A Guidebook to Planning for Old Age

February 19, 2018

Joy Loverde. Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Age. New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 2017.  Millions of Americans are facing old age essentially alone.  One in three baby boomers is single or no longer part of a couple due to divorce or death.  Others may be in a relationship where chronic illness has struck both partners simultaneously. Children may live too far away or lack the resources to offer a parent meaningful help. But there is no reason why circumstances like these should bar anyone from a...

Report Finds Lack of Government Oversight of Assisted Living Facilities

February 13, 2018

The government is spending billions to fund assisted living services through Medicaid, but government oversight and regulation of assisted living facilities is lacking, according to a new government report. Medicaid funds long-term care services for low-income individuals. It is primarily used for nursing home care, but 48 states have opted to give assisted living residents the ability to receive Medicaid benefits, mostly through “waiver” programs that promote home health care. More than 330,000 people in assisted living are receiving more than $10 billion in Medicaid benefits to pay for those services. Because the number of individuals receiving long-term care services from Medicaid in...

Home Health Care Patients With Chronic Conditions Are Having Trouble Getting Medicare

January 27, 2018

Medicare is supposed to provide up to 35 hours a week of home care to those who qualify, but many Medicare patients with chronic conditions are being wrongly denied such care, according to Kaiser Health News. For a variety of reasons, many home health care agencies are simply telling patients they are not covered. Medicare is mandated to cover home health benefits indefinitely. In addition, Medicare is required to cover skilled nursing and home care even if a patient has a chronic condition. Unfortunately, many home health providers are not aware of the law and tell home health care patients...

Costs of Some New Long-Term Care Insurance Policies Going Down in 2018

January 13, 2018

While long-term care insurance costs are up in general, some policies are going down in 2018, according to the 2018 Long Term Care Insurance Price Index, an annual report from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), an industry group. A married couple who are both 60 years old would pay an average of $3,490 a year combined for a total of $333,000 of long-term care insurance coverage when they reach age 85. This is down from 2017, when the association reported that a couple could expect to pay $3,790 for the same level of coverage. Jesse Slome, the AALTCI’s director,...

What Happens When a Nursing Home Closes?

January 7, 2018

A nursing home closure can be traumatic for residents who are forced to move. While there may not be much that can be done to prevent a closure, residents do have some rights. Moving into a nursing home can be a stressful experience on its own. If that nursing home closes, residents can experience symptoms that include depression, agitation, and withdrawn behavior, according to The Consumer Voice, a long-term care consumer advocacy group. Nursing homes may close voluntarily because the owners decide to close up shop or involuntarily if the state or federal government shutters the facility for care or safety issues....

How Will the New Tax Law Affect You?

December 28, 2017

While most of the new tax law – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — has to do with reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, some provisions relate to individual taxpayers. Before we get into the details, be aware that almost everything listed below sunsets after 2025, with the tax structure reverting to its current form in 2026 unless Congress acts between now and then. The corporate tax rate cut, however, does not sunset. Here are the highlights for our readership: Estate Taxes. If you weren’t worried about federal estate taxes before, you really don’t...

AARP Sues California Nursing Home Over Resident Dumping

December 26, 2017

The legal wing of the AARP is suing a California nursing home that refused to readmit a resident whom the nursing home had sent to the hospital. The nursing home’s actions are part of growing trend of resident dumping, according to the AARP. Gloria Single and her husband were both residents of the same nursing home. When Ms. Single, who has Alzheimer’s disease, became aggressive, the nursing home sent her to the hospital for a psychological evaluation. The hospital immediately determined that nothing was wrong with Ms. Single, but the nursing home refused to readmit her. The law treats refusing...

Two Popular Medigap Plans Are Ending. Should You Enroll While You Can?

