PNS Newshour

From 2014 to 2019, Phil contributed articles to the “Making Sen$e” blog at PBS NewsHour. Most of these pieces are about Social Security and Medicare, including answers to reader questions generated by the Get What’s Yours books on Social Security and Medicare. Over time, expect links to older pieces to be deactivated. Like food products, some of these older stories have not aged well! Look first for more recent posts on topics you find relevant.


12.17.19          Column: What’s being left out of the Medicare for All debate
12.3.19            Medicare’s open enrollment can be confusing. Here are some last-minute tips.

11.21.19          How a Trump order could help Social Security and HSAs work together
11.6.19            2020 brings more private insurance plans for Medicare patients. Here’s why you need to look closely

10.30.19          How taking Social Security early affects your ex-spousal benefits
10.16.20          Can my ex bar me from his retirement benefits?
10.10.19          These tips can help you navigate Medicare’s updated online tool
10.3.19            Column: What seniors should know about Trump’s Medicare executive order

9.25.19            Private insurers are improperly rejecting Medicare drug claims, watchdog finds
9.18.19            Column: Studying Elizabeth Warren’s plan to fix Social Security
9.11.19            3 problems that are spiking health care costs, according to this surgeon

8.30.19            Why you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to your health insurer
8.22.19            Column: Employers are helping clear the haze on health care prices
8.12.20            Column: Why these unique Medicare Advantage plans are poised for popularity

7.31.19            Should disabled Americans drop Medicare for employer insurance?
7.25.19            Will Medicare cover my addiction treatment?
7.17.19            How to handle a surprise medical bill when there’s a Medicare mixup
7.10.19            What you need to know about Social Security’s ex-spousal benefits
7.4.19              How Medicare can be used for people with disabilities

6.14.19            Column: A 20-year-old fights back against her health insurer
6.5.19              How does Medicare work with employer insurance?

5.29.19            Do I have to wait for my ex to file for Social Security to get my benefits?
5.22.19            Column: Why Medicare needs to be fixed before it works ‘for All’
5.15.19            Will I lose Social Security benefits if I sell my house?
5.8.19              Column: A financial reality check on the push for health care reform
5.1.19              Why don’t ‘Medicare for All’ plans include Americans living abroad?

4.24.19            How will my tax return affect my Medicare premium?
4.22.19            Medicare and Social Security stay on unsustainable financial paths, reports show
4.17.19            Column: Will I be penalized for not getting Medicare at 65? It depends
4.11.19            Column: Drug companies try shifting blame for high prices under lawmakers’ scrutiny
4.3.19              How this Medicare loophole can lead to surprise medical bills

3.27.19            How to navigate Social Security’s benefits after marriage, death and divorce
3.13.19            How can I get more help for an ailing, older parent?
3.6.19              Why later enrollment in supplemental Medicare can cause problems

2.27.19            How this new online tool could help you decide on Medicare coverage
2.20.19            How Americans spend much more on health care than they realize
2.14.19            What can you do about an unwanted Medicare enrollment?
2.7.19              Why you should know about these Social Security and Medicare donut holes

1.30.19            This new app could help answer your Medicare questions
1.23.19            An audit of Social Security found low-income beneficiaries were underpaid
1.16.19            Compare Democrats’ many Medicare-for-All proposals with this chart
1.9.19              Column: What should I do if I get a surprise Medicare bill?
1.2.19              What does 2019 bring for Medicare and Social Security?


12.19.18          Column: Fix, don’t eliminate private Medicare plans
12.12.18          Column: How much should I save for retirement?
12.5.18            Column: How to navigate Medicare options as Trump officials boost private plans

11.21.18          Help! Am I being charged twice for Medicare?
11.14.18          The good, the bad and the ugly of picking Medicare Advantage plans

10.31.18          Opinion: Vote like Social Security and Medicare are at stake
10.24.18          Why comparing drug prices is key during Medicare open enrollment
10.17.18          Medicare open enrollment has begun. Here’s how to navigate your options
10.10.18          Working after 65? What you need to know about employer insurance and Medicare
10.3.18            Why you should consider switching your Medicare coverage during open enrollment

9.26.18            Threats to Medicare, Social Security in the spotlight ahead of midterm elections
9.19.18            Report: 4 out of 5 Americans have less than a year’s income saved for retirement
9.12.18            What to do if you have been wrongly charged for Medicare
9.5.18              The Social Security myths you should know before the midterms

8.29.18            What vital questions should seniors consider before November?
8.22.18            Why does my Medicare plan charge me more for my medication?
8.15.18            What to ask about your employer health coverage after age 65
8.8.18              Opinion: The link between more seniors filing for bankruptcy and the unraveling social safety net
8.1.18              Why families need to pay close attention to these revised nursing home ratings

7.25.18            Help! Constant care for my mom has created financial turmoil
7.18.18            How do Medigap plans work? Here’s a tutorial
7.12.18            What happens to your Social Security payments when one spouse dies
7.5.18              When should you file for Social Security if you have a young child?

