by on November 11, 2021
                                    <h1>Researcher: Medicare Advantage Plans Costing Billions More Than They Should</h1> <div>    <span class="byline">Fred Schulte, Kaiser Health News</span>         <time class="posted-on" datetime="2021-11-11T05:00:00-05:00">             November 11, 2021        </time>         </div> <p>Switching seniors to Medicare Advantage plans has cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars more than keeping them in original Medicare, a cost that has exploded since 2018 and is likely to rise even higher, new research has found.</p>    <p>Richard Kronick, a former federal health policy researcher and a professor at the University of California-San Diego, said his analysis of newly released Medicare Advantage billing data estimates that Medicare overpaid the private health plans by more than $106 billion from 2010 through 2019 because of the way the private plans charge for sicker patients.</p><p>Nearly $34 billion of that new spending came during 2018 and 2019, the latest payment period available, according to Kronick. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made the 2019 billing data <a href="https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Advantage/Plan-Payment/Plan-Payment-Data">public</a> for the first time in late September.</p><p>“They are paying [Medicare Advantage plans] way more than they should,” said Kronick, who served as deputy assistant secretary for health policy in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.</p><p>Medicare Advantage, a fast-growing alternative to original Medicare, is run primarily by major insurance companies. The health plans have <a href="https://www.ahip.org/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-medicare-advantage/">enrolled</a> nearly 27 million members, or about 45% of people eligible for Medicare, according to AHIP, an industry trade group formerly known as America’s Health Insurance Plans.</p><p>The industry argues that the plans generally offer extra benefits, such as eyeglasses and dental care, not available under original Medicare and that most seniors who join the health plans are happy they did so.</p><p>“Seniors and taxpayers alike have come to expect high-quality, high-value health coverage from MA [Medicare Advantage] plans,” said AHIP spokesperson David Allen.</p><p>Yet critics have argued for years that Medicare Advantage costs taxpayers too much. The industry also has been the target of multiple government <a href="https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-16-76">investigations</a> and Department of Justice <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/manhattan-us-attorney-files-civil-fraud-suit-against-anthem-inc-falsely-certifying">lawsuits</a> that allege widespread billing abuse by some plans.</p><p>The payment issue has been getting a closer look as some Democrats in Congress search for ways to finance the Biden administration’s social spending agenda. Medicare Advantage plans also are scrambling to attract new members by advertising widely during the fall open-enrollment period, which ends next month.</p><p>“It’s hard to miss the big red flag that Medicare is grossly overpaying these plans when you see that beneficiaries have more than 30 plans available in their area and are being bombarded daily by TV, magazine and billboard ads,” said Cristina Boccuti, director of health policy at West Health, a group that seeks to cut health care costs and has supported Kronick’s research.</p><p>Kronick called the growth in Medicare Advantage costs a “systemic problem across the industry,” which CMS has failed to rein in. He said some plans saw “eye-popping” revenue gains, while others had more modest increases. Giant insurer UnitedHealthcare, which in 2019 had about 6 million Medicare Advantage members, received excess payments of some $6 billion, according to Kronick. The company had no comment.</p><p>“This is not small change,” said <a href="https://www.crfb.org/biography/staff/joshua-gordon">Joshua Gordon</a>, director of health policy for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group. “The problem is just getting worse and worse.”</p><p>Responding to written questions, a CMS spokesperson said the agency “is committed to ensuring that payments to Medicare Advantage plans are appropriate. It is CMS’s responsibility to make sure that Medicare Advantage plans are living up to their role, and the agency will certainly hold the plans to the standards that they should meet.”</p><p>Making any cuts to Medicare Advantage payments faces stiff opposition, however.</p><p>On Oct. 15, 13 U.S. senators, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) sent a <a href="https://www.sinema.senate.gov/sinema-and-bipartisan-group-colleagues-commit-protecting-and-strengthening-medicare-advantage">letter</a> to CMS opposing any payment reductions, which they said “could lead to higher costs and premiums, reduce vital benefits, and undermine advances made to improve health outcomes and health equity” for people enrolled in the plans.</p><p>Much of the debate centers on the complex method used to pay the health plans.</p><p>In original Medicare, medical providers bill for each service they provide. By contrast, Medicare Advantage plans are paid using a coding formula called a “risk score” that pays higher rates for sicker patients and less for those in good health.