Annuities: What is an Annuity, and What are the Best Annuities for Your Retirement Strategy in 2020?

What is an annuity

What is an Annuity?

An annuity is most easily understood as a contract between an individual (annuitant) and a life insurance company who agrees to make equal payments to the individual over a specified period of time. Sometimes that time is a certain number of years, and other times it can be for the lifetime of the annuitant and/or their spouse. There are a few different variations of annuities that will be discussed later on in the article.

Retirement Strategy

Knowing that an annuity is a contract with a life insurance company that guarantees to pay you equal amounts over a specified period of time why should they be a part of your retirement strategy in 2020? Westfall Insurance is a big believer in diversification of assets in retirement. When we make that shift to retirement and are past our best working years, many of us are dependent on certain investments and/or entities to provide us our income.

Social Security, for example, is something we are taxed for our entire working lives. In exchange we are promised a monthly payment from the government for as long as we live. It was announced today that President Donald Trump’s bill to cut payroll taxes could deplete the social security fund as soon as 2023. While that could all just be hearsay, the Social Security program is always a hot topic of discussion and the future of it is uncertain. 

Annuities are the closest product on the market that mimics Social Security’s structure as guaranteed payments in monthly or annual intervals to the annuitant over their lifetimes. 

While the effectiveness and value of an Annuity is dependent on the structure and fees associated with it and is up for debate amongst many “financial gurus” Westfall Insurance believes the concept of a program guaranteed to pay you monthly over your lifetime is ALWAYS worth a closer look, and we are here to solve the question of “What are the best annuities in Portland for my retirement strategy?

Best Annuities

Shopping for Annuities in Portland is different than shopping for Annuities in another city and/or state. Every insurance company has regulations on what and where they are able to market and offer their products. Outside of location, there are a few factors to consider when shopping for the best annuities for your retirement strategy. These factors are: Structure and Fees.

  1. Structure

There are two to three different factors contributing to the structure of an annuity that need to be carefully considered. These factors are: Accumulation Structure, Annuitization Structure, and Riders.

Accumulation of Annuities:

The accumulation of annuities depends on how long the accumulation phase is and how the interest is credited to the cash value. 

The accumulation phase length is referring to how the policy is funded. Here are the ways it can be funded:

  • Accumulation: Equal payments over a period of time 
  • Immediate: A one-time payment that can begin paying out immediately, or can be deferred and allowed to accumulate more interest before being annuitized (Turned into monthly payments)

There are Three Different Ways to Accumulate Interest and Cash Value in an annuity. These are:

  1. Fixed Annuities  are the safest annuities  that guarantee an annual or monthly interest rate that the insurance company guarantees to credit the policy, usually 3-5%.
  2. Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) are considered to be the best of both worlds. In an FIA, insurance company will credit the policy with a minimum guaranteed interest rate, usually 0-3% with the potential to credit the policy up to a certain percentage, usually 8-15% depending on the performance of the markets the annuity mirrors. The big benefit here is that we love at Westfall Insurance, is that the cash value NEVER LOSES money. 
  3. Variable Annuities carry the most risk, but they yield the biggest return potential. In a variable annuity, the cash value of the policy is dependent on the market it performs in and can lose money during a down economy. These are very similar to Mutual Funds.

To summarize, annuities can either be funded by equal payments made over a certain amount of time, or they can be funded with one single lump-sum payment. The cash value of the annuities can either be guaranteed, indexed, or invested directly into the stock market. 

Annuitization Phase

The annuitization phase of an annuity is when the insurance company begins to make payments to the annuitant. The annuitization phase is classified by how long the payments will go for. Annuities come with any one of these annuitization types:

  • Life Option: This means the insurance company agrees to make payments to the annuitant for as long as the annuitant lives. This structure is typically used in the retirement strategy of many as it is designed to defend against outliving your income.
  • Joint-Life Option: This is an annuity purchased by a married couple. The payout of these plans is dependent on the life expectancy of both spouses. When one spouse dies, the benefit amount paid to the remaining spouse will be less.
  • Life with Period Certain: Opting for the life or joint life option leave the risk of the annuitant dying too early and the money being kept by the insurance company. A period certain option guarantees that even if the annuitant passes during the period certain window, the insurance company will continue to pay a named beneficiary until the end of the period certain.
  • Lump-Sum: Annuities can be paid out in one lump sum. We don’t go over these too much because these are not plans that are a defense to outliving your income.

Essentially, annuities are most often paid out over the lifetime of the annuitant. Obviously this is not a great deal if the annuitant dies early and the money invested into the annuity is kept by the insurance company. To hedge against this, an annuitant would structure their policy with a period certain option that would guarantee payments would be paid to a beneficiary if the annuitant dies early. And of course, annuities can be paid in a lump-sum amount as well. 

Riders

Riders are additional benefits that can be added onto policies for an additional cost. The riders that Westfall Insurance thinks should be considered are: long term care riders and inflation riders.

