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5 days ago · Cochlear Implant expenses: How much does it cost? in Hearing Loss

There supposedly is some new letter plan that will replace them. For at least a little while, Part F will continue for those of us who already have it, just not be available for new people. Our broker mentioned the new "magic" letter, but, for the life of me, I can't remember what it is. We've used the same broker for well over 20 years, and he's always given us good current advice, so I'll leave it up to him. I do know that at least my Part F plan will continue, since I received a letter with a very large monthly increase (from just over $200 to $290).

6 days ago · Cochlear Implant expenses: How much does it cost? in Hearing Loss

If you have Medicare without any additional insurance, there will be some significant costs. If you have Medicare plus an Advantage plan, there will still be costs, probably significant ($1,000 or more I'm guessing). If you have Medicare plus a Part F plan, everything should be covered. We had no idea about the difference between Advantage and Part F plans (which are not generally advertised) until my husband was put on the list to receive a kidney just before he turned 65. He's younger, and we had group ins. for our two-person graphics company that cost $2,000/month–I hadn't been able to go on Medicare because that would have left him totally without ins. as the company group policy required a minimum of two people. The financial adviser at the transplant center told us that he needed to apply for Part F coverage (instead of an Advantage plan) as soon as he turned 65 and was eligible. At the time, he hadn't been on dialysis long enough (a year) to go on Medicare early: dialysis is $60,000/month, and our $2000 company plan only paid 80%, leaving $12,000/month for us to pay! The month he turned 65 he applied for a Part F plan through our regular broker, and we immediately owned absolutely nothing for dialysis. Two years later, he got a kidney, and the transplant cost not one penny!

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between Advantage plans and Part F (or even newer plans now available). Advantage plans tout that they cover vision and hearing, but they only pay a tiny amount toward glasses or aids. They pay part of the 20% that Medicare doesn't cover, but far from all, plus there are co-pays. Part F means that you pay nothing for anything medical: no co-pays, nothing. However, Part F does not pay for glasses or hearing aids, although they do cover all associated doc visits. Although I couldn't get Part F when my husband went on Medicare, I was able to elect Part F when we moved to another county by switching to an Advantage plan that didn't cover people in the county we moved to. I questioned whether it was worth it to pay so much more for Part F every month (at that time about $150 plus a $35 pharmacy plan (Part F doesn't cover pharmacy except "medical" pharmacy, like the horribly expensive anti-rejection drugs). Since I had experienced Stage 1 cancer (roughly a quarter million in expense, 20% of not covered by our company policy), I did elect Part F–and less than a year later learned that I'm now in the early stages of kidney failure, i.e., need to see a specialist every three months, with over a thousand in labs, all of it totally paid by Medicare and Part F.

Here's the short form: Anyone on Medicare has about $200 deducted from their SS before it arrives, their share of Medicare, exactly the same for everyone. Advantage plans cover some of most things, and some are totally free, while others cost modest amounts. However, you can be left with very large amounts to pay on your own. Again, the promised vision and hearing coverage is a token amount, far from the cost of glasses or aids. Part F coverage (you may need to find a broker to buy it and you can only elect to have it for either 60 or 90 days after you become eligible for Medicare) now costs close to $300 month for me (at 78), about $250 for my 73 YO spouse. You also need to have a separate pharmacy plan, which generally costs $35-40/month. When you see a doc or an audi, you pay nothing. I know that the surgery for a CI would cost nothing, but I haven't yet learned how much Part F pays toward the CI itself.

If you can predict that you'll have excellent health for the rest of your life when you become eligible for Medicare, it's fine to opt for an Advantage plan. However, if you later have cancer, need a transplant or some other horribly expensive surgery, you simply can't afford to opt for Advantage. My Part F plan monthly premium will increase next month when I turn 78, meaning that I'll pay the $200 deduction from SS, nearly $300 for Part F (up from just over $200), plus $35 for pharmacy coverage: Less than $550 to never pay for anything medical. I need to add that Advantage plans pay something toward dental while Part F pays nothing. Since I haven't had real teeth for years, that's not a problem for me, but it can be a significant cost for my spouse. We track the amounts we'd owe (the portion of our bills Medicare doesn't pay), and month after month it's more than we pay for Part F and pharmacy ins.

Thu, May 28 11:27am · Coronavirus facemask interferes with hearing aids in Hearing Loss

To print, you can copy the entire pattern, from materials through the end, open an empty Word doc, and paste the copy into it. If you really want to "smallify" it to four pages total, you can use Word's picture tools to crop the images (crop tool at far right of picture tools) and reduce the size of most of the images by pushing either right corner to the left.

I looks as though this pattern could be modified by using a single strap, attached at the center of each side, with a Velcro closure. Not as secure as two straps, but one strap below your ears is better for aids. I just saw this pattern; haven't tried it yet.

Wed, May 27 3:51pm · Coronavirus facemask interferes with hearing aids in Hearing Loss

Lizzy, I found a pattern online for a shaped mask, instead of the flat ones with pleats along both sides. Because it's shaped, it can be held in place with a single band that runs entirely below your ears. It slips a little while you talk, but not enough to be a problem, and far easier to cope with than anything above your ears. E-mail me (can't post my mail here but you can get it by going to group members and searching for "joyces." Naturally, I tried a couple of placements before I found what actually works, so got to use my brand-new seam ripper!

