Finding Ways to Afford Alzheimer’s Care

 

Presented by: June Duncan

More than five million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other memory-related disorders. These individuals may require 24-hour care, depending on their disease’s progression, and those costs can skyrocket, because specialized dementia services are expensive.

Finding affordable, quality care
When it’s clear that a loved one will require additional caregiving, take steps to protect their assets and secure affordable, quality care. Memory care for Alzheimer’s or dementia patients differs from facilities that provide a more comprehensive assisted living support.

Identify family resources, update your loved one’s legal and financial affairs, and monitor accounts to protect finances from fraud or bad decisions. Evaluate a variety of senior care communities; if one appeals, join the waiting list. Use this checklist to help evaluate a facility that includes programs exclusively dedicated to helping those with memory issues.

Negotiate costs. Many assisted living facilities have the flexibility to negotiate the monthly rate. Ask about move-in incentives, too. The cost of assisted living also varies by location; suburbs and outlying communities may charge less, so try searching outside your zip code.

Compare inclusive pricing with a la carte costs. Some facilities allow you to pick and choose the services you or your loved one will receive—and that may translate into cost savings if you’re able to fill in those gaps yourself or with other low-cost/no-cost services.

Options to covering the cost of care
Expect to pay for at least a portion of this care out of pocket, especially since Medicare covers nursing home benefits only up to 100 days. If someone with Alzheimer’s requires care in a psychiatric hospital, Medicare will extend its coverage an additional 90 days. It does not pay for personal or custodial care in assisted living facilities or for those living at home, although it does cover medical care in either location.

Medicaid, on the other hand, differs from state to state. You can apply for a Medicaid Waiver to help cover the cost of receiving care outside of a nursing home. The program has financial eligibility requirements and considers applicants’ abilities to care for themselves—patients diagnosed with mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s do typically qualify for Medicaid benefits.

A variety of state-managed and funded programs are available for lower-income residents, including those with Alzheimer’s. This list of state non-Medicaid assistance programs is a good place to start.

Alternative funding sources for long-term nursing home care
Cash in personal assets. Those assets may include investments like stocks, bonds, savings accounts, real estate, and personal property, like jewelry or artwork. Selling a home that’s grown in equity may help liquidate much-needed cash, or you can convert a home’s equity into cash with a reverse mortgage. While reverse mortgages won’t impact Social Security or Medicare benefits, they can disqualify someone from other government programs, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Take out a personal loan. A cost-effective short-term solution to covering costs of care may be to secure a personal loan rather than charging the expense on a credit card. Ultimately, choosing the right loan comes down to finding the lowest possible rate—APRs typically range between 4.99% and 35.99%, so research carefully.

Explore government programs. In addition to Medicare, the government offers other programs to those who qualify, like SSI, which guarantees a minimum monthly income to people age 65 and older.

Secure long-term care insurance. This insurance won’t be granted to individuals already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, if the person carries this insurance prior to a diagnosis—and the best time to get long-term care insurance is in your mid-50s—review the policy to see if Alzheimer’s care is covered. If it isn’t, check with the policyholder about adding a rider to cover that expense.

The National Institute on Aging provides an exceptional resource for caregivers seeking support and information about getting help for people with Alzheimer’s. The site offers a variety of contacts to help you find low-cost or free community support services as well as other sources to help you cover the costs not covered by the programs listed above.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

12 Safety Tips for Recreational Boaters

As the weather warms up, many recreational boaters head to lake, river, or the ocean to fish, waterski, cruise, and relax onboard a boat, yacht or other personal watercraft. With nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the U.S.*, it’s no wonder the waterways are a popular place to go. Before you head out with friends and family, take note of a few important safety tips.1. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket.
Victims drowned in approximately 80% of fatal boating accidents. Of those, 83% were not wearing a life jacket. Insist that your crew and guests all wear a life jacket that fits them well. This can help them stay afloat in rough waters, protect them against hypothermia, and in some cases, can keep their head above water.

