Why Your Should Review Your Medicare Options

 The current pandemic has thrown everyone some curve balls. Regardless of your age, wealth, health, relationship status or working status, each of us has had to make some adjustments. And in doing so, we may have let a few things fall through the cracks. I want to make sure that your health care, or that of your loved one, isn’t one of those things. 

Medicare sign ups start now

From October 15th through December 7th, you and your loved ones have the opportunity to elect (if you didn’t at age 65) or change your Medicare coverage. And while you may not think it matters, Medicare is an important benefit with a number of options that can make a significant difference in the care you can receive. 

And since your needs can change from year to year—and may have changed significantly during the pandemic—it’s important to review what you currently have and the other options available to you. Below are a few items to review, but there are also many others.

  • Is your Primary Care Physician still included in the network?
  • Have you added or stopped using any medications?
  • Are the medications you take still part of the formulary?
  • Does your Medi-gap policy still meet your needs?

If not, it may be time to consider making some changes. 

Navigating your choices

Most of the choices you will want to review are related to parts D, C and Medigap—which are all offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare and may cover things Medicare typically does not. As a refresher on the different parts of Medicare and what they generally cover, we’ve included this table. 

What it is

What it covers

Part A—Hospital insurance

·         Hospitalization (benefits vary depending on length of stay)

·         Some nursing facilities (given qualifications)

·         Some home-based and hospice care (not long term)

Part B—Medical insurance

·         Doctor’s visits, services and tests

·         Medical equipment

·         Outpatient services

·         Preventive medical care

Part D—Prescription drug coverage

·         Prescription coverage (varies by plan)

Part C—Medicare Advantage

·         Comprehensive plans that typically cover everything in Parts A and B and typically part D

·         May also cover things Medicare doesn’t, like hearing, dental and vision treatment

Medigap—Medicare supplemental insurance

·         It can help pay for the portions of Parts A and B that you might otherwise be responsible for yourself (benefits vary by plan)

 

 

Reviewing Medicare options for yourself and your loved ones now can help keep you all prepared for whatever the future holds. Gasber Financial has an expert on retainer to help you navigate the confusing options surrounding Medicare and can help guide you on all of your healthcare planning needs.

 

Women Helping Women: The Boomerang Strategy

I have a friend whose father used to joke about having boomerang children. He would say “I keep trying to get rid of them…I send them to college, but they keep coming back.” We used to laugh because it was true—all four of the kids had gone to school and then moved back home for a few years before truly going out on their own. He was apparently ahead of his time, however, as today being a “boomerang” is actually a strategy that many families are using for a number of reasons. 

If it’s good enough for TV

Consider that, if nighttime soap operas like “Dallas” and “Dynasty” are to be believed, wealthy families often have multiple generations living together in either one very big home, or on a compound with multiple homes. And while these families may not have been doing so for financial reasons, it has become far more common today for these reasons and more. 

For decades, having an older loved one who requires caregiving live with you has become fairly common. And there have always been some families with a set of grandparents living with them in a multifamily home. Today, however, the opposite is happening more frequently—as young couples or families move back “home” with their parents. 

A new, old-school method

Remember that there are many generations who grew up living next door or down the street from their cousins or grandparents. Rising costs of living in general and the pandemic specifically have sped up a return to this type of close-knit family for many. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Pew research found that “64 million people—20% of the U.S. population—were living in households with at least two generations in 2016.” And in a survey in June 2020, Pew found that “22% of respondents had moved due to the pandemic or knew someone who had…and most of those were now cohabitating with family.” 

And while there are many financial benefits of this type of arrangement, there can be some emotional ones too. For example, families and couples using this strategy may be able to: 

  • Save money, so they are not financially stressed and will be able to afford college or retirement
  • Receive help caring for their children and with remote learning
  • Enjoy stronger family bonds and gain more emotional support
  • Lower their expenses if one or both have been laid off
  • Spend time with family without fear of spreading COVID 

Of course, there can be drawbacks, like losing some privacy and needing your own space. In many instances, however, the benefits can outweigh the negatives—and it’s certainly a strategy worth considering whether families are struggling or not. 

