Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Archive for April 2010

New Club Yields Savings for Seniors and Caregivers

leave a comment »

Whether you are a caregiver, a senior or just a  consumer looking for a product for an older person, every little bit you can shave off the cost can be money in your pocket.

So I was thrilled to see the new 50+ Club from caring.com.  Caring.com is a really good online  resource –and support system — for caregivers.  They have a great group of experts who provide helpful and correct information on a lot of issues relating to caregiving financial and legal issues.

The new 50+ Club will offer a weekly special at a 50% saving.  Once the product is sold out, that’s it.  So check it out and sign up for the weekly club email.

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day right around the corner, you might just find that article that makes life just a bit easier.

Advertisements

Written by Laura Rossman

April 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Watch Out For Medicare Scams

leave a comment »

There’s a lot of confusion among seniors about what the health care reform does and does not do regarding Medicare.

 And where there is confusion, there are scams.

 Door-to-door and on the phone the scam artists are trying to get Medicare numbers and bank account numbers from seniors,  telling them they need the information to sign them up for new benefits or to make sure their benefits will continue.

 “There is nothing called “Obama Care” and the government doesn’t sell insurance,” Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, emphasized in a webchat today on seniors and health care reform. “If they say they are from the government they are scam artists.” 

These scammers are aggressive.  Reports are that on the phone, the caller asks for personal data like social security number, so a new Medicare card can be issued. Refuse and a second person posing as a supervisor gets on the line and says the information must be provided to remain in the Medicare program. Once they have the info, they use it to steal identities and tap into bank accounts.  Hang up! 

At the door, they say they are from the government selling the new Obamacare insurance that is required.  No one from the government comes knocking on your door selling insurance.  Close the door! (and don’t worry about being polite)

 Pass the word on to Medicare beneficiaries you know so they don’t get scammed.  The threat of losing Medicare can make people hand over information they normally wouldn’t.  Seven states –and increasing – are reporting scams.

 Scams should be reported to your state insurance department or office of attorneys general.

 Here are a couple other questions and answers from the session. (A recorded version will be posted at Healthcare Reform.gov

A. What decisions do Medicare recipients need to make now because of health care reform? 

There are no decisions that have to be made right now.  In the fall Medicare beneficiaries will have the opportunity to change plans (Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D just as they do each year.  The only immediate impact is the $250 rebate that will be provided to Part D policy holders who enter the “donut hole.”  The $250 rebate is automatically issued.  No forms.  No phone calls necessary.

 Q. Will Medicare Advantage be gone by 2014? 

Absolutely not true, Greenlee said.  There will continue to be choices in the future including private plan options. 

Q.  When do the annual wellness exams begin? 

January 1, 2011.

 There are more questions and answers at Healthcare.gov site regarding seniors, retirees under age 65 and Medicare recipients.

Best advice I heard today was to remind seniors that health care reform doesn’t require them to do anything new today, much less on their doorstep.  There is a lot of misinformation swirling around and especially targeted at the older generation.  If you know someone at risk, alert them to the potential scams.

Written by Laura Rossman

April 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

College Grads Get Bridge on Health Insurance

leave a comment »

Wondering about how to get health insurance for your college grad until the new law takes effect that will let you keep them on your health plan until they are 26? 

Breathe a sigh of relief if you have a UnitedHealthcare plan (we suspect others will soon follow). 

UnitedHealthcare announced it will extend the health coverage that graduating college students currently have under their parents’ plans until the new health reform provision requiring dependent coverage up to age 26 is fully implemented.

The new law created a coverage gap that was going to send baby boomer parents scurrying for coverage or have their new grads join the ranks of the uninsured.  As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ employer-offered or individual family health plans up until age 26. However, this extension does not begin to take effect for employer-sponsored plans until Sept. 23.

 UnitedHealthcare said it is acting to eliminate this coverage gap that some graduating students may face when losing their parents’ UnitedHealthcare health plan coverage upon graduation, and will work with its employer customers to implement the extension.  Other health care companies reporting that they will let parents keep their children on the plans include Wellpoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, Kaiser Permanente, and Humana.

This extension of coverage applies to college students who currently are covered under their parents’ fully-insured health plan offered through UnitedHealthcare. Individual family health plans through UnitedHealthcare’s Golden Rule already allow all dependents to stay on the plan until age 26. 

Now, how is that job hunt going?

Written by Laura Rossman

April 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

A New Plan for Long-term Care

leave a comment »

Nothing like gathering around the holiday dinner table to remind ourselves we’re getting older – as in aging.

 And the older generations is, well, older too.  And caregiving, for Gen X and baby boomers,  is a huge stressor…financially and emotionally..

 So the prospect of a government sponsored long-term care program should come as good news.  And it is, sort of.  Because the fact is that so many of the facts about the program are still unknown that it is hard to tell what kind of benefit it will be for the future.

 I’m referring to the CLASS Act program in the Health Care Reform bill.  It hasn’t gotten much notice yet.  It is the first time a widely available-long term care program will be in place to help older and disable individuals who can care completely for themselves.  The timing couldn’t be better with the first of the baby boomers turning 65 next year. 

CLASS stands for Community Living Assistance Services and Supporters Act.  It sets up a new voluntary national program which you will be able to sign up for, pay a monthly premium and receive benefits after five (5) years. The benefit is expected to be $50-$75 per day.   It will generally be offered through employers and workers will have to opt out of the program.  For those working but self-employed or their employer does not offer the program, consumers will be able to sign up directly. 

The benefits of the program, the cost to consumers and how it will work are details yet to be determined.  The government has until October, 2012 to issue rules.  Detractors fear only those who need the benefits will sign up, sending premiums high and bringing the viability of the program into question.  Of course, in any insurance program like this, it only works if both the healthy and not-so-healthy sign up.  

 So, what do you do now? That all depends on your situation, your health and health history and your appetite for risk.

 1. If you have long-term care insurance, hold onto it. 

2. If you are in your 50s or older, waiting for the government program might be a pretty high risk plan, since the details are incomplete right now.  But it is clear that you’ll need to pay in for five years before you can receive benefits.So waiting might not be realistic.  Or, you could consider a long-term care insurance benefit level that covers some of the potential costs and leave yourself room to add the government program.  Or you could look at a higher level of premium that you could reduce later if you wanted to add the government program.  Or proceed with a long-term care plan from a private company and know that you’ll probably opt out of the government program. 

If you are younger, you need to weigh the risk, your own personal financial situation and your potential need for long-term care.

Sorry, no quick and easy answer.  Your personal circumstances should dictate your decision.  Get help from an expert who can look at your circumstances and help you think through different financial scenarios. 

3. If you can’t qualify for long-term care insurance, the CLASS Act could be a great benefit for helping to pay for care in the future. Watch for details over the next year.

 So, we’ll keep watching for details on the CLASS Act. 

And while it might not help you with today’s long-term care needs, for millions of baby boomers and those in the sandwich generation, it’s a ray of hope for how we might finance our own long-term care.

 Because if there is one thing the bill makes clear, long-term care costs will continue to be a personal responsibility. 

Some links about the CLASS Act

 Kaiser Health News   

American Association for Long-term Care Insurance

Written by Laura Rossman

April 5, 2010 at 8:27 pm