 2. Use the right kind of life jackets for the situation.
Boats 16 feet and longer must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or V personal floatation device (PFD) plus one Type IV throwable device. Boats that are 16 feet or less must have one Type I, II, III or V PFD for each person aboard. All boats must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or V personal floatation device for each person aboard.  Boats 16 feet and longer must also be equipped with a Type IV throwable device. All PFDs should be in good condition and have a Coast Guard Approval Number.

  • Type I PFDs are often called off-shore life jackets. They provide the most buoyancy and are effective in all waters, especially open, rough, or remote waters where rescue may be delayed. They are designed to turn most unconscious wearers to a face-up position in the water.
  • Type II PFDs are near-shore buoyancy vests. They are intended for calm, inland water or waters where there is a good chance of quick rescue.
  • Type III PFDs are also called floatation aids. They are good for calm, inland water, similar to Type II.
  • Type IV PFDs are designed to be thrown to a person in the water and grasped and held by the user until rescued.
  • Type V PFDs are special use devices. They may be carried instead of other PFDs if used in accordance with the approved conditions designated on the label. They may be inflatable vests, deck suits, work vests, board sailing vests or hybrid PFDs.

3. Never drink alcohol and go boating.
Alcohol use is a leading contributor to fatal boating accidents, causing approximately 15% of the deaths each year. Stay sharp when you’re on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.

 4. Recreational boaters should take a boating safety course.
Only 13% of the boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate. You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron chapter or visit uscgboating.org for details.

5. Put down the cell phone.
One of the top five contributing factors to boating accidents is inattention. Just like distracted driving on our highways, talking, texting, and other use of cell phones while boating is a growing problem on the water. Don’t contribute to this problem. Keep your eyes on the water ahead and around you.

 6. Drive at a safe speed and follow all boating safety and navigational rules.
Excessive speed and improper lookout are two of the top contributing factors to boating accidents. Make sure you understand the local rules and laws of the waterway and follow them closely. Take note of visibility, traffic density, and proximity to navigational hazards such as shoals, rocks, or floating objects.

7. Check the weather forecast and be prepared for it to change.
A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. There were 41 deaths in 2016 attributed to weather conditions. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating.

 8. Take action before a storm hits.
Storm and hurricane forecasts and warnings are issued by the National Hurricane Center. Boaters can get information from VHF marine radios, commercial radios and television stations and newspapers. As a boater, you need to be aware of the types of advisories and take action before a storm hits. Warnings range from small craft advisories, with winds of 18 knots or less, up to hurricane warnings with winds of 74 miles per hour (64 knots) or greater.

 9. Register for a free Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number and have a VHF radio equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) installed and connected to your GPS.
When in coastal and inshore waters, these preparations can help take the search out of search and rescue. DSC allows the VHF radio to transfer information digitally, and to instantly send a digital distress alert, which includes your exact position, to the Coast Guard upon activation of the emergency button. Part of the alert is the MMSI number, which will identify your vessel automatically.

10. Use a carbon monoxide detector.
All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that can make you sick in seconds and kill in minutes. Remember, you cannot see, smell, or taste CO, so know the symptoms (similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication).

11. File a float plan.
The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you’ll be back. That way, the proper officials can be notified if you don’t return when expected.

 12. Get a free Vessel Safety Check.
Boats are complex machines and need regular maintenance to stay running smoothly and safely. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost, so let their certified vessel examiners check your boat’s equipment and provide you with safety information before you go out on the water. Check with your marina or yacht club to find one in your area.

Life Insurance for the Life You Want: Planning and Paying for Long-Term Care

Presented by:  June Duncan

Planning for long-term care — it’s one of those situations that no one wants to experience but everyone needs to be prepared for. As we age, it’s important that we get a plan in place, not just for our own security but for our loved ones, as well. Being a caregiver is a burden not many want to face unexpectedly. More importantly, you want to make sure you have access to the best possible care in your golden years.

That’s why planning for long-term care, which will assist you with everyday tasks like dressing and eating, is critical, even if the potential is a long way off. Doing so will also give you and your loved ones peace of mind about your future. Here are some ways to get started.

