Selome Samuel

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Retirement Budget Worksheet

Cuts to the Medicare budget may be the most threatening surgery of all for patients in need of medical imaging services.

Congress made deep cuts earlier this year in reimbursement for many medical imaging services that Medicare patients receive in physician offices and independent imaging centers.

Experts fear these cuts will mean less access and higher costs for many patients, especially those in rural areas.

Congress, say advocates, should impose a two-year moratorium on the cuts in order to more fully understand their impact on patients.

Starting in 2007, imaging services will be reduced by Congress by some $8 billion over 10 years. Those reductions represent more than one-third of the total Medicare cuts in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act.

The payment reductions affect a wide range of medical procedures and tests provided in physician offices and imaging centers. For example, reimbursement would be cut:

35 percent for ultrasound to guide less-invasive breast biopsies;

50 percent for PET/CT scans used for diagnosing and managing tumors;

40 percent for bone density studies for diagnosing osteoporosis; and

42 percent for MR angiography that detects aneurysms in the head.

Given the size of these and similar cuts, advocates warn that many physicians will likely discontinue or cut back on the imaging they provide in independent imaging centers or their own offices. If this happens, patients will have to seek these services at hospitals, which can be much further away and often involve higher out-of-pocket costs for patients. As a result, convenient access to services that many Medicare patients rely on will no longer be available.

Its believed that patients in rural areas are likely to be the hardest hit.

Unfortunately, say advocates such as the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition, these reductions were made without public hearings, public debate or open discussion. The reductions were made without public participation, even though they will likely affect the lives of many Medicare beneficiaries.

Instead, the Coalition believes Congress should impose a two-year moratorium on imaging cuts, so the Government Accountability Office can study the issue.

Save Retirement

We scrimp and save over the latest designer wear, even the hottest cars or fancy jewelry but only a handful of people have actually thought about protecting their financial future with private medical insurance. This beauty behind having a private medical insurance is that it enable you to live your life free from unwanted worry if you were to get sick or have an accident that results in unexpected medical bills.

If youre wise youll get coverage while you can still qualify for and afford it, which is before you need it. If you wait until youve been injured or sick, in most cases you wont qualify and if you do the monthly premiums will be extremely high.

Although, private medical insurance doesnt cover long-term illnesses, its designed to cover the financial burden of short-term illnesses and injuries, many people opt to choose private medical insurance since it can be a real help for certain emergencies.

An added perk of private medical insurance is that you actually get to choose which hospital you would like to be treated in, what specialist you would like to consult and what treatment you receive. In most instances, you will also feel like your moneys well spent because youll have the added perk of having your own private room complete with a television and other comforts of home.

If you are seriously thinking of buying private medical insurance, youll have to research which one of the vast number of reputable insurance companies actually provides the best overall coverage. Which one provides the best balance between premium cost and benefits so that if you ever need it, youll get your moneys worth with no surprises.

After applying for coverage, the carrier will send you their insurance policies to insure that you adhere to their requirements and standards. When it comes to which private medical insurance plan thatll best suits your needs and budget, it is wise to ask the insurance company that youre applying for a complete comparison analysis of the types of private medical insurance that they offer.

Ive listed a few samples of possible private medical insurance coverage below:

– In Patient: As a patient, this is wherein you end up staying in the hospital for one or more days.

– Out Patient: From simple treatments to mere consultations, the patient is not asked to stay in the hospital for observation or recovery anymore.

– Day Patient: Similar to In-patient coverage, this is where you still stay in the hospital but for less than a day, usually in the morning.

There is actually a great range of available payment options for private medical insurance buyers from the ever-popular, low cost coverage, which usually offers only limited coverage to the more extensive wide-ranging coverage and benefit plans. It is fairly simple to be approved for day and out-patient private medical insurance coverage, with in-patent being a bit more difficult due to the higher risk involved with extended hospital stays.

The next step is for you to actually get yourself to a trusted physician wholl give you a check-up so youll be able to know based on your physicians assessment which kind of private medical plan you best fit your future needs.

When it comes to choosing, youll actually need to consider these options:

– Always be sure that you are fully aware of the terms that are included in your private medical insurance plan.

– Do you want to have your private medical plan to also allow consultations from specialists as well as out-patient treatments?

– Would you like to have the option of picking out which hospital you would like to be treated at or doesnt matter where they send you to?

For your application for the private medical insurance plan, companies actually need a copy of details concerning your health so that theyll be assured that youre not just simply duping them into paying for your recurrent illnesses and you may not be covered for pre-existing conditions. Finally, when it comes to submitting your claim, you need to contact your private medical insurance company first before receiving any hospital services or treatments because you need to verify that your private medical insurance plan actually covers the treatment that you want or need to have done.

Your physician as well as the resident specialist in the hospital also needs to sign your claim forms to reassure the company that you have actually been treated for the said illness or injury.

Savings And Retirement

With the increase in DIY stores and programs, people have been encouraged to improve their homes more and more. However, improving your home can be costly, and you may require a loan to carry out the renovations that you want or need.

Getting a loan to make home improvements can be a great idea; as if you get the right things done then you will increase the value of your home for future sale. But what are the available methods for funding home improvements?

Here are some ways in which you can fund both small and large home improvements, and things to look out for when getting home improvement funding:

Small projects

Many smaller home improvement projects do not require you to get out huge loans or add money onto your mortgage. These sorts of improvements can often be paid for through savings or by credit cards. If you can pay for something with your savings, then it is much cheaper than getting out a loan or adding more onto your mortgage. Examples of such renovations might be repainting or redecorating a room or two.

Large projects

When it comes to larger home improvements such as extensions or remodelling, then you will need to borrow money in order to pay for the work. Perhaps the best two ways of funding large home improvement projects are through unsecured loans and remortgaging.

Unsecured loans

If you have a good credit history and you need to borrow around $5,000 to $20,000, then getting an unsecured loan is probably the best option. Unsecured loans are good because you do not have the risk of losing your home if you cannot pay, and because the repayment terms are usually shorter than mortgages at around 1 to 7 years. Although the interest rates are higher, if you can pay back the loan quickly you will probably pay back less overall.

Remortgaging

If you have bad credit or you need to borrow a larger sum of money for improvements, then remortgaging your property might be the answer. This means you can get a new mortgage for the amount you still owe on your property, as well as adding on the amount you need for home improvements. For example, if you require $25,000 for improvements and have $100,000 left on your mortgage, you can remortgage for $125,000.

The advantage of this is that mortgage rates are much lower than other loans at around 5 or 6%, and you may not notice the payment as much when it is included within your mortgage repayment. The disadvantages are that you can lose your home if you cannot make the repayments, and you will be paying back the amount over a much longer period of time.

Should you make improvements?

Before you take out a home improvement loan, the most important thing to consider is the overall benefit you will get from making the improvements. If the gains are simply luxuries that you can do without, then taking out a loan to pay for them might not be the best idea. If, however, the improvements will make your house a better place to live and also increase its value, then getting a home improvement loan might be a good option for you.

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