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Prescription Drug Trends

A gene therapy treatment recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use against leukemia is priced at $475,000 for a one-time treatment.1 While it’s exciting that new treatments, including prescription drugs, appear to be getting closer to curing society’s most lethal diseases, many of us wonder how we can afford them. Even when such treatments are covered by insurance, the pool of insured participants pay the cost in terms of higher premiums.

 

The way drug manufacturers determine pricing has become a controversial topic. In the past, the average cost to bring a new drug to market was reported to be around $2.7 billion. However, a new study on cancer medications has arrived at a much lower number: a median cost of $757 million per drug, with half costing less and half costing more. Drug companies dispute the study, saying the cost doesn’t take into account research and development investments made in drugs that fail.2

 

Meanwhile, health care costs continue to rise, with the average family health insurance plan rising 3.4 percent in 2016 from 2015, outpacing wage growth.3 Even in retirement, when most people qualify for Medicare benefits, health care expenses can be high. Recent estimates project that a healthy, 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $275,000 to cover their health care expenses in retirement.4 This sum includes paying for Medicare premiums, cost-sharing provisions and out-of-pocket costs, but when you add in over-the-counter medications, dental services and potential long-term care, that figure could be even higher.5

 

Do you have a strategy in place to help pay for health care expenses in retirement? If not, give us a call.  Some insurance products such as life insurance and annuities provide various options you may want to consider. We’d be happy to discuss your options based on your unique situation.

 

As for tackling the issue of high drug prices, states are taking the matter into their own hands. California recently passed legislation mandating transparency related to how the pharmaceutical industry sets drug prices in that state.6 In April, New York passed a law that requires prescription drug companies to undergo a review when prices rise and discounts and rebates aren’t offered back to the state for rising Medicaid drug spending.7 Nevada’s legislation more specifically requires a drug pricing process for diabetes medication. The state of Vermont has had a law on the books since 2016 in which drugmakers must provide justification for pricing hikes or they risk being fined.8

 

Meanwhile, another way to tackle the high cost of prescription drugs could be to introduce a major volume player into the mix – Amazon reportedly has been considering entering the prescription drug market. The pricing power that Amazon wields was enough to drive down the price of CVS and Walgreens stock by nearly 5 percent when a report predicting a potential Amazon move was first announced.9

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 LizSzabo. USA Today. Aug. 30, 2017. “Revolutionary gene therapy approved for leukemia – at $475,000 price tag.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/08/30/revolutionary-gene-therapy-approved-leukemia/617538001/. Accessed Oct. 20, 2017.

2 Gina Kolata. The New York Times. Sept. 11, 2017. “What Does It Cost to Create a Cancer Drug? Less Than You’d Think.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/health/cancer-drug-costs.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nythealth&smtyp=cur%0Dsee%20saved%20article%20in%20file. Accessed Oct. 10, 2017.

3 Tami Luhby. CNN Money. Sept. 14, 2016. “Employers push health care costs onto workers.” http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/14/news/economy/health-care-insurance-costs/?iid=EL. Accessed Oct. 20, 2017.

4 Kelli B. Grant. CNBC. Aug. 24, 2017. “Expect to spend more on health care in retirement — even if you’re well.” https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/24/average-couple-will-spend-275000-on-health-care-in-retirement.html. Accessed Oct. 10, 2017.

5 Ibid.

6 Lydia Ramsey. Business Insider. Oct. 9, 2017. “California just passed a new law that tackles the rising cost of prescription drugs.http://www.businessinsider.com/california-state-pharmaceutical-drug-pricing-transparency-bills-2017-9. Accessed Oct. 10, 2017.

7 Julie Appleby. Kaiser Health News. May 22, 2017. “New York State Wants Its Prescription Drug Money Back – Or Else.” https://khn.org/news/new-york-state-wants-its-prescription-drug-money-back-or-else/. Accessed Oct. 27, 2017.

8 Business Insider. June 4, 2017. “‘More is possible’: A bunch of states are taking on high drug prices, and it could start hitting drugmaker profits.” http://www.businessinsider.com/states-with-drug-pricing-transparency-bills-2017-6/#maryland-is-tackling-generic-drug-price-hikes-1. Accessed Oct. 10, 2017.

9 Paul R. La Monica. CNN. Oct. 9, 2017. “Are prescription drugs the next target for Amazon?” http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/09/investing/amazon-prescription-drugs-online-pharmacy-report/index.html?sr=twCNN100917amazon-prescription-drugs-online-pharmacy-report0851PMStory. Accessed Oct. 10, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.


