amount paid out to the annuitant usually counts in income qualifications)

Generally regulations require residence in a long term care facility or skilled nursing home for Medicaid eligibility. But in some states a case by case investigation may allow some to be eligible when receiving medical care at home.

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Long Term Care Insurance

Medicare, HMO's and Medigap insurance do not pay for
nursing home care for long term stays or for Assisted Living.

Insurance can be purchased to help pay for these costs. Without it, a one year stay in a nursing home, estimated at $25,000-$42,000 per year, can wipe out a family nest egg. It can leave the well spouse without financial resources for their living expenses.

When shopping for Long Term Care insurance compare:

  • Premium costs
  • How long has the company been writing this insurance
  • What is their history on pay-outs
  • If there is a company history of premium increases
  • Is a "partnership" policy available
  • Is the policy tax qualified
  • What will the insurance policy cover
    • Nursing home
    • Home care
    • Care-giver training for home care
  • For how many years will it pay
  • How does the policy treat pre-existing conditions
  • How much will it pay per day
    • Is it indexed for inflation
    • How is the indexing calculated
  • Under what conditions are premiums waived
  • What medical benefits are covered, besides basic nursing home costs
    • How many days must you wait before coverage starts: 1, 30 or 90 days: referred to as the "deductible"
    • How does this fit with your managed care coverage or Medigap insurance coverage
    • What is the daily benefit maximum
    • For how many years, months, does coverage last, or is there a maximum pool of money
  • What optional benefits are available
    • At what cost
  • What is the daily rate for nursing homes in your area now

Tax Qualified Long Term Care Insurance vs. Non-Tax-Qualified Policies

Understanding the differences between tax-qualified and non-tax-qualified long term care insurance plans is important when considering the purchase of long term care insurance. As the names imply, tax-qualified plans provide the purchaser with certain tax advantages, including the assurance that benefits paid reimbursing them for qualified long term care service costs will be excluded from their taxable income, while non-tax-qualified plans do not provide the same assurance.

Another advantage is that premiums paid for tax-qualified long term care insurance plans can be deducted as medical expenses by taxpayers who itemize (subject to Internal Revenue Code limits). And, proposed federal legislation for an above-the-line tax deduction for long term care insurance premiums would only apply to tax-qualified long term care insurance plans.

There are also other differences that consumers may wish to consider. Tax-qualified long term care plans are designed to cover disabilities that are expected to last for a prolonged period of time, and the IRS has set specific eligibility standards for qualified benefits to be payable. The policyholder must either need substantial assistance with two of at least five activities of daily living (ADLs) for a period expected to last at least 90 days, or suffer from severe cognitive impairment. That need must be certified by a licensed health care practitioner. Long term care services must be in accordance with a Plan of Care prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner, and benefits can only be paid for qualified long term care services.

Under non-tax-qualified policies, the insurance company may offer different benefit eligibility triggers, including allowing eligibility for benefits upon a finding of medical necessity. These less stringent triggers may provide access to benefits more quickly than under tax-qualified plans. Premiums are generally higher than for tax-qualified policies with equivalent benefit levels, benefits may be taxable as income, and premiums may not be deductible medical expenses.

The above tax-qualified vs. non tax qualified long term care insurance policies was provided for your informational use by GE Capital's Long Term Care Division, 2000.

Because of old age, mental or physical illness, or injury, some people find themselves in need of help with eating, bathing, dressing, and other physical activities. Long-term care insurance can help pay for such care in the future. To help protect your financial independence, as you grow older, many Long Term Care Insurance providers have plans that offer comprehensive benefits as well as a proven track record of claims payments and financial stability. You should review all your options carefully.

 

Medicaid does not give you choices! Learn How to Protect your Loved Ones with Long Term Care Insurance

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Prescription Drug Assistance Programs

Pharmaceutical companies offer medication assistance programs to help uninsured and indigent patients obtain needed prescription drugs. Program eligibility criteria differs from company to drug company, but most all of them, as part of their philanthropic efforts, want "no patient in need to do without".

Seniors who feel the financial pinch of filling doctor-prescribed medications should:

  • Speak with their pharmacist.

    Pharmacists have access to eligibility criteria for each specific medication. They also have access to the Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs, as do you. Forty-nine manufacturer's are represented regarding their offers of medications to physicians whose patients cannot afford to buy the meds they need.

  • Contact the drug manufacturer through their websites
  • Inquire of social workers and health care providers for help
To qualify for free or reduced price prescription medications patients must meet specific financial criteria and be prepared to fill out paper work for each specific medication. Here is where a health care professional can help.
  • Some companies require that patients have no third party payer assistance.
  • Some programs provide intervention with Medigap or HMO insurance companies to identify billing problems and work to resolve claim denials.
  • Some outline specific payment limitation programs for expensive and long-term medications for the indigent.
  • Patients may not be eligible if they have any prescription drug insurance coverage, or may be required to pay a nominal pre-determined shipping fee to receive "free" prescriptions.
  • Some assistance programs provide a card that can be presented at the pharmacy for medication refills. Enrollment is not indefinite and most programs require periodic re-application.

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Auto Insurance

Here are some tips to help the senior drivers that are increasingly staying in the driver's seat. Of course, like many life senior services, the correct auto insurance is a must.

Auto Insurance Discounts for Mature Drivers

An accident is sometimes the first indication that an elderly person should cease driving. It is hard for senior drivers to give up their independence. Drivers over 75 have one of the highest rates of fatal daytime accidents. Many times with Seniors, driving skills have impaired over time.
Hence senior drivers should be proactive in keeping their driving skills up. In many states, auto insurance discount are available in many states for mature drivers who have taken an approved senior driver safety course. Check to see if such a discount is available when you get a auto insurance quote. Be sure you check the eligibility rules for the auto insurance discount. AARP offers a Driver Safety Program, mature driving courses through local AARP chapters. Many insurance companies offer subscriber discounts with proof of course completion. Information on local offerings may be obtained through local AARP chapters.

