Why I’m proud to have Dave Ramsey’s endorsement as a Long-Term Care Professional

As many of you may know, Dave Ramsey is personal money management expert, national radio talk show host and New York Times bestselling author. I, like many of you, am a big fan of his. Having read his best-selling books, “Complete Guide to Money” and “Financial Peace Revisited,” I believe his financial advice is tough, straightforward and most of all — reliable.

I am humbled and most appreciative that Dave Ramsey has endorsed me as his Indianapolis-area provider for Long-Term Care Insurance. It’s not something I take lightly.

I earned the endorsement the hard way. Not only I am certified in long-term care, but I’ve been a top-performing insurance and financial services provider in Indiana and Kentucky for almost 30 years now, first beside my father, and now, with my husband Ed.

Early on, I adopted my father’s saying, “Always do what is in the best interest of your client.”  It’s a mantra of which I know Dave would approve.

Like Ramsey, I believe in a straightforward approach in helping people understand the practical and affordable financial solutions for extended care needs. I also believe that education is everyone’s biggest challenge in understanding the ins and outs of Long-Term Care Health Insurance.

And that’s why I’m in this business — to help you understand what is available to you so you can make the right choices to fit your needs. Together, we can protect your financial future with the Long-Term Care solutions that work best for you.              ~ Elise

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How affordable are senior home options?

If you suddenly needed in-home care or nursing home care, could you afford it? Or would your life savings be depleted in the face of potentially significant Long-Term Care costs?

Remember that most health insurance plans do not cover long term care. Medicare was not designed to cover custodial care – which is what many people will need. Even more importantly, Medicaid doesn’t cover care until most of your assets are depleted.

Senior housing options are many, and plenty expensive. Here’s what they cost:

  • Continuing care (CCRC) communities:  According to SeniorHomes.com, incoming residents pay a one-time, upfront entrance fee, a buy-in or ownership fee, plus monthly fees. Price ranges are from $20k – 200k per year depending on the community. Seniors join these communities when they are relatively active and live independently in apartments, then gradually move into on-site assisted-living or nursing home facilities.
  • Assisted living communities: According to a survey conducted by MetLife, the national average for assisted living base rates was $3,550 per month in 2012. Licensed and regulated by the state, these communities are intended for those who need some help with the activities of daily living such as dressing, eating or bathing, but are not totally disabled. Residents usually buy or rent rooms or apartments.
  • ECHO (Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity) housing: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a 500 square foot one-bedroom unit installed, is around $25,000. These units are small, inexpensive prefab homes that can be leased or purchased and placed on the property of relatives or caregivers.
  • Nursing homes: According to a MetLife Market Survey, the average cost in 2009 of a private bed in a nursing home facility was $219 per day, or over $79,000 per year. For those patients who are in a semi-private room, the average cost is $191 per day, or about $70,000 annually. Nursing homes focus on individuals who are disabled, acutely ill or need help with many activities of daily living.
  • Help from outside or live-in caregivers: According to Caregivers.com, live-in caregivers cost from $700 to $3000 a week. Costs vary widely, depending on what part of the country you live in and what the living accommodations are.

Arm yourself with the facts to protect your dignity, your savings, and your freedom to make your own choices. I can help.               ~ Elise

How will the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchange affect you?

Like you, I’m interested in learning as much as possible about new regulations and legislation involving the Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare.’

I’ve done some research, and here is what I know, so far. Even though this program has nothing to do with Long-Term Care, I’m sharing it with you to help answer some of your questions and clear up any confusion over what you may have heard.

Background: As of January 1, 2014, every individual and all employers with fewer than 50 employers will have to have federally administered healthcare. This is a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The intent of Healthcare Exchanges is to provide everyone with affordable health insurance. States that opt out of the federal program can set up their own state run health care.  Indiana has not opted out and will be using the federal program.

So what are these healthcare exchanges you may be hearing about? The government has set up a Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace. The Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace is a new application to use to find health coverage for diverse budgetary and personal needs. Small businesses and individuals can use the Health Insurance Marketplace to fill out an application and find out if you can lower costs on your monthly premiums for private insurance plans.

There will be a web site, a phone number to call, and an email to get information about what health insurance program (there are many to choose from) will serve your needs best. (To learn more on ongoing developments, click HERE for updates.)

When does enrollment begin? Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013. Coverage starts January 1, 2014. 

