Don’t Get Left in the Dark When It Comes to Understanding Medicare 

Do you ever feel like you need to be a rocket scientist to understand Medicare? Well, you are not alone. For most seniors, making sense of it all is a constant battle. Seniors need Medicare, and all its parts, to ensure their healthcare needs are met. Thankfully, your experience with Medicare does not have to be complicated. Here are a few ways you can make your healthcare coverage much easier to understand.

Make Use of Medicare Tools and Resources 

If you want to know which Medicare coverage is best for you, you need to do a little homework. So long as you have a basic understanding of the internet, you can easily gain access to online Medicare and Medicare Advantage resources that will break down the benefits offered by each plan part. These resources are developed with internet novices in mind, so you definitely won’t need a PhD to figure them out. But don’t be afraid to ask a family member or friend to help you out if you are not savvy when it comes to the web. If you have a smartphone and feel comfortable using it, you can even download a Medicare app to easily figure out what is covered by your current plan, and what is not. This app only details Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, but it is still very useful for seniors. When looking for Medicare help, just be aware that Medicare scam attempts are common. Never give out any sensitive information over the phone and hang up on any suspicious calls.

Understand Medicare Part A, B, C, and D, and Supplements 

There are so many parts and details to Medicare for you to understand. So it’s no wonder it can get confusing, for seniors and really anyone. Web articles can be extremely helpful in laying out the differences between the ABC and D’s of Medicare, as well as available supplements. To make matters simpler, think of Medicare Part A as your most basic coverage for hospitals. Part B is what you will use for doctor’s visits and other preventive care, which can include anything from a flu shot to X-rays, but limitations do apply. The rest is where coverage details get really murky. You need to add Part D in order to have prescription drugs covered, but you can also opt to combine this with a Medicare Advantage plan. You do need to pay a premium for prescription drug coverage, but your costs will depend on your plan provider and options.

Write Down Your Important Medicare Enrollment Dates 

Even with simplified explanations and tools, you may be feeling overwhelmed. The best way to reduce that stress is to review articles like this well ahead of your enrollment period. Not sure when that is? Well, if you are new to Medicare and are getting ready to turn 65, you will sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). You can sign up for coverage within the three months leading up to your birthday or the three months after. Either way, your plan will kick in when you turn 65. Missed the IEP? That’s okay! You can still sign up for health care coverage later on in the year during Open Enrollment (OEP), which typically starts in October and ends in the beginning of December. Just be aware that 2019 brings important changes for Medicare’s OEP timeframe. You may see lower premiums or added benefits by switching your plan, so be sure to do your homework well ahead of time.

You need experts to manage your health, but you shouldn’t have to be an expert to manage your Medicare coverage. If you’ve made it this far, you have plenty more tools at your disposal for decoding your Medicare mysteries and questions. You can use these helpful resources on your own, or ask a family member to sit down with you and help you figure them out. However you make sense of all that Medicare has to offer, be sure to do it in time to make changes that will matter the most for your healthcare coverage.


Learn more about author Sharon Wagner’s organization

Protecting your Market Identity:  Addressing External Strengths and Threats

In my experience, CEOs and senior management generally spend their days managing internal issues: tasks like managing company performance, unsettled budgets, and staff conflicts. Frustrated, they would like to pay more attention to what it is they believe they have been hired to do—focus on more significant external issues such as competitive research and competitor activity, customer behavior, and market trends and analysis. A study reported in the Harvard Business Review reported they spend just three percent of their time with customers.  The same was true with investors. As a result of this, the distracted CEO is at times frustrated, and for good reason. The effect we often see are weak strategic plans—fit neatly into a boiler plate of mission, goals and quotas void of an overall objective, and trendy-worded strategies that don’t amount to much.  When the quarterly numbers appear, there is both good news and bad. What keeps the CEO up at night is the fear that the company is merely limping along.

I’ve been a publicist for 29 years now and like many of my peers, I see that CEOs who prioritize their time establishing a clear corporate identity, while delegating the important role of internal caretaking, tend to thrive more. Research backs up this concept: that a CEO is better fit to take the shared internal culture and strengths and build key relationships that externally back up and affirm a company’s claims.