Tips on Planning for Long-Term Care

When you are ready to make decisions about your future care, you may feel anxious about the unknown or melancholy about aging. If you are in good health, you might convince yourself that planning for future care is unnecessary — putting the cart in front of the horse, so to speak. However, there are some good reasons to reconsider:

  • If you have a family history of dementia.
  • If you have dependents.
  • If your goal is to remain independent in your home for as long as possible.
  • If you want to ensure you have enough money to meet all your needs.

If you want to make sure you are able to maintain a certain lifestyle, then planning ahead gives you confidence in your future. When you plan for your future care, you are taking care of:

  • Your health, by exercising and eating a proper diet. Focusing on physical fitness will help you avoid health issues that may require a caregiver.
  • Your family, by planning ahead so everyone knows what to expect and understands your wishes. No one is burdened or surprised by taking on an unexpected caregiver role.
  • Your independence, by making sure your home is outfitted to accommodate accessibility needs. There are grants you can apply for when the time comes to make home modifications more affordable.
  • Your finances, by understanding what you can afford and how paying for care will affect your retirement. With a plan in place now you won’t be startled by sudden costs.

The lifestyle choices you are making now will most certainly play a role in your future care. This doesn’t just mean eat healthier and save more, but it could also mean downsizing your home, prioritizing mental health, and moving to be closer to family. Having a plan in place is the first step. A major component of planning for long-term care is understanding how you will pay for it.

Insurance and Paying for Long-Term Care

If you think setting aside funds for long-term care is a potential waste of money, think again. Paying for long-term care doesn’t have to dip into your savings or your retirement fund. You can make sure you are financially stable regardless of health concerns by knowing your options for paying for future care. Some ways to cover costs include tapping into investment dividends, purchasing long-term health insurance (the younger you are when you purchase it, the more money you save in the long run), and opening a health savings account. Also, if you have life insurance, you can sell that policy to help free up money for medical care and living expenses.

You might be asking, “Well, what about Medicare? Won’t that cover my needs?” The truth is, there are many circumstances where Medicare won’t cover the cost of long-term care. You may be able to purchase supplemental health insurance to cover these additional costs.

Planning for long-term care is almost as complex as understanding how to pay for it, which is why it’s important to start looking at these potential situations now. Start by having a conversation with your spouse or partner so you can plan your future together. If you plan now, you can enjoy your retirement with less stress about health and fewer worries about the future.

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

 

Travel Medical Insurance

Travel Medical Insurance protects you in the event of an illness or injury when traveling outside your country of residence.  It provides key medical benefits in case of an emergency.  The level of international medical coverage provided by your domestic insurance provider can vary greatly depending on your plan, so you may have limited coverage or no coverage at all.

When you’re planning an overseas trip, you should call your insurance company beforehand to ask if your plan includes overseas health insurance. Some do, some don’t, and some will cover you only in certain situations. The U.S. Department of State suggests some questions to ask your insurer, including:

  • Does my plan cover emergency expenses abroad such as returning me to the United States for treatment if I become seriously ill?
  • Do you require pre-authorizations or second opinions before emergency treatment can begin?
  • Do you guarantee medical payments abroad?

Your definition of “emergency” may differ from your insurer’s definition, and you may find yourself on the hook for medical expenses you thought were covered. That’s why buying travel medical insurance is so important, U.S. News reports, because it “can help fill any gaps in domestic health insurance coverage.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield offers group and individual travel medical plans that cover 190 countries and territories.  Their services include 24/7 concierge-level assistance, including appointment scheduling and a mobile app that helps their members find doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies.  Knowing your health plan will be there for you while you’re away from home is an important part of enjoying your next trip.

 

 

 

Michael Regan Director at Large

Regan Cleary Insurance, a division of Cleary insurance Inc., is pleased to announce that Michael Regan has been elected a Director at Large for the National Association of Surety Bond Producers (NASBP). The NASBP is the national trade organization for insurance agencies that specialize in surety bonding.