What about costs?  The Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace will help you determine if you qualify for lower out-of-pocket costs. It will also let individuals know if they qualify for free or low-cost coverage available through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

There are many, many more details to understand – and I’m all about learning as much as possible to help protect my clients. If I can help you answer a question or better understand the new system – even though it doesn’t directly relate to Long-Term Care, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.                  ~ Elise

Extended care professional talks about Living Wills

How is a living will different from a simple will? That’s something you need to know for sure.

A living will is nothing like a will. A last will and testament directs your property wishes after death; a living will expresses how you will be treated and what life saving and prolonging methods you prefer, if and when you can’t direct them yourself.

In Indiana, a Living Will allows “competent individuals” (over age 18) with the opportunity to make advance medical treatment directives for themselves. At its core, a living will stipulates what you want and do not want, if you are terminally ill. Your healthcare power of attorney (POA) is someone you designate to speak for you if and when you cannot. That person will be empowered to speak with medical staff and discuss your condition.

Some of the things a Living Will can provide for are life-prolonging measures you choose when recovery is not possible, including:

  • Artificial respirators
  • Feeding tubes
  • Surgeries
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Most people need both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney, just as most people will require an extended care health insurance plan for their later years. Both must be carefully thought out, and talked about with a professional.

Be sure you include Long-Term Care planning in your conversations about preparing a will and a living will. If you have a question about what type of plan would be best for you, let’s talk. As an extended care professional for almost 30 years, I can help you find out the facts and understand your choices.

~ Elise

Won’t Medicaid or Medicare protect my future health?

The two names look and sound very similar. That’s confusing and unfortunate, because the two programs exist for very different reasons. But can you – and should you – depend on either to protect and provide for your future health? Let’s take a look:

Medicare is a government program that provides limited health insurance for people 65 or older, and those younger than 65 with certain disabilities. Eligibility for Medicare is not tied to financial need. It is an entitlement program paid for through Social Security taxes.

Medicaid provides extremely basic health coverage for low-income, financially dependent people. You have to qualify to receive it. Although Federal laws provide the basic outline for Medicaid, it is administered differently in every state.

Both Medicare and Medicaid have undergone changes recently, and with the advent of the Affordable Health Care Act, there will undoubtedly be more changes in the future.

If you believe Medicare will take care of you in your old age, think again. Medicare is for medical purposes. Yes, Medicare covers everyone, but we can’t rely solely on it. Medicare does NOT pay for Long-Term Care. Medicare and a supplement cover medical care, not any type of custodial care. And Medicaid comes into the LTC picture only for the impoverished.

No – it’s up to us. Up to you. Decide what is important to you and together we can map out a future plan to meet ALL your needs.

Ed and I work to help our clients keep their assets protected for whatever their future medical care needs may be. No matter what government program changes may occur, or what medical or financial challenges lay ahead, there is nothing that beats knowing you’ve planned carefully and knowledgeably for all possibilities. 

Planning helps our clients rest easier. Ed and I rest easier too, knowing their best interests are being protected.                ~ Elise

Putting the ‘gold’ in golden years

If you were born between 1944 and 1964, you are a Boomer, and are well aware of how important it is to save for your retirement. Today, the responsibility for retirement saving has shifted from employers to employees, and Social Security provides only a base level of income. Today, it’s up to you to put the “gold” in your “golden years.”

Many Long-Term Care companies survey trends in the marketplace. Among them, Genworth, Inc. did a Financial Reality Check Survey in 2011. 73% of people answering the survey said that they “would not know what to do if they received a call today letting them know that a family member needed long term care.”

The survey also reveals that people value their independence over comfort. For example, did you know that:

  • 8% say they would turn to family for financial support in retirement
  • 11% would move in with family to ensure a comfortable retirement
  • People are 5 times more worried about being a burden than dying, and
  • 78% say they would find it “helpful to talk with a financial professional or specialist about long term care planning” but only 16% have actually had the conversation.*

While it’s tempting to look for the proverbial “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow and to think or talk about more pleasant things, we all age and most of us end up needing help in some shape or form. It’s not difficult to keep big or small issues from overtaking the golden years! Being prepared with informed decisions based on reviewing long term care protection can mean you’re “gold to go!”

*Genworth, Inc. April 2011 Cost of Care/Financial Reality Check Survey  ~Elise