December Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

Tis the Season to Shop and Compare

You should know that the number one reason for bankruptcy among seniors is medical bills. Many seniors have insufficient insurance coverage when it comes to paying their medical bills, and they commonly charge unpaid amounts to credit cards.

If your finances do not allow you to pay any balance due for medical treatment fully, it only makes sense that you will not be able to fully pay your credit card balance when your statement arrives. The credit card companies then charge interest on any of the unpaid balances.

I recently received a mailer offering me a credit card. Instead of throwing it away as I usually do, I opened it and read its credit terms. I almost fainted when I saw the interest rates offered to me. In this particular offer, the Capital One card's credit terms were an Annual Percentage Rate or APR of 19.99% to 29.99%, depending on my "creditworthiness." For reference, in 1981, Bank of America charged the highest APR. They offered an APR of 18% for their VISA credit card.

If you are one of the unfortunates who could not fully pay your previous balance, then terms like these will apply, "We will charge you interest on “new” purchases, provided you have not paid your previous balance in full by the due date each month."

I bring this to your attention because, as you know, now is the time for many of our members to sign up for Medicare Advantage or supplemental programs to cover costs not paid by traditional Medicare.

Some simply choose a plan to take advantage of the “freebies” offered or for the perceived cost savings. There is no Advantage or supplemental program that is right for all. Some of us travel a lot; some have special needs, such as facilities or doctors, depending on their unique circumstances.

Please do not pick a Medicare Advantage program simply because of the freebies or perceived cost savings offered. Take the time to research which plan offers YOU the best coverage for your circumstances. There is never a one-size fits all when it comes to your health. 

By taking the time to shop and compare which type of additional coverage, supplemental or Advantage, works best for you, you may save money, find better coverage, and reduce your chances of worrying about those hefty APR rates. 

Note: Your SOAR Executive Board does not endorse any product or claim any plan to be superior to another.

Bill Pienta, SOAR President

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