6.29.18            My husband needs at-home health services. Where do I start?
6.20.18            Column: This plan to add broad non-medical benefits to Medicare Advantage is a big deal. Here’s why
6.13.18            I live overseas but need surgery in the U.S. How do I make sure Medicare covers me?
6.6.18              What do non-married couples need to know about getting Medicare?

5.30.18            Why did my Medicare premiums go up?
5.25.18            Senior advocates say new draft guide to Medicare distorts facts. Here’s what you need to know
5.23.18            Column: Not sure what to make of Trump’s drug prices plan? Here’s where to start
5.16.18            I am about to get divorced. What do I need to know about Social Security benefits?

4.25.18            Why your observation stay at the hospital could end with a big bill
4.18.18            I had surgery out of state. Why is Medicare refusing to pay?
4.11.18            Congress’ latest spending bill could bring major changes to Medicare Advantage. Here’s what you need to know
4.4.18              2 things you should know about Medicare this month

3.28.18            Who will care for you when you are elderly and frail? You should plan now
3.21.18            If I have a tight budget and good health, what kind of Medicare should I get?
3.14.18            Watchdog reports reveal problems at the strained, underfunded Social Security Administration
3.7.18              Help! How will receiving a legal settlement affect my health care?

2.28.18            Opinion: Why the midterm elections are key to protecting senior benefit programs
2.21.18            Will my private insurer drop me if I don’t get Medicare?
2.14.18            President Trump signed these Medicare changes into law. Here’s what to watch for
2.7.18              Rising health costs and economic inequality may threaten your retirement

1.31.18            Will my Social Security benefit increase if my startup business takes off?
1.24.18            Working full-time and ready to take Social Security? Here are the basics.
1.17.18            Why you need to do your doctor research before signing up for Medicare Advantage
1.10.18            10 questions to ask before hiring an elder care attorney
1.4.18              Your Medicare and Social Security questions, answered


12.27.17          Adventurous seniors can find medical care on the road. Here’s how
12.20.17          What does this little-understood rule of Social Security mean for me?
12.13.17          Everything you want to know about Medicare’s rules on health savings accounts
12.6.17            Help! A doctor is ruining my credit with Medicare overbilling

11.29.17          I can’t afford Medicare Part B. How do I prepare for tomorrow’s health problems?
11.20.17          Medicare announced its premiums for 2018. Here’s what you need to know.
11.15.17          How does a married couple make the most of Medicare and an employer health plan?
11.8.17            Does it matter where you buy a Medigap plan?
11.1.17            I care for my aging mother 24/7. Can I get help?

10.26.17          It can pay to pick a new Medicare Part D drug plan. Here’s how to start shopping.
10.18.17          Why this Social Security boost is no boon for lower earners
10.11.17          4 tips for making the most of Medicare’s open enrollment
10.4.17            I’m 66 and I just lost my job. How do we maximize our Social Security?

9.27.17            Can I get more affordable long-term care insurance?
9.20.17            Does Medicare make sense for seniors with employer health coverage?
9.13.17            Standard Medigap plans are learning some new tricks
9.6.17              My physician isn’t in my Medicare Advantage network. What can I do?

8.30.17            Health care watchdog sends urgent alert on potential nursing home abuse
8.23.17            How do I get the Medicare coverage I want with the lowest out-of-pocket cost?
8.16.17            Column: The real health care fight is coming, and it’s about seniors’ access
8.9.17              Social Security says I owe money for Medicare coverage I didn’t get. How do I appeal?
8.2.17              The fight over Obamacare is over — for now. What does that mean for seniors?