</p><p>That means the more serious medical conditions the plans diagnose the more money they get — sometimes thousands of dollars more per patient over the course of a year with little monitoring by CMS to make sure the higher fees are justified.</p><p>Congress recognized the problem in 2005 and directed CMS to set an annual “coding intensity adjustment” to reduce Medicare Advantage risk scores and keep them more in line with original Medicare.</p><p>But since 2018, CMS has set the coding adjustment at 5.9%, the minimum amount required by law. Boccuti said that adjustment is “too low,” adding that health plans “are inventing new ways to increase their enrollees’ risk scores, which gain them higher monthly payments from Medicare.”</p><p>Some of these coding strategies have been the target of whistleblower lawsuits and government investigations that allege health plans illegally manipulated risk scores by making patients appear sicker than they were, or by billing for medical conditions patients did not have. In one recent case, the Justice Department <a href="https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/government-intervenes-false-claims-act-lawsuits-against-kaiser-permanente-affiliates">accused</a> Kaiser Permanente health plans of obtaining about $1 billion by inflating risk scores. In a <a href="https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/our-story/news/our-perspective/2021-statement-1">statement</a>, the insurer disputed the allegations. (KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)</p><p>Legal or not, the rise in Medicare Advantage coding means taxpayers pay much more for similar patients who join the health plans than for those in original Medicare, according to Kronick. He said there is “little evidence” that higher payments to Medicare Advantage are justified because their enrollees are sicker than the average senior.</p><p>Kronick, who has <a href="https://publicintegrity.org/health/a-call-for-more-scrutiny-of-private-medicare-advantage-plans/">studied</a> the coding issue for years, both inside government and out, said that risk scores in 2019 were 19% higher across Medicare Advantage plans than in original Medicare. The Medicare Advantage scores rose by 4 percentage points between 2017 and 2019, faster than the average in past years, he said.</p><p>Kronick said that if CMS keeps the current coding adjustment in place, spending on Medicare Advantage will increase by $600 billion from 2023 through 2031. While some of that money would provide patients with extra health benefits, Kronick estimates that as much as two-thirds of it could be going toward profits for insurance companies.</p><p>AHIP, the industry trade group, did not respond to questions about the coding controversy. But a report prepared for AHIP <a href="https://www.ahip.org/wp-content/uploads/09222021-Final-AHIP-Memo.pdf">warned</a> in September that payments tied to risk scores are a “key component” in how health plans calculate benefits they provide and that even a slight increase in the coding adjustment would prompt plans to cut benefits or charge patients more.</p><p>That threat sounds alarms for many lawmakers, according to Kronick. “Under pressure from Congress, CMS is not doing the job it should do,” he said. “If they do what the law tells them to do, they will get yelled at loudly, and not too many people will applaud.”</p><p><a href="https://khn.org/morning-briefing/">Subscribe</a> to KHN's free Morning Briefing.</p><img src="https://ssl.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&t=event&ec=Republish&tid=UA-53070700-2&z=1636645080141&cid=51d4d701-a912-46b6-9ec3-4ec34fc73f4c&ea=https%3A%2F%2Fkhn.org%2Fnews%2Farticle%2Fmedicare-advantage-overpayments-cost-taxpayers-billions-researcher-says%2F&el=Researcher%3A%20Medicare%20Advantage%20Plans%20Costing%20Billions%20More%20Than%20They%20Should"/>     Source                           
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by on October 21, 2021
Open Enrollment is your chance to review and compare your current Medicare coverage with other plan options for 2022! Even if you're happy with your current plan, it's important to check for any changes next year, and compare with other available plan options. You may even find plans that save you money! Now's the time to explore your options and find the best fit for your needs and budget. Compare Plans
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by on July 15, 2022
Trying to find a nearby hospital with doctors that accept Medicare? Or, perhaps you're planning to have surgery or are thinking about your future needs. Visit Medicare.gov to find a hospital in your area that best meets your needs. Search for Hospitals Make the most out of your hospital search: Look at a hospital's overall and patient star ratings. The overall rating is based on how well a hospital performs across different areas of quality, like treating heart attacks or safety of care. The star rating measures patient satisfaction rates based on their personal experiences. Compare a hospital's performance against national averages for patient experiences, timely and effective care, complications, and more. Find hospital contact information, distance from your home, and directions. WealthCare Blogs are for general educational and entertainment purposes only. No advice or recommendations are provided. Do your own due diligence and consult with a licensed wealthcare before making any wealthcare decisions.
