Posts Tagged ‘health’

Eldercare Locator – A Free, Public Service For Connecting Older Adults and Caregivers with Community Resources

October 27, 2010

The Eldercare Locator is a service of the U.S. Administration on Aging.  It’s been around for nearly 20 years.  Its toll free number is 800-677-1116.  Its website is http://www.eldercare.gov.  It  provides information about long-term care alternatives, transportation options, caregiver issues and government benefit eligibility.  This information is also available in Spanish and other languages.  There is an extensive database of links, publications, and other resources.

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Life Lessons

October 20, 2010

I came across a column from Regina Brett, a columnist for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, OH.  To celebrate growing older, she wrote a list of lessons that life has taught her.  I thought I would share a few of them here:

 

  • Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  • When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  • Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends and parents will.  Stay in touch.
  • Pay off your credit cards every month.
  • You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.
  • Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  • Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • Get rid of everything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  • When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  • Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don’t save it for a special occasion.  Today is special.
  • Over prepare, then go with the flow.
  • No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  • Forgive everyone everything.
  • Time heals almost everything.  Give time time.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
  • All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  • If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

When the Insurer Doesn’t Pay

June 25, 2010

The New York Times has been running a series on how the healthcare overhaul will affect peoples’ everyday lives. The most recent article addresses the issue of denied claims. It opens by stating that, “Fighting with a health plan over a denied claim can leave people feeling they’ve been injured all over again.”

The options for challenging an insurance company’s denial are limited. Appeals can be slow and cumbersome, if they are available at all, and most patients are barred from suing for damages resulting from denials and delayed treatments.

The new health law makes the system somewhat more consumer-friendly. Starting this fall, patients in all health plans can contest claim denials in an independent state-level review procedure. This recourse has not generally been available to employees of companies that pay their employees’ health claims directly.

Unfortunately, the provision does not apply to plans that were in existence on March 23 when the health law was enacted. Nor does the new law make it any easier for consumers to sue for punitive damages or for pain and suffering. People covered by employer health plans can sue in federal court only for the cost of the benefit that was denied them. Some state courts provide stronger remedies, but only to people with individual health insurance policies.

Some experts say that those who hoped for more powerful weapons to fight claim denials are likely to be disappointed. The new provisions do not significantly change existing law. They simply solidify where things are. Under the current system, health plans must have an internal appeals process. The process usually has more than one level of appeals, and the original denial is typically upheld.

Most states already offer an independent review of denials. The new law will extend that option to every state, as well as to the self-funded plans.

External reviewers rule in favor of consumers about half the time, but few people take advantage of them. A lot of people don’t know the external review process exists, or that they may have to exhaust multiple levels of internal appeals first.

Some states also require consumers to pay up to half the cost of an external review, and some allow the insurer to refuse to maintain insurance coverage during the appeals process. Consumer advocates hope that additional rules governing changes to the appeals process under the new health law, to be issued shortly by the Department of Health and Human Services, will address these and other concerns.

Finding an attorney to take the case can also being challenging. Because no damages are permitted, lawyers have no financial incentive to take them. And the same lack of financial incentive applies to the insurer, who has little to lose except the cost of the treatment denied.

The full article can be found here.

April is National Organ Donation Month

April 2, 2010

As of Monday, March 29, Wisconsin residents can sign up online to donate their organs on a new registry found at www.YesIWillWisconsin.com. The online registry will make it easier and more efficient for Wisconsin residents to sign up and support donation. Anyone 15.5 years old and older with a driver’s license or state ID can grant legal authorization to donate their organs, tissue and corneas upon their death.

Not only will this site will help get organs to recipients, it provides a lot of valuable information, including answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about organ donation, information for people interested in volunteering for the cause, and a calendar of events.

For decades, people have been able to show their willingness to donate organs with an orange dot on their driver’s licenses. But that system simply expressed the person’s intentions and left the final decision to the family. The new online registry gives legal authorization to donate one’s eyes, tissue or organs, and cannot be overridden if you are at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.

