Category Archives: Medicare

2013 Medicare Annual Election Period

The 2013 Medicare Annual Election Period starts on Monday October 15 and runs through December 7th.  This is a great time to do a “check up” on your benefits to make sure the new plans are going to fit your needs.  If you would like help, let me know 509-927-9200.

Medicare and Long Term Care

Medicare and Long-Term Care

Quick…how are you going to pay the costs of nursing home, assisted living, or home care should you or a family member ever need one of them?

Medicare, right? Actually, that answer is almost always wrong. And, even if Medicare pays, it only pays part of the cost and only for a short while. Worst of all, it only pays for skilled nursing care following a three day/three night hospital stay. Think about how few people actually spend three full days in the hospital any more-it’s more likely to be three days and two nights, and then Medicare does not pay for follow-on nursing home (or similar) care, regardless of the illness or injury.

Very few people who need long-term or follow-on care need skilled nursing care-they need custodial care. If skilled care is needed, it is not usually needed for very long, and not many people meet the 72-hour hospital stay requirement anyway. Think about it-if you have a serious illness or injury (for example a hip fracture or bypass operation), you may be in the hospital for several days or weeks, but when you are released you rarely need skilled nursing care. You are far more likely to need help dressing or getting to appointments or cooking your meals, and may not be able to care for yourself and end up in a long-term care facility. But, the care you need is easily given by semi-skilled or unskilled workers-not RNs or other medical staff.

Assuming you need skilled nursing care, Medicare actually does pay for 20 days at 100% and days 21-100 at $128.00/day (more or less, depending on your state). That is nowhere near the average cost of a day in a nursing home or similar facility. Depending on whose statistics you use, a day in a long-term care facility costs $110-$300 or more.

Of course, you could buy a Medicare supplement plan, but that plan only supplements the benefits provided under Medicare. Since Medicare does not cover custodial or unskilled care, a Medicare supplement policy is not likely to be of much help.

So, what can you do? There are a few options.

First, many people will need long-term care, but many more won’t. If your family history doesn’t include stays in long-term care facilities, maybe you don’t need to do anything. But, if your medical condition is not as good as that of other family members, you might be the exception. So, gambling isn’t always a good idea.

If you have a pension, a house, and few other assets, Medicaid may well cover your expenses. It is a good idea to find out before the need arises. Keep in mind not all care facilities accept Medicaid, and those that do may put you in a separate area. And, you are very likely to have a roommate (and it is not likely to be your spouse!).

If you have substantial assets and are prepared to spend them if needed, just make sure you have checked out the various care facilities so your family knows where you want to go.

Finally, if you have significant assets above any pension payments, consider purchasing a long-term care insurance policy. It could be the best investment you ever make. And, in some states the premium may even be tax-deductible.

Each state has somewhat different coverages. It is useful to visit the www.medicare.gov site for complete, state-specific information.

Contact Brian Gruss 509-927-9200 about your options with Medcare and Long Term Care Insurance.

2012 Medicare and You

The 2012 Medicare and You booklet is now available.  To save you the hassle of trying to find it on the medicare.gov website, I have put it here in it’s entirety for you to be able to download.  Medicare and You 2012

Getting Older May be the Secret to Happiness

Getting Older May be the Secret to Happiness

It may seem illogical, but in order to be truly happy, you need to age.  The years between 60 and 80 are the time when the majority of people are the most joyful, this according to a recent survey conducted for bank HSBC.

So how do all of these people in their 60s and 70s find the key to happiness? It starts with obvious factors such as good health and a respectable standard of living; but even these don’t make as large a contribution to one’s happiness as you might think. In fact, there aren’t really any external factors that play a part in making people happy.  Happiness is a natural outcome of aging that originates from within. That’s because the frequency with which negative feelings occur actually declines as you advance in years; and when they do happen, they don’t last as long as when you are younger.

Of course, the level of happiness you achieve varies according to the individual. Your genetic makeup influences how happy you will be, as does your parents’ happiness. Your health can influence how content you are, too.  People who are severely ill aren’t as happy as those in excellent health. But that’s true at all ages. The odd thing is that when researchers compared the morale of frail older adults to younger adults, the older adults beat the youngsters in the happiness department hands down, in spite of their infirmity.

The reason older adults can remain happy is probably related to their desire to make the most of the time they have left. Knowing that the clock is ticking makes people figure out the things that make them angry, and then either learn how to avoid them, or what they can do to cope.

Researchers also noted that brain function changes with aging. Brain imaging studies found that older peoples’ brains react less strongly, and for a shorter period of time, to negative feelings. They concluded that one’s improved outlook on life is probably a combination of changes in perspective, and changes to the amygdalae, a part of the brain that processes emotion.

Another change that comes with age is less emphasis on how much money one has.  Money only seems to have any real importance for those who are struggling to meet their every day expenses.  People that have a steady stream of income for life, no matter how small, learn to adjust to their new financial circumstances and find contentment.

Finally, continuing to engage in activities that you feel are important will add to your happiness. These activities need to be things that make a contribution like taking care of a grandchild, doing volunteer work, or working in a second career. Getting involved is life enhancing, and a little appreciation of life’s simple pleasures goes a long way on the road to happiness.

2011 Medicare and You

2011 Medicare and You

I just uploaded the 2011 Medicare and You booklet. You can view or download it here The Medicare and You booklet is one of the government publications I like, and recommend it to all my clients, as it gives them some background to Medicare terminology.  Give me a call and we can discuss your Medicare options.

New Premera Blue Cross of Washington Link

I have a new link for Premera Blue Cross of Washington it is http://www.briangruss.com/pbcwa feel free to use this link for looking up prices and signing up online for Premera Blue Cross  of Washington.  …as always though I am available for you to call or email with any questions that you may have prior, during or after you signup.  Number 509-927-9200 or toll free 800-240-3390.

Through the above link you can price and apply for individual and Medicare Supplement plans.