A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘Medicare’

Insurance Assurance

When you get to a certain age, you have to think insurance in a whole new light. Insurance can mean your health insurance, it can mean life insurance but mostly it means being assured that the next part of your life being what it should. My biggest fear is to die before I can reap the bounty of my years of work.

I started when I was 11 years old working summers, every weekend and even some school nights taking care of other people’s children. I was in high demand and was told by my parents that I will work. By the time I was 15, I worked in a department store on a work permit. I was still in school but weekends and summers were not mine. Then like people of my generation, you worked, went to college or went into the military. I went to college and worked. I continued that pattern for most of my adult life.

Now I am reaching a time that I will not have to work. I planned, scrimped and saved, and bought insurance in the form of an annuity and pensions. It feels like climbing a mountain and getting to the top and saying “Now what?”

If you do not know, the slope is very slippery. When you turn 65, you have to apply for Medicare. You don’t have to take it if you have some other form of insurance, but you paid for it all your working years. Why not take it?  My biggest advice is to find an insurance broker and work with them. It is the most confusing mess I have ever seen. One part D covers this but not that. You need a supplemental if you have these kinds of problems. And eye care and dental coverage varies greatly. Working with an independent broker is great because they will take all your information and calculate what is best for you for free. Then once you decide based on their information, they will sign you up. Our broker will call us  to come in and redo this so annually we will have the best coverage for the price. For my husband, she eliminated a premium and lowered co pays but found better drug coverage.

My next step is to find an honest financial planner. This has been a quest for me for four years. It is not like we have a ton of money, but what I have I want safe. I had originally invested some money in the stock market. We found this person who at first seemed great. He charged a flat fee and was going to help us plan our retirement. He took the money, invested it and it lost a ton. I was devastated. He offered no help, did not come true to our planning process and we basically were screwed. I waited it out until the money we lost came back and we were at our original amount and pulled it out. Of course now, the market is through the roof. But I could not take the fear of losing everything.

Financial planning is important because too much money and you are screwed, not enough and it’s even worse. Our biggest issues is we both have high drug costs. Currently we cannot subscribe to any of the help out there because we make too much. If we were only $1.00 over, we would still be out of luck. Epic is a drug plan for people with high drugs costs but only for New York State. So we have to wait until I have a lower income to be able to get that help. We have to plan what pensions and other income we take in so we can get this support. Seems counter intuitive but that’s the game.

Here is another guessing game: when to retire. It is all a gamble. Say you wait until you are 66 to retire to get your full benefit. But you die when you are 76. So you only collect your Social Security for ten years and all of those dollars go back to the state. But if you look at the fact that if you take the lesser monthly benefit at an early age, you will get it for a longer period of time and it evens out. Losing $200.00 a month may seem drastic right now, and that is what they want you to think. But if you wait and die sooner, you lose that money.

Here is something else people do not realize. This is real life experience. My mother-in-law was placed in a nursing home. She was private pay. You would think she would have had the best of everything. That was not at all true. She was side by side with all the people who were on Medicaid. They got exactly the same care or lack of care that she got. Difference was that the State was paying their way and we were paying for my MIL. All that money they saved went to the nursing home. This really pisses me off because my step daughter also plays this game. She works just enough and no more so she can stay on Medicaid. She has better health coverage than we do. What a scam. But that is a whole other topic.

When we saw an Estate planner, he told us that nursing homes were the biggest rip off. He told us that all funds at a certain point in your life should be protected by trusts and other forms of protection. He said that money can be put aside and protected if you wanted to pass it on and not give it to a nursing home. An Estate planner is essential to protect any assets you may have from being taken by the government. It is also necessary so that what you want in your death is carried on. It gives great peace of mind to have that all in place.

I know that in a year and a half I will stop working full time. There is no doubt about it. I will probably find a part time at home job just to keep busy. It will be a test of time to see if we planned well enough to enjoy what years we have without all the bull and still have a comfortable life. I know too many people who thought they could make it on what they had and had a rude awakening. Trying to find a job at 65 is not easy at all. I hope this information is helpful.

