Two key Medicare enrollment deadlines are approaching. Here's what you should know

Two key Medicare enrollment deadlines are approaching. Here's what you should know

The Good Brigade | DigitalVision | Getty Images

A couple of Medicare enrollment periods are underway — and both end soon.

First, if you didn’t enroll in Medicare when you should have and you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, you can sign up until March 31. Second, if you are already on Medicare and use an Advantage Plan but don’t think it’s a good match for you — i.e., your doctor is out of network — you can switch to another plan or drop it altogether, also until the end of the month.

related investing news

Hedge-fund manager Dan Niles says the banking crisis will get worse. How to invest from here


However, each of these opportunities comes with different rules to be aware of, and, possibly, the need to enroll in additional coverage and deal with other deadlines as well. Also, if you miss one of these periods but should have used it, you generally would have to wait for another enrollment window that allows you to get or change coverage.

More from Personal Finance:
The IRS plans to tax some NFTs as collectibles
Here’s how to vet online financial advice
‘Staying the course is the play’ for investors

Here’s what to know.

1. If you missed your initial enrollment period, sign up now

You become eligible for Medicare at age 65, and you get a seven-month window to sign up. This initial enrollment period starts three months before your birthday month and ends three months after it.

If you missed that window and didn’t have qualifying coverage elsewhere — such as a plan through a large employer — you can sign up for Part A (hospital coverage) and/or Part B (outpatient care coverage) between Jan. 1 and March 31. Signing up during this so-called general enrollment period means coverage starts the month after you enroll; before 2023, the effective date was July 1.

Be aware that depending on how long you’ve gone without Part B coverage, you may face a late-enrollment penalty of 10% for each year you should have been signed up but weren’t. And that penalty, which is tacked on to your premium, is lifelong. 

How medical debt became normal in the U.S.

You also can sign up for an Advantage Plan (Part C) once you’ve applied for Parts A and B during this general enrollment period, but it must be done before your Part B coverage starts. The Advantage Plan may or may not include Part D prescription drug coverage, but most do.

However, if you want a standalone Part D plan to pair with Parts A and B, this general enrollment period is not for that.

“They should consult an agent to see if they qualify for a special enrollment period for Part D, such as losing other creditable coverage in the last 63 days,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance firm Boomer Benefits.

If you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period or an exception, you’d generally have to wait until Medicare’s fall annual enrollment period to sign up for a Part D plan.

“If there isn’t a valid special enrollment period that a broker can help you with, it’s still worth a call to 1-800-MEDICARE as they have broader ability to approve unusual special enrollment periods,” Roberts said.

Be aware that Part D also comes with a lifelong late enrollment penalty if you go without qualifying coverage for 63 days or more. That fee is 1% of the national base premium ($32.74 in 2023) for each full month you didn’t have Part D or other acceptable coverage.

Also, individuals who use the general enrollment period can sign up for a Medicare supplemental plan, or “Medigap.”

“The Part B effective date would also initiate a six-month Medigap open enrollment period, if they’d rather go that route,” Roberts said.

2. If your Advantage Plan is not a good fit, change coverage

Separately, but also between Jan. 1 and March 31, Medicare allows Advantage Plan enrollees to switch to another plan or drop it altogether in favor of basic Medicare (Parts A and B). 

Unlike during the annual fall enrollment period when you can change your mind multiple times about your coverage for the following year, you can only make one switch during the current window.

“So if you choose another Medicare Advantage Plan, choose carefully,” Roberts said, adding that you’ll be locked into that coverage choice for the rest of 2023.

Why the U.S. health-care system is so bad at controlling costs

If you want to return to basic Medicare instead of having an Advantage Plan, be aware that the move often means losing drug coverage — which means you would have to enroll in a standalone Part D plan.

Additionally, if you drop your Advantage Plan, don’t assume that you’ll be able to get a so-called Medigap policy, which many beneficiaries pair with basic Medicare. These plans either fully or partially cover cost-sharing of some aspects of Parts A and B, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

However, they come with their own rules for enrolling. So depending on your state, you may need to pass medical underwriting to get approved for a Medigap policy.

There is an exception to the medical underwriting requirement: If you are within the first year of trying out an Advantage Plan, you generally can return to a Medigap policy without facing underwriting.

Source link

Will the banking crisis cause a recession? It may depend on the 'wealth effect,' economist says

Will the banking crisis cause a recession? It may depend on the 'wealth effect,' economist says

The FDIC's $250,000 isn't enough to restore depositor confidence, says DCLA's Sarat Sethi

When it comes to the U.S. economy, confidence is key. But the banking crisis has threatened to upset how most people feel about their financial picture.