Long Term Care Rider

One of the biggest fears of retirement is getting sick/injured and ending up in long term care. Long term care is very expensive and forces many Americans to run out of their retirements exceptionally fast. There are long term care insurance policies available, but the one downside to them is that they do not accumulate any cash value. That means that if you acquire long term care insurance, but you never end up having to use it, the insurance company keeps the money. A long term care rider on an annuity provides protection if needed, but if not, it builds more cash value.  

This is why the long term care rider should be considered when purchasing an annuity. This retirement strategy hedges against two of the three biggest fears of retirement which are living too long and going into long term care. While it won’t provide as comprehensive protection as a full long term care policy, it still provides solid protection. Another retirement strategy we recommend is using the monthly payment from the annuity to fund the monthly premium of the long term care policy. 

Inflation Rider

Inflation is the decreasing purchasing power of money. Essentially, inflation means that your money is losing value. The inflation rate is higher than the interest in checking, money market accounts and Certificates of Deposits offered by banks. Imagine that, money sitting in a bank account not being touched is losing its value. If you own a CD or have money sitting in an account at the bank and are not happy with your interest rates, please contact us! 

It’s important that you consider the benefits of having an inflation rider on your annuity, because, most annuities are structured to pay out equal amounts throughout the lifetime of the annuity. If the payout you get NOW vs 20 years from now is the same, then you are in trouble. We strongly recommend finding a policy with an inflation rider. 

2) Fees

Fees are VERY important to understand when shopping for an annuity. Every percentage point counts when we look at the magic of compound interest and its effects. Some annuities will perform amazingly in the market an yield very high returns, but the fees charged to the plans can significantly wipe those gains away. 

Another disappointing fact to accept when it comes to fees are that regardless of the performance of the annuity, the fees are typically the same percentage. This means that if the fees were 5%, they would be 5% whether the policy gained 15%, gained 0%, or lost 15%. To further illustrate, go check out the Compound Interest Calculator and change the percentage of compound interest around and you will see for yourself how just one percentage point can significantly alter the gains of the policy.

When shopping for the best annuities, it is important that you are able to see honest and transparent illustrations of the fees and structures of an annuity that will show multiple outcomes of the annuity based on the performance and the fees. 

Our Recommendation:

While we agree that everyone is unique and there is no such thing a one size fits all solution when it comes to a person’s retirement, Westfall Insurance is a huge fan of Fixed Indexed Annuities. The key here is that the money is guaranteed some sort of interest rate even if the market tanks. The important thing here is that it didn’t lose. 

If an investment loses 50%, it takes 100% in gains to gain it all back. (Example: Lose 50% of $100, you now have $50. You need to gain $50 back to be back to having $100. $50 is 100% of $50)

Aside from not only losing money, these policies have caps on them that allow the annuitant to partake in the gains of a bull market up to a certain percentage. These percentages vary, but one could expect anywhere from 8 to 15%.

Annuity Laddering is another alternative strategy to annuities that we think deserves its spotlight. Annuity laddering is simply the process of buying multiple annuity plans to diversify. An individual may have more money to play with and a higher risk tolerance and wants to protect some of his/her money so they would get a fixed or fixed index annuity, but they may also risk a portion of their money  into something like a variable annuity that has the potential to offer much higher returns. 

Why Else Do We Love Annuities?

We love annuities because of their tax favor ability. As we get older and our time horizon for growth on our portfolios begins to shrink, it is strongly encouraged to move money into safer investment vehicles to avoid living too long and outliving our money. Qualified retirement accounts like 401ks and/or IRAs are great ways to accumulate wealth during our working years. The one down-side of many of these plans is that they are taxed heavily during their distribution phase. IRAs have a minimum age requirement to draw money off of them and enforce a strong penalty of 10% if that age requirement is broken. 

Annuities are great because they can be used as a vehicle to roll money into from an IRA or 401k account tax-free! Instead of getting taxed on withdrawing your money from one of these accounts, you can roll it into an annuity and continue to gain tax free interest. We like to compare this to a 1031 real estate exchange where the capital gains made from a property are not taxed if that money is rolled into the purchase of another property.

Annuities are great because they can be used as a vehicle to roll money into from an IRA or 401k account tax-free! Instead of getting taxed on withdrawing your money from one of these accounts, you can roll it into an annuity and continue to gain tax free interest. We like to compare this to a 1031 real estate exchange where the capital gains made from a property are not taxed if that money is rolled into the purchase of another property.

Annuities are great because they can be used as a vehicle to roll money into from an IRA or 401k account tax-free! Instead of getting taxed on withdrawing your money from one of these accounts, you can roll it into an annuity and continue to gain tax free interest. We like to compare this to a 1031 real estate exchange where the capital gains made from a property are not taxed if that money is rolled into the purchase of another property. 

So, let’s summarize what we’ve discussed and did we answer all questions?

What is an Annuity?

Annuities are a contract between a life insurance company and an individual (annuitant) or spouses (joint-annuitants) that guarantees to pay the annuitant a lump-sum, monthly/annual specified amount either for a certain period of time or throughout the entire lifetime.

What are the Best Annuities to get?

