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Friday, October 28, 2011

Medicare, hooboy!

Don't you love it when the Medicare Open enrollment period comes around every year?  I'm not even eligible yet but I've been getting all kinds of junk in the mail about which Medicare plan to buy.  And I hear that there is no lack of TV advertising.  (Oddly, the enrollment period was changed from 11/15-12/31 as in years past to 10/15-12/7.)  But here's the common element:  these ads and mail pieces encourage you to visit their website or call one of their "advisers" to determine which plan is best for you.  

I have a better strategy for you:  Visit www.medicare.gov and use their quick and easy search engine instead.  I just did it myself and 59 medical and drug plans in my zip code 97086 popped up.  If I narrow the search to Medicare Health plans with drug coverage the number drops to 11, including Original Medicare, with 5 different companies.  But even so, can you imagine calling 20 different companies to find and compare your expected total annual out of pocket risk for all 11 plans?

Well, you don't have to.  Just select "sort results by lowest estimated annual health and drug cost" button and the search engine does it for you.  Or, if you're on lots of prescriptions (I'm not on any) you can key in all of them to find out which plan will give you the lowest out of pocket cost for your drugs.
 
So your first stop should be www.medicare.gov  If you need help navigating this arena, just call or email me:  503-698-4812  g@garyduell.com

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Myth: More is better, or, Why I downsized.

Not that it's that interesting but I recently made some big changes:
  • I closed my office and moved it back into my home.  
  • I got rid of pickup loads of stuff.  And then I sold my pickup.  
  • I'm as vegetarian as I can be.  In his book Eating Animals  Jonathan Foer points out that since it has been proven we can survive quite well (at least in this country) without eating animals, shouldn't we at least try to do so?
  • I rarely buy coffee out anymore, making my own at home.  
  • I bike everywhere I can, when I can.  
  • If I have to drive, I try to accomplish at least three tasks per trip. 
  • After having to move boxes and boxes of books I now don't buy any book unless I've already checked it out from the library & can't live without it, or, if the library doesn't have it.
  • My practice is virtually paperless.  I constantly beg all my companies to email rather than mail.  (One of my most progressive companies, Assurant Health, is going to begin delivering policies digitally only.  Yay!  One of my least progressive companies, Ohio National Life, still sends me single sheets of paper in 9x12 envelopes.)  The paper I do get is scanned and then shredded.
  • My business itself has a very small carbon footprint.  I make a huge difference in the lives of many people without creating much waste, if any, simply by rearranging pixels on my screen.  Miraculous!  Some paper is still involved, unfortunately.
  • I hold my breath for one minute every hour to reduce my CO2 emissions.  Kidding.
So that's what I've done.  Why?  The three year experiment with an external office was all for show, to look legitimate, to create an image.  But the fact is, my network of advisers, service & product providers, business colleagues, support services and educational sources is all virtual.  I average one hour-long webinar per day to keep up to date professionally.  I rarely drive to attend a class anymore.  I get dozens of newsletters and news feeds daily.  I don't take newspapers anymore.  Most of my business is conducted online.  I have more clients I've never met than the opposite (which is not really my preference).  Who needs an office full of furniture and people?  It was no longer necessary.  I did all this because life should be simpler!

When I do venture out into the big city the traffic jams astound me. what an insane way to live!  Why does anyone tolerate it?  What if, instead of building more roads in the metro area, we developed a super database of workers and jobs, then did a massive job exchange so people could work closer to where they live?  What if, instead of building the boondoggle called the Columbia River Crossing, we spent a tenth as much converting office jobs to online jobs so the Vancouverites didn't have to come over here?

Yes, life should be simpler.