Sun, May 24 6:36pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

I find it most frustrating that e-mail cannot be used for any medical things…setting appts. (although a few places have a way to do this via their website now), asking questions when looking for specific help (like vestibular rehab specialists), lack of being able to get clearly understandable info between appts. It's especially frustrating when dealing with hearing centers. The apparent reason behind all of this is that, since e-mail really isn't private but can be viewed by hackers, medical people fear lawsuits. Somewhere, decades ago, we somehow decided to follow the wrong path as far as healthcare is concerned and it became the norm to threaten to sue when something doesn't go the way we had hoped. Very sad.

On the plus side, e-mail is a true godsend! I can't begin to list how many times receiving a detailed e-mail has undoubtedly saved me from appearing at the wrong time, confusing a detail or instruction about a job I'm working on, etc. It also allows me to "converse" with family and friends without the difficulties and confusion of both phone and in-person conversations.

Sat, May 23 6:10pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

For those of us old enough for Medicare, this is one reason to avoid any of the many Advantage plans, that promise much, but pay only a percentage. In addition, the "benefits" for vision and hearing are very small, almost token amounts. Yes, some Advantage plans have no premium each month, and Part F or other more robust plans cost something. However, we've both had Part F ever since my husband became old enough for Medicare, and we still pay less than $200 each for both the Part F medical plan plus a separate pharmacy plan. I'm older, and we had a group plan for our own tiny company, so I couldn't opt for Medicare until he was old enough as the group plan required a minimum of two people. That meant that initially I couldn't have a Part F plan, as I was long past the 60-day window to opt for it. However, we were planning to move to our weekend place on the coast, so our broker switched my Advantage plan to one that wouldn't be available in this county, which gave me 60 days to opt for a Part F plan.

There was no question that my husband needed a Part F plan, as he was on dialysis not long before he turned 65, and was already on the list for a transplant. Our own company insurance paid 80% of dialysis, which is $60,000/month…leaving a substantial amount for us to pay, in addition to the $2,000 monthly premium. As soon as he was 65 and opted for Plan F coverage, we owed not a penny for monthly dialysis. Two years later, when a kidney became available, we paid absolutely nothing for either the surgery or hospitalization, a savings to us of over a half million dollars! That less than $200 for Part F plus pharmacy looked very good! When I was able to opt for Part F when we moved here, I wondered if I was indulging in overkill, but six months later I learned that my kidneys were already operating a less than optimum, meaning, at best, quarterly appts. with $1,000 or more of labs with the kidney doc. So far, I haven't collected a dime on my pharmacy plan, but, you can't opt for one when you need it: you must make the decision at the time you opt for Part F. Since I've had cancer and know that even "simple" Stage 1 cancer results in a total cost of around a quarter million, I feel safe having good coverage. And, when I say you pay nothing, I mean exactly that: no copays, nothing, for any medical appts. For the first time in our lives, we have no need to worry about medical costs. Including the roughly $400 deducted from our SS checks, we're paying less than $800 every month for peace of mind and, many months, far less than we'd pay with Advantage plans.

Sun, May 17 12:32am · Isolation: How Do We Handle it? in COVID-19

In response to Sue, Volunteer Mentor: For some of us, there has been almost no change. We live on acreage, near a very small town. My husband really doesn't like having people visit, so I seldom invite someone to do so, and he hates to go any where. We usually attend monthly meetings of the local fly fishing club, which isn't happening now, but that's the only big difference. Although we're pretty isolated, lots of people walk our road every day as it's sheltered from beach wind. I know more people here than I ever did when we lived in the metro area a couple of hours away. Even though I owned that house for nearly 40 years, I never knew the people who lived across the street, barely knew the people next door. Here, I see people every day who stop to comment on our yard as they walk past, talk about local things. A year ago, I had a 14-yard truckload of topsoil delivered, but they weren't able to dump it where I needed it so it was at the edge of the one-lane gravel road. I was out shoveling dirt in my contractor's wheelbarrow every day to move it. One day my primary doc walked past with her German shepherd…and stopped to help me shovel for a half hour. She often commented on how nice the flowers looked once all the dirt was in place and everything planted. How many places could you live where your doctor would stop and grab a shovel?

An even smaller town near us quickly raised tens of thousands to hand out to individuals who hadn't yet received unemployment or any other sort of aid. (This coastal area relies 100% on tourism and all nightly rentals are shut, so almost everyone is out of work.) When the little town saw how many people were benefitting from individual aid, they announced they were setting up a fund for small businesses. They received, gasp, $400,000 in donations the first day!

I volunteer for our Backpack for Kids program and am well aware of how many people in this little town volunteer money and effort to help others. I believe that we're far more sheltered in this beautiful rural area, that most of the people here are truly generous and always willing to help others. Perhaps the really big changes have been in the heavily populated metropolitan areas.

Fri, May 15 8:52pm · speech-to-text app in Hearing Loss

Live Transcribe reels all the conversation out in a single paragraph…no break between speakers. That does make it difficult to recreate after a meeting's over, especially one that lasts for hours and is larded with lots of technical stuff. Live Transcribe is better than anything else about unusual words, but some technical stuff is very different from what what actually said. Much less bad than Otter.