There is no single answer to what the best annuities are. The best annuities are ones that meet your goal of not outliving your income. Aside from meeting the bare minimum requirements of not outliving your income, the best annuities also provide things like protection against inflation and the fear of going into long term care. The best annuities in Portland, or any place for that matter will vary based on which companies are allowed to market and offer their annuities geographically.

Why are Annuities a Good Retirement Strategy?

We believe annuities are an excellent addition to a retirement strategy in 2020 for a number of reasons. Annuities can be used to provide income for life. This is especially important to note given the uncertainty that is currently plaguing the world. Social Security has always been that one thing Americans could count on, and the threat of it going away is very real. Annuities are an excellent alternative retirement strategy to combat the risk of losing social security.

As mentioned earlier, the best annuities provide additional benefits like protection against inflation and long term care protection. This addresses 2 of the 3 biggest fears of retirement experienced by many Americans.

Annuities suit the needs of anyone looking to put money away into another retirement strategy vehicle. Fixed, Indexed and Variable annuities all carry some risk and reward potential.

Lastly, annuities can be funded from rolling over retirement account money without paying the taxes on the transfer. This allows the money that was rolled over to not lose any of its value and to continue growing interest tax-free.

Where Can You Find Annuities in Portland? 

Well, the most obvious answer is, Westfall Insurance! With that being said, there are many qualified individuals and brokerages in the Portland area qualified to assist. If you are looking for the best annuities and want to know more about options available, fill out a form here, book an appointment with us HERE, or call us directly at 1 (866) 985-0204.

Medicare Portland Oregon in 2020 and 2021: The Popular Trends vs. Doing What is Best for You.

medicare portland oregon

Medicare Portland Oregon

About Westfall Insurance

Westfall insurance is physically located in Portland Oregon. However, I turned Westfall Insurance into a company that operates virtually in many different states around the country. As of right now these states include: Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. 

Early in 2019 I decided to move the business to a remote model because of the growing Trend to do things online and over the phone. When coronavirus hit early this year, it was the move online that kept the business alive, and I am so grateful for that. I published my first book at the end of 2019 which became a major hit when agents and brokers were forced to innovate to keep their practice alive,  How to be a Digital Insurance Agent: Join the New Era of Life and Health Insurance Agents Working Remotely became a best seller on Amazon and climbed all the way up to number 2 just behind Suze Orman. 

Westfall Insurance specializes in retirement planning. our slogan that we have adopted is “Retire Fearlessly”. One thing that seniors are very very afraid of, is running out of money during retirement. Medicare plays a huge role in Saving seniors money on health-related expenses. Health emergencies are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Along with providing Medicare education and Enrollment Services, Westfall insurance also specializes in annuities, long term care and life insurance.

Even though I moved the business to an online remote model, I have had a change of heart and the Corona virus taught me that I actually miss meeting clients face to face because I am a social creature just like the rest of us whether we like to admit it or not. I do provide face-to-face meetings for clients and prospective clients located in the Portland metro area. As Westfall Insurance continues to expand into more States and hire more retirement specialists, we will be able to provide virtual meetings and more face-to-face meetings.

Medicare Oregon vs Medicare Portland Oregon

Oregon as a whole, has one of the highest Medicare Advantage enrollment rates in the entire United States. One reason for this is because the bulk of Oregon residents live in the Portland metro area. The common Trend in most urban areas is for people to enroll in Medicare Advantage. As of 2019, 46% of Medicare enrollees in the state of Oregon where enrolled in Medicare Advantage, And the percentage is climbing every year. We typically see people with lower incomes enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans as opposed to the original Medicare and Medicare supplement package.

The general advice most agents will give around the United States is to enroll in a Medicare supplement and a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Medicare supplement plans when used in combination with original Medicare, allow  beneficiaries to get medical treatment without network restrictions. 
  2. Many of these agents are not licensed to educate and enroll beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Oregon Providers

Medicare Advantage plans are very competitive in the Medicare Portland Oregon landscape. This state has just about all of the top carriers available. These carriers include: United Health Care, Regence Blue Cross, Humana, Aetna, Kaiser, and Providence.

Looking through the plans that are available at a $0 Premium cost to many Oregonians,, it is not hard to understand why the trend of Medicare Advantage enrollments is increasing every year. Many of these plants have huge Networks, basic dental and vision coverage, and even gym memberships. 

There are areas of Oregon  that do not even have any Medicare Advantage plans available, so the beneficiaries must enroll in original Medicare and it would be wise to pick up a Medicare Supplement Plan with a stand-alone prescription drug plan. I have also noticed that the cost of Medicare supplement plans in Oregon is very high when compared to more rural States like Iowa and Oklahoma. This is probably another reason why many Oregonians are signing up for Medicare Advantage. 

I do not see the trend of more Advantage enrollments for Medicare Portland Oregon Slowing down as the plans continue to get more and more competitive, and the supplement plans continue to get more and more expensive. Rural areas for Medicare Oregon may not see much of an increase in Medicare Advantage enrollments simply because the network and access to doctors are limited due to geography reasons.

