Health costs are skyrocketing. You need additional insurance protection.

AARP keeps telling us this fact, and I keep reminding my clients to pay attention: The U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world.  AARP’s 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 studies all point to just how expensive it can be to have healthcare in our country. What’s more frightening is that medical costs continue to rise each year. Dramatically.

Here are the facts according to reports from both AARP and the American Heart Association:

  • Americans spend an average of $8,200 per person on general health care every year (For comparison, Canadians spend just $4,400 annually).
  • A typical hospital stay costs an average of $236 per day in India, $655 per day in France and a whopping $3,949 per day in the U.S. (2011 Comparative Price Report Medical and Hospital Fees released by the International Federation of Health Plans.)
  • The first day of hospital admission averages $1,246, while the cost of discharging a patient averaged $304.
  • An average hospital stay in the U.S. is about $18,000. In the Netherlands and Japan, the 2nd and 3rd most expensive, comparable costs are $4,000 to $6,000 less.
  • U.S. average hospital charge for coronary artery bypass was $122,743 in 2010.
  • Average U.S. cost of hospitalization for a stroke was $87,600 in the same year.

These prices are averages, and don’t reflect costs paid by health insurance. These prices also only reflect hospital costs. Add your surgeon’s bill, your anesthetist, medications, plus quite often, rehabilitation and home health care, and frequently, nursing home care. Even Medicare or a good general supplemental health plan will only pick up 80% of these costs. (That still leaves a substantial amount on the table to be picked up by YOU!)

Don’t let a health crisis deal a critical blow to your finances. Be ready. Advance care planning is a conversation you need to have with a health insurance professional BEFORE anything happens!

~ Elise

 

 

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Indiana health care insurance professional gives ‘boomers’ exactly what they are looking for

We baby boomers are changing the nature of health care planning. With 70 million of us, our dramatic numbers alone are radically altering the world of health care insurance.

As ‘boomers,’ we have high expectations and prefer to leave nothing to chance. We want control of our financial and health planning to ensure we get the type of healthy, dignified, independent, and secure future we have envisioned.

Those of us edging toward retirement plan earlier and plan thoroughly. I enjoy working with pre-retirement clients to plan for all health care contingencies. They are bright, well educated, and expect a long, healthy future with a lot more self-sufficiency and control than their parents had.

If you are a boomer, we should talk. Soon. Because nothing ever goes absolutely according to plan, it’s smart to look ahead, before a health emergency strikes you or your partner.

And, because health care prices continue to go up, health insurance costs continue to rise as well. There’s no better time to lock in rates for Long-Term Care, Short-Term Care and Crisis Care health insurance plans than right now, while you are healthy.

As a health care insurance professional for 26 years and a baby boomer myself, I can help make sure you cover all your health ‘bases’ and get the type of coverage that will leave nothing in your future to chance.

~ Elise

 

What is the difference between Medicaid & Medicare?

As a health insurance professional, I deal with this confusion all the time. Here’s what you need to know:

Although Medicaid and Medicare sound alike and are both government programs, they exist for very different reasons.

  • Medicaid is a federal program, administered by each state. It provides basic health coverage for low-income, financially dependent people. You must qualify for eligibility, which is tied to financial need.
  • Medicare is also a government program. It provides health insurance for people 65 or older, and people under age 65 with certain disabilities. Medicare is not tied to financial need. It is an entitlement program paid for through your Social Security taxes.

Since the U.S. healthcare system is THE MOST EXPENSIVE in the world, it makes sense to find health care insurance that assures you complete health care coverage, even if you have Medicare.

That’s because “having Medicare” will not pay your bills when you:

  • Need financial assistance while you are going through a critical illness. (But having Critical Care Health Insurance will pay you cash.)
  • Require prolonged health care assistance when you are older and in need of assisted living, nursing home care, hospice or home health care (Like Long-Term Care Insurance does.)
  • Need a cash benefit over and above any other medical insurance or disability insurance (As Short-Term Care and Critical CareHealth Insurance will provide).

I am sensitive to the worry I see in my potential clients’ faces when they consider how they want to be cared for, should they face a health crisis. That’s why health insurance advance planning makes good sense.

There is nothing that beats surefooted planning for all possibilities. That helps our clients – and me – rest easier, knowing they are protected.

