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Medicare Now Covers Conversations About End-Of-Life Care

end-of-life care consultDid you know that 40 percent of people over age 65 have not written down their wishes regarding life support and other end-of-life treatment? One reason for this may be that people haven’t had a conversation with their doctor about the options that are available.

In the past, Medicare did not cover these doctor-patient conversations – except during the patient’s initial “Welcome to Medicare” visit, a time when the topic might not seem very relevant.

Under new regulations, however, Medicare will cover these conversations at any time.

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What To Do If You Have An Affordable Care Act Plan And Become Eligible For Medicare

medicare plan optionsIf you or someone you know has a marketplace health care plan under the Affordable Care Act (an ACA plan), and you have reached the age of 65 or are close to it, it is important to look carefully at your options. Not making the right decision could be costly. In the vast majority of cases, the smart approach is to terminate the ACA plan and sign up for Medicare.

But many people are unaware of this fact, because there is no warning given to such consumers that they have an important decision to make.

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Elder Mediation Can Reduce Family Strife

When a parent gets older and begins to need additional care, it can create a lot of stress within a family. Sometimes, it can create conflicts and misunderstandings between family members as well.

For example, siblings might argue over what’s best for an aging parent. Or if one family member is doing the bulk of the care, it can lead to resentment within the family, especially if the person providing the care is also receiving compensation for the work.

One way to deal with these issues is with an elder mediator. Continue Reading Elder Mediation Can Reduce Family Strife

Filial Support Act Alive in PA!

The Pennsylvania Filial Support Act, which is contained in Chapter 46 of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, permits an indigent person or any agency involved in the care of the indigent person, such as a nursing home, to make a claim against you for their care and for financial assistance if you are the spouse, the child, or the parent of the indigent person.

The amount of your liability to your indigent relative will be determined by the court in the judicial district in which the indigent person lives. If the court determines, after reviewing evidence of your assets and income, that you do not have sufficient financial ability to support the indigent person, then the Filial Support Act will not apply to you. Also, a child will not be liable for the support of their parent if the child was abandoned by the parent, and the abandonment lasted for at least a period of ten years during the child’s minority.

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A Quick Look at Medicare, Medicaid, and Nursing Homes

Nursing Home CareMany people are surprised to discover that Medicare actually provides very limited coverage for nursing homes.

In theory, Medicare Part A covers up to 100 days of care in a skilled nursing facility for each spell of illness. However, this is true only if the nursing-home care follows at least a three-day admission to a hospital. Further, after 20 days, you must pay a copayment of $157 a day (although this may be covered by Medigap insurance).

In addition, the definition of “skilled nursing” and the other conditions for obtaining this coverage are quite stringent. As a result, very few nursing home residents actually receive the full 100 days of coverage. In fact, Medicare pays for less than a quarter of long-term care costs in the U.S.

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Nursing home residents should prepare financially in case their spouse dies first

Seniors who are relying on Medicaid to help pay for expensive nursing home care need to plan carefully for the possibility that their spouse will pass away before they do.

Unlike Medicare, not all seniors are eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is designed for people with limited income and assets, and to be eligible, you must meet strict financial guidelines. Many people have to spend down their assets to almost nothing and/or exhaust their long-term care insurance before they become eligible.

Of course, this is a problem if a senior is married and his or her spouse does not need nursing home care. It would mean that the spouse would have to be reduced to living in poverty before the senior could be eligible for benefits.

To avoid this problem, most states allow the spouse of a Medicaid recipient to keep a fairly generous amount of assets to live on. Many also allow the spouse to continue to receive some income without having to contribute to the senior’s nursing home costs.

But what happens if the spouse dies before the nursing home resident?

Continue Reading Nursing home residents should prepare financially in case their spouse dies first