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I may sound like a broken record at times, but an effective financial plan goes far beyond investment selection.

I was recently quoted in an article for an industry publication on how advisors approach Medicare and health care planning with clients.  I thought the approach we took would be fairly commonplace and somewhat standard for the industry.  Instead, I was shocked to learn less than a third of seniors who utilize financial advisors discuss Medicare.  The article was published on a subscription based site, but the headline and preview of the topic can currently be found here under the “Advice” section.

While an individual’s long term health care needs are typically a mystery, building in some expected costs, inflation and how to address the coverage and costs of Medicare are important considerations to enhancing our clients’ well-being and their financial plans.

As part of our holistic view on financial advice, we like to be as proactive as possible with health care planning, especially around Medicare.  We approach the topic from a variety of fronts based on the client’s individual need.

We will reach out to any client turning age 65 during their 64th year to discuss coming changes.  This can include how to sign up, evaluating the impact to their current health benefits or selecting suitable supplemental plans.  For clients where Medicare is still many years off, it might simply mean discussing family longevity history or estimating a figure to account for inflated costs down the road.  For those already using Medicare, it may just mean checking in to ensure that their current supplemental coverage is best suited for their needs.

We also provide an annual lunch and learn session on the topic with an expert on the process and related options.  This session has been enjoyed by both clients and their parents in some instances.  In situations where further consultation is needed, we can even bring in an expert for a formal evaluation.

I can speak from experience in sitting in meetings around these decisions that the right choices vary broadly based on individual pharmaceutical needs, health histories, etc.  The rules, especially when dealing with supplemental plans, are some of the more confusing government based regulations that I’ve had the “pleasure” of reviewing (and that’s saying something).

What’s more, the experts that can help you make these decisions are severely hamstrung by regulations from really exploring your situation without you knowing what questions to ask and what information to share.  These rules, combined with a Medicare landscape that is changing on a fairly constant basis, makes the need for a proactive approach all the more important.

To summarize, financial planning is certainly more than investing.  It’s about making the smartest decisions possible to effectively achieve your goals.  Evaluating Medicare options, their costs and how they impact your long term plan isn’t something to be taken lightly.  When the time comes, or if it’s already here, we will utilize our experience, the advice of outside experts, and our monitoring of the changes going on within the program to provide the best advice possible for your particular situation.

Have a great week!