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    Ahhh, retirement! After years of planning and toiling, being mindful of your practice and your career, it’s finally here. The Holy Grail. Now you can [insert favorite activity here] to your heart’s content, correct?    
    Well, if you’ve played it right, yes. Let’s assume for the moment that you read the other three articles in this four-part series, that you got the right policies to protect yourself in stages one and two, and that you worked closely with your team (the staff at WDIA, an attorney, a financial planner, an accountant, and a transition consultant) in stage three. If so, you’re ready to create the retirement experience you always dreamed of. For some that might mean traveling the world; for others, it will mean volunteering in your community and giving back. And some will find that a mix of all of that makes for the perfect retirement. The thing is, you’re done, right? Well, nearly so. 

    If you owned your practice and have sold it, there are some housekeeping measures that many people simply forget to do. Most importantly, they forget to call their insurance brokers to inform them of the sale. And while Matt French, Director of Insurance Services at WDIA, understands why many dentists try and keep the sale of their practice under wraps, he wants to encourage you to call your brokers when you’re about six months away from selling. “It’s all completely confidential,” says French, “but it is important because it will give us time to review your policies and make recommendations about which ones to keep, which to modify, and those you can cancel outright.” French recalls a client he spoke with just a month ago. They walked through all of his policies — hazard, personal disability, life, and business owners, among others. Because they spoke in advance of the sale and pending retirement, French was able to plot out the best time to make changes in policies, saving the client money in premium costs. “They don’t always want to cancel their life insurance plan,” says Kerri Seims, WDIA’s Assistant Director of Insurance Services, “especially if they still own a building or owe money on a house. We’ll want to see what’s best for them. It can be very confusing, and we’ll want to review your specific circumstances before we make a recommendation.”         
    If you’re retiring early, there still may be time to add long-term care coverage, but it’s best to obtain it on or before age 60. After that, depending on health issues, it may be very difficult to obtain, says Seims. 

Heath Insurance: Navigating Medicare
    Not surprisingly, the main focus of retirees (or those reaching retirement age who choose to still practice) is health insurance. “As our clients begin to think about transitioning to Medicare, we get a lot of calls,” says French. “Just because you’re turning 65 doesn’t mean you can’t get coverage through your group plan. In fact, you might get richer benefits through a group plan than you would through Medicare, as long as you’re still working.” Medicare plans are generally cost effective and comprehensive. Since turning age 65 is a “trigger” enabling enrollment to Medicare within a six-month window, you should be able to transition from your group plan to Medicare easily. But be forewarned: If you miss the deadline, you could find yourself without coverage until the next open enrollment period. That’s where WDIA can assist you. 
       “We can help them line up all their coverage if they just give us an ample window of time prior to retiring,” says Heath Johnson, Assistant Director of Insurance Services for Eastern Washington. Getting Medicare is the easy part. Managing the myriad Medicare plans and options is the part that can stymie even some brokers. The good news is that WDIA staff can help you find the plan or plans that work best for you and your family, and they’ll take the time to explain their individual benefits.

Retiring but still doing volunteer work?
    You may need to hold on to your malpractice insurance a little while longer, says French. The good news is you can probably convert your policy to part time, saving you money on premiums. Additionally, NORDIC will continue to cover anyone at no additional cost who has been with them for five years and is at least age 55 when they retire with a “tail” policy that covers the statute of limitations. If you aren’t with NORDIC (or don’t meet the threshold for the tail policy), talk with Matt, Kerri or Heath to ensure that you have coverage for that critical statute of limitations timeline.

Ready, set, go!
    The good news is, with just a little heads up, wrapping up the insurance policies associated with your practice can be a simple matter. WDIA staff can help you navigate the complex and confusing options that Medicare offers to take care of your healthcare questions, and they’ll make sure you’re covered in the event that you want to continue practicing in some capacity — whether part time or on a volunteer basis.

The Annual Open Enrollment Periodfor Individual Medical coverage begins November 1, 2015

    The annual open enrollment period for changing or obtaining individual or family medical coverage will begin November 1, 2015 and end February 15, 2016. Enrollments from November 1 - December 31, 2015 will be for a January 1, 2016 effective date.
    For more information or to apply for individual medical coverage, please contact WDIA at: 206-441-6824 or 1-800-282-9342 or


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