“The bank problems are probably making a lot of people think twice,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an economics professor at George Washington University and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

“People are not as confident,” she said, referring to the “wealth effect,” or the theory that people spend less when they feel less well-off than they did before.

More from Personal Finance:
What the Fed’s rate hike means for you
What happens during a ‘credit crunch’
What is a ‘rolling recession’ and how does it affect you?

As recent events prove, the line between Wall Street and Main Street has become increasingly blurred: When stocks fall, people tend to rein in their spending.

A decline in spending slows retail sales and that, in turn, triggers a market reaction that spills back onto consumers.

At the same time, income is going down, after adjusting for inflation; interest rates are going up; and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says turmoil in the financial sector will cause banks to tighten their lending standards, making it even harder to borrow.

February US Consumer confidence declines

That leaves consumers with less access to cash to cover the rising cost of food, housing and other expenses. As households feel increasingly squeezed, that weighs on their confidence in the overall economic picture.

What it takes to feel financially secure

Americans now say they would need an average net worth of $774,000 to feel “financially comfortable,” but more than $2 million to feel “wealthy,” according to Charles Schwab’s annual Modern Wealth Survey

However, “it’s not how many dollar bills you have, it’s what you can buy with them,” said Tomas Philipson, University of Chicago economist and the former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Any money earning less than the rate of inflation loses purchasing power over time.

The University of Michigan’s closely watched index of consumer sentiment recently fell for the first time in months. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index is also down, according to the latest data.

Fewer consumers are planning to buy a home or car or spend money on other big-ticket items such as a major appliance or vacation. That decline in spending paired with rising interest rates could likely push the economy into a recession in the near term, the Conference Board found.

Wall Street has been debating whether the country is heading into a recession for months, although many economists expect it to occur in the second half of this year.

Still, thanks, in part, to a strong labor market, the economy has remained remarkably resilient, dodging a downturn so far. 

“It remains to be seen if we will continue to do so, and partly it comes down to consumer confidence,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “People are definitely shaken up.”

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

Source link

Federal study of third-party litigation funding reveals maturing and growing markets, lack of transparency, and scarce regulation.

Federal study of third-party litigation funding reveals maturing and growing markets, lack of transparency, and scarce regulation.

At the end of 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, Third-Party Litigation Financing: Market Characteristics, Data and Trends. Defining third-party litigation financing or funding (TPLF) as “an arrangement in which a funder who is not a party to the lawsuit agrees to help fund it,” the investigative arm of Congress looked at the global multibillion-dollar industry, which is raising concerns among insurers and some lawmakers.  

The GAO findings summarize emerging trends, challenges for market participants, and the regulatory landscape, primarily focusing on the years between 2017 and 2021. 

Why a regulatory lens on TPLF is important 

The agency conducted this research to study gaps in public information about the industry’s practices and examine transparency and disclosure concerns. Three Republican Congress members – Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), Rep. Andy Barr (KY), and Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) — led the call for this undertaking.  

However, as GAO exists to serve the entire Congress, it is expected to be independent and nonpartisan in its work. While insurers, TPLF insiders, and other stakeholders, including Triple-I, have researched the industry (to the extent that research on such a secretive industry is possible), the legislative-based agency is well positioned to apply a regulatory perspective.  

Example of Third-Party Litigation Financing for Plaintiffs

The report methodology involved several components, many of which other researchers have applied, such as analysis of publicly available industry data, reviews of existing scholarship, legislation, and court rules. GAO probed further by convening a roundtable of 12 experts “selected to represent a mix of reviews and professional fields, among other factors,” and interviewing litigation funders and industry stakeholders. Nonetheless, like researchers before them, GAO faced a lack of public data on the industry.  

Third-party litigation funding practices differ between the consumer and the commercial markets. Comparatively smaller loan amounts are at play for consumer cases. The types of clients, use of funds, and financial arrangements can also vary, even within each market.  

While most published discussions of TPLF center on TPLF going to plaintiffs, as this appears from public data to be the norm, GAO findings indicate: 1) funders may finance defendants in certain scenarios and 2) lawyers may use TPLF to support their work for defense and plaintiff clients.

How the lack of transparency in TPLF can create risks 

Overall, TPLF is categorized as a non-recourse loan because if the funded party loses the lawsuit or does not receive a monetary settlement, the loan does not have to be repaid. If the financed party wins the case or receives a monetary settlement, the profit comes from a relatively high interest payment or some agreed value above the original loan. Thus, the financial strategy boils down to someone gambling on the outcome of a claim or lawsuit with the expressed intention of making a hefty profit.  

