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The Value of Prescription Drug Benefits for Medicare Enrollees By Aaron Burton, El Paso Medicare Sales Director, Humana If you currently have Medicare, or if you will soon become eligible for Medicare, prescription drug benefits should be an important part of your decision-making when it comes to choosing among various Medicare coverage options. It’s important to know that Original Medicare provides very little prescription drug coverage. Therefore, if you are eligible for Medicare and want drug coverage, you will need to purchase it from a private insurer, like Humana. You can either buy a standalone prescription drug plan—commonly referred to as a PDP—or obtain Part D prescription coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage. Even if you’re not currently taking prescription medications, it is still a good idea to look into getting prescription drug coverage as soon as possible. One reason is that you may need to start taking a prescription medication sooner than you expect, but you can’t just sign up for coverage at any time. You can sign up for coverage only when you first become Medicare-eligible (typically at age 65) or during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment, which runs each year from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, for coverage that starts on Jan. 1 of the following year. For example, if you are prescribed medication in July and don’t have drug coverage, you could have six months of paying for that new prescription out of your own pocket before your coverage kicks in on Jan. 1. A second reason to enroll in Part D coverage as soon as you are eligible is to avoid an enrollment penalty. If you wait to sign up, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
(CMS) can charge you a penalty every month, in addition to the plan’s monthly premiums. Penalties can range from a few dollars up to more than $20 each month on top of your premium. This can be a significant cost if you’re living on a fixed income. Once a penalty is assessed, it never goes away. For these two reasons, it’s a good idea to sign up for drug coverage. The good news is that there are low-cost drug plans available. For example, there are Medicare Advantage plans that include drug coverage and have either a very low monthly premium or no monthly premium at all. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you choose the drug coverage that is right for you. It’s always a good idea to find an insurance professional in your community who can help you look at the drugs you might want covered and how they match up with the prescription drug benefit of the various plans offered in your market. The government-run website Medicare.gov is also a great resource that allows you to compare all of the plans offered in your county and narrow down the options to the plan that will best meet your needs.
DEAR DOUG BY DOUG MAYBERRY
Retirement Woes Q: Since we retired, my husband has lost a lot of his patience. Within just a year, he's become a cranky old man. Now, every time something goes wrong, he blames me and won't let even the smallest things go. What happened to the lifelong lover I've been married to for 38 years? A: Retirement changes everything. Men often find the transition into retirement to be especially difficult. Unfortunately, you are the one who is closest to him and getting to hear him voice all of his frustrations. Over the course of his career, he developed a routine that retirement has now interrupted. Additionally, he has separated from the circle of acquaintances that he's familiar with and used to dealing with. He has probably found that building new relationships with people of similar interests takes time and patience. As you're now spending the whole day together, you should consider scheduling some privacy for both of you. We aren't meant to spend all of our time with only one person -- absence makes the heart grow fonder! With your husband, discuss a plan to address your needs.
Even if you are already in a plan, the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7) is the time to take a good look at all your plan options and find the coverage that is right for you.
One technique for better harmony is to be strategic about communicating. Set aside a routine time to discuss your thoughts and feelings -- you can share coffee or a glass of wine and unwind together around dinnertime.
Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO and PFFS organization and a standalone prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on plan renewal.
In his frustration at his different life, does he understand your feelings? Does he realize that you both may have to make some compromises? If you don't tell him what you're thinking, he has no way of knowing these things. Continues on page 6
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Outlook for March Here is the latest forecast for the month of March, courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center. March is typically one of the driest months of the year for El Paso and it continues to look like we may not even hit our averages.
By: “Doppler” Dave Speelman
Temperatures – Courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center As you can see, temperatures are expected to stay on the warm side across the area. Below average highs are projected to stay well up north.
Weather Trivia: How much rain do we typically see for the month of March? A. .15” B. .26”
C. .35” D. .48”
Precipitation – Courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center Moisture should be lacking. Rainfall amounts are projected to be below average along with much of Florida. The above normal amounts of precipitation should be centered in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho along with areas in the Deep South.
“Doppler" Dave Speelman is the chief meteorologist at KVIA-TV in El Paso. You can watch his forecasts at 4, 5, 6 and 10 pm on ABC-7 (channel 6 cable). If you would like Doppler Dave to address (explain) any weather issues you can email him at Dopplerdave@kvia.com
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Get Active for a Healthy Heart FAMILY FEATURES
heart health and how to prevent heart W hile disease are important topics, many people in
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 23 percent of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States have high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke if untreated, and nearly 9 percent have heart disease. However, you can lower your risk for heart disease in a variety of ways, and one of the most important is by becoming physically active. National guidelines recommend at least 2 hours, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week for adults, like brisk walking where your blood gets pumping and you are a little breathless. If you find yourself short of time, you can incorporate physical activity in small chunks, such as three 10-minute intervals per day, and still achieve some heart health benefits.
How Moving More Helps When done regularly, physical activity can give your entire body – not just your heart – a boost.
Getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat can: • Strengthen heart muscles • Improve blood flow • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels • Help control weight
Ways to Become More Active Every Day In addition to working toward at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, it’s important to avoid being sedentary, when possible. You can do that by making choices that build activity in your day. Some examples include:
PICTURE FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY
the United States, including Hispanics and Latinos, remain at risk.
• Taking the stairs • Printing to the printer farthest away from your desk at work • Getting off the bus or subway one stop early • Parking in the farthest space from the door • Walking around while you are on the phone or having walking meetings • Being active with your children, including playing outdoors • Planning a vacation that includes physical activities • Playing soccer or taking a Zumba class with friends instead of meeting up for drinks or a meal • Putting on some music and dancing
Check with Your Doctor Certain physical activities are safe for most people. However, if you have a chronic health condition such as heart disease, arthritis or diabetes, talk with your doctor about the type and amount of activity that is right for your health. Incorporating regular physical activity into your life can help your health in many ways, but it can be especially helpful for your heart. Find more heart-healthy facts and tips from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at nhlbi.nih.gov.
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Chronology 63 Pitch adjuster 66 4:00 - 8:00 P.M. 69 Kind of effect 70 Dizzy 71 Long-run Broadway show 72 Sicilian resort 73 Prototype 74 Novice 75 Culture medium
ACROSS 1 Site of Napoleon’s exile 5 Cupid 9 Roman goddess of the hearth 14 British peer 15 Hindu deity 16 Allen or Frome 17 Place 18 ‘‘Twilight’s last gleaming’’ 20 Characteristic nature 22 Like October weather 23 Actor Ayres 24 Nautical mile per hour 26 Act 28 Afterglow
32 Wendy Wasserstein output 36 Arm of British mil. 37 Unadorned 39 Scrimp 40 Norse poetry 42 Plumed wading bird 44 Cutting tool 45 African antelope 47 Hat material 49 Russian village 50 English economist 52 Eight bells 54 At a distance 56 Scorch 57 Airport inf. 60 Twinkling
1 Congers 2 Cafe au ___ 3 ‘‘Dawn’s early light’’ 4 Bryn Mawr graduate 5 Curve 6 Playwright Connelly 7 Old Hebrew measure 8 Swift 9 Hour of prayer 10 Inclusive abbreviation 11 Synagogue 12 Yarn 13 Again 19 Secondhand 21 Ceremony 25 Baked clay slab 27 Computer input 28 Zorba 29 Deep-bowled spoon 30 Racehorses 31 Circumference 33 Coffee-break time 34 Town of central Italy
35 Inflexible 38 It. ecclesiastic, canonized in 1622 41 ___ Eleanor Roosevelt 43 Labels 46 Starlight 48 Sharpen 51 Seasoning 53 Seasickness 55 Pleasure boat 57 Mild cheese 58 Torero ’s quarry 59 Ripened 61 Horse-drawn carriage 62 Inheritor 64 Author O’Brian 65 Stern 67 Tiny 68 Theatrical sellout, for short
Retirement Woes... Continued from page 2 Ask him about his day and what he would like to do tomorrow. Creating a schedule will help with the lack of structure with which many retirees struggle. Become a team again, and remember that communication and compromise are the keys to domestic harmony. The more time you spend together, the more important these things become. -- Doug Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM
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WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO START RECEIVING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS? By Ray Vigil Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in El Paso, Texas
After a lifetime of working, you deserve a comfortable retirement. For over 80 years, Social Security has been helping people shape their future, assisting them with a variety of benefits. It’s up to you as to when you can start retirement benefits. You could start them a little earlier or wait until your “full retirement age,” or delay retirement to get extra money each month. There are benefits to either decision. Full retirement age refers to the age when a person can receive their Social Security benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part or full time. In other words, you don’t actually need to stop working to get your full benefits. For people who reach age 62 in 2018 (i.e., those born between January 2, 1956 and January 1, 1957), full retirement age is 66 and four months. Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for everybody born after 1959. You can learn more about the full retirement age and find out how to look up your own at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/ retirechart.html.
You can start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or any time after that. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be, although it stops increasing at age 70. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before your full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2018 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by nearly 27 percent. On the other hand, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, then your monthly benefit will be higher. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month –– or eight percent for each year –– that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70. The choices you make may affect any benefit your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. If you receive benefits early, it may reduce their potential benefit, as well as yours. You need to be as informed as possible when making any decision about receiving Social Security benefits. Read the publication When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10147.pdf.
When to start receiving retirement benefits is a personal decision based on your own situation. Check out our Retirement Checklist at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-0510377.pdf to learn about additional factors to consider as you think about when to start receiving your retirement benefits. If you decide to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should also understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits. Social Security may withhold or reduce your benefits if your annual earnings exceed a certain amount. However, for every month benefits are withheld, it may increase your future benefits. That’s because at your full retirement age Social Security will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for the months in which benefits were reduced or withheld due to your excess earnings. You can learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html. Social Security’s mission is to secure your today and tomorrow. You can learn more by visiting our Retirement Planner at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.
Published on Mar 1, 2018