To book and appointment with us, give us a call at 866-985-0204, or book a meeting on our calendar HERE. If you are located in the Portland, Oregon area and would like to know more about your options for Medicare Portland Oregon, we may be able to book an in person appointment. Just make sure you call ahead!

Medicare for Travelers 2020: Important Things to Know

Medicare for Travelers

Medicare for Travelers

Medicare for travelers is a very important topic to consider for those medicare beneficiaries who spend their retired life traveling the world. If you’re travelling within the United States, as I’ve mentioned in previous content, your Medicare is good anywhere in the United States as long as it’s not through a Medicare doctor who accepts Medicare for payments.


So that’s not a problem. Now, travelling outside the country is different. Medicare for travelers leaving the United States and it’s neighboring countries is often very limited. Seniors do have the option to have a Medicare supplement plan, which end up being better for out-of country kind of deals. They will cover 80 percent of the billed charges after you meet a $250 deductible. This isn’t a whole lot to meet, but always, always a good idea to look into extra coverage if you’re going to travel, especially outside the country.


Right now, I don’t think anybody’s traveling just because of the current state of affairs the country is in. But when we do get back to “normal”, Medicare for Travelers is pretty limited as far as what it can cover. When you’re overseas now, there are some U.S. territories that you are eligible for some coverage in.


Another thing to know is that Plan D, the Medicare prescription drug plan, does not work overseas. If you are needing a prescription refill, you unfortunately, are not going to be covered by your Medicare prescription drug plan. Ok, but what if you have Medicare Advantage?

By law, Medicare Advantage has to cover what original Medicare does as well. Some of these advantage plans will also cover some medical costs that occurred overseas. This is obviously dependent on who your carrier is and your plan specifics. There are some carriers out there that offer really great coverage as these plans continue to become more and more competitive.


I wouldn’t expect an extensive advantage plan that has great out of country coverage to have to be a $0 premium advantage plan. But it is something to note that there are some advantage plans out there that do have some foreign travel coverage. So if traveling is something you are considering in retirement and you want to make the best decision on your Medicare coverage, book an appointment with us! We would be happy to look into coverage options.



Thanks, guys.

Sign Up For Medicare Online in 2020: The Ugly Truth About Medicare Plans

Sign up for medicare online in 2020

Sign Up For Medicare Online 2020

We encourage beneficiaries to sign up for Medicare online in 2020, as it is the safest way to enroll in your Medicare benefits. Regardless of whether or not beneficiaries decide to enroll in Original Medicare with a Standalone Part D Drug Plan and a Medicare Supplement, or they decide to go with a Medicare Advantage plan, beneficiaries must enroll in Medicare Part B through the Social Security Website.

Currently there are 3 ways Medicare eligible Americans can enroll in their part b coverage.

  1. In Person At your Local Social Security Office
  2. By Calling 1 (800) 772-1213 Monday Through Friday Business Hours
  3. Online in less than 10 minutes by going HERE

 

Covid-19 has certainly played a major role in the way society interacts with each other. Going in person to a social security office is most likely inconvenient for most people to have to leave their house to go to a government building, especially when seniors 65 and above are the most at risk during this pandemic.

Calling the Social Security number is like calling the IRS. You will talk to somebody, but you might be on hold for hours!

Enrolling in Medicare part b online in 2020 is 100% the easiest way to enroll in coverage. It takes less than 10 minutes to register, and they even have a step by step guide on how to enroll HERE.

The next step to choosing your medicare coverage is to talk with a Medicare Specialist who can help you navigate through all the choices available to you to pick the plan that best fits your individual needs.

However, it is never a bad idea to check out rates and plans before meeting with your Medicare Advisor. In fact, we encourage it! You can see a list of some of the more popular Advantage, Supplement and Part D Plans Available in your area through our Medicareful Tool!

Things aren’t always as they seem. And if you do rush this and you don’t do it right,. There are financial consequences that could come about if you aren’t savvy about how you navigate the enrollment process.

So my best advice would be, you know, you can do it through here and our team would love to help..A simple link to a website where you can go check some rates in your area, might not have exactly what you’re looking for. We might not be in your area yet, but we have connections in your area that would be able to help you out there, people that we fully trust and feel comfortable recommending.

 

Sign Up For Medicare Part C and D Online in 2020

 

This is where talking to a Medicare Specialist is a great idea. Everyone gets the same parts A and B, but Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D Prescription Drug Coverage can vary greatly.

 

What should someone get between, Original Medicare with a supplement and a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) vs. Medicare Advantage with a Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD)?

Well, let’s start with the pros of Original Medicare:

You are not excluded to a network. So basically any doctor or hospital or professional that accepts Medicare, you have access to, no matter if you’re in your home state or if you’re anywhere else in the United States and some surrounding territories.

Original Medicare covers about 80% of your medical bills, and your medicare supplement plan is designed to help you cover most or all of the 20% out of pocket costs that a doctor may charge.

Beneficiaries will then get a Part D Prescription Drug Plan to round out their medicare benefits.

Most people who opt out of a Medicare Supplement plan during their initial medicare enrollment do so because they do not see the supplement plan as affordable, and thus they enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan that boasts a “zero dollar” premium.