Retirement is a carrot on a string

I know I am not the first one to turn 63 as I did two weeks ago. It should not be a big deal. But somehow, and I am not sure if it is the age or just the energy around these days, but it does seem harder and harder to get through the day. And it is not just me.

There is a HR manager who actually hired me. To look at her, you would think she was maybe early 60’s. She is small in stature and her still brown hair has never been dyed. She had eight children and 19 grandchildren. She has also been a ball of energy since I have known her.

But when I came back from vacation, she sat down at my desk with a heavy sigh. “You were missed,” she said. Heck, I was only gone three days. But we had a training class going through that was from hell. I thought there had been more issues, and there were. But that was not what she wanted to chat about.

She said, “I think it is time for me to retire.” I almost fell out of my chair. In truth, I did not expect it. She has been with the agency for over thirty-five years. We had just celebrated her birthday which marked 78 years. She has earned by all rights her retirement. But she works part time and has always said the job kept her going. I figured she would stay at least two more years.

She said she just did not have the patience to deal with stupidity any more. It was something I totally grasped and embraced. She was tired of seeing the repetitive efforts of our agency dealing with the same issues over and over with no better outcome. She said in general, she was tired of everything being a fight or lengthy discussion. She was also tired of the outcomes or consequences having no impact. She was tired of staff getting away with what they have been getting away with lately, like piss-poor documentation with no repercussions. I got exactly what she was saying. Management has an “everyone is a winner” attitude and coddles the clinical staff. But it is costing us dearly.

Earlier in the month, my dear friend and I had a similar conversation. She is one person who always looks to the good in people and is the very non-judgmental. But as we sat out in the garden chatting, she revealed her frustration with just getting through it all. She said she just does not have the patience for dealing with, (and I paraphrase), people.

I am right there with them both. I struggle with my impatience with the attitudes of people who seem to have no comprehension of way of things. Maybe it is that the way has changed and no one told me. I have no patience for those who are coming up who think they know everything and have no problem saying so. I listen to them at meetings coming up with things that have already been tried and failed. But they feel they are amazing and Einstein. They are rude and talk over people.  I really am turned off to their arrogance which they seem to drip with. I too struggle with the agency doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome. And I am just tired.

They did a big injustice moving the retirement age up. I pity the next groups as I see them continuing to move the age of retirement up. It won’t matter as there won’t be any social security money anyways. There are a going to be a lot of folks in the next generations who will have a horrible time in their old age. They do not have clue about saving. Heck, they are still living at home until they are thirty.

What do I want truthfully? I would like to have an on-line flexible teaching job. I would like to have good health benefits that will continue with the treatment I am on. I already know that I will go to the recreation center which has wonderful programs for people with arthritis but the classes are for seniors and are in the morning. I know I am going to join the senior chorus that currently meets at 2pm. I have other plans for things but…. No can do now.

I need medical coverage. When I retire and go on Medicare, the drugs I am on that keep me going will not be covered. And Medicare is certainly not free. It costs my husband almost $300. 00 a month for it and his supplemental insurance. They take it right out of his social security monthly payment. NO choice. And the once a year, he hits the donut hole. The donut hole is now up to $4900.00 that you have to pay out of your own pocket annually. This is a whole other blog. But this is another reason why senior citizens are nasty and angry. We worked all our loves to get screwed by Medicare. My step-daughter who works on average 20 hours a week is on government insurance and she gets great coverage and it is FREE. That train ride will end soon.

Turning 63 and being close to retirement is like being on a diet in a bakery. Everything looks so wonderful and yet, you can’t have any. Am I turning into a curmudgeon? Absolutely.  But I am not alone. That gives me solace but it does not resolve my getting through it for at least the next two years. Some days I feel like I am being held hostage and have no choice about the direction of my life. I have to work and I have to work with the people I work with. And that gives me an attitude and I know it.