December 17, 2017

If you will soon turn 65 and be applying for Medicare, you should carefully consider which Medigap policy to enroll in because two of the most popular plans will be ending soon. In 2020, Medicare beneficiaries will no longer be able to enroll in Plans F and C. Between copayments, deductibles, and coverage exclusions, Medicare does not cover all medical expenses. Offered by private insurers, Medigap (or “supplemental”) plans are designed to supplement and fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. There are 10 Medigap plans currently being sold, identified by letters. Each plan package offers a different combination of benefits, allowing...

Medicare’s Part B Premium Will Be Unchanged in 2018, But Many Will Pay More. Got That?

December 10, 2017

The announcement of the 2018 Medicare premium is good news for some beneficiaries and bad news for many others.  The good news is that the standard monthly Part B premium, which about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay, will again be $134 next year, unchanged from 2017. But most Medicare recipients pay a lower premium because they have been protected from any increase in premiums when Social Security benefits remain stagnant, as has been the case for the last several years.  This year, that premium has averaged $109 a month, but due to the 2 percent Social Security increase for 2018, the premiums...

You Can Give Away More Tax Free in 2018

December 9, 2017

After staying the same for five years, the amount you can give away to any one individual in a particular year without reporting the gift will increase in 2018. The annual gift tax exclusion for 2018 is rising from $14,000 to $15,000. This means that any person who gives away $15,000 or less to any one individual (anyone other than their spouse) does not have to report the gift or gifts to the IRS. If you give away more than $15,000, you do not necessary have to pay taxes, but you will have to file a gift tax return (Form...

Medicare Launches Hospice Compare Website

December 3, 2017

Patients looking for hospice care can now get help from Medicare’s website. The agency’s new Hospice Compare site allows patients to evaluate hospice providers according to several criteria. The site is a good start, but there is room for improvement, experts say. Medicare’s comprehensive hospice benefit covers any care that is reasonable and necessary for easing the course of a terminal illness. Medicare launched the hospice compare website to improve transparency and help families find the right hospice provider. The website provides information on how hospices deal with treatment preferences, address a patient’s beliefs and values, screen and assess for pain and shortness...

For Better or for Worse, States Are Turning to Managed Care for Medicaid Long-Term Care

November 22, 2017

More and more states are switching to a managed care model when dealing with Medicaid long-term care patients, a change that has resulted in a loss of services in some cases. Many states use managed care to deliver care to their regular Medicaid populations, but until recently, the care needs of the elderly and disabled have been viewed as too complex for the managed care model.  But states are increasingly turning their state-run home health programs over to private insurance firms to provide managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS). The number of states with MLTSS programs increased from eight in...

Three Reasons Why Giving Your House to Your Children Isn’t the Best Way to Protect It From Medicaid

November 22, 2017

You may be afraid of losing your home if you have to enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid. While this fear is well-founded, transferring the home to your children is usually not the best way to protect it. Although you generally do not have to sell your home in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, the state could file a claim against the house after you die. If you get help from Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, the state must attempt to recoup from your estate whatever benefits it paid for your care....

GOP Tax Plan Could Deal Blow to Seniors Paying for Long-Term Care

November 12, 2017

The tax plan put forward by the Republican-led House of Representatives would eliminate many current deductions, and getting rid of one of them in particular could deal a serious financial blow to seniors and individuals with disabilities. The plan proposes eliminating the medical expense deduction, a change that will especially affect those needing long-term care. Currently, taxpayers can deduct certain medical expenses from their income taxes if the expenses add up to more than 10 percent of adjusted gross income. These expenses can include health insurance premiums, deductibles, nursing home fees, home health care costs and even assisted living fees,...

IRS Issues Long-Term Care Premium Deductibility Limits for 2018

November 4, 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is increasing the amount taxpayers can deduct from their 2018 income as a result of buying long-term care insurance. Premiums for “qualified” long-term care insurance policies (see explanation below) are tax deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses (including Medicare premiums), exceed 10 percent of the insured’s adjusted gross income. These premiums — what the policyholder pays the insurance company to keep the policy in force — are deductible for the taxpayer, his or her spouse and other dependents. (If you are self-employed, the tax-deductibility rules are a little different:...