 

Decisions about Health Care Insurance begin at the kitchen table

The most common misunderstanding about advance care health planning may be that it requires consulting with an attorney and the creation of numerous complex legal documents. In reality, advance planning starts at the kitchen table, with a thoughtful conversation with your spouse and/or family members.

Focus on advance care planning, talking about how you want your health care needs handled, financially as well as physically, and from there, move on to a discussion about a living will, a will and burial decisions. Then you are ready to speak with a Health Care Insurance advisor to set up a health care plan that meets your needs, and an attorney to take care of your will.

Yes, some of the topics may be uncomfortable to talk about. Studies show most people would rather indefinitely postpone these conversations, rather than have them. But all it takes is one cautionary tale from someone like me, a Health Care Insurance advisor, to realize delaying is not the answer.

Claire and Rich, both in their 50s, sat down with me and talked for about an hour and a half about Long-Term (LTC) and Short-Term (STC) Health Care policies. They agreed that having both a LTC and STC policy could help them, but decided to take a few days to think through some of the plans I showed them.

When I checked back with them, Claire had decided to postpone their decision for a couple of months, until after the holidays.

Unfortunately, Rich had a stroke about a month later, and was unable to buy the Short-Term Care policy that would have helped Claire pay for his home health care and nursing home care needs while he was recovering. Like many stroke victims, Rich lived, but will now be ineligible for Long-Term and Short-Term Care policies because of his pre-existing condition.

I was still able to help Claire, but felt very badly not to have been able to help Rich as well.

 Unfortunately, most of us don’t want to think about end of life and critical care health needs – often waiting too long – until after something devastating happens.

This is the reason I’m so passionate about health care insurance! I want to make sure you don’t get caught up in a crisis situation like Claire and Rich did. Both LTC and STC health insurance needs to be decided upon WHILE YOU ARE HEALTHY.

Together, let’s make your future health care decisions a priority, beginning at your kitchen table.

~ Elise

Aging U.S. population a big issue

Aging continues to be an issue and have far reaching impact, on the economy, on businesses, on families, and on individuals.

Are you familiar with these statistics?

  • The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that the dependency ratio, or the number of people 65 and older to every 100 people of traditional working ages, is projected to climb rapidly from 22 in 2010 to 35 in 2030.

This time period coincides with the time when baby boomers are moving into the 65 and older age category.

  • After 2030, however, the ratio of the aging population to the working-age population (ages 20 to 64) will rise more slowly, to 37 in 2050.

The higher this old-age dependency ratio, the greater the potential burden on taxpayers. Another good reason to explore Long-Term Care Insurance.

With this generation of young adults waiting still longer to have and raise their children, they may not be able to – or have the time and/or means to – care for you.

Long-Term and Short-Term Care Insurance places the means for your care in your hands, so neither you nor your children need to worry about it. Let’s talk about your family situation and what Long-Term and Short-Term Health Insurance can do for you.        ~ Elise

Critical Care Insurance and how it benefits you

People are living much longer lives even after suffering a heart attack, cancer, heart bypass surgery, suffering a stroke, or many other maladies that used to guarantee fatality. No more, thanks to early earlier detection, better prevention and medical advances in serious healthcare treatments.

Unfortunately for many of us, surviving such a catastrophic illness can bring with it serious financial hardships – especially if that illness leads to a prolonged, expensive stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility (or both) while recuperating.

This is where Critical Care Insurance can help. Relatively new to the health care insurance scene, Critical Care Insurance provides monthly cash benefits for at home care, assisted living and nursing home care. The benefits provided progress with the expenses and duration of each level of care.

Here’s how it works. Let’s use Pat as an example:

Before Pat became ill, she purchased a Critical Care Policy with a monthly base benefit of $2,000 with a maximum benefit period of 18 months. Some years later, Pat suffered a stroke. Like many other stroke patients, she required lengthy follow up care.

Here’s how her Critical Care Coverage helped pay Pat’s bills:

  • 3 months in nursing home = $12,000
  • 8 months in assisted living = $24,000
  • 3 months in home care = $6,000

Total Critical Care paid to Pat over the course of 14 months of recovery in various facilities = $42,000.

What’s even better? Twelve months after Pat fully recovered from her stroke, all of her Critical Care Benefits were fully restored. So if Pat suffers from another catastrophic health event, she will be covered again.

If not for her Critical Care policy, that $42 thousand would have had to come from Pat’s retirement savings, the equity in her home –or even from her children. That’s something none of us wants to consider.