7.26.17            Why won’t Social Security give me the retroactive child benefits I’m entitled to?
7.21.17            Column: ‘The Medicare Maven’ on Ivy’s health insurance horror story
7.19.17            I was successful and recognized. Now, at 64, I can’t get an interview.
7.13.17            Social Security trust fund will be depleted in 17 years, according to trustees report
7.12.17            Seeking a ‘better than bingo’ solution for loneliness in older age
7.5.17              Medicare’s lack of dental, hearing and vision coverage can put seniors in a bind

6.29.17            I like using holistic doctors. Do I really need Medicare Part B?
6.28.17            Column: For older Americans, the GOP health bills would be nothing short of devastating
6.22.17            My husband and I are both on disability. Would getting divorced help us financially?
6.14.17            Help! I lost my job and just turned 65. What do I do about health insurance?
6.7.17              What’s the best place to retire? Keep these factors in mind before settling down

5.31.17            What do you need to know about successful aging and retirement?
5.24.17            What options do seniors have for in-home care?
5.19.17            If I’m healthy, do I really need a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan?
5.17.17            Column: Getting Social Security shouldn’t disqualify you from using a health savings account
5.11.17            We can’t afford my spouse’s inpatient rehab treatment. What are our options?
5.10.17            Column: What Medicare can teach the GOP about this basic rule of insurance
5.4.17              Can employers make you rely on Medicare and drop their insurance?
5.3.17              Many seniors who qualify for home-based care under Medicare aren’t receiving it. Why?

4.26.17            Medicare’s contractors approve $41 billion in billing errors. What’s being done to fix it?
4.19.17            Does Medicare pay for a home health care provider?
4.13.17            For retired expats, the question remains: Should I keep Medicare coverage or not?
4.5.17              Column: Why we need to save Medicare counseling from the federal chopping block

3.29.17            What to expect from the major changes coming to popular Medigap plans
3.23.17            Column: Trump’s budget and GOP health care bill will hurt older Americans
3.15.17            Can I work and still collect my late husband’s Social Security benefits?
3.9.17              Column: What you need to know about Medicare this week
3.1.17              Living abroad, do I need to get Medicare when I turn 65 or when I retire?

2.23.17            Is it worth keeping Medicare if I’m covered by my new employer?
2.22.17            Why Medicare beneficiaries should pay attention to ‘repeal and replace’ debate
2.15.17            How does Social Security’s cost of living adjustment affect Medicare?
2.8.17              My employer health insurance is unaffordable. Should I get Medicare?
2.1.17              Column: Why aren’t my chiropractic appointments covered by Medicare?
2.1.17              Should we raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare?

1.25.17            Column: Why is my Medicare Part B premium more than my husband’s?
1.18.17            Care provider directories wrong nearly half the time in Medicare Advantage plan lists
1.10.17            Column: Social Security will reduce paper statements in 2017. Here’s why it shouldn’t
1.4.17              My meds are cheap. Do I really need a Medicare Part D drug plan?


12.28.16          I’m retiring abroad. What Medicare plan should I get?
12.21.16          Column: What can we do to protect Medicare and Social Security?
12.14.16          Column: Social Security needs to be reformed, not have its funding cut
12.8.16            How plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act could affect Medicare
12.1.16            Don’t forget to do some last minute Medicare shopping

11.23.16          Column: Under a President Trump, Medicare reforms are a matter of when, not if
11.18.16          The surprising news about 2017 Medicare premiums and deductibles you may have missed
11.16.16          Column: Who’s paying the true cost of Medicare
11.2.16            Here’s how to find the Medicare Part D drug plan right for you

10.26.16          Column: Questionable Social Security and Medicare policies put seniors in a bind
10.19.16          Are you ready to navigate the overwhelming choices of Medicare?
10.18.16          Average senior’s Social Security check to increase a measly $4 in 2017
10.12.16          Are you prepared for Medicare open enrollment?
10.5.16            Signing up for Medicare? Read this cautionary tale first

9.28.16            How do the Affordable Care Act and Medicare interact?
9.22.16            I keep falling. Will Medicare cover a home health aide?
9.14.16            Last year’s COLA headache is likely to return this fall
9.7.16              I didn’t want Medicare Part B. Why did Social Security enroll me in it?
9.1.16              Medicare won’t cover a procedure I need. Can I get private insurance?

8.24.16            Column: Will increasing longevity change the way you live?
8.17.16            Why doesn’t Medicare cover more for physical therapy?
8.10.16            When to consider Obamacare instead of Medicare
8.3.16              What Clinton and Trump propose for Social Security and Medicare

7.27.16            How do I know I’m not overpaying for Medigap?
7.20.16            How selling a home may affect what you pay for Medicare
7.13.16            Is there any relief for astronomical drug costs?

6.22.16            Should I stick with my Federal Employee Health Benefits or enroll in Medicare?
6.15.16            Beware of being automatically enrolled in a Medicare plan you don’t want
6.8.16              Do you know how Medigap policies work?
6.1.16              My Medicare only provides minimal coverage out of state. What should I do?

