Should You Buy That Extended Warranty?

Whenever I buy something electronic, whether a new smartphone, TV, laptop or whatever, I typically receive a hard pitch to buy an extended warranty on the product. I generally opt not to, but is that the right choice? To answer that question, there is both an economic and a psychological way to look at it. Economics of an extended warranty An extended warranty is essentially an insurance policy. If the item fails beyond the basic warranty — typically one month …

Bitten by a Crocodile? There’s a Code for That

A seismic change in Medicare and the rest of the U.S. health care industry began Oct. 1, when a new system of diagnostic codes — which all health providers must use to get paid — finally went into effect after a decade of controversy. The change is making the industry hold its breath, nervous of how it will play out. Will honest mistakes in coding cause claims to be delayed or, worse, go unpaid? Will some physicians, overwhelmed by the …

What Workers Can Expect During Open Enrollment

Heads-up, workers. Open enrollment season is just around the corner. That’s when you’ll make your selections for the benefits you’ll receive next year. Here are a few changes you may see in your employer’s health plan for 2016, according to Tracy Watts, a senior partner with benefits consultant Mercer:   Telemedicine. More employers will be covering doctor visits done over the phone, Skype or FaceTime. These virtual visits cost a fraction of an in-person consultation. Health cost estimators. To help …

Reframing the Social Security Decision

When should you begin taking Social Security benefits? That was a question asked of AARP.org visitors and registered website users . Less than 19 percent selected age 70, though that’s exactly what I tell the vast majority of my clients to do. Most object to my recommendation until I frame the decision in a different way, which is that they can spend money now and still let it grow. Take this recent case, for example. Kate is 66 and is …

Congress Approves Bill Bolstering Medicare Patients’ Hospital Rights

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but have not been admitted to the hospital. It’s a distinction that’s easy to miss until patients are hit with big medical bills after a short stay. The vote follows overwhelming approval in the U. S. House of Representatives in March. The legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama, said its House sponsor, …

Supreme Court Rules Health Insurance Subsidies Can Continue in All States

Some 6.4 million Americans in states relying on the healthcare.gov federal insurance exchange will continue to receive subsidies for coverage after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 25 that the Affordable Care Act allows such financial support. The law’s supporters applauded the court’s decision. “The ACA’s goals of improving affordability and removing barriers to access for health insurance have been critical in reducing the number of uninsured Americans,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP. “Importantly, for older Americans, we …