What is NASBP?

NASBP producers specialize in providing surety bonds for construction companies and other industries requiring surety. Examples of the types of bonds provided include performance & payment bonds, fidelity bonds, forgery bonds, judicial bonds license & permit bonds, tax and customs bonds. NASBP members engage in surety production throughout the United States, its territories and internationally.

Prior to this national role, Michael served two terms as the New England Regional Director. He also continues as the Government Affairs Representative for Massachusetts. Michael’s new role also makes him a member of the Board of Directors of the NASBP. He will serve a three-year term, participating in recruitment and retention activities for the association acting as a liaison with a subcommittee and participating in strategic and policy decisions for the NASBP. For further information about the NASBP please visit www.nasbp.org.

Little Drips Make for Big Waste

Presented by: Alyssa Tkach

Every homeowner can attest to the importance of protecting their home. Although many are aware of the potential destruction of disasters such as fires and storms, there is less knowledge overall about the significance of home water leaks. In fact, according to Bloomberg’s article, “The Hidden Property Danger Lurking in Your Home,” almost half of all property damage losses in 2015 were due to water leaks. 1 in 50 homes have water leaks or frozen pipes each year.

Water leaks, if left unattended, can be very costly, so it is absolutely crucial for homeowners to stop them before they occurs. CHUBB lists several ways to reduce the risk of water damage in the home:

  1. If you’re leaving for an extended period of time, ask someone to stay in or check on the home periodically.
  2. Routinely check the home’s appliances for potential leaks.
  3. Inspect water supply lines.
  4. Turn off the main water supply when you leave for an extended period of time.
  5. Clear out your home’s gutters regularly.
  6. Inspect your home’s roof regularly.
  7. When you are planning to leave, set your flow-based water shut off device to “away.”
  8. Regularly replace the batteries in your water leak sensor device.
  9. Always inspect your sump pump, and keep a battery-powered backup.
  10. Schedule annual maintenance for your backup generator, and routinely ensure that it’s in working order.

Many people install anti-water damage devices within their home to help prevent a water disaster. Bloomberg’s article, “The Property Damage You’re Most Likely to Suffer,” lists three main types of devices that homeowners can choose from:

  1. Device sensors: installed near water-using appliances, these devices are triggered by water near them, and they will sound an alarm.
  2. Centralized system: attached to the home’s main water line, these devices monitor the amount of water flowing into the home, triggering the main water shut-off valve if necessary.
  3. Combination system: this system can sense when water is near it as well as control the home’s water shut-off valve.

Additionally, sump pumps can be a beneficial addition to any home. They are designed to drain excess water to another point far away from the home, preventing foundation damage.

Homeowners who take the steps to install a device, or simply just inspect their water supply regularly, have a much higher chance of stopping a leak in its tracks. Don’t let water damage your home—be proactive and stay aware!

Links used:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/sponsors/chubb/the-hidden-property-damage-danger-lurking-in-your-home/?adv=13632&prx_t=0foCAnKMSAYikPA

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/sponsors/features/chubb/the-property-damage-youre-most-likely-to-suffer/?adv=13632&prx_t=z_oCAmKMSAYikPA

https://www2.chubb.com/_global-assets/documents/chubb_waterdefensetips.pdf

 

Healthy Smiles All Year Long

Oral wellness is the foundation for overall health, so regular visits to the dentist for checkups and cleanings are fundamental to making your smile last and preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, dental exams are important to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy.  And if problems do occur, they’ll be easier to treat.

Current or former smoker? Lost a tooth? Have diabetes?

You could be at higher risk for periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, or even mouth cancer.  Delta Dental makes it easy to measure your risk with a quick and easy online self-assessment in the Your Oral Health section of www.deltadentalma.com.