What leads to this impasse I describe earlier is the mistaken philosophy that external issues, such as communications, should be delegated and are somehow fully taken care of without the CEO’s involvement. CMO’s are notoriously important to crafting and maintaining a strong corporate identity, but they are not performing to their potential without the leadership and active involvement of the CEO.  There can be a natural partnership between the two roles.

Many companies do not even have a CMO. Their reputation and identity does limp along, and they often wonder why they aren’t better known and engaged with companies and people they can help. It is because reputation isn’t prioritized at the highest levels of the company or organization.  Reputation management is by nature a senior management function, yet companies are delegating reputation to those without enough experience. Once in a crisis, the CEO’s position matters because it magnifies this very problem—and the organization’s alertness to consumer criticism and wide spread misinformation is not always remedied with a CEO that must play catch up.

External management involves the message every CEO wants to provide its publics.  Most realize you cannot teach your lesson without a wide classroom. Ironically, more opportunities exist than ever: Major newspaper circulation is up dramatically; digital media outlets abound; there are tools to develop relevant and powerful strategic plans and new apps that make video production and circulation easy and affordable for any company. A CEO has a menu of possibilities at his or her fingertips.  Are you there or are you struggling?

If you don’t feel fulfilled concentrating on internal issues so much, maybe you shouldn’t.

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Maximizing Where You Are Now

You are the CEO of your life and it’s up to you to manage your career and to develop effective career management strategies that work.  The old adage, “Timing is everything,” is still right on. Attaining clarity about what you want is your main job right now.  Here are some key strategies for “Maximizing Where You Are Now:”

  • START MANAGING YOUR THOUGHTS because you create with your thoughts, your words, and your actions.   If your current job is just not working well for you, take a look at what’s not quite right and consider this a gift, because this situation is providing evidence for what needs to change.  Consciously shift your focus and ask, “What do I want in my next position?  This isn’t working, so what would work well?  What other options sound exciting?”  Look at what you do enjoy about your current position and focus on what you do well and what challenges you to stretch and grow.  Remember, what you focus on always expands.
  • DO YOUR VERY BEST IN YOUR CURRENT POSITION and do exceptional work.  Anticipate that you are going to be leaving this job –which is only short-term–and you want to leave in good standing with excellent references and referrals.  Your reputation and how you feel about yourself is something you will always take with you.   So, look for the opportunities to excel and to shine.  And ideally, you are staying in touch with the reputable people you have met through your current position.  There is a subtle and very important shift you make internally when you do this–you begin focusing on doing a great job and enjoying your work, and what you focus on is what will materialize.  It’s always best to leave a position when you are “on top” and doing a great job.  You feel successful and are leaving because you aspire to further develop yourself professionally and feel ready to step into new opportunities.
  • DEVELOP A LONG-RANGE PLAN – YOUR CAREER/LIFE PLAN. Is it time for you to develop your own game plan?   Where do you want to be personally and professionally in five to ten years? What is your personal vision? What excites you and inspires you?  What are the essential aspects of an excellent working situation for you?  Engaging in strategizing and planning for yourself—which is part of your CEO responsibilities in managing your own career—is a very smart strategy for you right now.  You know the power of having specific goals, so it only makes sense that now is the right time for you to develop your own tangible game plan. Your customized career life plan takes a holistic approach and will help you achieve a better career/life balance, developing yourself both professionally and personally.  Once you gain clarity and ask for what you want, your job is to expect success and stay open to receiving your requests.
  • TAKING EXTRA GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF RIGHT NOW. An important part of your responsibility as CEO of your life is “filling up your cup.”  That means you are taking responsibility for your own “self-care” — staying strong and healthy, doing things that make you feel good, surrounding yourself by wonderful people where there is mutual love and respect, and taking time to rejuvenate your energies on a regular basis.  Whatever it takes for you to feel good about yourself, feel good about what you are doing and just feel good about the life you are living – this is your responsibility.
  •  BE DELIBERATE ABOUT EXPANDING YOUR NETWORK. Begin by taking an honest look at your current network.  Are these the people you want to associate with?  Who do you want to be associating with?  Are there some gaps between your current network and your ideal network? Be strategic about this and be proactive in finding new networks that will serve you well professionally and propel you into your next career move.  Your objective is to continually be open to making new professional connections with people you admire and respect, and the more diverse your network is, the better.


 Gabrielle Parkinson has been an Executive Coach for over 30 years.

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