It’s time to face the facts, mobile software applications or apps aren’t just for young people anymore. In recent years, as seniors have become more tech-savvy—using smart phones, tablets, and laptops on a daily basis—several apps have been developed to make daily life easier for these older adults and their caregivers.

With each year, seniors aged 65 or older are plugging into the present. According to a survey from Pew Research Center, nearly 60 percent of seniors go online and over 75 percent own a smart phone. “Most seniors who become internet users make visiting the digital world a regular occurrence,” the research says. “Among older adults who use the internet, 71 percent go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11 percent go online three to five times per week.”

In addition to embracing technology, nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, the AARP reports.  With this being the case, it’s important that seniors and their caregivers know about the technology that’s available to make independent living safer.

Below are several free or inexpensive apps offered for Android and Apple that can help seniors in their day-to-day lives and offer their families and caregivers some peace of mind.



Fade (for Android users) or Fall Safety Pro (for Apple users)


Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans, according to the National Council of Aging. These two apps monitor a user’s smart phone for sudden movements that may indicate a fall. In the event of a fall, emergency contacts are alerted via text and voice message and given a location.





This app offers an easy way to remember to take medication. Users can schedule easy reminders and color-code different types of medications. Also, after taking medication, it is easy to log the time it was taken and its effects.
 Medication Guide


This app is an easy way to lookup drug information, identify pills, check drug interactions, and set up personal medication records.



Tell My Geo (for Android users) or Comfort Zone (for Apple users)


These two apps allow caregivers to stay connected with loved ones wherever they are by scheduling regular location updates. Individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s can live independently, while their caregivers can constantly monitor their current location to help them stay safe.





This is an app for users with diabetes and their caregivers. The app connects the user and caregiver, allowing them to share updates on food intake, insulin, and blood sugar levels. Also, caregivers can elect to receive text messages throughout the day with important updates on the user’s vital medical information.





These are just five easy-to-use apps that can help improve seniors’ lives as they continue to embrace technology. For a list of other helpful apps, visit and click on the tab labeled “Apps You Can Use.” is committed to educating and protecting senior citizens and helping them navigate through the “Medicare maze.” Tommy Chamouris and his staff offer guidance and help seniors find the Medicare plan that’s best for them—all at no additional cost.  See our ad on page 1 of Boomer magazine.

broken piggybank with dollar notes on whiteNearly a third of all Medicare beneficiaries may face a significant increase in their premium costs in 2017, if Congress doesn’t act soon.  According to the federal government’s board of healthcare trustees June 2016 report, participants of Medicare Part B—nearly 51 million Americans in 2016—could face a 22 percent premium increase next year.

The report warned Washington lawmakers that Medicare’s trust fund for inpatient care will be exhausted in 2028, two years earlier than was previously projected. While this finding is of grave concern, the more immediate worry, according to the report is the steep premium increase for Part B beneficiaries scheduled to take place in 2017.

Medicare Part B covers doctor visits and other types of outpatient care, and people with higher annual incomes who would see the largest increases. By law (the Social Security Act’s “hold harmless” provision), premiums for most Medicare recipients cannot exceed their increase in Social Security payments. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the adjustment is expected to be just 0.2% in 2017 due to low inflation. As a result, Medicare couldn’t pass along a premium increase greater than the dollar increase in Social Security payments to an estimated 70 percent of beneficiaries who will be “held harmless” in 2017.

In order to account for this discrepancy, Medicare would have to spread its cost increases across the remaining 30 percent of beneficiaries not “held harmless,” which is its higher earners.  The trustees’ report predicts that individuals earning between $85,001 and $107,000 and couples earning between $170,001 and $214,000 would have their monthly premiums raise from $170.50 a person this year to about $204.40 in 2017. And it gets worse. For those earning more than $214,000 ($428,000 for couples), the increase is about $467.20 a month, nearly $100 more than 2016 costs. Increases this extreme will have a significant impact on the millions of Americans living on fixed incomes.

