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Apr 19

Did You Google Me?

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

What’s one of the first things you do when you want to learn more about a person, place or thing? Go to the internet and see what you can find out!If you were expecting a super duper slick and fancy website, sorry! I’m just a simple guy who does one thing, all day, every day…meet with people to explain Medicare itself, and the options that are available with it. I use this blog to introduce myself, give a little bit of info about Medicare, and just try to show you I’m a regular sort of guy.

 

Apr 8

Good Bye Good Boy

Posted on Sunday, April 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

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In the Fall of 2010, my daughter Kate, then a 6th grader, wrote the greatest essay of her life.  The topic?  Why she deserves to have a dog!

Frequently Lori and I lovingly referenced Willie, our gargantuan golden retriever that we had when Kate was just a baby.  But we also said it’s a lot of responsibility to have a dog, a lot of work, a lot of money, yada yada yada textbook Parentspeak any Mom or Dad can spew by reflex.

Kate was determined. She wanted a dog! She promised to walk it, feed it, love it yada yada yada, you know, hollow promise Kidspeak. And she wasn’t having the, “We can’t afford it!” speech.  She said SHE would pay for it, and pay for his food and toys and whatever else dogs need.  She had money saved from working every Saturday at Uncle Davey’s Diner.

We gave in! 

At the time my long time NYC soul sister Connie worked for the City coordinating the transport of rescued animals to various shelters through the Tri-State area and beyond.  She’d send pictures and background stories on various critters.  The younger the better, to enjoy the whole puppy experience.

After a few failed attempts at adoption, a couple of pups had been shipped to PA, probably no more than 9 or 10 weeks old.  Two white males with patches of yellow or tan, possibly labs mixed with pit bulls.  “Are they pit bulls???” Lori suspiciously inquired. “I don’t think so.” I shrugged unconvincingly.

A week before Christmas, in Bethlehem no less, we went to see the 2 pups rescued off the streets of Harlem. They were now nicknamed Butterscotch and Creamsicle!  Kate picked the one that was getting pestered by his brother, and named him Oliver. Ollie! I think we brought him home in a medium sized piece of Tupperware with a blanket inside.  Waiting at home was all the goodies we had waiting, purchased under the supervision of suzi que, legendary local dog Mom

It was great having a dog again! Puppy moments! Tearing ass from room to room spontaneously for no good reason. Chowing food. Chewing toys. Crying in his crate.

Kate was true to her word, mostly.  She paid the $150 adoption fee, bought him toys and food and whatever else dogs need.  The walking and feeding and cleaning up after it, not so much.

Puppies stay puppies in spirit, but blow up as fast as a clown balloons.  80 pounds of muscle in a matter of months.  His stocky build and short snout were all pitty, his webbed feet and taller frame were Lab.  His ears were the tie breaker, and he could adjust down or back to keep you guessing.

Barks like a watchdog, cuddles like a lap dog. Beware of Dog! You’ll either be licked to death or take 40 lashes with a wagging tail!

I know, you’re nodding your head.  Same for your fur friends too, no matter the size or the breed.

And I’ll bet you know where I’m going with this…something’s wrong.

Starting in February, he just wasn’t himself. Lack of appetite, not interested in walks, sleeping all the time, looking sad.

It’s cancer. Leukemia. We tried to treat it. But the white blood cells were off the chart, and now the red ones barely show up. He’s got no energy. Rather than seek other avenues of treatment, we wanna love him to death.

We’re nearly blind from balling our eyes out.

We’re looking at pics and playing rewind in our mind for all the happy times and bad ones too.  The farting, the ball-licking, the nail chomping, the snoring. Eating documents (and homework!) and socks and underwear, and kindles and gaming devices. Barking like we are under attack from terrorists when it’s just the garage door opening!

I guess we’ll have to finish DQ blizzards all by ourselves now. Crinkling a plastic grocery bag won’t have him skipping into the kitchen, ready for a walk. No more races to the stairs when it’s time for bed.  No more trembling in fear when it’s time for a “tubby”.

Oh Oliver, you’ve meant so much to all of us. Such comfort, such joy. When no one believes in you, when you don’t believe in yourself, your 4-legged family member lifts you up, makes you smile, let’s you know everything’s gonna be all right.

We’ve arranged for Lap of Love to come Thursday afternoon and do what they do. We don’t want to say goodbye. We don’t. But we know it’s the right thing to do.

Times were tough in Williams house when Oliver came along.  It makes me wonder, “Who rescued Who?”

Mar 21

My Favorite Medicare Myth!

