Medicare Plan F Going Away In 2020

provided by Published 9:00 am, Monday, March 5, 2018 MoneyTips Millions of Americans choose to supplement their Original Medicare benefits with additional coverage that helps to cover the gaps. Medigap plans in America are standardized, and for decades, Medigap Plan F has been a top seller. This is largely because it covers all of the deductibles, coinsurance, and copays that would normally be your responsibility after Original Medicare pays its share. Beneficiaries insured with a Plan F policy pay nothing for doctor visits, lab work, surgeries, hospital stays, and much more. This type of first-dollar coverage provides huge peace of mind to Medicare recipients as they age because their costs are predictable. If there is an illness that requires extensive treatment, they don't need to worry about what kind of bills will be showing up in their mailbox. However, in 2020, this will be changing because Plan F and Plan C are being discontinued. Why Plans Are Being Discontinued In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. Part of this legislation will outlaw the sale of Medigap plans (on or after January 1st, 2020) that pay for the Part B deductible to a newly eligible Medicare beneficiary. In 2018, the annual Part B deductible is $183. Since Plan C and F both pay for this deductible, they will no longer be available to new beneficiaries. The reasoning behind the law is that Congress doesn't want people to have plans that pay for literally everything because that might encourage people to access medical care more often. Individuals who know they must pay for their own Part B deductible once a year might think twice about visiting the doctor for a minor ailment. Fewer doctor visits equal less spending by Medicare itself. To be sure, there are many people who don't agree with the thinking behind this. Opponents of the legislation pointed out that Plans C and F cost more than other Medigap plans. So, if someone has the funds to Continue Reading

Air Force plans F-35 environmental study at Selfridge

The military is moving ahead with an environmental study of the potential impact of locating a squadron of F-35A fighter aircraft at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, even though the U.S. Air Force didn’t pick the base to host one of the next two F-35 squadrons.The Pentagon announced this week it will prepare an environmental analysis of all five bases that competed to be the second and third Air National Guard locations for storing, maintaining and training on the F-35A, which is made by Lockheed Martin Corp.The Air Force said in December that it would convert two F-16 units in Montgomery, Alabama, and Madison, Wisconsin, to host 20 F-35A aircraft each, pending the completion of environmental analyses required by federal law.The service said Selfridge and the other two finalists — Gowen Field Air National Guard Base in Idaho and Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida — were “reasonable alternatives” but not preferred.The cost of modifying facilities at Selfridge to be compatible with the F-35A mission was estimated by the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard to be roughly $11.8 million, with little impact on personnel costs. Selfridge would have the capacity to operate up to 24 F-35s.The National Guard Bureau plans a public meeting about the environmental study for 5-8 p.m. Feb. 21 at L’Anse Creuse Public Schools Wheeler Community Center in Clinton Township.National Guard representatives will be available to discuss the proposal at the meeting, where the public may provide written comments and concerns.Feedback collected at the meeting will be used to help refine and focus on “significant issues” for the impact study – a draft of which is expected later this year. Comments received by April 6 will be considered in the preparation of the draft.Comments may be submitted online at or sent to Christel Johnson, Environmental Engineer, NGB/A4AM, Shepperd Hall, 3501 Continue Reading

United turnaround plan: bolster hubs, revive smaller markets

United Airlines executives plan to stop making "stupid" decisions as part of a renewed effort to turn around the carrier's fortunes.The airline shrank a cumulative 8% during the last five years at its hubs, surrendering market share to rivals such as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines and to low-cost carriers, President Scott Kirby told investment analysts this week.In part, that was because of passenger-projection software that consistently under-predicted how many people would show up on a given flight.But the airline also moved regional jets from high-yield markets such as Rochester, Minn., and matched them up against bigger "mainline" jets flown by rivals on routes such as Newark-Atlanta and Chicago-Houston. TODAY IN THE SKY: United Airlines fills out route map with eight new routesThe result was a three-fold failure, Kirby said. United lost high-yield passengers. Customers on the competitive routes were unhappy with the planes. And crews thought the decisions were wrong.“We lost customers who used to fly us, and now we’ve pushed them to our competitors because they didn’t like the product,” Kirby said. “We had employees who were screaming at us: ‘This is stupid, why are you doing this?’ They were right. We shouldn’t have been doing that.” BY THE NUMBERS: The fleet and hubs of United Airlines But Kirby, CEO Oscar Munoz and other top executives outlined plans during a meeting with investors to strengthen the company's hubs — and the entire airline — by improving the flow of passengers from connecting flights.Steps include changing the passenger-projection software, clustering flights at hubs more efficiently and offering passengers from smaller markets more choices for connections that make sense geographically. TODAY IN THE SKY: United Airlines will fly to TahitiUnited already flipped the switch on its decades-old program called Orion for a new system Continue Reading

