Medicare Part D Drug Plans Will Have Large Price Fluctuations in 2013

Avalere Analysis Reveals Significant Fluctuations in Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Premiums for 2013

Take a look at the link and read the findings.

Avalere Health analyzed the premium increases submitted to the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) for the 2013 calendar year and noticed quite a bit of changes. Several of the highly advertised and marketed drug plans have double digit percentage increase over last year.

Contact us at Arizona Senior Health Insurance Solutions and let us help you find a Medicare health insurance plan that will help you enjoy your life to the fullest.


The Benefits of Life Insurance

Life Insurance

Insured events that may be covered include: death, diagnosis of a terminal illness, diagnosis of a critical illness, disability due to ill health, permanent disability, accidental death, or requirement for long term care.

Not only can life insurance benefit your family in the event of your death, but it can also benefit you as an investment. Your life insurance can provide benefits to your children, emergency loans to you while you are still alive, and some other benefits as well. For the remainder of this article, we will outline each of the benefits available to you and your family under a typical life insurance policy so that you can decide if life insurance might be right for you, or if you need to make changes to your already existing life insurance policy.

The most well known feature of a life insurance contract is the designation of a beneficiary. In the event of your death, benefits can be distributed to one or more beneficiaries of your choosing. There are many different types of beneficiaries that you can establish, so we need to review each one and weigh the pros and cons of each.

You can specify multiple beneficiaries if you choose to do so. For example, you might want to have your spouse as well as all of your children listed as beneficiaries. You can also stipulate the percentage of the proceeds that each beneficiary is to receive. Most people list their wife as the sole beneficiary while the kids are still young, and then as the kids get older, they modify their policy to include their children for a certain percentage of the death benefit. A guardian or trustee needs to be appointed to administer the payout of the proceeds to any beneficiaries that are still a minor.

It is also common to name a contingent beneficiary. If your primary beneficiary dies, then the contingent beneficiary is next in line to receive the proceeds of your life insurance when you die. Also, your beneficiary designation can be revocable or irrevocable. If it is revocable, you can change it any time without permission to do so. If the designation is irrevocable, you can not appoint a new beneficiary without the consent of the current beneficiary.

There are a few different types of life insurance. For our purposes here, we are only going to make a distinction between those types of policies that provide you with money while you are still living and those that do not because we want to hold our focus on the benefits of life insurance, not the different types of coverage.

Term life insurance does not give you the potential for income while you are still living. It only pays a benefit in the event you die during the covered term. Other types of coverage, such as variable life, universal life, and whole life, do have a cash surrender value because a portion of each premium payment you make is invested in a separate account. That money can accrue over time, depending upon what the money is being invested in. You have the option of investing the money in fixed income or variable investment funds.

You can terminate your policy while you are still alive. If you choose to do, you will receive the amount that has been invested, minus the surrender charges that the insurance company will assess on the money for early withdrawal.

You can also take a loan against the cash value of your policy. The interest rates for these types of loans are typically small, and you can pay back the loan in a lump sum or installments. If you default on the loan, the insurance company will pay off the loan using the accumulated cash value that you borrowed against.

Also, it is possible to buy a participating policy. The insurance company pays the holder of a participating policy a dividend, much like a normal corporation pays dividends to its stockholders. A non-participating policy does not pay a dividend. Term life policies are always non-participating.

I hope this information will help you weigh all your options when you decide to buy a life insurance policy. If you already have a policy, review it carefully to make sure you have a policy that suits your needs. Call your agent and ask questions if there is something that is not clear. You may not have an individual agent assigned to your policy. If that is the case, call the customer service center for the insurance company, and they will be able to answer any questions you might have.

This article was taken from: the Street Directory

Brewer Signs 2012 Budget, touts Medicaid Reforms

Arizona’s $8.3 billion budget for the next fiscal year is now law.

April 8, 2012 – Story by Mary Jo Pitzl / The Arizona Republic

Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday announced that she had signed the budget package late Wednesday, calling the plan “a milestone on the road to recovery.”
In late 2008, Arizona’s budget tumbled into red ink along with the overall economy, and throughout her tenure, the Republican governor has been battling budget deficits.
The fiscal year that begins July 1 is projected to end with a modest $5 million surplus. Brewer and GOP legislative leaders believe they’ll be able to keep the budget in balance throughout the coming year, instead of seeing it slip almost immediately into deficit, because they have balanced it structurally. That means they have matched state spending to the revenue the state is expected to generate in the next year.

To do that, they cut programs by $1.1 billion and reduced some of the gimmicks used to balance past budgets. However, the plan also relies on shifting costs to local governments and continuing to defer $1.3 billion in payments to various state programs.

There are no tax increases and no new borrowing, although debt remains from previous years of borrowing.

Brewer said the budget represents a state government that is “cost-effective, efficient and fiscally stable.”

Critics, though, have likened it to a “tea party” budget, with its reliance on spending cuts, especially to human- and social-service programs. The reductions equal the amount cut over the previous two years.

Many of those cuts make permanent changes to state law, meaning the programs they support will not return when state coffers are again flush with cash.

Andrei Cherny, chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, labeled the budget a product of “the Russell Pearce Republicans.” Pearce, R-Mesa, has called the state Senate, over which he presides, the “tea-party Senate.”