Pros of Original Medicare with a Supplement:

  1. NO NETWORK
  2. Supplement Plans That Can cover almost everything

 

Cons of Original Medicare with a Supplement:

  1. Cost of Supplement
  2. No Dental or Vision Coverage

 

The Pros of Medicare Advantage are:

  1. Many have $0 premiums
  2. Some Plans Have Free Gym Memberships
  3. Some Plans Offer Basic Dental/Vision/ and Hearing Services

 

The Cons of Medicare Advantage Plans:

  1. Limited to an HMO or PPO Network

Summary of Signing up for Medicare Online:

Sign Up For Medicare Online in 2020 through the Social Security Website

Here is a Step by Step Guide to Signing Up for Medicare

Sign up for Medicare Online in 2020 for parts C and/or D and/or Medicare Supplement using our Medicareful Tool.

For a Video on how to Sign up for Medicare Online in 2020, check out our Youtube Channel!

 

Why Have an Estate Plan? I have $1,000,000 in Life Insurance, That’s Not Big Enough?

Why Have an Estate Plan

Why Have an Estate Plan?

 

Something that is dismissed on its level of importance just as much, if not more than life insurance, is estate planning. In this post, I will address: what an estate is; what happens if you kick the bucket without planning your estate correctly; the key elements of an estate: wills and
living revocable trusts; and what you can do to take action immediately.

 

Of course dying is not one of those things we want to spend our time planning or thinking about, but taking care of or at least starting your estate plan now and updating it later on throughout your lifetime will save your loved one a lot of time, money, and headache when the time does come to pass on your assets and final wishes.

 

First off, what is an estate? An estate is something that nearly every single person has. An individual’s estate is essentially everything they own. Things like life insurance, real estate, investments, automobiles, that super weird clown collection that makes everyone else in the family extremely uncomfortable, etc.

 

Obviously at some point this individual is going to die and pass on to the afterlife and all of their belongings will remain here on planet Earth. What happens with these possessions depends on how the recently deceased set up their estate before their passing. Ok, so why have an estate plan?

 

Let’s start with what happens if the person did absolutely nothing. This happens everyday, and drives families crazy. When an individual dies or even becomes severely disabled, if they did not set up some sort of estate plan, the state gets to have authority over what happens to their
stuff. Even if the family is there and present, nothing was put in place to pass along the individual’s possessions.

 

Of course things like life insurance where a beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries can be named will be ok as long as the beneficiary isn’t a minor. Minors left without parents can be placed into the custody of someone outside the family, and the state even gets to decide what to do with the families inheritance. Is this enough to answer why have an estate plan? No? Please continue then!

 

Probate laws vary from state to state and some can be more brutal than others, but the point is that most people would not want the
probate courts deciding what to do with their belongings after their passing. Ask any family who has been to probate court, “Why have an estate plan?” You might never hear the end of it.

 

Some of the key elements of estate planning should include other things like:

 

  • Instructions for passing your intangible assets
  • Instructions for your care if you become severely disabled
  • Naming a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
  • Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
  • Include life insurance, disability income insurance, and long-term care insurance
  • Accommodate the transfer of your business at your disability or death.
  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.

 

There are two common ways to set up an estate plan and those are to set up either a will or a revocable trust. Now there are subsidiary options to wills and trusts, but to keep this simple we will only talk about these two in this article. A will, is not to be confused with a living will where
you give somebody full power of attorney to make decisions for you in the event your health does not allow you to, is a route that many people go.

 

A will is essentially a set of written instructions on where you want all of your stuff to go. Setting up a will is quicker and cheaper in most cases, but it does not avoid probate. ​Probate is a legal process whereby a court oversees the distribution of assets left by a deceased person. These usually include things like real estate, personal property and cash to name a few. Some things like life insurance or retirement plans
with named beneficiaries will not go through probate, but they may face heavy taxation.

 

As mentioned earlier, probate varies from state to state, and the process can take from 4 months to 2 or more years! If an individual has property in multiple states then things can get really tricky. This is why some people prefer to go with revocable trusts, also commonly referred to as living trusts.

 

Revocable trusts are the more expensive route, but they can also make the process of transferring assets a lot easier. Trusts are valid in any state and they can continue long after your death. You must appoint a trustee to manage your trust after your passing, and you will need to make sure
you follow all the right steps to keep everything in your trust’s name. In this case, your legacy can be managed by someone you trust and torn apart by spouses, children, creditors, etc.

 

These can be adjusted and updated at any point during your lifetime. One other thing that is wise to do is to find a tax expert who can help minimize tax burdens that come with the passing of your assets.

 

Why Have an Estate Plan? More Like When Will You Get an Estate Plan?

Life is unpredictable so the perfect time to plan your estate would be as soon as possible. There are multiple routes you can go with it. There are plenty of attorneys out there who specialize in estate planning all over the country.

 

There are also online platforms like NetLaw that allow you to create and securely store all of the same documents you would be able to create with an attorney at a fraction of the price.