This resource ties in well with DocuBank , which stores all healthcare directives, including living will, healthcare power of attorney, and organ donor information. Our office includes DocuBank as part of our client service package to ensure that all this important medical information will be available at the hospital when needed, 24/7/365.

The Wisconsin Donor Registry is authorized by s. 157.06(20) Stats., and maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Health Service in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Statistics – Long-term Care Insurance

February 12, 2010

I have discovered that getting good statistics on long-term care is equally as difficult as getting them for disability. After reading the New York Times article on disability statistics, I couldn’t help thinking that there might be the same problems with what was being said to encourage people to buy long-term care insurance. I made some inquiries and today I got a 137-page report on the subject from the Society of Actuaries.

I intend to read it this weekend. I’ll report back next week with my conclusions.

This is especially important to me because I am in the process of buying long-term care insurance for my wife and myself. As many of you may know, I have been an advocate of this insurance. Now I’ll be forced to reexamine my thoughts on the matter.

There are Statistics, and then there are Statistics

February 8, 2010

On Saturday, February 6, the New York Times had a great article about disability insurance. As a lawyer dedicated to helping people protect their families and businesses, the article shed light where there had been little in the past.

My experience is that disability planning tends to be neglected. Few do it, but nearly everyone should. In an earlier blog entry, I discussed one element of disability; setting aside cash equal to six months to two years of gross income. The New York Times article discusses disability insurance as a legitimate planning tool. The article points out that insurance companies and planners have been overstating the odds of being disabled. For years we have been hearing that a 25-year-old has an 80 percent chance of suffering a disability before age 65 that would result in being out of work for at least 90 days.

As it turns out, for a variety of reasons, this was not accurate. An analysis by the Disability Experience Committee of the Society of Actuaries shows that a 25-year-old actually has a 30 percent chance. Actuaries are high-power mathematicians trained to do these studies.

Personal factors can make your chance even less. White collar workers have less chance. If you have no chronic conditions, eat healthy, and avoid cigarettes, your odds may drop to 10 percent.

Even then, disability planning is important. You may get little or no disability pay from your employer. Social Security may not provide help. It can take more than a year for your claim to be processed. If you have to appeal, it will be much longer. Besides, Social Security disability payments may be too small to cover your needs.

If you are interested in more information on this subject, you can find the original article and additional details here.

Baby Boomers’ next steps

January 15, 2010

“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous.  When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.” – George Burns

For those of you who are younger, I promise to move on to other things shortly but I first want to complete my thoughts about the current challenges to baby boomers. We have been called the “Me” generation that lives for “now.” What we see in our law practice bears out the conclusions of studies stating baby boomers are not in good shape financially. The recent (current?) recession has made this even worse.

I mentioned previously that one strategy is to continue working past your normal retirement age. This plan has two weaknesses – the availability of good paying jobs and the need for good health. Addressing them will require flexibility.

On the jobs front, we will need to change. Jobs may not be available where we live (or want to live) so we may have to move to where they are located. Probably more important, though, is a willingness to get new training and try new jobs. I recall that when I was in college (a long time ago – my 40th reunion is this June), a labor economist was fond of emphasizing that big changes were coming. Unlike our parents who may have had only one employer for their entire lives, we were going to face having three to five employers in our lifetimes.  And this was true, but most of us stayed within the same job type or profession. About a decade ago I accompanied my kids to meetings at the high school for vocational counseling. These counselors informed us that the kids would change employers more than five times, and at least half of those employers would be hiring them for jobs that do not even exist now. The meaning of this aside? We need to be aware of the changed economy and get the necessary training to get and keep good paying jobs.

Of course you can only do the job if you are healthy. A report released Wednesday by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention confirms that 68 percent of adults are too heavy and 34 percent are obese. Being overweight strongly correlates to health problems, but health (and weight) is something we can do something about. It’s hard. It involves lifestyle changes; changes in eating and exercise habits.

I know if I am going to practice law as I have planned (forever if possible), I need to be in good health. I belong to the YMCA and have a personal trainer. Call me in a year. I intend to be a fraction of my current self.

Next time I am going to address some of the financial lessons from the last couple of years that can help – not only baby boomers but everyone.