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by on October 16, 2021
People typically buy annuities to help manage their income in retirement. Annuities provide three things: Periodic payments for a specific amount of time. This may be for the rest of your life, or the life of your spouse or another person. Death benefits. If you die before you start receiving payments, the person you name as your beneficiary receives a specific payment. Tax-deferred growth. You pay no taxes on the income and investment gains from your annuity until you withdraw the money.
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by on October 15, 2021
Reverse mortgages are credit advances that allow the elderly to borrow against their home equity during their retirement years. Unlike traditional mortgages, borrowers don’t have to make a monthly payment on their reverse mortgage.  The Kevin A. Guttman team of mortgage professional are here to help you every step of the way. In fact, a reverse mortgage is a particular type of loan that converts some of your home equity into cash. This loan allows borrowers to retain ownership of their home as long as their other obligations are kept, such as property taxes, maintenance, and home insurance. In a reverse mortgage, the lender makes cash instalments to the homeowner rather than the other way around. Like any financial agreement, it must come to an end. A reverse mortgage matures when both homeowners die or relocate into a residence or new home. Even if your partner moves to a long-term facility, the reverse mortgage doesn’t have to be paid until they move or die. What happens when homeowner dies in a reverse mortgage Essentially, a reverse mortgage inheritance kicks in after the death of the last borrower. At this stage, the loan provider will offer a settlement loan amount with accumulated interest. Depending on the equity left on the property at the time of the loan maturity, children or non-spousal heirs have various options at their disposal. Paying back the mortgage can be complicated, depending on how much equity is left in the house or whether you want the place to stay in the family. Many believe that the home reverts to the bank upon death, but that isn’t necessarily the case. After death reverse mortgage options As a reverse mortgage heir, your responsibility entails deciding whether to sell the property and settle the loan agreement, retain the home or gain ownership and consider a sale in the future. Typically, upon loan maturity, the lender allows 30 days to plan your course of action and between 3 to 13 months for mortgage repayment. With an array of options, examine your possibilities carefully. Sell the property to repay the loan Usually, heirs choose to pay off the loan by selling the house. Any leftover equity after paying off the loan is yours, and you can invest the remaining proceeds in a home of your own or towards other financial obligations. Although rare, the home sale may fall short of the repayable loan amount. You aren’t liable to make the excess payment, and the provider cannot claim repayment through other assets. Deed in lieu of foreclosure Some reverse mortgage balances may be higher than the market value of the home. When you inherit an underwater house, the easiest option may be to provide the lender with a deed instead of going through the various time-consuming foreclosure costs. Turn over the keys and choose not to be a part of future dealings. Selecting this option will not hurt your credit score and let you move forward without the hassle. Take out a new mortgage.  When you don’t own another property or have sentimental value in the family home, you can keep the ownership by repaying the full amount with increasing interest and fees. You can arrange payment with your funds, refinance the mortgage or look into other financial options. If keeping the house is essential, consider paying off the debt with assets such as a life insurance policy or an investment account. When you decide to settle the loan, you won’t pay any taxes to transfer the title to your name. Remember, you can choose to repay the loan amount owed of 95% of the current market value, whichever is lower regardless of the loan balance. Reverse mortgages are complicated loans. Borrowers and their hairs need to understand the repayment process when it comes due. The heirs still have the responsibility for upkeep and taxes. Insurance and fees will continue to accrue while you try to figure things out. From complementing retirement finances to financing home improvements, this versatile mortgage can help seniors in various ventures during their lifetimes. Ideally, a healthy property market will increase the value of your home and thus increase the home’s equity. Source
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by on October 15, 2021