Wrong Prescription: McCain’s Healthcare Plan

Deregulation has worked so well for Wall Street, John McCain wrote recently, that we should use the same approach to fix our healthcare system. In the September/October issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries, the Republican presidential candidate asserts, “Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.” McCain was writing just before Wall Street collapsed, and he obviously did not think Americans needed to be insured against the failure of a deregulated financial sector. Likewise, he was not concerned that the 53 percent of Americans who get insurance from their employers need protection from the risk of losing it. In fact, he’s hoping they will lose their employer coverage, betting they’ll be better off on their own in a deregulated market. McCain’s healthcare plan replaces the tax incentives for employers to offer health insurance with a tax credit for people to buy insurance on their own. This proposal embraces a “consumer directed” approach to healthcare, a model that has become popular among free-market conservatives. The more directly people bear the costs of their care, the thinking goes, the more they will drive down costs by becoming better shoppers. Under this model, employees, not employers, should pay for their care. Al Hubbard, a former White House economic adviser who devised a similar proposal unsuccessfully advanced by George W. Bush in 2007, explains this approach by suggesting we imagine a world in which employers offer “food insurance” instead of health insurance. If an insurance company paid for your groceries as it does your healthcare bills, he argues, “pretty soon you would start buying caviar, the most expensive steak, and you would start buying more Continue Reading

Romney’s Healthcare Plan That Isn’t

If someone asked you to come up with a good reason that Mitt Romney—the boring one-term governor of a state he left with high debt, poor job-creation and low approval ratings—became a credible national candidate, you might have a hard time doing so. The fact that he is wealthy and could self-finance his way into the top tier of Republican presidential contenders helped, as did the fact that he had won in the bluest of states, Massachusetts. But the main reason, ironically, is that he was associated with a policy achievement—healthcare reform—that he has completely come to oppose. Back in 2007, Republicans still pretended to care about the crisis of 45 million uninsured Americans and costs that keep spiraling upwards. And so they looked to the one Republican who had tackled that problem at the state level and had done so with a program that harnessed the private sector rather than creating a massive new entitlement program. Conservative organs such as National Review, which would later inveigh against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cited Romney’s experience with reforming the health insurance system as one of his most valuable credentials. Throughout this campaign Romney has walked a tiny tightrope on healthcare: he attempts to make amends for passing the state level template for the ACA by issuing over the top denunciations of socialist, unconstitutional “Obamacare.” Meanwhile he has studiously avoided saying anything of substance about how he would address the massive market failure that defined the pre-reform American healthcare system. On Tuesday in Orlando Romney gave a speech intended to create the false impression that he intends to replace the ACA with something that would provide the same benefits through other means. Here is how the Washington Post summarized the speech: “Romney fleshed out a plan he proposed earlier that would apply free-enterprise principles to the nation’s health-care system rather Continue Reading

Most Americans say Republican healthcare plan will be harmful: Reuters/Ipsos poll

By Chris Kahn NEW YORK (Reuters) - When U.S. Senate Republicans unveil their plan to overhaul America's healthcare system, they will face a skeptical public that already does not buy the justification for an earlier version that passed the House of Representatives, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.  The June 9-13 poll shows that a majority of the country thinks the American Health Care Act would be harmful for low-income Americans, people with pre-existing health conditions and Medicaid recipients. Overall, 41 percent of American adults oppose the House plan, while 30 percent support it. Another 29 percent said they "don't know," according to the poll. "It'll make people's deductibles skyrocket" said Shannon Sowards, 39, of Memphis, Tennessee, a Trump supporter who took the poll. "So I'm not for this healthcare act. I'm for insurance for everyone." The Senate is expected to release its full plan on Thursday. (Click here to view the poll's topline results: The gap between what Republicans say their plan will do and what people think it will do further complicates matters for Senate Republicans, who already have been criticized for drafting their bill in secret. "It would be great if a politican had the nerve to be brutally honest" and tell people that healthcare costs are going up, said Joseph Antos, a healthcare expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. "None of them seem to." For years, Republicans have promised voters they would replace Democratic former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, which they say is too costly and intrusive. When House Republicans pitched their health plan earlier this year, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan boasted that it would lower premiums, protect people with pre-existing conditions and improve public "access" to high-quality, low-cost healthcare. U.S. Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, who helped shape the House Continue Reading

Trump, after Senate bill collapses, vows ‘great healthcare plan’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After Republicans' effort to pass a healthcare bill in the Senate collapsed on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday put the blame on Democrats and a few members of his own party, but vowed to come back with "a great healthcare plan.""We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!" Trump wrote on Twitter."As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!" Trump added. (Reporting by Susan Heavey)(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Click For Restrictions Continue Reading

