5 things Medicare doesn’t cover

5 things Medicare doesn’t cover

Most people rely on Medicare to cover their health expenses during retirement, but it won’t pay for everything.  Here are 5 things that Medicare doesn’t cover.  

Deductibles, coinsurance and copayments: Depending on the type of Medicare you choose, you’ll still be responsible for certain premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.  For example, Medicare Part A is usually free, but you’ll pay a $1,364 deductible for each benefit period and if you’re in the hospital for more than 60 days you’ll pay a coinsurance amount for each day.  Beyond a certain number of days, you are responsible for all costs.  Part B has premium costs, a $185 annual deductible and 20% coinsurance on most services.  Parts C and D have costs as well.

Prescription drugs: Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn’t cover prescription drug costs.  To get that coverage you need to purchase a Part D plan.

Routine vision care, dental care and hearing aids: Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn’t cover things like eye exams, most dental care, dentures, hearing aids, acupuncture or routine foot care.  Medicare Advantage (Part C) may cover some of those things, but you need to pay extra for Medicare Advantage.  

Long-Term care: As people age, they often need help with daily activities like eating, dressing, bathing and using the restroom.  You can get help with these types of things by moving into an assisted living facility, but Medicare typically will not cover any of those costs.  

Medical care overseas:  Medicare will typically not cover medical costs you incur while traveling outside the U.S. and its territories.  There are a few exceptions, such as when you’re on a cruise ship in U.S. territorial waters or if you’re traveling to or from Alaska via Canada and the closest hospital that can treat you is in Canada.

These uncovered costs can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your retirement, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.  Earmark a portion of your nest egg for health expenses and then seriously consider purchasing additional insurance, such as long-term care insurance or a Medicare supplement plan, to cover anything not covered by Medicare.  For more information on Medicare, visit www.medicare.gov.  

Be Intentional,

Joe

How to optimize your life for retirement

How to optimize your life for retirement

To optimize something is to “make it as perfect, effective or functional as possible.”  That’s a good goal for retirement.  After all, you only have one shot at it, so make it the best it can be.  Here’s how to optimize your life for retirement.

Control your time. Think of life as a pie chart that is divided into time you control and time controlled by others. The goal is to gradually shrink the piece of the pie that is controlled by others.  The smaller that piece becomes, the more “retired” you are.  The more time you control, the more you can focus on the things you want to do rather than the things you have to do.  How do you control more of your time?  The primary way is to be financially independent, so make sure your finances are on track.

Optimize your location.  The American Enterprise Institute recently published a study on how location affects happiness.  They concluded that people who live closer to the things they want to do are happier, more involved, more satisfied with life and less likely to be lonely.  Kind of a no brainer, right?  If you love to ski, live close to the mountains.  If you want to spend time with your kids, live in the same city.  And the study found that proximity works for small things too.  If you live near a multitude of amenities—the coffee shop, gym, community center, restaurants—you’ll likely get out more, feel less isolated and be happier. 

Hack your health.  A hack is a trick or method that increases efficiency.  I have a friend who recently started a physical therapy practice that focuses on prevention rather than recovery.  I think the idea is a brilliant hack.  Similar to the dentist, you go in twice a year for evaluation and a checkup.  He takes some baseline measurements and looks for problems.  Then he asks what types of things you like to do (e.g. hike, ski, golf, garden, run, tennis, etc.) and gives you exercises that will allow you to do those things for as long as possible.  I like to hike, so we’re working on leg strength, balance, joints and endurance.  The idea is to keep me healthy and active doing the things I want to do for as long as possible.  How about you?  What types of things do you want to be able to continue doing as you age?  Schedule some time with a local physical therapist and ask them to help you optimize your health for the lifestyle that you want to live.

Be specific.  At the risk of sounding obvious, you have a much greater chance of accomplishing a goal if you know exactly what it is you want to do.  If you want your retirement to run smoothly, make specific plans. 

Take some at bats.  One of the biggest mistakes I see some people make is that they constantly defer their dreams.  The best advice I can give you today is to start taking some at bats.  Right now.  Even if you’re not retired.  Especially if you’re not retired.  The worst that can happen is that things don’t work out and you get rolled a little bit, so you dust yourself off and try something different.  Ironically, that’s also one of the best things that can happen, because that failure is feedback.  It turns out we’re pretty terrible at knowing what’s going to make us happy.  The more stuff you try, even if you don’t end up liking it, the better idea you’ll have of what’s important to you, who’s important to you, what you like, what you dislike, what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about.  That makes you more self-aware so you can design an optimized life that takes you where you want to go.

Be a system thinker.  Retirement has a ton of moving parts that need to work together to produce the results that you want.  Those parts include things like money, relationships, pursuits, Social Security, Medicare, healthcare, distribution planning, tax planning, housing and insurance to name a few.  Those parts work together in a complex system.   If the parts work, the system works.  If one or more parts isn’t functioning properly, the system breaks down.  To optimize your life for retirement, make sure that each part of that system is working as it should.  Some parts you’ll be able to handle on your own.  For other parts, you’ll likely need to enlist the help of people like your accountant, financial adviser or doctor.