Gasber Financial is here to help you even in the most stressful of life’s situations. We’re here to help you find the right path for yourself and your loved ones. Call us to talk about your accounts, the markets, the strategies that may be best for you—or even just to chat about life.

Socially Distant, but Social

 Humans are fairly social creatures. And the pandemic has put a big chink in the armor that helps keep us connected to each other and helps keep us from feeling alone. Even those of us who are introverted tend to enjoy—and very much currently miss—even the small social interactions that take place when grabbing a morning coffee, seeing co-workers in the hallway and more. 

Perhaps you had a number of Zoom “happy hours” with friends or family in the beginning of the pandemic, but if you’re like me, maybe you haven’t done this for a while. As time wears on and people get back to some semblance of normal—or get more depressed—some of these things have fallen away. But it’s important to take time to be social, not only for your mental health, but for your physical health as well. Here are some ways to get back into the swing of being social in a safe way: 

  • Gather together outside—you can set up chairs on your lawn or in your driveway (6 feet apart) and invite a few friends, neighbors or family to hang out live.
  • Celebrate via Zoom—birthday parties, trivia parties and “happy hours” are fun ways to remain connected. It’s easy to book a room via Zoom, Ring Central, Microsoft Teams or Google Meets to enable a family or friend get together. And there are many ways to make it a fun, engaging experience for all (Kahoot, for example, is a fun app where you can create your own trivia quizzes, invite friends and family and play together with your phones and a computer).
  • Get creative—wine stores, sip and paint places, sign making places and many other creative businesses have switched from in-person to online options where you and some friends can each buy “kits” and then can enjoy a wine tasting, painting a beautiful picture, creating a sign or tray, and more together online.
  • Get physical—take a socially-distanced walk, standing 6-feet apart or wearing masks so you can still talk, while getting out and about.
    • There are also many on-line workout classes where you can take a live class online with your friends, family or with a lot of other people who just want to get in better shape.
    • From yoga to HIIT and everything in between, some workout places are starting to offer outside, socially distanced workouts in new spaces, in their parking lots or in local parks too. 

The truth is there are many ways to remain connected and to feel less isolated. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own worlds and forget to reach out, but it is truly an important thing to do. 

Gasber Financial is here to help you even in the most stressful of life’s situations. We’re here to talk about your accounts, the markets, or just shoot the breeze. And we’d love to hear your ideas for staying safely connected during these times.

Working From Home 101

Contrary to popular belief—and as many of you are now finding out—working from home is not for the faint of heart. It takes discipline AND flexibility. And the same is likely true even if you’re not working right now. I hope some of these tips may be helpful to you. 

Wear what makes you feel good. Listen, I’m sure some of you enjoy the freedom of working in your sweats or pajamas, but that doesn’t work for everyone. If you are someone who feels better when you get dressed, then you should do it. It shouldn’t matter if you are going to see other people throughout the day or not, if you feel better with hair combed and makeup on, then that’s what you should do. Remember, your mental health is important too, so do what makes you feel good even if you feel silly doing it. 

You do NOT have to be at your desk from 9-5. When working from home, it’s easy to think that you have to be chained to your desk. If someone calls and you’re not there, you wonder if they will believe you are working. But even in an office setting, you are not at your desk all day. You go to meetings, out to lunch, to get a drink of water, and more without worrying that people won’t think you’re working hard enough. Just remember, voicemails and can be returned later. 

Set a schedule, but be flexible. You’re still working, so it’s very useful to have a schedule of when you will be working—and a set spot in the house—just like when you went to the office (in fact, routine is helpful for everyone at times like this). Of course, in these days and times, and for those of us with kids “distance learning,” schedules get interrupted. The great thing about working from home, however, is that people don’t necessarily care WHEN the work is getting done as long as it IS getting done on time. So, if you have to comfort a child now and then work tonight, that may be okay. 

