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Cost of supplemental insurance becomes a concern

Bruce Williams
Smart Money

DEAR BRUCE: I am an 89-year-old male with an 85-year-old spouse. We have a Medicare supplemental that costs us $3,984 a year in premiums to pay for the 20 percent that Medicare doesn’t cover. This cost is getting a little high for our income. We are considering canceling the policy, putting the money into our savings and paying the 20 percent ourselves.

Would we be making a mistake doing this? We don’t have serious health problems, and we have about $100,000 in savings. We own our home free and clear and have no debts. — R.R.

DEAR R.R.: You haven’t given me enough information. I don’t know what your income is, and that is certainly an important number. Unless it’s a lot less than I would ordinarily guess, I wouldn’t cancel the insurance.

You mentioned you’re in good health. That’s great, but that can change momentarily for either of you. If that happens, the expense of carrying that might put a serious dent into your capital. As the expenses go up, I suppose the cost should be revisited, but in my opinion, you should continue with the insurance due mostly to your ages. Now is not the time to be gambling.

DEAR BRUCE: What is the best way to invest $50,000 and get a decent return without losing any money? — F.F.

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DEAR F.F.: I wish there was an easy answer to your question. I would invest in the market. I would find three or four companies that have been around for a long time and that will be around in the future. I am referring to companies like Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, J.C. Penney, etc.

The company should pay at least a 2 percent to 3 percent dividend, and over a period of time, it should give you a 4 percent or more increase in value.

Those companies are out there. It will take a little effort on your part to find them, but it’s certainly worth it.

Send questions to bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.


 

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