In some deals, these returns can soar as high as 220%–depending on the financial arrangements–with most reporting placing the average rates at 25-30 percent (versus average S&P 500 return since 1957 of 10.15 percent). The New Times documented that the TPLF industry is reaping as much as 33 percent from some of the most vulnerable in society, wrongly imprisoned people.

Usually, this speculative investor has no relationship to the civil litigation and, therefore, would not otherwise be involved with the case. However, the court and the opposing party of the lawsuit are typically unaware of the investment or even the existence of such an arrangement. On the other hand, as the GAO report affirms, knowledge about the defendant’s insurance may be one of the primary reasons third-party financers decide to invest in the lawsuit. This imbalance in communication and the overall lack of transparency spark worries for TPLF critics. GAO gathered information that highlighted some potential concerns. 

Funded claimants may hold out for larger settlements simply because the funders’ fee (usually the loan repayment, plus high interest) erodes the claimant’s share of the settlement. Attorneys receiving TPLF may be more willing to draw out litigation further than they would have – perhaps in dedication to a weak cause or a desire to try out novel legal tactics – if they had to carry their own expenses.  

Regardless, typically neither the court, the defendant, nor the defendant’s insurer would be aware of the factors behind such costly delays, so they would be unable to respond proactively. However, insurance consumers would ultimately pay the price via higher rates or no access to affordable insurance if an insurer leaves the local market. 

As the report acknowledges, a lack of transparency can lead to other issues, too. If the court does not know about a TPLF arrangement, potential conflicts of interest cannot be flagged and monitored. Some critics calling for transparency have cited potential national security risks, such as the possibility of funders backed by foreign governments using the funding relationship to strategically impact litigation outcomes or co-opting the discovery process for access to intellectual property information that would otherwise be best kept away from their eyes for national security reasons. 

Calls for TPLF Legislation 

GAO findings from its comparative review of international markets reveal that the industry operates globally, essentially without much regulation. The report points out that while TPLF is not specifically regulated under U.S. federal law, some aspects of the industry and funder operations may fall under the purview of the SEC, particularly if funders have registered securities on a national securities exchange. Some states have passed laws regulating interest charged to consumers, and, in rarer instances, requiring a level of TPLF disclosure in prescribed circumstances.  

Active, visible calls from elected officials for regulatory actions toward transparency come mostly from Republicans, but, nonetheless, from various levels of government. Sen. Grassley and Rep. Issa have tried to introduce legislation, The Litigation Funding Transparency Act of 2021, requiring mandatory disclosure of funding agreements in federal class action lawsuits and in federal multidistrict litigation proceedings. In December of 2022, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr spearheaded a coalition of 14 state attorney generals that issued a written call to action to the Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland.  

“By funding lawsuits that target specific sectors or businesses, foreign adversaries could weaponize our courts to effectively undermine our nation’s interests,” Carr said. 

Triple-I continues to research social inflation, and we study TPLF as a potential driver of insurance costs. To learn more about third-party litigation funding and its implication for access to affordable insurance, read Triple-I’s white paper, What is third-party litigation funding and how does it affect insurance pricing and affordability? 

Source link

Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: Coinbase, AMC, Chewy, First Republic and more

Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: Coinbase, AMC, Chewy, First Republic and more

Monitors display Coinbase signage during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Check out the companies making headlines in premarket trading.

Coinbase — Shares of the cryptocurrency trading app dropped more than 11% in premarket trading after Coinbase received a Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Oppenheimer also downgraded the stock to perform from outperform, citing the Wells notice and concerns over blockchain development in the U.S. The Biden administration also criticized the overall digital asset sector. Jefferies and Key Banc also raised concerns surrounding Coinbase.

related investing news

Oppenheimer downgrades Coinbase, cites 'unhealthy regulatory climate' after Wells notice


First Republic, PacWest — The two regional banks traded higher coming off Wednesday’s selloff. First Republic advanced 5.6% after losing 15.5% in Wednesday’s session. PacWest added 4.7%, regaining some ground following Wednesday’s 17.1% drop.

Regions Financial — Shares of the regional bank edged 1.3% higher in premarket trading. Regions slid more than 6% on Wednesday after the Fed’s decision to increase benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points and on comments from Chair Jerome Powell that the banking system is well equipped and safe.