                                    <h1>How to Crush Medical Debt: 5 Tips for Using Hospital Charity Care</h1> <div>    <span class="byline">Emily Pisacreta</span>         <time class="posted-on" datetime="2021-10-15T05:00:00-04:00">             October 15, 2021        </time>         </div> <p>What if a law passed but no one enforced it? That’s essentially what has happened with one small but helpful rule about hospitals and financial assistance for medical bills.</p><p>The Affordable Care Act, the health law also known as Obamacare, requires nonprofit hospitals to make financial assistance available to low-income patients and post those policies online. Across the U.S., <a href="https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/hospitals-by-ownership/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D">more than half of hospitals are nonprofit </a>— and in some states all or nearly all hospitals are nonprofit. But many people who qualify for financial assistance — or “charity care,” as it is sometimes known — never apply.</p><p>Jared Walker is helping get the word out. He founded <a href="https://dollarfor.org/">Dollar For</a>, an organization that directly helps people use hospital financial assistance policies to overcome unaffordable medical bills. Walker earned the public’s attention early this year through a viral TikTok he made on a lark, late one night.</p><p>In the <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@dollarfor/video/6972020772843965702?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1">60-second video</a>, Walker outlines the basics of applying for hospital financial assistance, in response to a prompt that asks TikTokers to share “something you’ve learned that feels illegal to know.”</p><p>“Most hospitals in America are nonprofits, which means they have to have financial assistance or charity care policies,” he says in the video. “This is going to sound weird, but what that means is if you make under a certain amount of money the hospital legally has to forgive your medical bills.”</p><p>The video outlines the basics of applying for hospital charity care, which he says he uses to “crush” medical bills.</p><p>“<a href="https://armandalegshow.com/">An Arm and a Leg</a>,” a podcast about the cost of health care, has been covering Walker and his <a href="https://armandalegshow.com/episode/wait-that-was-legal/">organization’s work</a> since the video’s viral moment, as well as the decades-long fight to establish charity care rules that preceded it.</p><p>Here are five strategies Walker endorses and shares during monthly volunteer training sessions:</p><p><strong>1. How do you find the policy?</strong></p><p>Walker’s trick for finding a hospital’s financial assistance policy is as straightforward as it gets: Google it. Enter the hospital’s name, followed by “financial assistance policy” or “charity care policy.” The first search results are likely to be an outline of the policy and an application to submit.</p><p>Your first instinct might be to go to your hospital’s home page. But that’s likely a mistake. Policies tend to be hidden from hospital website menus, according to Walker. In many states, charity care laws are more specific than what’s outlined in the ACA, and hospitals may be required to display their financial assistance policies prominently.</p><p>It’s rare for the policies not to be available online at all, but in some cases, Walker said, you may need to call the hospital and ask for an application.</p><p /><p><strong>2. Who qualifies?</strong></p><p>Most hospital charity care policies are income-based, using percentages of the <a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines">federal poverty guidelines</a> to define eligibility. In an example, Walker showed the guidelines for <a href="https://www.saintlukeskc.org/locations/saint-lukes-hospital-kansas-city">St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City</a>, where patients earning 200% of the federal poverty guidelines were responsible for 0% of their bill. That figure was just over $2,000 a month in 2021. Those making 201% to 300% were eligible for certain discounts.</p><p>Not sure how your income compares to the federal poverty guidelines? <a href="https://home.mycoverageplan.com/fpl.html">Here’s one of many helpful online calculators.</a> Remember, your household is you, plus your spouse, plus anyone you claim as a dependent on your taxes. Roommates don’t count.</p><p>Applications typically require documentation to prove your income. Hospitals ask for things like recent pay stubs, proof of unemployment, Social Security award letters and tax returns, according to Walker. Exactly which documents the hospital may ask for can vary. But a hospital can’t deny you for failing to provide a document that isn’t spelled out in the application.</p><p><strong>3. In collections? You may still have time.</strong></p><p>The <a href="https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/billing-and-collections-section-501r6">IRS</a> requires nonprofit hospitals to give patients a grace period of 240 days (about eight months) from the initial billing date to apply for financial assistance. But hospitals are allowed to send bills to collection agencies much earlier than that — often after just 120 days.