The budget’s main appropriations bill takes effect immediately; the 12 policy-related bills in the package will become law 90 days after the Legislature adjourns its session. Adjournment is expected later this month.

Nearly half of the budget reductions come from the state’s health-care program for low-income Arizonans.

“This budget recognizes the need to comprehensively reform our state Medicaid program,” Brewer wrote in a signing statement sent to Pearce and House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa.

She proposes to freeze enrollment in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, require co-pays from patients, and cut reimbursement rates for doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers. The budget cuts $500 million from AHCCCS, although many of the savings are contingent on federal approval of a reform package Brewer submitted to Washington, D.C., last week.

Her signing letter made no reference to the transplant program, which was cut in October. Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said Thursday that, with the budget now signed into law, that coverage is reinstated. That should put 96 people who need bone-marrow and lung transplants, among others, back under state coverage for now.

Democrats have questioned whether the budget truly restores funding.

Brewer said the budget, rife with “difficult choices,” struck a balance between the need to make state spending line up with state revenue and Arizona’s obligation to education, public safety and vulnerable citizens.

She said she did her best to protect K-12 education, the main beneficiary of the temporary 1-cent-per-dollar sales-tax hike she promoted last year.

“The adopted state budget keeps that promise, limiting K-12 cuts to roughly 2 percent of total education funding from all sources,” she wrote.

Legislative analysts said the cuts equal 3.6 percent of state general-fund spending on education, the only pot of money over which lawmakers have control.

Brewer said she protected base funding for Arizona’s public-school system from deeper cuts that lawmakers wanted by aiming reductions at specific programs, such as eliminating vocational-education programs for high-school freshmen.

Critics have charged the governor with reneging on her promise to protect education, even though they acknowledge Brewer’s proposals were less harmful than those of legislative Republicans.

The Arizona Education Network, a Tucson-based group of education advocates, said Brewer and the Legislature “have violated the public’s trust with these deep cuts.”

In addition to about $150 million in cuts to K-12, the budget reduces university funding by $198 million and takes $70 million from the community-college system.

Cherny, of the Democratic Party, said that the budget decimates Arizona education and that Democrats will remind voters of that in next year’s elections.

The budget also cuts $50 million from the Department of Economic Security, which provides the state’s safety-net programs, and $53 million from the Department of Health Services.

The budget reduces funds that have kept the state’s parks system on life support; advocates say the cuts mean some parks will have to close.

Brewer and lawmakers turned their focus to provisions of the budget they say will make fundamental changes in how government operates, mostly by erasing a structural deficit. That kind of fiscal stability, they said, will boost business and investor confidence in Arizona and help speed economic recovery.

AZ Health Care Cost Containment System

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling and Future of Health Care in AZ

August 2, 2012
The recent Supreme Court ruling provides states multiple and complex opportunities with respect to the future of their Medicaid programs. Governor Brewer has started a deliberate and thoughtful process to review these options and engage with stakeholders for their valuable input. The slides below have been included to start the discussion during meetings with stakeholders in the healthcare and business sectors. Additional meetings are being scheduled with healthcare providers and community organizations. AHCCCS will also host public meetings across the state toward the end of August and into September. Information about these community forums will be posted here once available.

This article is posted on the AZHCCCS website here

Getting the Most out of Your Insurance Dollars

United States Health Insurance White Board

This summer, Americans across the country are receiving a new set of benefits from the Affordable Care Act. One of the biggest changes has to do with your health care premiums. Because of the new health care law, insurance providers are now required to devote at least 80 percent of the premiums you pay to your health care — not to advertising, or administrative costs, or salaries for their CEOs.
Providers can make sure they meet that standard by lowering your rates or improving your care, but right now, companies that aren’t meeting the standard are actually providing rebates to their customers. Nearly 13 million Americans will receive more than $1 billion from insurance companies this summer.

Back in 2010, Nancy-Ann DeParle, President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, filmed a White Board to help explain the reform and why it matters.

Seniors and the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare and helps seniors take charge of their health. The law provides important benefits such as free preventive services, free annual wellness visits, and a 50% discount on prescription drugs for Medicare recipients in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole.” You can also work with your doctor to create a personalized prevention plan.

Top Ten Things to Know for Seniors

  • Under the health care law, your existing guaranteed Medicare-covered benefits won’t be reduced or taken away. Neither will your ability to choose your own doctor.
  • Nearly 4 million people with Medicare received cost relief during the law’s first year. If you had Medicare prescription drug coverage and had to pay for your drugs in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole,” you received a one-time, tax free $250 rebate from Medicare to help pay for your prescriptions.
  • If you have high prescription drug costs that put you in the donut hole, you now get a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs while you’re in the donut hole. Between today and 2020, you’ll get continuous Medicare coverage for your prescription drugs. The donut hole will be closed completely by 2020.
  • Medicare covers certain preventive services without charging you the Part B coinsurance or deductible. You will also be offered a free annual wellness exam.
  • The life of the Medicare Trust Fund will be extended as a result of reducing waste, fraud and abuse, and slowing cost growth in Medicare, which will provide you with future cost savings on your premiums and coinsurance.

Information provided by August 27th, 2012