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Travel Tips

Anthony Melchiorri, the host of the Travel Channel show “Hotel Impossible,” says he prefers to stay in a roadside motel over a luxury hotel – as long as it has good online reviews. In his opinion, the mom and pop ownership model often leads to painstaking efforts for cleanliness, fresh flowers and a home-cooked meal – not to mention personal recommendations for uniquely local places to visit in the area.1

 

After all, the accommodation industry is all about hospitality, and hospitality is about personal service. It doesn’t get more personal than running your own business. We feel the same way about working with our clients. We know you want to talk to familiar people when you call for information. At the end of the day, we’re all looking for that extra touch, the human connection, something that sets service above the rest. Please contact us anytime. We are here to help you with your retirement income strategy questions.

 

This desire for the personal touch remains true whether you’re at home or traveling. In a recent interview, Mr. Melchiorri offered some interesting advice for planning a vacation. For example:2

 

·      If you’re booking a hotel, check out its most recent reviews online at sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Even large chains get bad reviews, and some of those roadside motels get charming ones. It pays to check before you book.

·      While you may want to use one of those shop-and-compare websites to find a hotel, once you make a selection go to the hotel’s actual website to make your reservation. The hotel website is guaranteed to offer the lowest rate – Melchiorri says a website like Expedia is not allowed to have a lower rate than the hotel. In addition, when you book through a third party, it can be more difficult to get your money back.

·      Remember that hotels and motels are in the hospitality industry, and the good ones want to ensure you are pleased with your stay. Melchiorri encourages travelers to ask for things they want – an upgrade, a poolside room, to be upstairs or downstairs, bottled water or fresh flowers in their room. If hotel staff can accommodate you, they most likely will.

·      If you encounter a problem, he suggests you first make a polite complaint, then escalate to a more direct aggressive complaint, and finally, express your displeasure with a scathing online review.

 

One way to save money on accommodations is on parking. Many hotels charge for onsite parking or valet service. Consider downloading an app to your smartphone to help you find less expensive parking options. These apps look for parking based on your location and show the least expensive options, which can yield as much as 50 percent in savings. Other apps can find all available transportation options between your current location and your destination, so you can choose the most convenient with the best price.3

 

If you want to learn about the history of an area you’re visiting, check out local museum deals. Some places offer free entrance either on certain days or all the time. For example, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and nearly every museum in London offer free admittance year-round.4

 

If you’re traveling abroad, before you leave home, make copies of your passport and driver’s license; leave one with a friend and tuck another into your bag. It’s also a good idea to take photos of them on your smartphone and load them up to a password protected cloud storage site. Having copies of important travel documents can alleviate a lot of hassle if the originals are lost or stolen.5

 

You also may want to spread your cash in a few different places, such as your wallet, in zipper pockets and in your hotel safe. Should you lose your billfold or get robbed, you won’t be left totally without cash.6

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 Beth J. Harpaz. Washington Times. Sept. 6, 2017. “Why ‘Hotel Impossible’ star likes a good roadside motel.http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/sep/6/why-hotel-impossible-star-likes-a-good-roadside-mo/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS. Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Talia Avakian. Travel and Leisure. Sept. 30, 2017. “These 18 Easy Tips Can Save You a Fortune on Your Next Trip.http://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/save-money-while-traveling. Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.

4 Ibid.

5 Mike Shubic. Travelocity. Oct. 2, 2017. “12 Genius Travel Planning Tips.” https://www.travelocity.com/inspire/12-genius-travel-planning-tips/. Accessed Oct. 2, 2017.

6 Ibid.

 

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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Tips for Aches and Pains

As we grow older, many of us get wiser. We may become more comfortable in our own skin. We may get better at our jobs, have a more reliable income and begin to collect assets. We can gain a better appreciation of what’s important in life.

 

We also can lose things. Some of us lose a degree of innocence and idealism. Some miss their doggedness and fearlessness – while others may find they no longer have the thick hair of their younger years.

 

We also may have gains and experience losses in our finances. We learn that what goes up generally does come down, but then it can go up again. We develop financial strategies designed to help us weather economic ups and downs. If your life learnings summon the need to protect a portion of your retirement assets and help insure yourself against the risk of financial loss, give us a call. As an independent financial services firm, we help people create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products, including annuities, to custom suit their needs and objectives.

 

We also may experience more physical aches and pains as we age. But there are coping mechanisms for these things, too.