Take a break. Remember that sometimes even when you’re the busiest or the most overwhelmed and think you can’t afford to take a break, that’s when you need one the most. And often, if you take that break, watch that show, take a nap, you will actually be more productive when you sit back down. Even calling a friend or walking the dog can give you that reprieve and remind you that there are others like us out there. When in doubt, just stand up and stretch or walk around for a few minutes (remember sitting is the new smoking). 

Flexibility is a double-edged sword. It’s great that you can do your work remotely and that you can be there for the kids/parents/loved ones, but sometimes work and home life can blur together too much, hampering both. Your kids think you always work and don’t actually enjoy being with them, and you feel unproductive or like you’re failing at both. Remember to try to find the balance between being flexible and too flexible. This may mean you don’t work past a certain hour, or you stop checking emails at a set time. You may need to take a day off or put your computer down sometimes. Remember that you’re doing this for your loved ones and they need you healthy and sane. 

Change the scenery once in a while. Okay, this one is tougher given the social distancing, but it’s not impossible. Even if running out for coffee or lunch is not an option today, even working on the patio or on the couch, rather than your regular work spot can change your attitude from time to time. 

Try not to sweat the small stuff. When working from home, the occasional dog barking or child interrupting is bound to happen. And especially now, most people will not think twice about these things as it’s happening to them as well. So, try not to stress about it too much. 

Cut yourself some slack. This can be a tough transition even in the best of times—especially if the bulk of family responsibilities end up falling on you. But try to be grateful that we live in a time when so many of us CAN work from home. And if you’re not working, try to take some joy in being with your family, taking classes online, getting the chance to Marie Kondo your home, or whatever you can do that helps feed your soul a bit. 

Gasber Financial is here to help you simplify your life and make confident decisions during even the most stressful of life’s transitions. Please call for more information or with any questions you may have.

Four Ways to Make a Decision When You Are in Transition

It’s natural to want to help people you care about—especially when they’re going through a hard time. Your friends and family are no different. When they see you going through a transition, they will naturally try to help. But it can be challenging enough to navigate these types of situations without all the different voices in your head. Here are a few ideas to help you make the best decisions for you.

 

  1. Keep perspective

Your friends mean well and want to be helpful. However, what worked for them in a given situation may not be what will work best for you. Remember that you can listen to the advice, but you do not need to take it. Above all, trust your instincts.

 

  1. Make a list

Sometimes it’s helpful to put the options down in black and white. Make a list of:

 

  • Your income (salary, Social Security, alimony, interest and other income you receive on a regular basis)
  • What you own (assets like your home, art, jewelry, cars)
  • What you owe (liabilities like your mortgage, debt payments, utilities and more)
  • The potential options you have
  • The pros and cons of each course of action

 

Often simply seeing things in black and white will help make it clarify the right course of action for you.

 

  1. Use the 10, 10, 10 rule

Another idea is to make consider each option from the perspective of the future using the 10, 10, 10 rule—which simply has you consider how you might feel about each option in 10 weeks, 10 months and 10 years. Consider that in 10 days you may still be wondering if you made the right decision, or may still be pinched by the financial repercussions, but what about further down the line? Looking at each time frame, ask yourself:

  • What difference will this decision have made in your life?
  • Will the money matter anymore (if that’s part of the issue)?
  • Would you even remember this decision?
  • If you don’t do it, would you wish you had?
  • If you do it, will you be wondering why you were ever stressed about it?

 

  1. Consult a professional

Sometimes the best idea is to get the advice of an objective professional that you trust. While friends and family are helpful, their advice may be driven by emotions. Your trusted advisors can help you see things more objectively and may have some potential solutions you may not even be aware of.

 

 

Gasber Financial is here to help you to make informed, thoughtful decisions through even the most stressful of life’s transitions.