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 in Medicare

There are many myths about Medicare, or maybe just misunderstandings.  My favorite, or probably just the one I hear most of all is:

“You have to sign up for Medicare 3 months before your 65th birthday, or you get penalized!”

Oh boy, where do I begin to debunk this myth? As long as you have “creditable” coverage elsewhere, typically from your own employment or your spouse’s employment, there will never be a penalty for signing up for Medicare later, even well past your 65th birthday. So, you do not have to sign up for Medicare. Not even Part A, the “free” part.

When you are approaching the age of 65, you’re mailbox gets stuffed with promotional offers about Medicare Insurance Plans, like Medigap Supplemental Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription Drug Plans. (None are as informative, clever and humorous as mine, of course) The funny thing is, none of these mailings are from Medicare, unless you are already collecting Social Security.  That’s right!  If you are not yet collecting your monthly retirement benefit from Social Security, you will not receive a single thing in the mail from the Government, telling you what you have to do (or don’t have to do) regarding Medicare! Weird, right?

Myths are widely held beliefs, or false ideas.  Medicare has been around for over 50 years.  I don’t know who started this one, but it’s spread around for decades, “You have to sign up for Medicare 3 months before your 65th birthday, or you get penalized!”  There CAN be a penalty, it’s just that few people end up owing it.  If you wait to enroll in Medicare past age 65, for every 12 month period you did not have Part B, and did not have creditable coverage, you will pay 10%  more for Part B for the rest of your life. But, as previously stated, the likely reason to delay taking Part B, is because you DO have creditable coverage.

And…NO…you do NOT have to let Social Security or Medicare know that you are NOT going on Medicare at 65.

If you are still puzzled by what you HAVE to do with Medicare as you are nearing 65, call me (717) 468-0130, call Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE) or call Social Security (1-800-772-1213).

Oct 1

Do You Have the Right Part D Plan for 2018?

Posted on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

A good way to compare Rx costs on your current Part D plan for 2018 is on the official U.S. government site for Medicare:

• Go to www.medicare.gov
• Select the green tab for Find Health and Drug plans
• Enter zip code
• Step 1 Enter Information (about your current type of Medicare coverage)
• Select Current “Drug Plan” (Find your 2017 plan)
• Step 2 of 4. Enter Your Drugs. When finished click “My drug list is complete”
• Step 3 of 4. Select Your Pharmacies. You must select 1, but no more than 2
• On the next page, Step 4, Refine Your Plan Results, the choices are:

o Prescription Drug Plans (with Original Medicare)
o Medicare Health Plans with drug Coverage (aka Medicare Advantage)
o Medicare Health Plans without drug Coverage

Select “Prescription Drug Plans” and it will sort the choices in order for the projected lowest overall costs for all of 2018. “Overall” is the combined total of monthly premiums for the plan, plus the costs to fill prescriptions for all of next year. It will show prescription costs if purchased at a retail pharmacy, as well as through mail order. 2018 data should be on-line as of 10/1/17.

You will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from your current plan provider every year at this time. This tells you about any changes for 2018.

Common Reasons for Changing Part D
• Formulary Change: The formulary is the list of drugs your plan covers. Make sure all of your drugs will be covered next year. If they are dropping any of the drugs you take, you would have to pay full price for them next year!
• Changes in the Pharmacy Network: Just because your favorite drug store accepts your plan this year, doesn’t automatically mean they will next year.
• You Now Take Brand Name Drugs: Your Rx list of will change throughout your life. Your current plan may cover your brand, but it may be cheaper on another plan.
• Drug Tier Change: Prescriptions are categorized into “tiers”. Many plans have a 5 tier system that looks like this:
1. Tier 1: Preferred Generic
2. Tier 2: Generic
3. Tier 3: Preferred Brand
4. Tier 4: Non-Preferred Drug
5. Tier 5: “Specialty” Drugs
If some of your drugs have switched tiers, you may pay more for them next year.
• Big Increase in Plan Premium: How much is too much? It’s up to you, but it makes sense to check and see if another plan is significantly more cost effective.

Sep 27

Yeh, I Probably DO Know Where You Live

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

Johnny Cash had a song called, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” in which he rapidly sings city after city he’s been to. Well I travel all over Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks Counties, visiting with people to explain the confusing mess of Medicare.

Just in the last 30 days I’ve been to Morgantown, Mohnton, Green Hills, Paradise, Lancaster, Ephrata, Lebanon, Palmyra, Myerstown, E-town, Exeter, Wyomissing, Refton, Willow Street, Manheim, Stevens, Landisville, East Earl, New Holland, Akron, Kempton, Millersville, Holtwood, Fredericksburg, Leola, Lititz, Ronks, Boyertown, Oley, Birdsboro, Kutztown, Columbia, Newmanstown, Mount Joy and Hamburg!