5.25.16            How to avoid Medicare enrollment panic
5.18.16            Should you stay on your employer health insurance or get Medicare?
5.11.16            Getting trapped in the regulatory morass of Social Security and Medicare
5.4.16              How to get what’s yours from Medicare and Social Security

4.27.16            On the road? Medicare options for travelers in the U.S.
4.13.16            How to get vision, hearing and dental care that’s not covered by Medicare
4.6.16              Medicare’s catastrophic drug insurance can be a catastrophe for consumers

3.30.16            Should I keep regular health insurance if I’m enrolling in Medicare?
3.24.16            Drugs taken in hospitals may be dangerous to your financial health
3.16.16            Get ready for big changes in Medicare drug pricing
3.9.16              Don’t overlook Medicare’s low-income support programs
3.2.16              Are you overpaying for retiree health insurance?

2.24.16            Your Medicare tax dollars at work
2.17.16            Why won’t Medicare cover dental, hearing or vision expenses?
2.10.16            Lower drug prices: Does any candidate have an Rx?
2.3.16              If I’m covered by the Affordable Care Act, do I have to switch to Medicare?

1.27.16            The do-it-yourself guide to Medicare shopping
1.20.16            5 things you should know about Medicare’s new end-of-life discussions
1.13.16            Like it or not, we’re all in the same Medicare boat


12.16.15          Who can we trust to make the best Medicare decisions?
12.10.15          Column: Can Medicare step up and do the right thing here?
12.2.15            A procrastinator’s guide to navigating Medicare open enrollment

11.25.15          Why health savings accounts and Medicare don’t mix
11.18.15          Medicare failures cause open enrollment hassles
11.11.15          Why is shopping for Medicare so complicated?
11.4.15            Big hikes in drug prices make Medicare open enrollment shopping a must

10.28.15          Everything you need to know about Medicare Advantage this open enrollment season
10.21.15          Your guide to choosing a Medicare drug plan that’s right for you
10.15.15          No Social Security increase means a big Medicare headache for recipients
10.14.15          Everything you need to know about Medicare’s open enrollment
10.7.15            Column: Why does Medicare allow for the price gouging of prescription drugs?

9.30.15            It’s not too early to begin thinking about Medicare’s annual open enrollment
9.23.15            How do I know if my doctor accepts Medicare?
9.16.15            Surprise! Your Medicare Part B premiums may increase by 50 percent in 2016
9.9.15              Am I still covered by Medicare when I travel out of state?
9.2.15              The Medicare Maven on a pricey Rx from a doctor who doesn’t take Medicare

8.25.15            Is private-sector Medicare becoming a monopoly?
8.19.15            How do I shop for the best Medicare deal?
8.12.15            You’re not retiring. Is joining Medicare Part A worthwhile?
8.05.15            Which Medigap plan should you get?

7.29.15            What the annual Medicare and Social Security reports miss
7.22.15            Medicare coverage for aging parents’ care is not nearly enough
7.15.15            Two seismic shifts in Medicare, and what they mean for you
7.8.15              This week’s trifecta of unpleasant Medicare surprises
7.1.15              Medicare woes: Why the meds your doctor prescribes are outrageously expensive

6.24.15            What happens to your Medicare when you marry?
6.17.15            Don’t overlook the benefits of ‘free’ Part A Medicare coverage
6.10.15            Why Wall Street loves Medicare Advantage (and why this should bother you)
6.3.15              Should I be paying for this? And more of your Medicare questions

5.27.15            Does my mother qualify for home health care?
5.21.15            As they lay dying: Medicare rules rob voiceless ALS patients of the ability to communicate
5.13.15            Don’t make this Medicare mistake: COBRA is not like employer health insurance
5.6.15              Here’s what you need to know about the serious backlog of Medicare appeals

4.29.15            My same-sex spouse can now get my insurance, but should she?
4.23.15            How are rising generic drug prices affecting you on Medicare?
4.15.15            Beware this Medicare gotcha when you file for Social Security
4.8.15              Loony Medicare rules can turn a hospital visit into a costly adventure
4.1.15              What Medicare could do to get you lower drug prices

3.25.15            Who loses from a permanent Medicare doc fix?
3.18.15            Guess who really pays for your Medicare
3.11.15            I can get my Social Security abroad, so why not my Medicare?
3.4.15              Why are my health insurance premiums going up and up?

2.25.15            When your doctor is in-network one year and out the next
2.18.15            Look out for Medicare drug plans’ bait-and-switch pricing tactics
2.11.15            Anthem hack is only tip of the iceberg for Medicare customers
2.4.15              What’s the most important cost to consider when picking a health plan?

1.28.15            Can expats take their Medicare abroad?
1.21.15            Thanks, but no thanks, Medicare, for the love
1.14.15            What older workers need to know about the hybrid health care world
1.7.15              Getting your hands around slithery COBRA coverage