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Scam Artists Using Health Insurance Reform Passage to Sell Fake Insurance Policies

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sounds alarm, sends letters to state officials

April 7, 2010 – It did not take the scam artists long to take advantage of the new health insurance reform legislation. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday they are already on the phone and door-to-door selling fake insurance policies.

http://www.seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Alerts/2010/20100407-ScamArtists.htm

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The Alzheimer's Association recently released 2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures.  This report provides U.S. data on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, including prevalence, mortality, lifetime risk, caregiving information, and use and costs of care and services.  This 2010 report focuses on race, ethnicity and Alzheimer's disease.  It reveals that, in 2009, there were nearly 11 million informal caregivers providing 12.5 billion hours of care, valued at $144 billion, to people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. 

Source:  Alzheimer's Association (March 2010)
Full story:  http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_figures.asp?type=homepage

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In 1950, when Marybeth Solinski was born, a diagnosis of Down syndrome was practically a death sentence.  Children with the condition often died before their 10th birthday.  Yet Solinski, at 59, has outlived her parents. She has even joined AARP.  Her longevity illustrates the dramatic progress for people with Down syndrome. Thanks to better medical care, the average life expectancy for a child with Down syndrome is now 60 years, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, which estimates that about 400,000 people are living with the condition in the USA.  As they live longer, adults with Down syndrome — who have an extra copy of chromosome 21 — are teaching scientists about the genetic roots of aging, says Ira Lott, head of pediatric neurology at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine.  Scientists today are searching this chromosome, which contains only about 200 of the body's roughly 20,000 genes, to learn why people with Down syndrome suffer disproportionately from some health problems, such as Alzheimer's disease, but are spared many others, such as heart attacks, strokes and certain types of cancer.  By studying adults with Down syndrome, researchers hope to find new ways to combat diseases of aging in the larger population as well, Lott says.  "It's an interesting detective story," says Lott, head of the science advisory board of the National Down Syndrome Society. "People with Down syndrome are unique when it comes to many aspects of aging." 

Source:  USA Today (March 22, 2010)
Full story:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-03-22-down22_CV_N.htm

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Many of you are probably wondering what the new health plan voted on in Washington has in it and how it might affect you and your family.  The Independent Agents and Brokers of America has provided an excellent outlineof the new plan’s initiatives and I commend it to your attention.  I  have been reviewing this new law and its implications and I found this report extremely helpful and hope that you will too!

http://va.iiaa.org/PDF/PatientProtectionAct1.pdf

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In December 2008, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) reported survey results indicating that the national economic crisis was having a negative impact on Adult Protective Services (APS). The survey revealed that state APS programs were experiencing budget reductions which led to cutbacks in service provision and the work force. Of the eighteen states participating in the 2008 survey, eight states reported that they expected to experience APS program budget cuts ranging from two to ten percent for the upcoming fiscal year. Unfortunately, a year later, the findings of a recently released NAPSA survey have reinforced the grim assessments of the 2008 report with evidence of more budget cuts and staff shortages along with an increased need for services.  This survey, conducted in November 2009, was sent to APS state administrators and the NAPSA board. Responses were received from thirty states. More than half of the respondents reported APS budget cuts averaging 13.5 percent for the year, which surpassed the predicted budget cuts of the earlier survey. At the same time, two-thirds of respondents said that abuse reports to APS increased by 24 percent. The corresponding increased need for services, along with the reduction of services, is obvious cause for concern and will likely have grave consequences for the most vulnerable adults.

Source:  NCEA E-News (March 2010)
Full story:  http://ncea.aoa.gov/NCEAroot/Main_Site/Resources/Newsletter/current_newsletter.pdf

I have recently been involved in a couple of cases that involved our local Adult Protective Services unit of the Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services.  In one case, some neighbors may have noticed strange things going on but did not report them.  This case ultimately led to two deaths.  In the second case, attentive visitors reported strange goings on and the APS Unit was able to remove the elder from the environment, get her needed medical care and now she is in a safe long term care facility.

If you see changes in your elderly friends, pay attention!  If they become reclusive or  if they won't let you in the home that is a big warning sign!  If you notice weight loss, bruises or even unattended sores those are signs that should be reported to APS.  The reporting is kept anonymous and could possibly save a life! 

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Many Web sites offer customized, do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents. These computer-based services appear to offer a cost-effective and convenient alternative to visiting an estate planning or elder law attorney. But is online estate planning worth the convenience and initial savings? How do the documents created compare to those that a qualified attorney would produce?

To answer these questions, ElderLawAnswers asked two experienced estate planning and elder law attorneys to evaluate three leading online will preparation and estate planning programs: Nolo's Online Will, BuildaWill and LegalZoom. Their findings and ElderLawAnswers' conclusions are presented in a five-page White Paper that is available for free on ElderLawAnswers Web site.

To download the White Paper, available in PDF format, click here.

(If you do not have the free PDF reader installed on your computer, download it here.) 