 

 

Burial Insurance for Veterans 2020: A Tragic Myth

Burial Insurance for Veterans

Burial Insurance For Veterans

  There is a common misconception among military veterans and their families as to what benefits are paid out upon a retired veteran’s death. Everyday, individuals all over the United States purchase what is known as final expense insurance to cover just that, final expenses. Although veterans’ loved ones do receive a small payout, burial insurance for veterans is not covered by the VA.   The amount of coverage individuals get is most often used for the purposes of covering funeral or cremation costs. Right now, the average cost of a traditional funeral in the United States ranges from $7,500 to $12,000. This amount can be more or less depending on factors like: the individual’s geographic location; transportation of the body; the size of the service; etc.   I had a heart breaking story that I will not share the names of the family members involved, but I feel as though their story needs to be told and they would agree. All names have been changed to protect privacy. More on this story later.   Being a final expense field underwriter, we are tasked with the preliminary job of assessing a person’s health to match them with the insurance company, who is:
  1. Going to insure them.
  2. Going to get them the best possible rate.
The most common thing we hear is, “I can’t afford it.” The true professionals in this industry are fully aware that most seniors live on a fixed income and every penny counts. It’s still a good idea to find out exactly what your rates are.   Rates do NOT go down as you get older and your health deteriorates. The whole goal of this coverage is to leave tax-free money to a loved one so they do not have to reap the costs of your untimely death. Fill out a quote request on our website and/or book an appointment with one of our underwriters to get an official quote! We promise to educate and provide full disclosure in our consultations so you feel confident in knowing your loved ones do not have to suffer from the financial burden of your passing.  

Burial Insurance For Veterans Myth Exposed

**DISCLAIMER, VERY SAD STORY BELOW**   When I first started in the business, I was like every other agent, hungry to get started and build a book of business, but not as knowledgeable as I’d like to be on everything. That goes with just about anything in life, you learn a little bit from reading, but you will learn so much more by gaining experience and actually just doing the job.   This is where the sad part comes in.   It was my first or second week as a field underwriter for final expense insurance and I was talking with a married couple, the Johnsons, who were interested in coverage. The couple had just turned 65 in the same year and they had 1 child who was married and lived in a different state.   While going over options and picking out plans, we were getting close to finding something that was within their budget and was an adequate amount to cover each other’s final expenses for their funeral costs. Both John and Wendy had already picked out their plots and paid for them and knew where they wanted to be buried. We went through the applications with the insurance company, and they qualified, and coverage was to begin at the beginning of the next month — which was a week away.   What happens next still haunts me and it was my own damn fault being a rookie.   ONE DAY before the coverage was to begin, John called me and let me know that they wanted to cancel because they talked to some of their old military friends, the Palmers, who made fun of them for buying burial coverage.   The Palmers told the Johnsons one the most common misconception concerning VA benefits. This common misconception is that burial insurance for veterans is already taken care of, and VA handles everything for funerals for their veterans… Because the VA has always had the veteran’s backs right?   Me being young and misinformed, I thought that was valid, and decided to call the insurance company and cancel the policy. Although, I was confused and wondered why nobody had told me about special burial insurance for veterans that was covered by the VA.   During the weekend, I was in a bad mood because the case I had been working on all week for the Johnsons had fallen through due to all parties involved thinking that the VA covered all funeral expenses. While I laid in bed disappointed and restless, I started researching on my phone what the VA paid out for funerals, and what I saw blew my mind.   The VA at that time only paid $300 towards non-service related death burial services! This has since changed and now the VA will pay $796 towards any non service related death on or after October 1, 2019. I have included a link at the end of this story that details the VA’s obligations as it pertains to burial insurance for veterans.   Being the optimist that I am, I was going to call John and Wendy first thing Monday morning and let them know of the news. They both had $15,000 policies on each other before they cancelled them.   Monday morning I called twice and no answer.   Tuesday I called twice and left a voicemail and no answer.   Wednesday I got a call back from Wendy telling me that John had suffered a heart attack Sunday night and died before the ambulance even got there. Aside from the devastating news that her husband had suddenly died, she had to turn right around and make funeral arrangements.   Financially, the couple had some money put aside for retirement, but not much. She had to drain most of the retirement account which was not tax free to do so, and she had to take out another loan on the home just to come up with enough money to cover his funeral services that cost over $14,000!   Although they never should of listened to the Palmers and they should have kept the policies, they were misinformed, just like I was.   This haunted me for quite some time, and to this day it still does. If I would have known sooner that the VA does not pay nearly enough to cover final expenses I would have told them on the day they called me trying to cancel, and I would of never let this happen out of my moral obligation to save families from financial tragedy.   I write this article today trying to find purpose and meaning in all of this. The purpose and meaning I have gotten from this situation is that I want to inform as many veterans and their loved ones as possible that the VA hardly covers anything, and if you think that they cover more, just go to their website and look for yourself.   Please feel free to use our quoting tool and book an appointment with a member of our team to find the best rates available for you. Life insurance rates do NOT go down as you get older and your health deteriorates. Do NOT leave your loved ones with the burden of your final expenses and tarnish your legacy if you do not have to.   VA Burial Insurance For Veterans

Confused or Feeling Anxious About Medicare Enrollment 2020?