As an extended care advisor, I can help you figure out a plan of health insurance that fits you in every way possible. Together, we can choose a plan, a benefit period and a monthly base benefit amount that is right for you. Whether you are 18 or 84, I want to be sure your future health doesn’t cause you a moment’s stress or anxiety.

~ Elise

Short-Term or Long-Term Care insurance – what’s the dif?

Insurance is for filling in gaps. In the case of Long-Term Care insurance, it’s for helping you pay costs NOT covered by:

  • health insurance at your job
  • health insurance you purchase privately
  • hospital insurance policies you buy
  • Medicare

The “long term” in Long-Term Care means just that, long. Extended. Chronic.  In fact, the Free Dictionary defines long-term care as “the provision of medical, social, and personal care services…to persons with chronic physical or mental disorders.”

What classifies your condition as “chronic” and allows you to claim benefits from an Indiana Long-Term Care insurance policy?  You must meet one of these two criteria, as certified by a physician:

  1. For a period of at least 90 days you have been unable to perform at least two Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
  2. You are suffering from severe cognitive impairment.

In the real world, of course, illnesses are often critical rather than chronic. And even though traditional health insurance does cover cancer, heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke, and even a major organ transplant, rarely are all costs covered. While bills are coming in fast and furious and claims are taking forever to be approved, your illness can cause financial devastation.

That’s when Short-Term Care Insurance is there to deliver a cash benefit when you need it most, paying you benefits over and above any other medical insurance or disability insurance.

Short-Term and Long-Term Care insurance – each has its gap-filling protective function to perform exactly when needed.  But that’s the thing – insurance must be purchased BEFORE it is needed.  Knowing you’re protected allows you to focus on recovery!

For more information on health insurance options, click HERE.

~ Elise

New poll shows most in denial about Long-Term Care

It’s a fact: Americans don’t want to think about Long-Term Care.

According to an AARP poll by the Public Policy Institute, Americans fail to understand that employer, private health insurance and Medicare do not cover the extraordinarily high costs of Long-Term Care.

I mean, how much clearer can things get? We’re talking about nursing homes, hospice care, assisted living, home health care … almost none of this is covered and almost all of us will need some of it during our lifetimes.

So what’s going on here? Aren’t people listening?  Apparently not, the Public Policy Institute poll found.  When people 40 and older were asked how they were preparing for the reality of aging, two thirds said they’d done “little to no” planning for long-term care. Three in ten admitted they would “rather not think about getting older” at all. Some were hoping their families will step in and care for them.

Here’s the reality: You may be lucky enough to be part of a very close-knit family. That doesn’t mean they — or you — understand the full extent of what that care-giving will entail.

No surprise: Those who had already experienced providing care to an older family member – as I have – when questioned in the poll, were less apt to say they would rely on their families.  Like me, they’d seen how difficult it can be to provide long-term care services without professional help.

Long-Term Care is no Do-It-Yourself proposition. Making sure you have the financial power to ensure that you and your family members can have the right kind of help at the right time is what Long-Term Care insurance planning is all about.

Want to know more? Click HERE for related articles about Long-Term Care Insurance.

~ Elise

 

What IS Long-Term Care insurance?

Long Term Care insurance may seem complex, but in fact – it’s based on a very simple concept – being prepared.

Long-Term Care insurance (LTC) is a protection product sold in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. Simply put, LTC covers health costs that employer health insurance, private health insurance, hospital insurance and health costs that Medicare does not cover. What are these health costs addressed only by LTC insurance?

  • Home healthcare
  • Assisted living
  • Adult daycare
  • Respite care
  • Nursing home care
  • Hospice care

LTC insurance has been around for quite awhile. Why is it being talked about so much right now?

  • People are living longer lives
  • Families are living farther apart
  • Health care costs are dramatically rising

Is Long Term Care primarily for the elderly? The facts tell a different story. 40% of those receiving long-term care today are between the ages of 18 and 64. But LTC is also for those over the age of 65. In fact, studies show that 60 percent of individuals over age 65 will require at least some form of long-term care services during their lifetimes.

But the thing about Long Term Care insurance is that it must be purchased BEFORE  it is needed. That’s because, once you have a condition that requires long-term care, you will no longer qualify for coverage.

It’s confusing, in a way, to plan ahead. How do you know what you’ll need? That’s where I come into the picture.  With 25 years of experience, I’m uniquely positioned to help you figure that out.

~ Elise