Their conclusion:

"We conclude that while online estate planning could possibly work for people who have little or no property, small savings or investments, and a traditional family tree, the significant remainder of the population should not rest easy using one of these programs and should instead consult with a qualified estate planning attorney. In other words, in all but the most commonplace estate planning situations (and only an attorney can determine what is "commonplace"), do-it-yourself estate planning programs can be a risky, and often quite costly, substitute for in-person planning with an experienced estate planning attorney."

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Social Security's Retirement Estimator is now available for people who have signed up for Medicare but have not yet signed up for Social Security because they are delaying retirement. The popular calculator allows you to project what your monthly Social Security benefit will be based on your actual work record. Previously, "Medicare only" beneficiaries could not use the estimator and had to contact a Social Security office to get an estimate of their retirement benefits.

While the calculator requires inputting personal information like your Social Security number, date of birth and mother's maiden name, it is tied to your actual Social Security earnings record, so you don't need to manually input years of earnings records. Once your information is input, you can compare different retirement options and see how additional work might affect your benefits.

Because more and more people are delaying retirement, the Social Security Administration decided to expand the calculator to those individuals. It is also planning on making the estimator available in Spanish later this year. You cannot use the calculator if you do not have enough Social Security credits at this time to qualify for benefits or you are already receiving Social Security benefits.

For more information on the calculator, click here. To access the Retirement Estimator, click here.

For more information on Social Security, click here.

Source: http://www.elderlawanswers.com/resources/article.asp?id=8100&Section=4&state=

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This primer, prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation explains the Medicare program in terms that even a lawyer can understand.  It explains key elements of the Medicare program, which now provides health coverage to 47 million people -- including 39 million people age 65 and older and another 8 million younger adults with permanent disabilities. It looks at the characteristics of the Medicare population, what benefits are covered, how much people with Medicare pay for their benefits and the program’s overall costs and future financing challenges.Here't the intro:  Established in 1965, Medicare is a social insurance program, like Social Security, that provides health and financial security for individuals age 65 and older and for younger people with permanent disabilities. Prior to 1965, roughly half of all seniors lacked medical insurance; today, virtually all seniors have health insurance under Medicare. Medicare provides health insurance coverage to 47 million people – 39 million people age 65 and older and another 8 million people with permanent disabilities who are under age 65. The program helps to pay for many important health care services, including hospitalizations, physician services, and prescription drugs. Individuals contribute payroll taxes to Medicare throughout their working lives and generally become eligible for Medicare when they reach age 65, regardless of their income or health status.

Comprising an estimated 12 percent of the federal budget and 20 percent of total national health expenditures, Medicare is often a significant part of discussions about how to moderate the growth of both federal spending and health care spending in the U.S.1 With the dual challenges of providing needed and increasingly expensive medical care to an aging population and keeping the program financially secure for the future, discussions about Medicare are likely to remain prominent on the nation’s
agenda in the years ahead.

Source:  Kaiser Family Foundation (February 2010)

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At a time in life when many attorneys have either retired or are putting the brakes on their careers, Alice Thomas is revving hers up.  Now 79, she completed her course work at McGeorge School of Law in December and has already lined up a job working with elder law issues at a Reno, Nev., firm, reports the Sacramento Bee.  That should help her start making a dent in the $70,000 of student loans she racked up pursuing her dream of becoming an attorney and taking a "nibble" at some of the world's injustices. She will be at least 80 by the time she passes the bar exam, which she expects to take either in California or Nevada in July.  Significantly older than all of her fellow students and all but one of her professors, Thomas struggled to contend with the demands of law school while also caring for a longtime companion with Alzheimer's.  "Most of the time, the other students acted like I wasn't even alive. Some of them asked if I was really serious," she tells the newspaper. "I told them I could take a first-class trip around the world and not spend as much money and not have to work as hard."

Source:  ABA Journal (February 23, 2010)
Full story:  http://www.abajournal.com/news/article
/woman_79_finishes_law_school_lands_1st_job_in_practice

It just goes to show, you are never to old to set new goals and to achieve them!

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Despite recent gains in public awareness of the need for advance care planning, studies indicate that most Americans have not exercised their right to make decisions about their healthcare in the event that they cannot speak for themselves.  The National Healthcare Decisions Day event will help Americans understand that making future healthcare decisions includes much more than deciding what care they would or would not want; it starts with expressing preferences, clarifying values, identifying care preferences and selecting an agent to express healthcare decisions if patients are unable to speak for themselves.  The National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) initiative is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations committed to ensuring that all adults with decision-making capacity in the United States have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. 

Source:  NHDD National (February 2010)
More information/how you can participate:  http://www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org/

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This past week I had the privilege of speaking to the senior adults of Starling Avenue Baptist Church and Fort Trial Baptist Church.  They were two great groups and we enjoyed our time there.  In both cases, we discussed the basics of elder law, which is estate planing and planning for the possibility of long term care.  Each group had great questions and fed us wonderful meals!

Thank you both for being such wonderful and gracious hosts.

If you have a group that is interested in hosting a seminar, give Cricket a call at 276 790 9098.

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