Articles Posted in Caregiving

When people in the United States qualify for Medicare on reaching the age of 65, they often notice a substantial decline in medical costs paid out-of-pocket.

A new study recently discovered that reducing the eligibility age would save even more for people. The study’s lead author, an assistant professor of cardiac surgery at the University of Michigan’s Medical School, found that these savings would be most profoundly felt by those who most need financial protection.

The study examined out-of-pocket health care costs including co-pays and deductibles for individuals in their late 50s to early 70s. The average out-of-pocket cost declined 27% between the ages of 64 to 66 even though income remained the same. Meanwhile, average health costs paid by individuals and insurance increased 5%. Meanwhile, the percent of older individuals lacking health insurance decreased from 5% to almost 0% from ages 64 to 66. The study made note of older individuals whose health care costs consumed 40% of their income after food and housing. This category included 9% of uninsured 64-year-olds but dropped by 35% for 66 year olds. Not having medicare benefits likely contributed to the fact that approximately 6% of 66-years-old spent more than 40% of their disposable income on health care costs. 

The Center for Medicaid Services recently issued a notable statement requesting that parties conform with the duties and obligation of third-parties found in existing law. The Center recently reviewed each state’s Medicaid plan to make sure that states complied with recent statute changes. The Center for Medicaid decided that many states are yet to revise their guidelines to meet regulations found in the Bipartisan Budget Act as well as the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act. Regulations found in the Bipartisan Act include statements that impact regulations connected to the treatment of some kinds of care. 

The Background of These Changes

Medicaid often disperses funds only as a “last resort”, which means that Medicaid issues payment for treatment and services only when it is assessed that no other payment sources exist. The Social Security Act’s Section 1902 requires all 50 states to take measures deemed reasonable when deciding on third-party payer liability.  The Act also specifies what the term “third-party payer” means. The definition of “third-party payer” encompasses various entities including health insurers, qualified health plans, and any other entity that are classified as legally responsible for certain medical treatment. The Bipartisan Act revised section 1902 to require all 50 states to utilize standard cost avoidance methods rather than paying the total amount allowed under the appropriate payment schedule then seeking third-party reimbursement. 

Deciding how to best care for elderly parents is never easy, particularly when they face difficulties in performing daily living activities for themselves. In an effort to resolve your responsibilities as well as meet your parents’ needs, you can unexpectedly end up facing various challenges, particularly if your loved one resides in a nursing home. Data currently suggests that only 4.5 percent of older adults or 1.5 million people live in nursing homes.

 At the end of the day, you likely desire for your parents to reside in a facility which may very well be a nursing home where they will be able to thrive as well make the most of their remaining time. With these issues in mind, it’s a good idea to review and plan around all aspects of nursing home life. 

Adapting to a Schedule

A study conducted by researchers at Cornell and the University of Toronto recently found that over 1 in 10 older adults in the state of New York is at risk of becoming the victims of elder abuse over the next decades. Poor health has been determined to be a major risk factor in abuse. Black elderly individuals are also reported to be at a greater risk of financial abuse. 

The study, Estimated Incidence and Factors Associated with Risk of Elder Mistreatment in New York State,  tracked abuse over time among hundreds of older adults who had not previously been abused. The study subsequently determined that elder abuse is widespread. The research followed elderly adults over a 10 year period. 

While the study only examined New York state, the researchers who performed the study have commented that the results are likely to be indicative of the conditions that exist in the rest of the country. 

Much attention has been paid the last year to the conservatorship of Britney Spears. A judge this year recently denied a 

request to remove Spears’ father as her conservator. Consequently, some people expect that Brittney Spears will soon seek for the court to end her conservatorship entirely. Due to this case, many people have begun to consider whether a conservatorship might be right for them or their loved one. This article reviews some of the most common questions that people have about conservatorships and the role that they can play in estate planning.