</p><p>At that point, patients often feel as though they’re being hounded by notifications from collection agencies. Still, patients may have months remaining to apply for financial assistance, and alerting the collection agents that an application with the hospital is in process can sometimes stop the letters.</p><p>“The hospital can take you out of collections just as easily as they put you there,” Walker said.</p><p>In some cases, hospitals will forgive bills that are much older than 240 days. When in doubt, applying may be worth it even for bills that are several years old, Walker said. It does not hurt to ask for help.</p><p><strong>4. Looks like you won’t qualify? Write a letter.</strong></p><p>If you don’t qualify on income alone but you still can’t afford your hospital bills, don’t rule yourself out. The same applies if the hospital’s financial aid policy specifies that only uninsured people qualify; you might have insurance but are still looking at giant bills you can’t pay.</p><p>Walker said a letter of financial hardship attached to an application can help. In fact, he encourages each patient to attach a letter, no matter how strong their application seems.</p><p>“These are real people reading these and the letters go a long way,” he said. Ultimately, each hospital is making a judgment call about who gets the assistance it is legally obligated to provide. Make your case.</p><p><strong>5. Yes, you may need to fax it in.</strong></p><p>While many hospitals have digital portals to enable online bill-paying, there’s usually no equivalent for applying for financial assistance. Many applications offer only a mailing address. But Walker and his team have found that applications sent by mail frequently get lost.</p><p>Instead, they recommend either walking the application into the hospital and delivering it by hand or faxing it. Public libraries, packaging stores like FedEx and certain online services make faxing possible even if, like most people, you haven’t used a fax machine since the late 1990s.</p><p>When it comes to accessing charity care, “you’re gonna have to jump through a lot of hoops,” Walker said, “but it’s worth it.”</p><p><em>Emily Pisacreta is a reporter and producer with “</em><a href="https://armandalegshow.com/"><em>An Arm and a Leg</em></a><em>,” a podcast about the cost of health care that is co-produced with KHN.</em></p><p><a href="https://khn.org/about-us">KHN</a> (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at <a href="https://www.kff.org/about-us/">KFF</a> (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.</p><h3>USE OUR CONTENT</h3><p>This story can be republished for free (<a href="https://khn.org/news/article/virtual-first-insurance-plans-telemedicine/view/republish/">details</a>).</p><p><a href="https://khn.org/morning-briefing/">Subscribe</a> to KHN's free Morning Briefing.</p><img src="https://ssl.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&t=event&ec=Republish&tid=UA-53070700-2&z=1634315663021&cid=f5e355d3-3f3b-418d-8ee8-acb8ca2b6213&ea=https%3A%2F%2Fkhn.org%2Fnews%2Farticle%2Fhow-to-crush-medical-debt-5-tips-for-using-hospital-charity-care%2F&el=How%20to%20Crush%20Medical%20Debt%3A%205%20Tips%20for%20Using%20Hospital%20Charity%20Care"/>          Source For more postings by Kaiser Health News, click Here Website:  https://khn.org/                       
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by on October 14, 2021
It’s frustrating to watch gold and silver languish when they’re surrounded by major catalysts and since, well, everything else is going up. More than frustrating, it’s bewildering. But what if I told you gold and silver have been in a near-identical scenario before. And that it led to one of their biggest gains in history… Gold’s Déjà vu In the mid-1970s, inflation was soaring, unemployment was high, the US was in a recession, an energy crisis had just kicked off, and there were both political and geopolitical issues. Sound familiar? And yet, from 1974 to 1976, the gold price fell by over 40%, stretched over a two-year period of time. A falling gold price with major catalysts in play that at the time many thought would push it higher. Yet it defied logic and tumbled. Yes, this sounds very familiar. Here’s that two-year gold price action overlaid with today’s price. Despite a strong environment for gold, the price was in a relentless downtrend.   