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May 10, 2012

New online Social Security statements don’t cut it

CHICAGO, May 10 (Reuters) – Your annual Social Security
benefit statement, which provides an important annual reminder
and explanation of benefits, has moved online.

Paper statements were eliminated last year for most
participating workers in a budget-cutting move, which saves $70
million annually in printing and postage. Last week, the Social
Security Administration (SSA) introduced the replacement – an
online statement accessible to anyone who sets up an account at
the agency’s website (here).
So far 130,000 Americans have signed up.

May 8, 2012

Uncle Sam gives workplace Roths a big push

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Roth workplace accounts, which have grown more popular in recent years, are about to get a shot in the arm from Uncle Sam. This week the federal government started rolling out a Roth option to 3.3 million employees who participate in its main retirement program.

Unlike tax-deferred retirement accounts, Roth contributions are made with after-tax dollars. Contributions and investment returns can be withdrawn tax-free as long as the account holder is over age 59-1/2 and the account has been established for at least five years.

May 3, 2012

When should workers take a pension buyout?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Ford Motor Company is making an offer it hopes 90,000 former employees can’t refuse: a lump sum buyout of their pensions.

The auto giant plans to offer a voluntary buyout of defined benefit pensions to salaried retirees and former employees, with payouts to start later this year.

May 1, 2012

How seniors can get needed primary care

(The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are
his own.)

By Mark Miller

CHICAGO, May 1(Reuters) – When older patients experience
memory loss or confusion, it’s not uncommon for doctors to
suspect dementia. But for Dr. Roseann Leipzig, her first thought
is to check the patient’s medications, including
over-the-counter meds, to make sure none are causing trouble.

“For example, Benadryl can cause confusion in older people,
even in very low dosages” says Leipzig, a professor of
geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Mount Sinai School of
Medicine in New York City.

Apr 26, 2012

Even “average” Medicare plans receive government bonuses

CHICAGO (Reuters) – In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days, all the children are above average. In Washington, the same impossible math is being applied to Medicare’s managed-care insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes funds to pay special bonuses to Medicare Advantage plans offering above-average quality of care. Instead, the Obama Administration is paying the bonuses to nearly all Advantage plans, including a majority that are rated just average.

Apr 26, 2012

All Medicare plans are above average now

CHICAGO (Reuters) – In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days, all the children are above average. In Washington, the same impossible math is being applied to Medicare’s managed-care insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes funds to pay special bonuses to Medicare Advantage plans offering above-average quality of care. Instead, the Obama Administration is paying the bonuses to nearly all Advantage plans, including a majority that are rated just average.

Apr 24, 2012

Is Social Security really “exhausted?” Not at all

CHICAGO, April 24 (Reuters) – It’s rare to see a federal
official publicly beg reporters to get a story right, but the
commissioner of the Social Security Administration seemed ready
to get down on his hands and knees at a Monday press briefing.
Michael Astrue was cautioning journalists not to scare the
public about the meaning of the word “exhaustion.”

“Please, please remember that exhaustion is an actuarial
term of art and it does not mean there will be no money left to
pay any benefits” he warned in issuing the trustees’ annual
report on the financial health of the Social Security program.

Apr 19, 2012

Consumer-directed U.S. health insurance surges

CHICAGO, April 19 (Reuters) – There may not be a consensus
in the nation’s capital on how to control the cost of health
care, but businesses and their employees are not sitting around
waiting for clarity. They are voting with their wallets for one
approach that’s already available: Account-based health
insurance plans, which offer lower premiums in exchange for high
deductibles.

Consumer-directed health insurance is a cornerstone of
Republican-backed market-oriented health reform solutions. It
will also be offered as an option to shoppers in the public
health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA),
if the law isn’t struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Apr 17, 2012

Law or no law, some states adopt healthcare reform

CHICAGO (Reuters) – If the Supreme Court overturns President Obama’s health care reform law in June, Americans without health coverage may get some relief anyway – especially if they live in Rhode Island, Maryland or Oregon.

These states are at the head of the pack in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they were working to expand health coverage well before the law was passed. If the ACA is thrown out by the high court, these states – and others supportive of the law’s goals – will keep pursuing reforms.

Apr 17, 2012

COLUMN: Law or no law, some states adopt US healthcare reform

CHICAGO, April 17 (Reuters) – If the Supreme Court overturns
President Obama’s health care reform law in June, Americans
without health coverage may get some relief anyway – especially
if they live in Rhode Island, Maryland or Oregon.

These states are at the head of the pack in implementing the
Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they were working to expand
health coverage well before the law was passed. If the ACA is
thrown out by the high court, these states – and others
supportive of the law’s goals – will keep pursuing reforms.

    • About Mark

      "Mark Miller is a journalist and author who writes about trends in retirement and aging. He has a special focus on how the baby boomer generation is revising its approach to careers, money and lifestyle after age 50. Mark is the author of The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work and Living (John Wiley & Sons/Bloomberg Press, 2010) and edits RetirementRevised.com. Mark is the former editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, and former Sunday editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. The opinions expressed here are his own."
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