I have friends that are brokers for Medicare Insurance like I am, and they all have plush offices for people to come to. I would be bored out of my mind in an office day after day! I like going to different towns every day. I enjoy meeting clients in their home, petting their dog(s) and cat(s), seeing their family photos, and just getting a better sense of who they are.

Sep 12

How Many Phone Calls About Medicare do YOU Get???

Posted on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

If you still have a “land line” phone in your home, chances are very good that agents or telemarketers from insurance companies will call you repeatedly to pitch their Medicare Insurance product(s) to you. They call from all over the country: Texas, Oregon, Florida, etc.

They don’t leave messages. Do you know why they don’t? They know you won’t call them back!

Over 95% of the time when I meet with people to explain options with Medicare Insurance, it is in their home. I have no problem driving up to an hour from my house in Ephrata to where my clients live, typically somewhere in Lancaster, Berks or Lebanon County. It is not uncommon for such phone solicitations to happen 2 or 3 times in the hour that I am in their house!

Some people, in a moment of weakness, or purely by accident, actually answer one of these calls. Shockingly, some people, some really otherwise intelligent people, buy whatever the person on the other end of the line is selling! Now, some of these agents who solicit over the phone, may actually know what they’re talking about. Some may actually be brokers, and can offer multiple companies as options.

Some.

I feel the decisions to be made about your health insurance for the REST OF YOUR LIFE is a little too important to be made over the phone, with anyone, let alone someone on the other end of an 800 Number.

The phone IS necessary…to set up a time to get together face to face, one on one. I DO NOT SOLICIT BY PHONE, I only use the mailbox. I will certainly call you back, but you’ve got to start the ball rolling by calling me first at (717) 468-0130.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Mar 2

Did You Get A Letter From Me?

Posted on Thursday, March 2, 2017 in Medicare

Brian Weems Williams Letters About Medicare

Feb 21

The Joy of a Colonoscopy!

Posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 in Family

Oh what a blast it is turning 50! I hit the big 5-oh back in December.  Three days after my birthday I had foot surgery to remove a planters wart from the ball of my left foot.  Now, 6-7 weeks later it finally feels as good as new. This ends nearly 6 months of nagging pain with this stupid wart. But that’s another story.

One of the things recommended for anyone turning 50 is to have a preventive colonoscopy.  I had a sigmoidoscopy done about 10 years ago, and that’s a completely different violation of the human body which can only be experienced to fully understand.  There is no pain with the colonoscopy, the discomfort is in the “prep”.  And I might also add, a liquid diet the day before the procedure no party, even though I could have milkshakes all day!

The day before your procedure and the morning of your procedure, you must chug a quart of liquid that tastes like, and has the thickness of, lemon fresh Joy dishwashing liquid. My brand was called MoviPrep. It is almost comic in its efficiency. About 45 minutes after the first 8oz gulp of this goop you think a volcano is going to erupt in your belly. And it does. Many times over the next hour. Then peace reigns, until assault part 2 begins the next morning!

After part 2, your colon is picked cleaner than Cindy Lou Who’s house on Christmas Eve after the Grinch got done with it! By the time I  was in Ephrata Hospital ready to be wheeled into the OR, I couldn’t wait to be put under by the anasthesia, because I was  so insanely hungry I pondered eating my own fingers!

God only knows what kind of jokes the doctor and staff are cracking while the roto rooter is trolling your intestines, because you are OUT. I remember rolling over on my side and then waking up in recovery about an hour later.

They found polyps, as they did 10 years ago. Almost 4 weeks since my colonoscopy and I haven’t heard anything about the diagnostics on the polyps. I’m mildy concerned about the polyps themselves, more concerned about the bill! Because I checked with my insurance carrier before the procedure. As a “screening” it’s at no cost as a provision of health care reform. However, if they find polyps, it’s diagnostic and the free part is thrown out the window. Or so I’m told, we’ll see.  I will report on it when I see it.

Did I mention I got my AARP card?

Jun 19

Father’s Day 2011

Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2011 in Family

It’s Father’s Day 2011.  I became a father a week short of my 37th birthday.  In my mind, a man at 37 is probably fairly well established in his chosen profession, and secure in all things financial.  Three months after Kate was born, I was let go from my chosen field, little did I know at the time that I’d be out for good.  Staying in broadcasting would likely have meant a move out of town, probably out of state.  Been there, done that, and didn’t want to do it again, especially with a family in tow.