Today, we’re also surrounded by numerous gold-positive factors, and yet you can see that the price behavior is very similar. As you likely know, however, that mid-1970s period, as confusing as it may have been to investors, ended up being only one chapter in gold’s book. And the next chapter, for those that held on, was a whole lotta fun. The gold price rose 717.3% from its 1976 low to its 1980 high. What seems clear is that gold was simply coiling, building up more and more pressure, since the catalysts that puzzled investors early on finally blew the lid off the price. In my view that’s exactly what’s happening now, too. We have a falling price, yet the catalysts are building up more and more pressure, to a point where reality catches up and leads to an explosion in gold. What about silver? The Silver Jail Break   The current silver price is even more eerily similar to the mid-1970s than gold. This compares both price periods after their initial crash, as I wanted to zoom in to see if they were behaving similarly—and you can see they indeed are. Like gold, the silver price was surrounded by factors that most thought would push it up, similar to today, but it remained weak for two years. And also like gold, the next chapter in silver would prove all doubters and naysayers horribly wrong. The spring under silver was basically coiling, eventually leading to a blow-off top that stunned the investment community and led to full-blown mania. Silver rose over 11-fold, from its low to high, in four years. For the investor who bought near the mid-70s low and sold near the 1980 top, they basically could’ve added a zero to their investment. Again, this setup sounds awfully similar to what we have today. A falling silver price, surrounded by major catalysts, that are likely doing nothing but tightening the spring under the price, to a point where it’s likely to explode in the near future. The Spring is Tightening The message here is clear. Unless there is such a thing as a free lunch, the economic, market and monetary catalysts surrounding gold and silver today are building the pressure under them greater and greater. Our job is to make sure we’re financially prepared for what is shaping up to be an event that ignites an explosion in gold and silver prices. We hope you have enjoyed this article by our guest writer. If you agree that now is a good time to own precious metals, log in to your Hard Assets Alliance account, check your exposure, and consider adding to your physical metal positions today. By Jeff Clark, Senior Analyst, Hard Assets Alliance For more postings by Hard Asset Alliance, click HERE Website:  https://www.hardassetsalliance.com/?aff=TWC WealthCare Connect may receive a referral fee from Hard Asset Alliance.
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by on October 14, 2021
FICA wage base - $147,000 Earned Income to obtain one credit - $1,510 Earnings test - $19,560 ($1,630 monthly amount) Earnings test (year of attaining FRA) - $51,960 ($4,330 monthly amount) Average retirement benefit - $1,657 SSA Fact Sheet - https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2022.pdf Press Release for 2022 COLA of 5.9%.
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by on October 13, 2021
Approximately 70 million Americans will see a 5.9% increase in their Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in 2022. Federal benefit rates increase when the cost-of-living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). The CPI-W rises when inflation increases, leading to a higher cost-of-living. This change means prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive, so the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) helps to offset these costs. We will mail COLA notices throughout the month of December to retirement, survivors, and disability beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and representative payees. But, if you want to know your new benefit amount sooner, you can securely obtain your Social Security COLA notice online using the Message Center in your my Social Security account. You can access this information in early December prior to the mailed notice. If you prefer to access your COLA notice online and not receive the mailed notice, you can log in to your personal my Social Security account to opt out of a mailed COLA notice and any other notices that are available online by updating your Preferences in the Message Center. Did you know you can receive a text or email alert when there is a new message waiting for you? That way, you always know when we have something important for you – like your COLA notice. If you don’t have an account yet, you must create one by November 17, 2021, to receive the 2022 COLA notice online. January 2022 marks other changes that will happen based on the increase in the national average wage index. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax in 2022 will be higher. The retirement earnings test exempt amount will also change in 2022. Be among the first to know! Sign up for or log in to your personal my Social Security account today. Choose email or text under “Message Center Preferences” to receive courtesy notifications. You can find more information about the 2022 COLA here. By Darlynda Bogle, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications Source FICA wage base - $147,000 Earned Income to obtain one credit - $1,510 Earnings test - $19,560 ($1,630 monthly amount) Earnings test (year of attaining FRA) - $51,960 ($4,330 monthly amount) Average retirement benefit - $1,657 SSA Fact Sheet - https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2022.pdf