Medicare and Long Term Care

Medicare Enrollment 2020

If you are an American citizen, or you have lived in the United States for 5 years or more without leaving, then you are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 years of age. There are however some exceptions to this rule for individuals under the age of 65 who meet certain qualifications for early enrollment into Medicare. These special circumstances can be any of the following:

 

  • You have received Social Security benefits for 24 months and on the 25th month you are automatically enrolled into Medicare part A and B
  • You have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease also known as ALS and you are on Social Security, you are eligible for Medicare coverage on the sixth month that your disability started
  • You have been diagnosed with end-stage renal failure also known as ESRD, and you have either been on dialysis for 3 months or you have had a kidney transplant

 

There are of course many other special circumstances for individuals with unique needs and or conditions. The average American should know that they are automatically eligible for Medicare enrollment at age 65.

 

When is Medicare Enrollment 2020 For Part B?

 

There are multiple enrollment periods for Medicare, and it all depends on your specific circumstances. The open enrollment period for all eligible beneficiaries (AEP) for Medicare enrollment 2020, was from October 15th 2019 to December 7th 2019. During this time: Medicare Beneficiaries with Original Medicare can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan and vice versa, any beneficiary with an Advantage (Part C) plan can switch back to Original Medicare parts A and B. During this time, anyone electing Original Medicare can switch, add or drop their Part D Prescription Drug Coverage. Beneficiaries can also switch their Advantage Plans. All of these plan changes will take effect and new coverage will begin on January 1 of the following year.

 

If you missed this enrollment period, or you had other employer coverage that allowed you to delay Medicare enrollment, there are other enrollment periods.

 

The first of these is the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is the time when a beneficiary is eligible for their first ever Medicare enrollment. During the initial enrollment, beneficiaries may enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, C and D and/or Medigap. The initial enrollment period is:

 

  • 3 months before your 65th birthday
  • The month of your 65th birthday
  • The three months after your birthday

 

Unless you have special circumstances allowing you to delay Medicare enrollment, it is highly recommended that you sign up for your Medicare Part B coverage as soon as you are eligible. Delaying enrollment will push back your coverage start date, and you could be subject to penalties if you wait too long. If you enroll:

 

  • In the three months before your 65th birthday; coverage will begin on the first day of your birthday month
  • During your birthday month; coverage begins the first day of the month after your birthday
  • The month after your birthday; coverage begins three months after your birth month
  • The second month after your birthday month; coverage will start 5 months after your birthday month
  • During the third month after your birthday month; coverage will start 6 months after your birthday month

 

Let’s take a look at an example or further clarification. Let’s say that Charles will turn 65 on April 15th 2020. Carl’s initially became eligible in January of 2020. Charles can choose to make elections for his Medicare enrollment in January February and March, and it’s coverage will begin on April 1st because that is his birth month.

 

Let’s say Charles puts off his enrollment for whatever reason and he decides to make elections for his Medicare enrollment 2020 in April during his birth month. Coverage for Charles will start on May 1st 2020, which is the first day of the month after his birthday month.

 

If Charles decides to make his elections for Medicare enrollment 2020 in May, which is the month after his birth month, coverage for Charles will not begin until July 1st of 2020 which is 3 months after his birthday month.

 

If Charles decides to make his elections for Medicare enrollment 2020 in June, which is 2 months after his birthday month, then his coverage will not begin until months after his birthday month which would be September 1st 2020.

 

Charles decides to make his elections for Medicare enrollment 2020 in July, which is the last month of his initial enrollment., and 3 months after his birthday month, then his coverage will not begin until October 1st of 2020.

 

To enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, go to, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/

 

Medicare Enrollment 2020 for Part D

 

When you enroll in Medicare Parts A and B for the first time, you must also enroll in a prescription drug plan which is also known as Medicare Part D. Just to clarify, regardless of whether or not you choose to stick with Original Medicare or you decide that a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) is a better option, you must always enroll in Medicare parts A and B first. If you then choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, which is also known as a Medicare Part C plan, your plan will in most cases include your prescription drug plan,and you will not need to enroll in Medicare Part D.

 

The initial enrollment period for Medicare Part B is almost identical to the initial enrollment period for Medicare Part D. The Part D initial enrollment period allows the beneficiary 7 months to elect coverage. This means 3 months before the beneficiary’s birthday, the month of the beneficiary’s birthday, and the three months following the beneficiary’s birthday. There are however, some slight differences when coverage begins. If the beneficiary signs up:

 

  • 3 months before their birth month; Plan D coverage begins the 1st day of the birth month
  • Beneficiary signs up during their birthday month; Plan D coverage begins the 1st day of the month after their birth month
  • 1, 2, or 3 months after their birth month; Plan D coverage begins the 1st day of the month following their enrollment

 

Let’s look at another example for Charles:

 

Charles who turns 65 in April of 2020, has an initial enrollment period for his Medicare Part D from January 2020 to July 2020. Based on when he enrolls is when his coverage begins. If he enrolls in:

  • January, February, or March; his coverage begins on April 1
  • April; his coverage begins on May 1
  • May; coverage begins on June 1
  • June; coverage begins on July 1
  • July; coverage begins on August 1

 

What if I Miss Medicare Enrollment 2020?