 

For example, a lot of people these days are suffering from pain caused by our modern obsession with gadgets. We are hunched over computer keyboards and smartphones, putting strain on the head and neck. Experts say it helps to take lots of breaks, get outdoors, and do hand and neck stretches. Experience tells us that moderation in all things is key; this is also true for gadgetry.1

 

Some pain may be controlled through alternative methods. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health, reports there is growing evidence that acupuncture, hypnosis, massage, spinal manipulation and yoga may help manage some chronic conditions. Be sure to check with your health care provider before trying any of these methods, however, to make sure they won’t put your health or safety at risk.2

 

And then there are the effects of emotional pain. In recent months, many people have lost their homes, family and friends to hurricane winds, flooding, fire and earthquakes. It’s been a tough time even for those fortunate enough to survive. Some of the tactics recommended to help cope with this type of pain include committing to a routine to help get your life back on track, unplugging from news sources so you can get out of the disaster frame of mind for a while and adjusting expectations going forward.3

 

We may not always be able to recover the things we lose, but we can find comfort in recognizing and appreciating what we still have.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 The Daily Star. Sept. 2, 2017. “Is a modern lifestyle giving you aches and pains? 5 expert tips for healthier pain management.http://www.thedailystar.net/health/5-expert-tips-healthier-pain-management-backpain-1457293. Accessed Sept. 28, 2017.

2 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. September 2016. “Chronic Pain: In Depth.” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/chronic.htm. Accessed Oct. 16, 2017.

3 Paige Smith. Huffington Post. Sept. 20, 2017. “7 Tips for How to Cope If You’re Rebuilding After a Natural Disaster.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cope-rebuilding-natural-disaster_us_59c2a020e4b0186c220775c6. Accessed Sept. 28, 2017.

 

Guarantees and protections provided by insurance products including annuities are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer.

 

This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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How to Help Avoid Fraud and Scams

The recent security breach at credit rating service Equifax brings home the reminder that each of us must be ever-vigilant in protecting our private information.1 It can be easy to become lackadaisical. We expect companies with which we conduct financial transactions to keep our data secure.

 

Unfortunately, hackers seem to be advancing their skills at a faster rate than large corporations can keep up. Moreover, the tools available to consumers to help protect their data – including credit monitoring, identity monitoring, identity restoration and identity theft insurance – are more reactive than proactive.2

 

One of the newer recommendations, however, is to freeze your credit report at each of the three national credit agencies – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. This action stops a credit agency from releasing your information to a third-party request without your permission, eliminating the prospect of someone using your information to open an account without your knowledge.3

 

While some transactions may leave us at the mercy of third-party security systems, we can still be cautious about how we seek information and who we obtain it from. When it comes to your retirement savings and insurance, you should work with financial professionals you trust. They should be thoroughly vetted for credentials and experience. Also, don’t feel compelled to give out personal financial information at your first meet and greet.

 

Unfortunately, one demographic that seems to be vulnerable to fraudsters is the elderly. One report estimated that up to $36.5 billion is scammed each year from older Americans.4

 

Some of the financial scams that target the elderly include fraudulent calls requesting bank or investment account information, mail or email solicitations that appear to be bills for a product or service that wasn’t provided, or overcharging for a service act that was provided. Older adults who are forgetful or unfamiliar with the ways services are charged today may assume they should give out the information or money requested – not realizing that the fault lies with the perpetrator.5 It’s generally a good idea to have a trusted family member or friend review the request before responding.

 

Above all, remain vigilant when someone asks for money or personal information.

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

 

1 NPR. Sept. 8, 2017. “Credit Reporting Agency Equifax Reveals Massive Hack.” http://www.npr.org/2017/09/08/549373796/credit-reporting-agency-equifax-reveals-massive-hack. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.

2 WatchBlog. Government Accountability Office. April 11, 2017. “How Useful Are Identity Theft Services?” https://blog.gao.gov/2017/04/11/how-useful-are-identity-theft-services/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.

3 Adam Shell. USA Today. Sept. 11, 2017. “How to defend yourself against identity theft after the Equifax data breach.https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/09/11/how-defend-yourseafter-equifax-data-breach-credit-report-freeze-strong-defense-against-identity-thef/654065001/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.

4 Kelli B. Grant. CNBC. Aug. 28, 2017. “$36 billion might be a low estimate for this growing fraud.https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/25/elder-financial-fraud-is-36-billion-and-growing.html. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.

5 Barbara Kate Repa. Nolo. “Elder Abuse: Financial Scams Against Seniors.” https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/elder-abuse-financial-scams-against-29822.html. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.

 

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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Recent Articles

  • Prescription Drug Trends

    A gene therapy treatment recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use against leukemia is priced at $475,000 for a one-time treatment.1 While…

  • Travel Tips

    Anthony Melchiorri, the host of the Travel Channel show “Hotel Impossible,” says he prefers to stay in a roadside motel over a luxury hotel –…

  • Tips for Aches and Pains

    As we grow older, many of us get wiser. We may become more comfortable in our own skin. We may get better at our jobs,…