Help Your Dentist Help You

  • See a dentist regularly. Doing so can help ensure that problems are taken care of before they become more serious and expensive.
  • Choose a dentist who belongs to your plan’s network. Switching from a dentist who isn’t in the plan to one who is enrolled will likely save you money.
  • Take advantage of any exams, teeth cleanings or X-rays your insurance may cover. Getting regular dental checkups, such as cleanings and exams, will help prevent dental complications or worsening of dental problems such as cavities.
  • Become a partner in your dental health. Tell your dentist about yourself and your concerns, and ask questions about caring for your teeth. Make sure you also understand any treatment options your dentist recommends.

 

Shining a Light on Moonlighting

Presented by: Christopher F. Hawthorne

Many contractor businessowners face the question of what to do about employees that moonlight at night and on weekends.  Does allowing employees to moonlight put a business in harm’s way?  It could.

When an employee moonlights, they are taking on the same general liability, workers compensation, and auto exposures as the employer.  Even if the employee carries their own insurance, their actions may be increasing the employer’s liability and future insurance costs.

If a moonlighting employee uses the employer’s vehicle which is still dressed with the employer’s logo, and is using the employer’s tools, could the customer state that they thought they were working with the employer after a loss occurred?  Since the moonlighting employee might have little or no coverage, it is conceivable that the customer might look to the employer for coverage for damage done by the moonlighting employee. If so, the employer’s general liability, commercial auto, or even workers compensation would respond to a claim filed against the employer.

When the commercial general liability policy is examined for its wording, there are several troublesome areas.  The first is the definition of an insured; it includes employees acting in the scope of their employment.  This is not great wording in terms of your own protection.  Second, the definition of your product includes products traded or sold under “your” name.  If the   employee is there with the employer’s truck, logo and knowledge, could an attorney-an insurance attorney at that-make a case to pull the employer in? Is this a bet worth taking?  As a contractor with claims experience knows, the process can be unfair, and it can cost significant future premiums while the argument is going through court.  The fact that the employer allowed moonlighting to occur makes a strong argument for vicarious liability.

If the employee got hurt while moonlighting, it could potentially pull the employer’s workers compensation in.  If the employee worked for a few hours the next day and claimed that the injury really happened on the employer’s job, the employer’s workers compensation would be forced to prove the employee was not working at his or her job at the time of the injury. This could prove to be quite difficult and the employer’s workers compensation may end up paying the claim.

If the employer’s vehicle is being used with the employer’s permission, the commercial auto and possibly the umbrella would definitely be involved in a claim should there be an accident.

In short, without being paid for the risk, the employer is at risk. Contractors may wish to consider making it a condition of employment that moonlighting is not allowed. Two methods for preventing moonlight, along with a written policy, are as follows:

  • Equip company vehicles with GPS monitoring so the employer can see when a vehicle is in use after hours.  There have been several reported cases of GPS monitoring even identifying employees that moonlight while on duty for the employer!
  • Leave all company vehicles, tools, and uniforms at the employer’s business location each night. This may require the employer to provide a changing area and cleaning service.

Employees should know that their personal homeowner’s insurance provides no liability for their business pursuits.  From both the employer and the employee’s point of view, moonlighting is not a good idea.

The good news for employers is there are options to help reduce moonlighting.  A possible solution may be to offer employees commissions for business they bring in.  They could also offer discount pricing for the employees friends and family.   These two options would help satisfy the employees desire to increase their income and alleviate the pressure of helping their friends and family after work.

Tax Cut & Jobs Act – Estate Planning Issues

The Tax Cut & Jobs Act now provides each taxpayer an $11.2 million estate tax exemption {very unlike the MA $1 million threshold exemption applicable to Massachusetts residents} – doubling the exemption established by the Obama Administration.  Now is a good time for all clients to review their existing plans with their advisor team to ensure they have accomplished their goals, including:

  1. Probate Avoidance,
  2. Maximize Asset Protection,
  3. Minimizing income tax,
  4. Enhance retirement income,
  5. Accomplish incapacity/disability planning,
  6. Ensure your desired estate disposition,
  7. Protect against spendthrift or imprudent heirs,
  8. Provide for Special Needs heirs,
  9. Accomplish any charitable goals, and
  10. Complete or update your business succession plans.