Potential premium hikes will likely affect higher earners, if the predictions from the trustees’ report come to pass, all Medicare beneficiaries will see their annual Part B deductibles rise in 2017. The report cautions that the deductible costs will increase by nearly $40, from $166 in 2016 to $204 in 2017. “Everyone on Part B will be liable for the full increase,” says Tricia Neuman, senior vice president and an expert on Medicare at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicare is expected to have 53.5 million participants in Part B in 2017, meaning nearly 3 million more beneficiaries than this year will be liable to pay this deductible increase.

There is still time for Congress to intervene this fall and prevent this potentially devastating increase. Last year, lawmakers reduced an impending 52 percent premium increase for Medicare beneficiaries not “held harmless” with a deal in the budget agreement that raised premiums by only 16 percent instead. However, the trustees’ report cautioned Washington to address Medicare’s financial challenges now, “Taking action sooner rather than later will permit consideration of a broader range of solutions and provide more time to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare.”

To learn more about what this potential premium increase means and how you can prepare, visit and contact Tom Chamouris. Tom and his staff are committed to protecting senior citizens and helping them “navigate through the Medicare maze.” My Medicare Planner will offer guidance and help you find the plan that’s best for you—all at no additional cost.


Submitted by Kevin Hollister

With insurance mega-mergers pending, the  existing competition may become even less.



This image is by The Commonwealth Fund.

A national study by The Commonwealth Fund found that in 97% of counties “there is little to no competition in Medicare Advantage insurance markets.” Competition in any market is good, because it pushes the companies to provide better services and prices than their competitors. However, when there are only a few companies, there are no forces pushing them to work for the consumer.

Here are some takeaways from the study:

  • Rural counties have the least amount of competition.
  • In urban counties, the competition is still lacking: 81 out of the 100 counties with the most Medicare beneficiaries were found to be noncompetitive markets.
  • Only one of those 100 counties, Riverside, CA, was classified as competitive.
  • The Medicare Advantage markets are cornered by six insurers. The three companies with the biggest reach are UnitedHealth (38 counties), BlueCross (13 counties) and Humana (12 counties). Together, they control nearly two-thirds of all counties.

The Medicare Advantage market is a small but significant portion of the program. About 30 percent of beneficiaries have Advantage plans, which is roughly 16 million seniors.

But UnitedHealth, BlueCross and Humana are big in more than one market. The Government Accountability Office recently found that those three insurance companies cover 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries across all markets.

With the pending mergers between insurance giants Anthem and Cigna, and between Aetna and Humana, that we covered previously, the competition will certainly not improve.

The American Medical Association released results of a study focusing on the Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana mergers, and what effect they would have on insurance markets. They studied markets without the impact of the mergers, and found:

  • Three-fourths of urban areas are already ‘highly concentrated” with low competition.
  • 41 percent of urban areas have one insurance company with over half the market share.

Ultimately, the American Medical Association found that the mergers would decrease already low levels of competition by enhancing companies’ market power, which means it will “encourage one or more firms to raise price, reduce output, diminish innovation or otherwise harm consumers as a result of diminished competitive constraints or incentives.”

Studying the effects of the merger, the AMA found:

  • The Anthem-Cigna merger would be anti-competitive in the combined markets of 14 states, including Virginia.
  • The merger between Anthem and Cigna would enhance market power in 85 metropolitan areas in 13 states, including Virginia. Overall, 14 states would see significant decreases in competition from the deal, according to the study.
  • The Aetna-Humana merger would increase market power in 15 metropolitan areas in 7 states, not including Virginia. In total, the study says the effects of the merger would be seen in 14 states, where competition would lessen sharply.
  • tom
  • Tom Says:
    “Prepare yourself-  this will be the outcome of the mergers for Medicare beneficiaries throughout the country and in Virginia particularly.
    This is also a preview of the Annual Enrollment Period, starting October 7, for those who want to change their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans.”

To read the study by The Commonwealth Fund, click here.

For more on the American Medical Association’s study, see this New York Times article.


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