What A Conservatorship Is

TD Wealth recently released a survey of estate planning experts who report that health care costs are now the biggest threat to estate planning. While only 7% of estate planning experts reported this information in 2019, 22% of estate planning professionals cited health care costs as at the forefront of estate planning concerns. Additionally, concerns about market volatility rose substantially from last year. Family conflict fell from 25% in 2020 to 10% this year. Over the course of previous years, TD Wealth reported that the most common cause of family conflict was the failure to communicate estate plans with family members. The number of family conflicts fell substantially in 2021. The study also reported that 89% of estate planners reported female clients losing jobs, leaving the workforce, or facing salary cuts due to the pandemic. As a result, a large number of female clients made changes to their financial situation. Women have been negatively impacted more than men due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Prepare for How Much You Will Need in Health Care Costs

An average retired couple age 65 in 2021 needs approximately $300,000 saved after taxes to cover health care expenses that they face during retirement. This amount, however, can vary substantially based on when you retire as well as your health later on in life. The sooner that you can prepare a plan for how you will pay these costs, the better. The amount that you need also depends on what type of financial accounts you use to pay for your healthcare.

President Biden as well as progressive Democrats have proposed lowering Medicare’s eligibility age to 60 to help older individuals obtain affordable coverage. A new study, however, has found that Medicare is more expensive than other options for individuals with modest assets. Two reasons exist why Medicare is more expensive: traditional Medicare contains gaps in what it covers which often necessitates purchasing supplemental insurance.  Additionally, premiums for the Affordable Care Act have dropped substantially due to President Biden’s COVID relief measure and as a result, the act has become more attractive. This article reviews some critical details that you should remember if you’re helping a loved one consider whether Medicare is the best option for them. 

# 1 – Long Term Care Insurance

Provided that you’re capable of being insured and can pay for the premiums, long-term care might be the best option that you need to satisfy your needs. Coverage, however, varies based on the insurance company you utilize as well as what plan you end up choosing. Assisted living costs continue to climb, though. If you can pursue long-term care insurance as an option, you should make sure to start planning early. The more a person ages, the more difficult a time an individual has getting covered by an insurance carrier. 

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 22 percent of older adults in the United States experience functional impairment which is characterized by the difficulty to perform daily living activities as well as challenges with concentration or decision making due to emotional, mental, or physical conditions. 

Another recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that functional impairments among individuals age 50 and older are associated with a higher risk of medical cannabis use as well as prescription drug misuse. The author of the study later commented that a link might exist between functional impairments and the misuse of prescription drugs. Given the concern for such a high rate of misuse of prescription drugs among elderly adults with functional impairments, you must know what you can do to help your loved one.

Remember the Aftermath of Drug Abuse is Severe

In the same ways that some elderly drivers prove dangerous behind the wheel, firearms also prove dangerous in the hands of some elderly individuals. One recent study of elderly gun owners found that many had debated placing restrictions on firearm access as they age, even though they often do not have detailed plans for how to implement these restrictions. Because 40% of older Americans report living in a home with a firearm, it’s become more important than ever to address the issue of control among the at-risk elderly. For example, if an elderly individual develops either dementia or depression and has easy access to a firearm, that elderly individual might end up harming themselves. This article reviews some critical advice to remember about gun control and the elderly.

Realizing When Gun Ownership Becomes Too Dangerous

One of the most difficult questions presented by firearm ownership among the elderly is recognizing cognitive and physical signs that a firearm should be taken away from your loved one. The case of cognitive impairment, however, is often a challenge to recognize. Cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s or a mental health disorder are some of the biggest warning signs that you should consider taking a firearm away from the elderly individual. One study even found that over 100 incidents that occurred from 2012 to 2012 involved people with dementia who had used firearms to either kill or injure themselves or others. Besides mental health, there are also several physical signs that an elderly individual should not carry a firearm. For example, an elderly individual might not be able to safely maintain or use a firearm. 

When it comes to creating a trust to protect assets against various predatory efforts including financial elderly abuse, lawsuits, and undue influence, certain attractive trust features can be utilized. These features allow the person who establishes the trust to receive income as well as realize various other advantages. Remember, trusts have various purposes and not all features are a suitable fit for every trust. This article, however, discusses some of the most common asset protection features that are utilized in New York trusts.

# 1 – The Ability to Change Beneficiaries

Fortunately, it’s often possible to make a trust irrevocable while still keeping the ability to change beneficiaries who receive assets under the trust. Being titled irrevocable can often make a trust seem final, but if you can decide who receives trust assets and to what degree, there’s still some freedom to the terms of a trust. A “power of appointment” can be utilized during which a grantor reserves the right to change beneficiaries through an amendment to that individual’s last will and testament. Consequently, it’s possible for a person to both realize the features of asset protection of a trust while still being able to change some features of how assets are distributed.

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