Daily News Guide to Affordable Care Act, Part III: Those who earn tax credits under their healthcare plan can slash their costs

For some people, signing up for a healthcare plan on New York's new exchange will come with a bonus — tax credits that can slash the cost of their premiums. If and how much you get depends on your income — up to about $46,000 annually for an individual and as much as around $94,000 for a family of four. Those who are eligible though, have a key decision to make: Whether to take the credit throughout the year, or to get it when they file their taxes the following year. Making the right decision and estimating your annual income as carefully as possible can save you from getting slapped with a surprise tax bill, Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Daily News. Taking the credit throughout the year will lower each month's premium payments, making it more affordable for people with limited incomes. But people whose income streams tend to fluctuate, like freelancers and contract workers, might want to elect to get all, or at least part of, their credit once they're able to tally their actual income for the year. "If you're not sure what your income prospects are, then you might want to be a little more conservative," Pollitz said. "If you took more than you were supposed to, you'll have to pay it back." Although the deadline to sign up on the exchange is March 31, enrollees can adjust their estimated income throughout the year to make sure they're getting the right subsidy amount. Those whose annual pay is near the upper threshold for eligibility need to be especially careful in estimating their income, Pollitz said. A couple making just under $62,000 would be eligible for around $6,000 a year in subsidies. That could cut the cost of their premiums by half, on average, if they pick a lower-tier silver plan, she said. But if they suddenly find their income has inched up even a little, they may find themselves owing $6,000 to Uncle Sam when tax time comes. Continue Reading

Obama asks supporters to help with rollout of troubled healthcare plan

President Barack Obama, defiant against mounting criticism of his troubled healthcare plan, vowed on Monday to press ahead with the rollout and asked supporters to help as the White House struggled to gain control of the debate over his signature achievement. Obama went before 200 of the core activists who helped turn out the vote for him in his re-election a year ago, seeking their assistance to enroll people into the Affordable Care Act amid signs that early enrollment numbers will fall far short of expectations. “I need your help to implement this law,” he told leaders of the Organizing for Action group that grew out of his 2012 campaign. “I need your help to educate folks about this law.” Obama has come under fire for a website that has not worked properly since the system came online Oct. 1 and for the fact that thousands of Americans are seeing their private insurance plans canceled despite his 2010 promise that under Obamacare, “if you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan.” The problems have contributed to a drop in his job approval rating to about 40 percent and given his Republican critics ammunition to use against a healthcare law they have fought bitterly since it was proposed during his first presidential campaign in 2008. Obama promised that the problems with the website will be fixed and vowed the healthcare law would not be stopped. “When the unanticipated happens, we’re just going to work on it, we’re going to fix things that aren’t working the way they should be and we’re just going to keep on going,” he said. His administration has set a target of the end of November for to be operating smoothly. Aides on a conference call with reporters promised it would be much improved, a possible sign that all problems will not be worked out in time. Obama called the website problems “inexcusable” Continue Reading

United Effort Plan approved to sell Hildale properties

ST. GEORGE – A Salt Lake City judge has approved the sale of Hildale properties owned by the United Effort Plan, clearing the way for the privatization of homes owned by the polygamous trust that was once a communal mainstay of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.Judge Denise Lindberg filed the signed order Saturday in 3rd District Court.The UEP trust previously served notice that it intended to sell 28 Hildale properties among its holdings to 24 residents who have occupied the specified properties for "many years" without anyone else contesting their right to residency at the listed addresses or seeking a competing opportunity to gain ownership of the properties.UEP trust officials have said similar sales by warranty deed may take place in the future, but the transfer of UEP property to private owners and requirements that current residents pay $100 per month "occupancy fees" to the trust as a form of rent have been met with opposition within the state-line Hildale and Colorado City communities, known collectively as Short Creek.The UEP owns nearly all of the Short Creek lands, and many of its residents are polygamists who built the homes they live in or who improved the buildings and property over the course of years, then endowed it to the trust as a show of religious loyalty.Nearly a decade ago, the state of Utah took control of the trust after residents began refusing to pay property taxes, which potentially subjected trust lands to forced tax sales by their respective counties, and then the UEP's FLDS management failed to present a legal defense in court lawsuits that contested the conditions of property residency, which also created a threat that the trust's beneficiaries would lose their investments.But many residents, particularly those still loyal to the insular FLDS church, oppose the idea that they should have to pay any outstanding "rent" to the trust for property they built and already live on, or pay a fee of 15 cents Continue Reading