Reasons for the High Price of Home Care

Paul Osterman, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, recently wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal where he offers an explanation for the high price of home health care. With costs of around $20 per hour, understanding why home health care costs so much can hopefully help make it more affordable. According to Osterman, one reason home health care is so expensive is state-level regulations and poor aide training. Home health aides are classified as “minimum wage people” so nurses are required to perform most medical tasks such as putting in eye drops. Increasing training options for aides and allowing them to complete more tasks could improve the quality of care and

The Coming Caregiver Crunch

A study released last month from Merrill Lynch and AgeWave (“The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity”) examines the emotional, functional and financial implications of caregiving. While 7 out of 10 Americans turning age 65 today will need “care for prolonged periods” and 1 out of 5 likely to need care for more than five years; few are prepared for this reality. In fact, most people are in denial that they are likely to eventually need care and even fewer have actually prepared financially for it. The report recommends two critical steps to help prepare both potential caregivers and care recipients:(1) Talk openly with family members in advance. This should

What Does it Mean to Specialize in Elder Law?

I’m often asked if I specialize in elder law. Not only do I answer “yes”, I typically try to explain the reason for my answer. While there are many attorneys who claim to be elder law attorneys, certainly not all specialize in it. I believe an attorney who claims to specialize in elder law should devote a high percentage of his or her practice to elder law and have done so for a number of years. Like any other specialty, elder law cannot be learned in a few months or years. Also, the attorney should be a member of an elder law organization such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and be a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) or obtained a similar certification through t

When Alzheimer's Isn't Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s is a devastating chronic neurodegenerative disease. The progressive mental deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s impacts basic bodily functions such as walking and swallowing and eventually leads to death. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s can be a challenge due to the lack of a specific test to identify it and also because many other diseases have similar symptoms including dementia, Parkinson’s or other cerebrovascular diseases. A recent Washington Post article (“I lived with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis for years. But a recent test says I may not have it after all.”), highlights the difficulty of diagnosing Alzheimer’s, particularly early onset Alzheimer’s and how devastating such a d

Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage

A recent Kaiser Health News article (“Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage: How To Choose”) offers some helpful advice on choosing between a traditional Medicare plan and a Medicare Advantage plan. While Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide the same benefits offered through traditional Medicare, few people understand the differences. According to the article, some of the pros of Medicare Advantage plans are: the limited paperwork (in most cases, members do not have to submit claims); an emphasis on preventative care; extra benefits (such as vision and dental care); all in one coverage approach (i.e. no need for a separate plan for drug coverage); and cost controls. On the negative

The Government Giveth and the Government Taketh Away

The Social Security Administration recently announced that more than 65 million recipients will receive a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2018. For the average retiree, that means an increase of $27.00 per month. Yet before you make plans on what to do with this extra money, most retirees will find that the 2% increase is eaten up by a jump in Medicare Part B premiums. While Medicare Part B premiums for 2018 haven’t been announced, for most retirees they are expected to be approximately $134.00 per month - meaning an increase of about $25.00 per person. Unfortunately, this will nearly wipe out any increase in Social Security income.

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