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by on October 11, 2021
                                    <h1>Look Up Your Hospital: Is It Being Penalized By Medicare?</h1> <div>    <span class="byline">Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News</span>     <time class="posted-on" datetime="2021-02-18T05:00:40-05:00">         February 18, 2021    </time>     </div> <p>Under programs set up by the Affordable Care Act, the federal government cuts payments to hospitals that have high rates of readmissions and those with the highest numbers of infections and patient injuries. For the <a href="https://khn.org/news/medicare-eases-readmissions-penalties-against-safety-net-hospitals/">readmission penalties</a>, Medicare cuts as much as 3 percent for each patient, although the average is generally much lower. The <a href="https://khn.org/news/medicare-trims-payments-to-800-hospitals-citing-patient-safety-incidents">patient safety penalties</a> cost hospitals 1 percent of Medicare payments over the federal fiscal year, which runs from October through September. Maryland hospitals are exempted from penalties because that state has a separate payment arrangement with Medicare.</p><p>Below are look-up tools for each type of penalty. You can search by hospital name or location, look at all hospitals in a particular state and sort penalties by year.</p><p><a href="https://khn.org/morning-briefing/">Subscribe</a> to KHN's free Morning Briefing.</p><img src="https://ssl.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&t=event&ec=Republish&tid=UA-53070700-2&z=1633970459880&cid=2da0b915-d0dc-40ac-950e-6f73f614b456&ea=https%3A%2F%2Fkhn.org%2Fnews%2Fhospital-penalties%2F&el=Look%20Up%20Your%20Hospital%3A%20Is%20It%20Being%20Penalized%20By%20Medicare%3F"/>              For more postings by Kaiser Health News, click Here Website:  https://khn.org/                
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by on October 21, 2021
Too many good folks believe "the law is on their side" but don't know there are two (2) kinds of law! Know both kinds or lose needlessly. Here are the two (2) kinds of law more fully explained by the JurisDictionary®. #1 - Substantive Law ... determines the outcome of a case based on admissible evidence. #2 - Procedural Law ... determines what evidence will be admitted, who gets to talk, what issues will be heard, etc. Losers rush into court demanding the judge enforce substantive without knowing about procedural law that always decides who wins and who loses. Losers may hold a winning hand, as in a game of cards, but if they don't know procedural law and how to use it, they are defeated ... and usually don't know why. People who know how to use procedural law win consistently! Losers don't. It's easy. For more JurisDictionary content, click HERE Website WealthCare Connect may receive a referral fee from Juris Dictionary.
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by on October 21, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impose hardships, especially on people who face barriers to our services and benefits. We want you to know about other benefits you may be entitled to receive. This includes the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program – or SNAP. SNAP is a federal program – run by state agencies – that helps people with low-income purchase nutritious food. When you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you can also apply for SNAP. If you and everyone in your household are applying for or already receive SSI payments, Social Security will: Help you complete the SNAP application by phone. Call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing. Help you complete the application in person if you have a scheduled appointment. Mail you a SNAP application if you request one by phone. Send the completed application to the local SNAP office for you. All other applicants, including people who apply for or receive only Social Security benefits, should take or send their SNAP application to their local SNAP office. You may also submit your SNAP application online. To find your local SNAP office or apply online, visit the Food and Nutrition Service’s SNAP State Directory of Resources website. You can also call the SNAP information line toll free at 1-800-221-5689. To see if you’re eligible for SNAP, check out the SNAP Eligibility page. We also encourage you to check out our publication, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Facts, for additional information on the program. Our efforts align with the President’s mission to address nutrition insecurity for America’s families – and help you secure today and tomorrow. Please share this information with your family and friends – and post it on social media. Source
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