How to Battle Pandemic Winter Blues

Good news seems in short supply these days, so when I find some, I like to pass it along. Older people, it turns out, are more resistant to mental stress and depression than younger age groups. As winter approaches with alarming COVID-19 case counts and lockdown protocols, resistance to stress and depression…

2021 Employer Insurance Trends; Shaky Social Security Benefit Projections

Employee health insurance will cost a bit more next year and, save for some pandemic tweaks, will look much like it has in recent years. Surveys taken by Mercer, an employee benefits and consulting firm, and the National Business Group on Health, which represents big-employer plans, concur on these…

Navigating Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare’s annual open enrollment period begins October 15 and extends through December 7. During this time, people already on Medicare have the option to: Switch from original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage plan. Switch from Medicare Advantage to original Medicare. Keep…

Taking Social Security reduces your ex-spousal benefits

Diana – Minnesota: I’m 71 and my ex-spouse is 67. I began drawing Social Security at age 62, and don’t know if my ex-spouse has begun drawing his Social Security or not. How should I proceed in order to apply for and receive ex-spousal benefits? And what benefit should I expect? Would it be based…

Medicare Q&A

I periodically post answers to reader questions. Email yours to philsquestions@gmail.com. I will let you know if I answer yours. Anonymous – Pennsylvania: I am 42, have three children, and am receiving Social Security disability benefits. I also have become addicted to Xanax, which has been prescribed…

Employers are Helping to Clarify Real Health Costs

In Nashville, going to the Vanderbilt University Hospital emergency room for a moderate problem could be costly, according to detailed cost information compiled by a company called Healthcare Bluebook. The cost for the visit would be $1,584 – the highest among 30 area hospitals and nearly four times…

Medicare and Social Security Feel the Financial Heat

The trust funds supporting Social Security and Medicare have taken a double hit from the pandemic. While a gridlocked Congress has looked the other way for years as program finances deteriorated, the damage has reached the point that the new Congress elected this November cannot continue to kick this…