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    Category Archives: Healthcare

    Choose Wisely with Medicare Part D Plans in Newport Beach

    Many Medicare beneficiaries are not aware that the open enrollment period for the Medicare Part D Drug plans is happening right now. You have until December 7th to determine if it is to your benefit to change plans, which could save you money.

    Have you signed up for Medicare Part D yet? Time is ticking, but don’t move before thinking through the options. Just because something worked this year doesn’t mean that it will be good for you next year, and big changes are afoot in many popular plans. So don’t get trapped in an inefficient plan.

    Here is a sobering statistic pulled by a posting over at the New Old Age blog on the New York Times: “only 5.2 percent of Medicare Part D beneficiaries manage to choose the most economical plan” (see “Part D, Part 2”). And why would that be? The market shifts greatly from year to year and providers frequently hide the gritty details with broad promises, but it’s those very details that
    determine your day-to-day life and much of your finances.

    For a short list of things to watch for and a broader view on comparing plans it may be helpful to review another article, “Avoid A Costly Medicare Part D Mistake Right Now through Forbes.

    The big things to watch?

    1. Increased monthly premium.
    2. Increased deductible amount.
    3. Changes in what drugs to plans cover and how well they cover them.
    4. Changes in the medications you take.
    5. Your plan may no longer be offered. In this case if you do nothing you will be enrolled in another plan that may not be the best suited for you.

    Remember: you must pick before December 7th! Choose wisely

    Contact your Newport Beach estate planning attorneys at Meier Law Firm to discuss all of your estate
    planning needs

    References: Forbes (November 8, 2012) “Avoid A Costly Medicare Part D Mistake Right Now

    Married Couples and Long-Term Care Logistics

    There’s another layer of rules for families in which the person hoping to get government help paying for long-term care has a spouse who is still living independently. States are treating such “well” spouses in dramatically different ways.

    Marriage is a unique economic and legal institution. Indeed, when it works out, marriage also means a happy lifetime of living with another. Of course, because life lasts longer and health wanes differently between persons, those unique economic and legal parts to marriage can translate into difficult times later in life.

    Against the backdrop of the in sickness portion of the vows, one difficulty that arises was addressed recently in a Wall Street Journal article titled Long-Term Care and Couples: Who Pays?. That difficulty is the phenomenon of the “well spouse,” the “ill spouse,” and Medicaid.  Practically speaking, if one spouse becomes chronically sick and needs long-term care, will the other spouse be driven into poverty?

    Marital assets, whether owned by the husband or the wife, are part of the equation when it comes to determining Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid is the joint federal/state government program to provide means-tested health care assistance to those who qualify.

    With both federal and state coffers bleeding red ink (with a few state exceptions), Medicaid money is tight, especially in terms of long-term care coverage — whether married or single. As the Wall Street Journal article notes, however, some states are treating the “well spouses” more generously than others regarding how much wealth they may retain while the “sick spouses” are receiving taxpayer support through Medicaid.

    I recommend reading the original article. Also, consider purchasing long-term care insurance so Medicaid does not become part of your future. In any event, a consultation with a qualified Elder Law Attorney would be prudent to evaluate your options.

    Reference: The Wall Street Journal (April 2, 2012) “Long-Term Care and Couples: Who Pays?

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