For those ultra-high net worth folks who have the ability and desire to make substantial gifts to their heirs now, such a plan has the advantage of:

  1. Using some/all of their exemption now, avoiding the possibility of a Democratic Congress’s likely reduction of the exemption in the future, and
  2. Avoiding MA estate tax on the gifted assets and ensuing growth outside your taxable estate.

Such a gift(s) can be asset protected within a spendthrift irrevocable trust, as opposed to going outright to your heirs, and be subject to their divorce, bankruptcy, premature demise, incapacity and other factors that can arise, threatening the integrity of your planning. In fact, leverage gifting techniques exist for situations where folks wish to make enhanced use of the new gift/estate tax FED exemptions. Give Cleary Insurance a call to follow up on any of these ideas, so that you can make the most of this current change, and ensure your personal goals are indeed met in the most efficient manner.

Wellness programs are out. Wellbeing strategies are in.

Something isn’t right. As a country, we are getting sicker every day. Productivity is on the decline, and most employees report not being engaged while on the clock. Relentless increases in healthcare costs are crippling organizations, and the future promises more of the same. We are quickly reaching a crossroads where the cost of healthcare and the impact of lost productivity will cause irreparable damage to organizations of all sizes.

Part of the problem is that traditional approaches to wellness have not delivered on the promise of reduced cost and improved productivity. Many of these wellness programs were poorly constructed and inconsistently delivered. As more vendors poured into the space, the quality of services offered began to vary widely and choosing an effective partner became more and more challenging for employers. Even the higher quality programs available were limited in their impact because they focused only on physical health problems instead of fueling the whole person.

The bottom line is this: It’s time to set aside wellness “programs” in favor of wellbeing strategies. It’s time for a new approach that goes beyond wellness to true potential.

True potential occurs when individuals are exceling in every facet of their lives: physically, emotionally, socially, and financially. It occurs when an organization is experiencing higher performance, organizational trustworthiness and employee engagement.

Reaching true potential is marked by:

  • Individuals who are thriving, contributing, connecting and learning.
  • Lower healthcare costs and improved productivity.
  • A culture built on trust where people do their best work.

True potential isn’t about managing someone’s health or changing behaviors. It’s about creating opportunities for individuals to live their best lives and do their best work. It’s about establishing a fresh perspective, shaping a trustworthy culture and nurturing healthy habits. This approach requires us to reevaluate everything we have come to accept with the status quo and to move beyond it.

Applying this new mindset starts with re-evaluating what success looks like. It requires us to specifically identify what we are trying to accomplish and how to meaningfully measure it.

Too often, vendors create their own metrics for demonstrating ROI, based on their specific strengths or self-generated formulas that don’t hold up to intense scrutiny. This has created a lot of noise and eroded the credibility of outcomes generated by traditional wellness programs. Measuring ROI has been a huge debate and an enormous distraction for decades. In the new model, we must set our sights on a meaningful method to measure progress toward true potential, one that can be an accurate and credible barometer of value.

Where do we find such a standard? Thanks to foundational research by the University of Michigan, which spans 40 years and 4 million healthcare claims, we have the answer. Through this research, the University identified 15 benchmark risks in physical, emotional, social and financial wellbeing that most directly impact healthcare costs and productivity.

This set of benchmark wellbeing risks is the gold standard when gauging the effectiveness of wellbeing strategies aimed at fueling true potential. These benchmark wellbeing risks are the set of factors that most directly affect the bottom line and the wellbeing of a population, the factors that make the difference between reaching true potential and falling short of it. By using this scientifically-valid standard to measure and evaluate your efforts, you can hold vendors and partners accountable for delivering and demonstrating results and have confidence that you are receiving a return on your investment of time and money. This is a necessary first step in taking a fresh approach to improving the wellbeing of your population.

Want to learn more about the roadmap for reaching true potential? Contact us today for a consultation and also receive a free whitepaper from our partner CHC Wellbeing. We can help you transform your wellness programs into wellbeing strategies that get results.