Automobile Design

While the auto design features are important to all drivers, there may be special considerations for seniors. These include: movement freedom, high roadway visibility, and any unique physical limits. Careful attention to the following parameters can assure a better driving experience.

1. Display panel visibility
2. Fully adjustable seats
3. Easy to use restraint devices (seat belts and such)
4. Lightweight doors for ease of handling
5. Unobstructed view of road and peripheral areas

Specific Physical Conditions

Many physical conditions and medications can have an adverse impact on driving.
Seniors should be aware of the potential reactions to medicine that might make driving difficult. Your doctor is your best place to gain such insight.
Several health elated conditions have been toed to automobile accidents and injuries. These include: vision problems, joint inflammation, neurological disorders, diabetes, foot problems and falling episodes.
Driving courses for Seniors are offered by many states to get informed about potential problems and to renew safe driving techniques.

Getting the Correct Auto Insurance

Want to save money? Here are nine suggestions to help you save on your auto insurance policies. It all starts with an auto insurance quote.

  1. Comparison shop.
  2. Use consumer auto insurance information provided from your state's insurance department. Visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners web site to locate where to find your state's auto insurance information.

  3. Consider higher deductibles when getting your auto insurance quote
  4. Buy a "low-profile" car.

    Check the Highway Loss Data Institute for those cars that are stolen the least and have the lowest repair cost.

  5. Drop collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars.
  6. Ask about discounts for antilock brakes, air bags and other safety features
  7. Check your credit history and correct inaccuracies.
  8. Take advantage of low-mileage discounts.
  9. Check on group insurance and corporate discounts.

    For example American Automobile Association (AAA) members can save significant money on auto insurance.

  10. Ask about other discounts when you get your auto insurance quote.

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cost effective auto insurance

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Travel Insurance

Page two of your passport says:


"HEALTH INSURANCE. Persons considering foreign travel should determine what health insurance coverage, if any, they require while outside the United States. Medicare does not cover health care costs outside the United States and its territories, except under limited circumstances in Canada and Mexico." Government sponsored health programs such as Medicare almost never cover care received in a foreign country. Employer-sponsored plans often limit overseas coverage to emergency care only. Emergency medical evacuation is almost never covered. You might want to check with your home health policy before you travel, and before you buy travel insurance. Obtaining healthcare in some parts of the world can be tricky. Some hospitals won't provide any treatment--or won't allow a patient to be discharged--until the hospital has received a guarantee of payment. Such guarantees are commonly provided by travel insurers, in conjunction with assistance providers, but rarely by other insurers or managed care plans. This means you'll have to pay in advance. If using a credit card, the hospital must accept foreign credit cards and your card must have a sufficient credit limit. In addition, traveling from your foreign vacation spot--for a place with higher quality medical care or to return home where your regular insurance is accepted--may be difficult. Medical evacuations are tricky to arrange and all air ambulance providers are not equal. Worse, local authorities may have financial ties to certain evacuation companies. Travel health insurance may be purchased with three components:

  • Medical Assistance Benefit,Supplemental health/accident insurance
  • Medical Evacuation
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
Most travel insurance products offer all three or two of the three.  
  • A medical assistance benefit gives you 24/7/365 access to a company that will arrange an evacuation for you with a creditable evacuation company--or, through their medical personnel, can help assure that you're getting appropriate treatment locally. They can provide the guarantees needed for hospital discharge and could also help with other travel related problems: i.e. legal troubles, lost passports or credit cards. Supplemental health/accident insurance generally pays for doctor and hospital bills, and sometimes dental care and medications. Depending on when travel insurance is purchased, medical problems from preexisting conditions may also be covered.
  • Medical Evacuation can be expensive (as much as $50,000 or more from a remote location). In addition to the coverage, you'll want assistance arranging an evacuation.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption. These coverages protect you financially in the event you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for medical reasons. For example: you purchase a $5,000 cruise but can't take it because of personal illness--or illness in the family. Depending on when you cancel, a significant portion of the $5,000 may be non-refundable. This type of insurance will reimburse you.
  • Information provided by Eliot C. Heher, M.D. and HTH Worldwide


    HTH Worldwide

    1.888.243.2358

    HTH Worldwide offers trip cancellation, evacuation and supplemental health/accident coveragge. HTH Worldwide provides these insurance services along with complimentary global health and security information for travelers. If bought within the regulated time frame, trip cancellation due to pre-existing conditions is covered. HTH supplemental health plans can be bought on an Annual/Multi trip basis and have no pre-existing condition exclusion.


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    Additional Resources

      Links to Other Insurance Resources

    ALLRMC.COM - References: Guide to aging in place with a federally insured HECM from All Reverse Mortgage.

    Medicare Assistance Information

    • MedicareHelp.org -The free Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program for Medicare. Browse plan information on Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and Special Needs Plans.

    HMO Information

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    Legal Disclaimer

    All information in Insurance For Seniors Page, including articles, forms, documents, videos and FAQs, are for educational purposes and may not fit your specific situation. Due to the intense personal nature of any insurance issue, it is suggested that you consult with appropriate financial advisor to ensure your issues are resolved to your satisfaction. The insurance information links provided above are for a third party, and is not endorsed by, supported by, or affiliated with Seniorresource.com. Seniorresource.com: Insurance Information Page makes no representations concerning the content of the third party information.

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