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Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Soon; Here’s What You Need To Know

By Mike Guarino

If you’ve thought about retirement at all, you’re probably aware of Medicare, a federal insurance program designed for people older than 65. What you might not know is that with Medicare, there are many options to consider and details to keep in mind. And with healthcare being one of the top five expenses in retirement, (1) your Medicare decisions could have a significant impact on your finances in retirement.

As we draw closer to 2019’s Medicare open enrollment period, let’s review what you need to know to make the best Medicare choices for your unique situation.

Who Should Take Note Of Open Enrollment?

Medicare open enrollment is for people who are already a part of the Medicare system. Even if you have only signed up for Parts A and B, you can still take advantage of open enrollment.

If you have not yet enrolled in Medicare, then open enrollment does not apply to you. Your initial enrollment period is based on your birthday, not a set date on a calendar. You need to sign up for coverage during the window of time that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends at the end of the third month after your birthday month, for a total of 7 months. 

When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment for existing Medicare participants, though, has nothing to do with your birthday. It is at the same time every year, and everyone currently enrolled can take advantage of it, even if you only began Medicare the month before. This year, open enrollment goes from October 15, 2019, to December 7, 2019. The decisions you make during that period affect your 2020 medical coverage. 

In 2019 and the years following, there is a new open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans only from January 1 to March 31. (2) This open enrollment is more restrictive than the fall Medicare open enrollment. Also, it only applies to Medicare Advantage plans, so any other changes need to be made during the Medicare open enrollment that is fast approaching.

What Can I Do During Medicare Open Enrollment?

Medicare open enrollment is the annual opportunity that all participants have to change their Medicare coverage. Here are some of the changes you can make during open enrollment:

  • Enroll in Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) for the first time. If you currently have Parts A and B (Original Medicare), you can switch to Part C. Part C is contracted by outside companies and offers the same coverage as Original Medicare but can include even more services.
  • Switch back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) if you currently have Medicare Advantage (Part C).
  • Change your current Part C plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Enroll in or drop Part D prescription drug coverage. 
  • Change your current Part D plan to a different prescription drug coverage Part D plan.

What Will Open Enrollment Changes Cost?

The costs of Parts C and D vary depending on the plan you choose. If you’re looking at switching from a Part C plan to Original Medicare, then the costs will depend upon your income and how long you worked and paid into the Medicare system. 

The standard premium for Medicare Part B is $135.50 for 2019. However, if your income is over $85,000 for a single person or $170,000 for a couple, then your premium will be higher. The range for high-income earners is from $189.60 to $460.50. (3)

Medicare Part A is free if you or your spouse paid into Medicare for at least 10 years, or 40 quarters. If you only have 30-39 quarters, it costs $240. The premium for less than 30 quarters is $437. (4)

What Should I Do During Open Enrollment?

The best Medicare choices for you will depend on your health and financial situation. Original Medicare is affordable and provides basic care. However, it doesn’t cover things like dental and hearing, which can be covered by Part C plans. Also, if you take medications, having the right Part D plan can have a big impact on your finances. 

Medicare can be confusing, especially with the variety of Part C and Part D plans available to you. Also, you need to make sure that the plan you choose is compatible with your financial plan and you can afford the premiums without jeopardizing your future. Because of this, it’s helpful to work with an experienced professional when reassessing your Medicare coverage during open enrollment. 

At Guarino Wealth Management, we understand that Medicare coverage is an important part of your overall retirement plan. As such, we want to make ourselves available to you as you evaluate your options and answer any questions you may have about your insurance coverage or retirement plan. Call our office at (973) 625-1112 or email mike3@guarinowealth.com to schedule a meeting today.

About Mike

Michael J. Guarino III, Wealth Advisor, CDFA®, is an innovative wealth advisor specializing in custom financial strategies for corporate executives and professionals from coast to coast.

Mike worked as a manager in information technology for 12 years at the headquarters of a Fortune 500 company before starting his own wealth management company, Guarino Wealth Management, in 2008. He knows what a day in the life of a busy corporate professional is like, and he chose to make his specialization in working with corporate executives and professionals. 

Mike has a bachelor’s degree from William Paterson University and has diverse backgrounds in information technology as well as finance.  He combines these two disciplines to provide specialized, comprehensive, and custom financial strategies to his clients.  

