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Americans Increasingly Avoiding Medical Care

Despite the fact there are increased numbers of insured Americans, fewer are going to the doctor’s office. Why is this happening? The answer is lack of affordability. Even with the benefits of health insurance, many are struggling to afford medical costs. Kaiser Health Foundation polls since 2015 show continued rising costs.  37% of those polled report having trouble paying their health insurance premiums, 43% had trouble paying their deductibles and 31% had trouble affording co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drugs. According to another survey by the West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago between a third and a half of people aged 45 – 59 and a quarter of those 60 or more went without needed health care in the past [...]

2020-04-15T09:30:22-05:00April 9th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Americans Increasingly Avoiding Medical Care

When Should You Take Social Security Benefits?

The Social Security Administration has changed the formularies for benefit payouts. Seniors and near seniors need to understand what these changes are in order to optimize their benefit. If you are sixty years of age or more, you are in the forefront of a big change in social security. The full retirement age (FRA), when you can collect your entire earned benefit, has been changed from66 to 67. The implementation of this change will occur in two-month increments over the next six years. While you are still able to begin your social security benefit payments at 62, delaying it until later years, up until the age of 70, will still ensure you receive a larger check for each month you opt to postpone payouts. However, [...]

2020-04-02T08:56:32-05:00April 2nd, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on When Should You Take Social Security Benefits?

Medicare Adapts to Coronavirus Limitations

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it has increased access to Medicare telehealth services. This means that Medicare beneficiaries can receive more benefits from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. The terms "telehealth" and "telemedicine" refer to the ability to exchange medical information from one site to another through electronic communication to improve a patient's health.  With the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases, there is the urgency to expand the use of technology to help people who need routine care. Telehealth will keep vulnerable beneficiaries and those with mild symptoms in their home, but with access to the care they need by phone and video rather than requiring an office [...]

2020-03-26T09:09:04-05:00March 26th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Medicare Adapts to Coronavirus Limitations

Shoring Up Spousal Protection from Impoverishment

Federal spousal impoverishment protections were set to lapse in March 2019. Two bills were proposed to deal with that issue. H.R. 1343 is still sitting in the House, but H.R. 3253 was enacted on August 6, 2019. H.R. 1343, or the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act, would have made certain impoverishment protections permanent. It was introduced on February 25th and referred to the Subcommittee on Health the next day, but no further action has been taken on it. However, H.R. 3253 has been enacted. This bill, also known as the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019, temporarily extends the applicability of Medicaid eligibility criteria that protect against spousal impoverishment for recipients of home and community-based services. The extension will run [...]

2020-04-15T09:32:52-05:00March 18th, 2020|Blog, Estate Planning|Comments Off on Shoring Up Spousal Protection from Impoverishment

Better Ways to Treat Alzheimer’s Patients

The National Institute of Health (NIH) Library of Medicine reports the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, accounting for approximately two-thirds of all diagnosed cases of dementia. Alzheimer’s is also one of the most expensive diseases to treat and often results in financial strain on families trying to find and pay for the best care. In the past, care in facilities often resulted in Alzheimer’s patients being separated from others. However, as you’ll read below, facilities are now exploring better ways to treat Alzheimer’s patients while living in a facility. Medical breakthroughs that increase our understanding of how to best treat and introduce disease modification therapies for people living with Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases provides future hope. However, according to the Alzheimer's [...]

2020-03-12T08:09:14-05:00March 12th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Better Ways to Treat Alzheimer’s Patients

Understanding the Qualifications for Social Security

Anyone can become either temporarily or permanently disabled. Some projections are estimating that Americans in their 20s today have an approximate 30 percent chance of experiencing a disability profound enough to cause them to miss three or more months of work before retiring. Despite the risks, most Americans do not carry short or long-term disability insurance. Close to half of all mortgage foreclosures are due to owners being struck with a disability, and fewer than 15 percent of people who purchase life insurance opt for disability insurance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) was tasked in 1956 to address disability and work income by creating a disability insurance program. Throughout its long history, additional rules have contributed to its complex regulations and eligibility requirements that make [...]

2020-03-06T11:02:43-05:00March 6th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on Understanding the Qualifications for Social Security

The New World for Long-Term Care Insurance

You have probably heard about the astronomical costs of nursing-home care if you become seriously ill or injured. You might also know that Medicare would cover only a minimal amount of those costs. Private insurance doesn’t seem like a good bet either if you’ve heard horror stories about skyrocketing premium costs and difficulties in even obtaining long-term care (LTC) insurance in the first place. There may be a better way. “Hybrid” policies essentially combine life insurance or an annuity with LTC coverage. (The benefits can be known as “accelerated death benefits” or “living benefits,” or the coverage can be called “life/long term care,” “linked benefits,” or a “combo” policy.) This type of policy will pay if you need nursing care, but, if you never need [...]

2020-02-28T08:53:38-05:00February 28th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on The New World for Long-Term Care Insurance

The Retirement Crisis of the Baby Boomers

A study conducted by The Blackstone Group, an independent research firm, on behalf of Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement outlines some very unsettling data regarding middle-income baby boomer retirement care preparedness. According to the survey above, the bleak financial reality of this demographic is that 79 percent of middle-income baby boomers have NO savings put aside to cover their retirement care. Couple this disaster savings scenario with the US government’s admission that for the first time since 1982 Social Security trust funds are being used to pay current benefits to recipients and Medicare’s reserves are being used to cover the costs of that program as well. It is the perfect storm of a looming retirement insolvency crisis. Middle-income baby boomers for this study [...]

2020-02-21T09:08:46-05:00February 21st, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on The Retirement Crisis of the Baby Boomers

The Escalating Long-Term Care Crisis

Americans are facing an escalating long-term care (LTC) crisis. Industry driven, massively underpriced policies are playing fiscal catch up with hefty premium rate increases. This price increase is forcing some aging Americans to abandon their policy while others struggle to reduce their amount of LTC coverage to keep their rates affordable or reduce their future lifestyle by dipping into their retirement savings. Abandoning LTC policies turns out to be the last resort for many policyholders as they understand how valuable they are and that a policy lapse would cause them to lose all of their monies paid to the insurer. Throughout the insurance industry, the metrics applied to the long-term care business model underestimated how long policyholders would live and the number of claims they [...]

2020-02-14T09:17:10-05:00February 14th, 2020|Blog|Comments Off on The Escalating Long-Term Care Crisis

How to Know When You Need a Trust

This is a common question we hear. Read on for information to help figure out whether you need a trust and, if so, what kind fits your specific situation. For example, maybe you have a disabled child and you want a trust to permit that child to inherit without losing government benefits. Maybe your own or your spouse’s health is heading into difficulties, and you can foresee eventually needing long-term care benefits. Trusts can avoid an expensive, public, and lengthy probate process before your beneficiaries can inherit after you pass. Or, you might be in the classic “trust fund” situation, where you’re concerned that your children won’t be able to manage money wisely. All these are excellent reasons to consider a trust. But what kind [...]

2020-02-07T10:19:13-05:00February 7th, 2020|Blog, Estate Planning|Comments Off on How to Know When You Need a Trust