Simplify.  As you take more control of your time and plan your transition into retirement, make a “Stop Doing” list.  Certain things will no longer be relevant to your new plans.  Go through all your activities, obligations and commitments and decide what needs to go.  Once finished, your schedule will be much less cluttered and you will be able to use your time more efficiently.  Do the same thing with the physical clutter in your life. 

Retirement is not a one size fits all proposition.  By focusing on the items mentioned above and tailoring them to your unique situation, you can optimize your life for the retirement that you want. 

Be Intentional,

Joe

Finish the year strong

Finish the year strong

We just wrapped up Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S.  That is the unofficial end of summer and it means we only have four months to go before we finish up this year and start a new decade.  That’s plenty of time to get a few things done and finish the year strong. 

Think about any financial, investing, lifestyle, relationship, health or retirement goals you had for 2019.  How have you done so far?  How can you make the most out of the next four months?  Focus in on one or two areas where you’d like to make progress before year-end and get to work.  Maybe that’s making a written retirement plan, increasing your savings rate or making a plan to finally get debt free.  Maybe that’s repairing a relationship, starting a new workout program or learning a new skill.  Maybe you’ve reached your health deductible for the year and it’s a good time to schedule that procedure.  Or maybe it’s time to plan that trip (always a good idea).  Think about how good it would feel to finish the year with a few major items checked off your To-Do list.  Think about how much progress you could make in 2020 if you ended 2019 with solid momentum. 

Part of my job here is to help people avoid complacency.  To push you to have a tough conversation with yourself about what you really want out of life and to encourage you to take those plans really seriously.  Consider yourself pushed.  Touch base if there’s anything I can do to help.  And props for everything you’re doing so far.  The fact that you’re following along at this site tells me that you’re no slouch.  Saving for retirement and being intentional with life are not easy tasks.  Most people don’t do it.  You’re in that small minority of people who are laying the foundation for their future through discipline, hard work and good stewardship.  Well done!  Keep up the good work.  Finish the year strong.

Be Intentional,

Joe

How to manage fears and avoid mistakes when markets go haywire.

How to manage fears and avoid mistakes when markets go haywire.

The markets had a great first half of the year.  Stocks were up.  Bonds were up.  Both U.S. and International markets were up.  Everything seemed to be working.  Unfortunately, the second half has had a rockier start.  And given the headlines (e.g. trade war, weakening international economies, excess debt loads, inverted yield curve, etc.), that volatility could continue for a while.  Given that, I thought it would be a good time to scroll through the archives at Intentional Retirement and review a few past articles on how to deal with volatility, keep your emotions in check and make sure your retirement plans stay on track. Even though they were written during past periods of volatility, the lessons are just as relevant today.

Be Intentional,

Joe

How decision drift leads you away from the life you want

How decision drift leads you away from the life you want

Hi everyone.  Sorry it’s been kind of quiet around here.  I’ve been in summer mode and haven’t done much writing.  I just got back from a hike with my daughter through the High Divide – Seven Lakes Trail in Olympic National Park (see above pic) and the hike got me thinking about some of the research I’ve read on surviving in the wilderness.

A common thread running through most survival stories is the idea of decision drift.  Most times you don’t just make one terrible decision that puts you into a “Do or Die” scenario.  Rather, you make a series of small decisions that get you further and further from where you need to be until you come to the sudden realization that you are lost or in trouble.  The sense of panic that accompanies that realization often causes people to make more irrational decisions that get them deeper into trouble. 

Decision Drift and Retirement

Decision drift isn’t exclusive to back country hiking.  It can affect you on your path to retirement as well.  Most of us do a pretty good job avoiding those colossally bad decisions that can derail our life.  We’re less good at those myriad small decisions that seem unimportant at the time but, when taken cumulatively, can derail our life or get us far from where we want to be.  Those decisions can greatly affect our relationships, health, financial well-being and opportunities and we often make them without a lot of intention because:

  • We think they’re unimportant
  • We feel pressured or tempted
  • We’re temporarily willing to compromise
  • We’re unclear on what we want
  • We haven’t considered the consequences
  • We failed to decide so someone else is deciding for us

All of those little decisions/indecisions can quietly lead you away from the life you want to live.  You  wake up one day and realize you’re lost.  You ask yourself: “Where am I?  How did I get here?  Whose life am I living anyway?”  Avoid that sinking feeling by recognizing that those little decisions are big.  Pay attention to them and course correct as needed.  Never forget that most decisions – big or small – are directional. They lead you toward certain things/people/experiences/opportunities and away from others.  Don’t take them lightly.  Be intentional with your decisions so they take you where you want to go.

Be Intentional,

Joe