Click here to schedule a complimentary 15-minute “FIT Phone Call” to find out how Mike can help you.   

Register Here for Our Free Webinar: How Will Social Security and Medicare Affect Your Retirement?

Guarino Wealth Management and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL financial, a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.

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(1) https://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-5/spending-patterns-of-older-americans.htm

(2) https://www.ehealthinsurance.com/medicare/advantage-all/new-medicare-advantage-open-enrollment-period-for-2019

(3) https://www.mymedicarematters.org/costs/parts-a-b/

(4) https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance

How To Maximize Your Health Savings Account (HSA)

By Mike Guarino

Healthcare costs. Just those two words are enough to give anyone anxiety. Even if you have comprehensive health insurance, just one hospital visit could cause you to deplete your emergency fund or force you to dig into your long-term savings to avoid going into debt. That’s why it’s not surprising that many Americans fear medical bills more than the underlying illness. (1)

[Read more…] about How To Maximize Your Health Savings Account (HSA)

How To Teach Your Kids About Money

By Mike Guarino

If I were to ask you, “What do you want your kids to know before they leave your house as an adult?”, your answer would probably include things like a solid work ethic, empathy, responsibility, kindness, and respect. (1) And while no one will argue the importance and value of these traits, financial literacy should be at the top of the priority list as well. 

Your kids are going to learn about money from someone. Don’t you want that someone to be you? If you don’t know where to start, here are some tips!

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What We Do And How We Can Help

By Mike Guarino

Have you ever wished you had direct and easy access to a financial professional for questions that pop into your mind? Instead of searching Google for answers and always wondering if the information is correct or applicable to your specific situation, wouldn’t you rather have a trusted professional to turn to? Think of how much your stress could decrease if you could just dial up a lawyer or a doctor, get personalized advice from someone who knows you, and can help you make decisions with confidence!

[Read more…] about What We Do And How We Can Help

Why I Became A Financial Advisor

By Mike Guarino

People change jobs or careers for a variety of reasons, such as better pay, a move to a new city or state, or they were just ready for a new challenge. I fall into the latter category. I spent many years working in Corporate America as a successful IT professional, but I always felt that something was missing. I was pretty happy with my career but over time I began to realize that I wanted to spend my time making a real difference in people’s lives. I ultimately chose a career as a financial advisor because of my father. He spent over 20 years in the industry and I saw how happy he was helping people prepare for the future. In 2008, my father and I founded Guarino Wealth Management. Sadly, my dad passed away in 2018 but I continue to lead the firm and continue his legacy. It’s my hope to have my three sons join me in this field that has become my passion for over a decade.

[Read more…] about Why I Became A Financial Advisor

TRIMMING OUR 2019 GDP FORECAST

Economic data have consistently missed expectations recently as investors and Wall Street have struggled to quantify the impact of global trade and political risks.

As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the Bloomberg U.S. Economic Surprise Index has dropped sharply over the past few months, showing the degree to which consensus estimates have been overestimating economic trends.

Economic Data Relative to Consensus Hits 3-Year Low

December’s retail sales report was just the latest instance in a string of whiffs for consensus predictions. Retail sales unexpectedly fell 1.2% in the month, missing consensus estimates for a 0.1% gain by the widest margin since March 2009 and sparking questions about the report’s accuracy.

In response, over the past few months economists have cut their fourth quarter 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) forecasts to a range of 1.5–2.5%. If fourth-quarter GDP growth ends up at the lower end of that range, it would be the slowest pace of GDP growth since the fourth quarter of 2015.

We’ve also seen enough evidence to think 2019 GDP growth is likely to be closer to the lower end of our original 2019 forecast (2.5–2.75%), with risks balanced to the upside and downside. Even though we’ve slightly lowered our growth expectations, we still expect the core Consumer Price Index (CPI) to grow 2.25–2.5% in 2019.

“Heightened trade and political uncertainty have clearly weighed on corporate and consumer sentiment, which we think may weigh on U.S. output growth this year,” said LPL Research Chief Investment Strategist John Lynch. “Still, we think a slight increase in inflation would make sense given the firm U.S. labor market and the possibility that economic activity could stabilize after trade headwinds subside.”