Chewy — Shares of the pet products e-commerce company fell more than 5% despite Chewy beating estimates on the top and bottom lines for the fourth quarter. The company reported earnings of 1 cent per share on $2.71 billion of revenue. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had penciled in a loss of 11 cents per share on $2.64 billion of revenue. However, the company’s active users metric was marginally lower year over year.

AMC — The movie theater giant gained 2.5%. The advance in AMC stock comes despite Citi resuming coverage of the company with a sell rating, citing an overvalued common equity. A day earlier, fellow meme stock GameStop soared.

Carvana — Carvana shares popped 4.5%, building on their 6.3% advance from the previous session. The company on Wednesday issued better-than-expected guidance for the first quarter. Carvana also plans to allow current bond holders to exchange unsecured notes at a premium price in exchange for new ones, CNBC previously reported.

Alibaba — The Chinese tech giant gained 4.3%, building on gains from a day earlier. To be sure, the stock has struggled this year, losing 5%.

Ford — Shares ticked up 1.3% in premarket trading. Ford is expected to start reporting by business unit instead of by region.

— CNBC’s Alexander Harring and Jesse Pound contributed reporting

Source link

Lloyd’s confirms loss in full-year numbers

Lloyd’s confirms loss in full-year numbers

Lloyd's confirms loss in full-year numbers

Lloyd’s, which earlier this month provided a peek into its 2022 performance, has now published its financial results for the full year.

According to Lloyd’s, here’s how it fared in 2022:





Gross written premium

£46.7 billion

£39.2 billion

Underwriting profit

£2.6 billion

£1.7 billion

Combined ratio



Profit/(loss) before tax

£(0.8 billion)

£2.3 billion

Net investment profit/(loss)

£(3.1 billion)

£0.9 billion


As previously projected, the investment loss drove Lloyd’s into the red, but a bounceback is expected in the coming years.

Lifting the lid on the negative result, Lloyd’s said: “Mark-to-market accounting rules on fixed income investments led to an overall loss of £0.8 billion. However, this loss is expected to reverse in the coming years as assets reach maturity and benefit from favorable interest rates.”

Lloyd’s chief executive John Neal also chose to focus on the positives.

“This is an outstanding underwriting result that follows several years of performance improvement, a comprehensive plan to digitalise our market, steady and sustained progress on our culture, and purposeful action to help our industry and society manage the biggest challenges of our time,” he commented.

“Looking to 2023, Lloyd’s expects strong premium growth to around £56 billion, a combined ratio below 95%, and a total investment performance on our assets of more than 3% – enabling us to support customers through the uncertain times ahead.”

What are your thoughts on this story? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Source link

Here Are 5 Best States That Offer Free Government Land

Here Are 5 Best States That Offer Free Government Land

Best States That Offer Free Government Land


If you’re interested in building a custom home, the first step you often need to take is buying land. At times, the cost for a lot is surprisingly expensive, and that can make moving forward with construction challenging. However, there are locations that offer land for free as a means of attracting new residents. Here are the five best states that offer free government land.

1. Kansas

Kansas has several rural that offer free land to individuals who are willing to build a house and call the area home. Lincoln provides free home sites in a subdivision. Mankato, Osborne, Plainville, and Wilson have similar programs. Some also offer other incentives to attract new people to the area, particularly remote workers.

2. Minnesota

New Richland, Minnesota, has a free land program, giving people a place to build a new home if they relocate to a specific subdivision. In some cases, the land can even serve as equity, allowing it to function similarly to a down payment if you need a construction loan.

3. Nebraska

In Curtis, Nebraska, free lots are available for the construction of new single-family homes. These lots are along paved roads and have utility access, which reduces the amount of preparation that aspiring home builders need to cover financially. Plus, there are separate programs for industrial and commercial land that could assist anyone looking to start a business with their own property.

Another town in Nebraska that’s offering free land is Elwood. While a $500 deposit is required, that money is refunded if all of the conditions are met. The town also has a down payment assistance program to help fund the new construction.

4. Colorado

Flagler, Colorado, has a free land program that focuses on businesses that can bring employment opportunities to the area. The program can offer large swaths of land, too, not just small downtown lots.

5. New York

Through the Urban Homestead Program in Buffalo, New York, people can get land or existing homes that aren’t technically free but incredibly cheap. Some properties are available for as little as $1 with the commitment to build a new house or renovate an existing one.

Have you considered using any of the programs available through the best states that offer free government land? Do you think these options are too difficult to navigate or otherwise ill-suited to most aspiring landowners? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Read More:

Come back to what you love! is the most reliable cash back site on the web. Just sign up, click, shop and get full cash back!

Source link