Episode 035:
De-Mystifying Medicare - Part I


What is Episode 035 All About?

Medicare with all its parts and options intimidates a lot of us – with good reason. But Host Josh Bretl, Founder of FSR Wealth, and his prize pupil, Co-Host Dave Schmidt, have got our backs! In the first of what will be a two-part blockbuster, the Retirement Equals Freedom team is bringing us the ins and outs of a federal health care benefit from which we all stand to, well … benefit. The trick is figuring out how Medicare works and the right strategy for our individual situations. You’ll learn on this episode about the difference between Parts A, B, C and D as well as key safeguards to consider when putting together your plan. So don’t shy away from Medicare. There are people who can help you sort it out and ensure that you own your health care – how much you spend or waste as well as your quality of coverage in retirement.

Taxes, investments, health insurance – it all matters and R=F is here to turn those dreams of freedom into your retirement reality! Stay tuned for next week when we get more granular in Pt. II of our Medicare debrief. You’ll meet trusted advisor Dave Wylly of Medicare Solutions Network and have more fun learning this stuff than you can possibly imagine!

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Montage of a circus, Illini mug, and a U.S. History book

Triton Troupers Circus. Illini mug. U.S. History book.

Talking Points

Life is a Circus! About the Bretl family’s fantastic big-top encounter with The Triton Troupers. Sweet clowns. Clowns on stilts. Old and young clowns. No creepy clowns!

Getting Right Down to It: Breaking down and demystifying Medicare.

Buckle Up for the Nuance: An overview of Medicare planning – one of the five key components of (and a big expense to be factored into) retirement planning.

Turning 65: Almost everyone will be impacted in one way, shape or form by choices related to the rules and decision-making around Medicare.

Be Reassured: Even though it’s a massive government-run program, Medicare is a very comprehensive and solid health insurance benefit.

The vast majority of doctors and hospitals accept Medicare, but it’s true that some do not (because they don’t want to accept the program’s rules).

Basics to Know:

  • Everyone becomes eligible at age 65.
  • There are four parts to Medicare (A, B, C and D but C differs slightly).
  • Parts A, B and D are all federally managed. (Part D differs slightly and will be a topic of conversation in Part II next week.)

How Medicare’s Various Parts Work:

  • A: Hospital coverage – is free and a baseline benefit for all.
  • B: Covers doctors and nurses – requires enrollment and costs money each month, regardless your situation.
  • D: Covers prescription drugs – is an option that people opt for depending on their circumstances. If you don’t enroll in a timely manner there can be penalties.
  • C: “Medicare Advantage” programs run by private insurers. If you take “C” you no longer receive Parts A and B.

Word to the Wise: Medicare can be costly so it’s important to look at true out-of-pock expenses (premiums, deductibles, co-insurance) and understand how the amounts are impacted by income.

Embracing IRMAA: Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount plays a role in the threshold at which retirees pay for their Medicare insurance.

About the Limits: Co-payments and other fees arise because Medicare doesn’t provide blanket coverage, which is why a lot of people choose to purchase supplemental Medi-gap policies, which are sold by private insurance companies.

Word to the Wise: The first decision you make about which private policy to buy is important because insurers can’t impose any pre-existing condition restrictions. If you switch providers later, that same protection doesn’t apply.

Why Part D Requires Your Annual Review:

  • The prescriptions you need will vary.
  • Individual insurers’ coverages are not federally regulated and may differ.

Let’s Get to Know Josh & Dave (and watch our ratings soar!): If you were to be in the circus, what special talent would you bring?

  • Dave would use his acrobatic superpowers to be a Cirque du Soleil-style aerialist and maestro of the trapeze!
  • Josh would opt out of flying (motion sickness!), but he would love using his many talents to take command of the big top as Ring Master!

#DR2R: Medicare reminds Dave of his checkered past with high school U.S. history, a mandatory class that he had to figure out how not to flunk out. In other words, when it comes to Medicare, retirees either need to study up or find a diehard classmate like Josh to help them pass the “class” – avoiding high premiums and poor coverages!

Stay tuned for an action-packed Part II featuring David Wylly of Medicare Solutions Network, who is breaking down the nitty-gritty on Medicare. You won’t want to miss it!

Quotable Quotes

“I feel at home with carnies. They are normal people, doing what they love to do and I’m sure they’re not getting paid a whole lot to do it!” ~Dave

“Carnivals and circuses pop up a lot in my universe of creepy movies and shows and I have a deep, deep love for it.” ~Dave

“You have been making strides towards being more like me, Josh, and I appreciate it. Someday we’re going to meet in the middle!” ~Dave

“Because it’s such an integral part of people’s lives and retirement, (Medicare) is something we talk about with every single client who walks in the doors.” ~Josh

“You know the stereotype that used car salesmen have? Medicare salespeople may be worse on the whole. It’s hard to find a good Medicare person.” ~Josh

“Medicare isn’t something that people should be afraid of … but it is something that they need to look at every single year.” ~Josh

“If you’re truly going to own your retirement, then (Medicare planning) is part of that. It’s not something where you want to bury your head in the sand. You want to be proactive in the process.” ~Josh

“When you’re retired you have all this control with your taxes. And with Medicare, it’s the same thing. You’ve just got to make sure you actually do it!” ~Dave

“(Medicare) can be a financial nightmare … (So) make sure that you get the right coverage and don’t pay more than you have to. You can put yourself and your family in a situation where you own your health care coverage and retirement.” ~Josh

Episode Extras

About your Co-Hosts

A certified public accountant, Josh Bretl has spent the past two decades growing FSR Wealth Strategies into a firm that specializes in tax-focused retirement planning. Because taxes have the single biggest impact on how much you can spend in retirement, Josh is dedicated to developing individualized financial plans that extend and grow his clients’ retirement savings. Based in Elmhurst, Illinois, FSR Wealth strategically preserves and maximizes resources through tax-efficient strategies designed to fulfill retirement dreams.

Apart from producing and co-hosting The Retirement = Freedom Podcast, Josh's longtime friend Dave Schmidt is a content production and marketing adviser to local businesses and nonprofits. He’s also an advocate for t-shirts, all things 90s (especially the music), short walks and long naps. A serial “wallet forgetter,” Dave nonetheless swears that he has picked up the check on at least one or two meals with Josh over the years. Evidence pending.

Standard Disclaimer:
FSR Wealth Management is a registered investment advisor located in Elmhurst, Illinois. Information and opinions contained in this audio have been arrived at by FSR Wealth advisors. All information herein is for informational purposes and should not be construed as investment advice. It does not constitute an offer, a solicitation or recommendation to purchase any security. FSR is not providing legal, tax, accounting, or financial planning advice in this audio. These views are as of the date of this publication and are subject to change.

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