Unemployment gave me 6 months as a Mr. Mom and a special introduction to fatherhood.  I certainly wouldn’t trade that time for another meaningless 6 months in radio. 

12 years later a recurring theme is readily apparent.  12 years of work, selling beds, cars, loans and insurance have been fun and occasionally fruitful, but really…almost meaningless.  Suffice to say I haven’t changed the world.  All of the above was a means to an end, supporting a household.

Decisions on employment could be second guessed eternally, but the underlying consideration in all judgments was my kids.  I wanted flexibility and freedom to be an active and willing participant in their lives.  I work hard and enjoy work, but I am not a workaholic.  After losing my own Dad at 13, I couldn’t bear the thought of being the guy who looks back on his life and wishes he spent more time with his children.

Those 3 am feedings and changing poopie diapers was not just for Lori.  Bathtime and bedtime were playtime.  If it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, it will be the piggyback rides that do me in.  There’s pages of stories in my noggin between peek a boo and training wheels, and just as many from that first bike to the first lacrosse practice just  3 months ago.

I’ve made mistakes as a parent and would welcome some do overs, but that’s life.  I guess my most sincere hope is that I’ve set a good example, as they learn so much more by seeing and experiencing than they do from hearing me lecture about life.

In 6 months I’ll turn 50.  By then I’ll have a teenaged daughter and a 9 year old boy.   Exiting college I imagined great things for a 50 year old Bri.  I’d have logged decades ruling the radio dial from behind the mike in some major market.  Perhaps I’d have retired triumphantly and gone into station ownership.

Alas, I’m just a guy making a living in Anywhere, USA.  Yet I feel wealthy as hell, because I AM LUCKY TO BE A FATHER, SO BLESSED to have Kate and Nathan.  Time invested in them always brings great returns.  They are my pot of gold.  So greetings from the end of the rainbow on another great day, that just happens to be called Father’s Day.

May 17

About Brian “Weems” Williams

Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in About Brian

Brian Weems Williams

Brian Weems Williams

Just in case you’re not sure you’re in the right place…though I tell people I’m from Rochester, I’m really from the lovely town of Honeoye Falls, NY.  (Picture Bedford Falls in It’s A Wonderful Life).   I’m the youngest of 8 children, the baby of Al & Grace’s family.    Two great parents that gave me all I need, but left me wanting more, only because they left this world too soon.

I don’t know that I learned everything I need to know in Kindergarten, but surely by age 10 I knew I loved playing basketball and golf, listening to music and the radio, eating cheeseburgers and making people laugh.  What you love at 10, you love your whole life.

As summer faded in 1980, I traded the only address I ever knew, 14 Maplewood Ave, for the Weinstein Dorm at NYU.  I never moved back.  I probably told you I have a degree in Communications.  I don’t.  I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Radio, but that sounds like I got a degree in the mail for 500 bucks and 2 Cap’N Crunch Box Tops.  It seems all my time was spent at WNYU.  Radio was my “bombers, my dexys, my high.”  I interned briefly at the legendary WABC and later spent a long time at the subsequently legendary CBS-FM.

What began as the Weems Noise Company in high school, evolved into a long string of dj gigs in the worst and darkest of city dumps with liquor licenses.   With a handful of scratchy 45’s and a milk crate of warped lp’s this young soul rebel plugged his own belt drive turntables into jumbo watt amps and splattered the platters that mattered.  From the basements of forgettable restaurants to bars gone gay, from blarney stones and poser lofts to hotels in Times Square.  Sounds were found and spun round the town.   Friends were made and bonds were formed, but none more fonder than those united as the Empire State Soul Club.  Keep the Faith.

My commercial radio career as was launched playing oldies on the Mighty 1290 WGLI in N. Babylon, LI in the Fall of ‘84.  It was far from mighty…if NYC stations were blow torches or flamethrowers, this was a matchstick.  No worries, I was so sure I’d just be spending a few years in the “the boonies” of small market radio before coming back to glory in the Big City.    As Hurricane Gloria trashed LI in September of 85, the phone rang as the sunny eye blew through.  On the line was a program director from WLAN in Lancaster,PA (wherever that was) looking to hire this oddball known as Brother Weems.    I said “If I live to see tomorrow, let’s do lunch!”

The orange-red 72 VW Squareback was packed Clampett style for the exodus from the Greater NY area before dawn on a Tuesday Morning.   By 9am that same morning with a belly full of scrambled eggs and scrapple (whatever that was) , I was moved in to a spacious dirty apartment across the street at the ridiculously low price of 200 bucks a month.   Heck my Salary at ‘LAN was 325 a week!  I was rollin in the dough!!!