As we mentioned in our Outlook 2019, we still believe stronger growth in business spending may drive this leg of the economic expansion, as higher investment leads to greater worker productivity and profit growth. However, investment may be muted until the trade dispute with China is resolved.

For more details on our revised forecasts, check out this week’s Weekly Economic Commentary.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted.

All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor, please note that LPL Financial LLC is not an affiliate of and makes no representation with respect to such entity.

The investment products sold through LPL Financial are not insured deposits and are not FDIC/NCUA insured.  These products are not Bank/Credit Union obligations and are not endorsed, recommended or guaranteed by any Bank/Credit Union or any government agency.  The value of the investment may fluctuate, the return on the investment is not guaranteed, and loss of principal is possible.

Member FINRA/SIPC

A PENNY SAVED IS TWO PENNIES EARNED

This modern twist on the Ben Franklin maxim reflects the multiplicity of taxes to which earnings are subject in today’s world.¹ Finding ways to manage expenses is one of the cornerstones of a sound financial strategy.

Here are some simple and inexpensive energy-saving tips that may help you save money.

AUDIT FIRST…

To better understand where opportunities may exist for improving energy efficiency, consider an energy audit. Perform one yourself by purchasing a home energy monitor, which tracks your energy use, and a handheld air leak detector to identify windows, doors, and other areas of the home that are drafty.

Also, your local power utility may offer in-home energy audits or related services that can help identify remediation opportunities.

…THEN ACT

Consider these do-it-yourself ideas that may offer immediate savings at very little cost.

  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the heat or air conditioning because—let’s face it—you forget to do it.
  • Devices that offer “instant on” or continuous display (e.g., TV, cable box, and recharger) use energy non-stop. Consider a power strip to reduce their electrical use by shutting off the power strip at bedtime.
  • Plug up air leaks through weather stripping or caulking; install door sweeps to block drafts. Close the fireplace damper when it’s not in use.
  • Be sure to have your heating system serviced to ensure maximum efficiency.
  • Install a water heater blanket and turn the heater down to 120 degrees; not only is a higher temperature wasteful, but a lower temperature is a safety precaution for younger children. Lower it to a minimum when you leave for vacation.

HONK IF YOU LIKE TO SAVE MONEY

For many, the cost of running their automobile(s) can be higher than the cost of running their home. Here are ways to save:

  • Tune up your car.
  • Check your tires for proper inflation.
  • Drive sensibly by eliminating excessive idling, aggressive driving, and speeding.
  • Eliminate weight — empty that trunk!
  1. Brainyquote, 2016
  2. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

WHY A GREEN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY HAVE BULLS SMILING

What goes into a blog post? Helpful, industry-specific cAfter gaining 7.8% in January, the S&P 500 Index has added another 3.3% so far in February for a grand total year-to-date return of 11.4%. With two days to go, currently this is the best first two months of the year since 1987.

 

As we noted in Five Key Questions, this rally could be extended near term, but we continue to believe eventual new highs are more likely in the second half of this year. Here’s the catch—to see stocks up in both January and February could be a good sign for eventual gains in the rest of the year.

“Think about it like this: Since 1950, the S&P 500 has kicked off the year higher each of the first two months 27 times,” explained LPL Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “And incredibly, the final 10 months finished higher 25 of those times!”

As our LPL Chart of the Day shows, the final 10 months gained a very impressive 12.1% on average when each of the first two months started the year in the green, well above the average final 10-month return of 7.6%. In other words, strength to kick off a year can potentially equal continued gains.

A-Good-Start-To-The-Year-Could-Have-Bulls-Smiling

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted.

All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor, please note that LPL Financial LLC is not an affiliate of and makes no representation with respect to such entity.

The investment products sold through LPL Financial are not insured deposits and are not FDIC/NCUA insured.  These products are not Bank/Credit Union obligations and are not endorsed, recommended or guaranteed by any Bank/Credit Union or any government agency.  The value of the investment may fluctuate, the return on the investment is not guaranteed, and loss of principal is possible.

Member FINRA/SIPContent that: 1) gives readers a useful takeaway, and 2) shows you’re an industry expert.

Use your company’s blog posts to opine on current industry topics, humanize your company, and show how your products and services can help people.