Friday, June 30, 2006

10 Financial Urban Legends

Category: Financial Planning

Every once in a while, I get a call from someone saying they had heard "income tax is illegal" or "revocable trusts avoid taxes" or other such things that are just untrue. Here is a list of "10 Financial Urban Legends" from - things that just aren't true. A basic rule of tax law is that "fat pigs get don't be a pig", which is another way of saying the old adage that if something looks to good to be true, it probably is. So if you get an email about one of these, hit "delete" please, not "forward".

Myth No. 1: You can float a check longer if you write in red ink.
Myth No. 2: You don't have to pay income tax -- it's illegal.
Myth No. 3: I'm under 18, so I can't be held accountable for a debt.
Myth No. 4: My hotel key card has my credit-card information.
Myth No. 5: Boycotting a few gasoline brands brings gas prices down.
Myth No. 6: It's better if you don't sign the back of your credit card.
Myth No. 7: You can make a pile of dough by helping a foreigner solve his money problems
Myth No. 8: You can now opt out of having credit bureaus give your information to anyone who asks.
Myth No. 9: You can buy your way out of points on a speeding ticket.
Myth No. 10: Hotel Bibles often have $100 bills tucked into them.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Medicare Rejects your Claim? Appeal, and Chances are You Win!

Category: Elder Law, Financial Planning

What do you do when Medicare rejects your claim for benefits? Why appeal of course.

According to the Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit organization "Appealing is easy and most people win so it is worth your while to challenge a Medicare denial,". The denial of coverage may be due, for example, to a simple coding error in your doctor's office.

People have a strong chance of winning their Medicare appeal. According to Center, 80 percent of Medicare Part A appeals and 92 percent of Part B appeals turn out in favor of the person appealing.

The Medicare Rights Center offers the following tips to maximize your success when appealing your denial:
  • Write "Please Review" on the bottom of your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN), sign the back and send the original to the address listed on your MSN by certified mail or with delivery confirmation.
  • Include a letter explaining why the claim should be covered.
  • When possible, get a letter of support from your doctor or other health care provider explaining why the service was "medically necessary."
  • Save photocopies and records of all communications, whether written or oral, with Medicare concerning your denial.
  • Keep in mind that you only have up to 60 to 120 days from the date on the MSN (depending if you are in a private Medicare plan, like an HMO or a PPO) to submit an appeal.
Click here for more information from the official Medicare website, including appeals forms.