Nearly got fired for my antics in the first month.  And the the second month.  And the third month.  Would have, but ratings were too good I guess.  Moved to mornings in 86.   The Weems Team was THE thing to listen to in Lancaster for a long time.  Good things don’t last forever.  Neither do good ratings.  In 1991, after run ins with Hershey Park, The Secret Service and infamous Woolworth’s castration homicide case, I was fired.

I surfaced at Top 40 KXXR in Kansas City for wake-ups.  LOVE that town.  Lasted all but 6 months.  Many memories though.  Halle Berry, Eddie Money, Judy Tenuda.  The Chiefs.  Gates BBQ.  Arthur Bryant’s.  Fired again in Febraury of ‘92.  Not my fault really.  The station changed hands and went Country.  Some survived, some didn’t.  And geez, Brother Weems don’t do Country!

After 6 months “on the beach,”  that’s radio speak for no gig, Brother Weems decided he do Country after all!  Dipped my toe in at WXTU in Philly and cannonballed in at WIOV in Ephrata.  Casey & Brother Weems in the Morning.  With Jeff Werner and his million dollar laugh doing news.  Best job ever.  Became Program Director in 95 and 96.  Worst job ever.  Had a blast with the staff and the listeners for 6-7 years, but was burned out, and thankfully, fired again.

The highlight of the WIOV years was attending the marriage of my Music Director.  The girl at the guest book was blonde and beautiful, with a shy dimpled smile that clutched my heart.  Lori Kowalchick was her name, and she traded in the Polish surname for my WelshIrish one in 1997.   Along came my sweetie, Kate Nicole in 1998, and my Buckeroo, Nathan Joseph in 2002.

After another 6 months on the beach, it was abundantly clear Central PA had had enough of Brother Weems.  Alas I had no marketable skills outside of broadcasting.   There’s only one way to make decent money with no qualifications…sales.  However selling Craftmatic Adjustable Beds  was not the answer.  How it took me 2 months of selling them to figure that out I’ll never know.  Selling cars at Lancaster Nissan for 6 months wasn’t the answer either, but it was fun at times.  Though the hours are ridiculous.

While “taking an up” at Nissan, a customer came in for test drive.  He worked for a mortgage broker and they were hiring.  All I knew about mortgages was…I had one.  That, and it was getting harder to pay it selling cars.

There was lots of learning and lots of cold calls.  Rates were 8% for good customers and double digits for bad ones.  My first loan was a 2/28.  The rate was fixed for 2 years at 12.24.  That was one of them there “sub-prime” loans you might have heard about when the economy crashed in 2008.  My employer, Home Team Mortgage specialized in them.  I stayed almost 5 years and have long-lasting friends from my time there.

I joined Wachovia Mortgage in Lancaster in January 2005.  In the summer of 2008 Wachovia was in trouble from billions in dollars in losses from bad loans they inherited from their purchase of Golden West Capital, and would eventually be gobbled up by Wells Fargo.

In September of 2008 I went back to being a mortgage broker. In the summer of 2009, as I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for my next refi…no one was buying houses…I got licensed to sell health and life insurance. I figured it would bridge the gap until the mortgage business came around again.  Well it didn’t take long to figure out that it is easier to find someone that needs some health or life insurance, rather than a mortgage.  So I “retired” from the mortgage business in April of 2011 to devote all my time to insurance: health, life, accident, disability, long term care and….Medicare.

“Obamacare” turned health insurance upside down.  The first ever enrollment started in 2013 and last until mid-April in 2014! It was not fun as an insurance agent, and I realized it was not what I wanted to do going forward.  Luckily some colleagues said, “Do more Medicare! Don’t just do it doing ‘Open Enrollment’, do it year round. All the baby boomers are turning 65!” I took that advice to heart! Medicare is ALL I do…every day…all year long!

On the family side I  put in 9 seasons in coaching Kate and Nathan in soccer, a sport I neither played nor know much about.  It was  fun being with the kids though, hilarious at times, exasperating at others.  Both kids play(ed) lacrosse.  Another sport that was new to me.  Pretty much love at first sight with this fast tempo game!  I ran the Ephrata Youth Lacrosse program for a few years, and now pitch in on the Varsity level as Nathan is in high school as of this writing.

I still love music, can’t function without it.  Sirius/XM, YouTube, Pandora, I’m always listening to something.  Cheeseburgers are still my food of choice.  Golf is big for me again, as Nathan has been playing for last handful of years.

That’s all for now, as of January 2018.