If you do end up missing your initial enrollment period for Medicare parts A and B, then there is another option known as the General Enrollment Period. The general enrollment period for parts A and B takes place from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020. The coverage will begin on July 1, 2020.

 

Medicare Advantage Enrollment 2020

There is an additional enrollment period for beneficiaries who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The enrollment period is known as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). The annual MA OEP takes place from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020. During this time, beneficiaries who are signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan may switch to another Advantage plan, or they have the option to switch back to original medicare parts A and B along with a Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

 

A beneficiary enrolled in original medicare does not have the opportunity to switch plans during this time, UNLESS, they are in their first 3 months of being enrolled in Medicare parts A and B. Every individual has the opportunity to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan within their first 3 months of being enrolled in Medicare parts A and B.

 

To view Medicare Advantage plans available in your area, go to:

https://westfallinsurance.com/MAPD

 

Medigap Open Enrollment 2020

 

Medigap or “Medicare Supplement” open enrollment is a one time 6 month period that starts from the time you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare part B. This is the guaranteed issue period for a medigap plan, which means that anyone eligible during this period can enroll regardless of health issues. You can not enroll in Medigap if you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Essentially you have two choices for coverage:

  1. Medicare Parts A and B, with a Stand-alone Part D prescription Drug plan and a medigap plan that assists in the cost-sharing of your medical bills that original medicare does not cover.
  2. Medicare Advantage plan that comes with a prescription drug plan, these are often referred to as MA-PD plans. These plans come with an annual Maximum out of Pocket (MOOP) and do not allow for beneficiaries to enroll in a Medigap plan.

 

Beneficiaries are allowed to switch back to original medicare from an advantage plan, but there is no guarantee that they will be approved for another medigap plan once they are outside of their one time guaranteed issue period, and they should speak with a Medicare Professional about this decision because it is VERY IMPORTANT.

Increased Medicare Telehealth 2020 Availability For Seniors During Covid-19 Crisis

Medicare Telehealth 2020

Medicare Telehealth 2020 will be made available to all beneficiaries! As of March 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services CMS, have lifted the limitations on Telehealth services for Seniors in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that is plaguing the entire planet. This was all made possible after President Donald Trump declared the United States was in a state of emergency under the 1135 Waiver Authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Up until just recently, Telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries were typically limited to beneficiaries living in rural areas. In order for the services to be covered by original Medicare, these beneficiaries typically had to drive to a medical facility miles away from their homes, just to speak with a doctor over the phone or video call. This is in the best interest of the senior population who are the most susceptible to death by the Coronavirus.

This is not to be mistaken with Medicare Advantage plans, ,the private alternative to Original Medicare which you can learn more about here: https://westfallinsurance.com/MAPD Nearly all Medicare Advantage plans have some form of Telehealth services for their beneficiaries. Telehealth services currently come in three different options: Telehealth visits, virtual check-ins, and E- visits and part B of original Medicare assists with the cost-sharing of these specific services.

 

3 Medicare Telehealth 2020 Options

Telehealth visits are for routine doctor and other medical professional visits that are non life-threatening, and typically done in person.

Virtual check-ins were designed for already established Medicare beneficiaries who need to quickly communicate with their medical professional through text messaging, picture messaging, video messaging Etc.

E-visits, are the one type of Telehealth option that do not require any type of face-to-face or spoken communication with a medical professional. Patients can access their portal and receive the basic care they are looking for.

 

What Does Medicare Telehealth 2020 Expansion Mean?

There is no telling when the Covid-19 virus will subside, and I believe we are getting a very real glimpse into the future of what will begin to be the new norm in modern healthcare. Not only will we see change in this industry, but in many different Industries. Bars and restaurants seem to be shifting towards more delivery, cars are self driving, and e-sports are the only thing people can get together for. Insurance agents like myself, working in Medicare, will have to adapt and operate on a remote basis. Virtual Doctor visits are is by no means a brand new thing.

Americans working at medium and larger sized companies usually have some sort of phone-a-doctor program in their benefits package that hardly anyone uses, but that could change very soon because it is sounding a lot better than being around sick people and I think the popularity of it will only go up! These days you can’t even sneeze in public without people looking at you funny! In 2019 people used to just say, “Bless You.”

Initially, we will not be happy with these changes that are coming because we are human and we want to be comfortable. With all the chaos going on, I am predicting that Medicare Telehealth 2020 participation skyrockets. It certainly feels like the shifts we are seeing across a number of industries and in our own lifestyles was inevitable. It would also appear that the Corona Virus is the catalyst for this change in more ways than one.

If you or someone you know is looking for some options and consulting on Medicare from the comfort of your own home and computer. Go check out this site that will list many of the top Medicare supplement plans, Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Advantage plans available in your area. https://medicareful.com/westfallinsurance or just go straight to the government website at : https://www.medicare.gov/