Seniors

Get Extra Help For Prescription Drug Costs

For people taking prescription medications costs are a priority. Those facing increased costs may turn to methods such as taking half-doses or skipping altogether to get more from prescriptions. Health is important. There are ways to save on prescription medication while taking the doctor recommended dose.

Ask a Doctor

Ask a medical professional whether generic or more-affordable options are available. In many cases there may be less-expensive alternatives. Switching from a name-brand prescription medication to a generic can save up to thousands per year or more.

Ask About Aid Programs

Many pharmaceutical companies have assistance programs for qualifying Medicare recipients. An estimated two million Medicare recipients taking prescription medication qualify,

There are 12 million people today, or about one in three people who have Medicare coverage taking advance of this cost-saving method. An estimated two million more qualifying people have yet to take advantage.

Qualifying recipients for full assistance pay reduced rates for generic and name-brand prescription drugs. Limits set at $3.30 for generic medication and $8.25 for name-brand help prescription drugs become affordable. Partial qualification reduces medication cost by 85%. Aid depends on income and revenue.

Qualifiers

For single people, an income cap of $13,820 limits participation. For married persons, $27,600. Relatives living in the home may affect income considerations. Savings accounts, stocks, and bonds count toward income and resource levels. Assets, gift amounts, and some other sources remain separate. These programs help people save thousands each year.

Register for Aid

For those interested in applying, three options are available:

  • Find an application and detailed instructions online anytime at socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.
  • Request for SSA-1020 over the phone, or apply by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213
  • Ask for aid and assistance in-person at a local SSA office.

Applications are easy to fill out. Instructions are available online or by asking an SSA representative. Bring a social security card, drivers license or similar, and bank information including account balance, assets, and investments. The Social Security Administration reviews applications with replies generally sent in a month.

Check back often for more information on prescription medications, wellness, and ways to save money. Topic suggestions are always welcome. Contact an agent anytime for all insurance-related questions.

Low Energy in The Afternoon Do This

Feeling sluggish in the afternoons? It’s a common issue. While mornings are usually high energy, the mid-afternoon slump sets in around 3 pm. Caffeine and sugar may be tempting for a quick boost but the reward is short-lived. The energy boost from coffee, sweets, or energy drinks comes at the cost of healthy sleep patterns. Stay healthy and sleep well. Here are 5 ways to improve daily energy levels:

1: Take a (Short) Nap

Sleepy? Take a short nap! For people with the option, a nap can help improve energy levels and even cognitive function. According to the National Sleep Association, even short naps can boost energy levels. They claim naps of twenty-thirty minutes increase performance while leaving nighttime rest unaffected. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published findings that older adults may want to consider sixty minutes of rest. According to the study, adults who napped, but did not over-nap, scored higher for cognitive function than adults who did not nap or napped too long.

Medical Information Today came to similar conclusions during a study on sleep and senior health. Their study drew parallels between rest and mental performance. Researchers compared elderly adults who napped and those who either didn’t at all or napped excessively. The elderly adults who did not nap or took longer naps were more likely to have lower cognitive ratings. The group who took naps for thirty to ninety minutes after lunch scored higher.

2: Take a Walk

Spending ten minutes walking or climbing stairs can boost your energy, even more than a cup of coffee! The University of Georgia studied sleep-deprived adults. Those who completed ten minutes of simple exercise daily score higher than those turning to caffeine. 10 minutes of walking is much healthier than a can of soda!

3: Eat Dark Chocolate

Feeling good can be tasty! A study by Northern Arizona University found that eating dark chocolate can improve memory. The study demonstrated improved brain scans after consuming chocolate consisting of 60% cacao or more. Improve basic cognitive wellness with a delicious dark chocolate snack.

4: Eat Nuts and Seeds

Success through trail mix. Nutrition-dense nuts and seeds help prevent the variations in blood sugar affecting energy. Nuts and seeds are great sources of protein and may contain healthy omega-3 fats aiding brain function. Combine nuts and dark chocolate for an energizing (and delicious!) snack.

5: Get Outdoors

Not enough time in the day for a walk? Spending a moment outside and enjoying the air can boost energy levels. If the outdoors are out of reach, white noise apps and other options exist for listening to nature sounds. An interesting note: Individuals tend to prefer water sounds 6x more than white noise.

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In 2018, Medicare Premiums Likely to Decline

For the first time in five years monthly Medicare costs are expected to go down. Prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D should become more affordable in 2018 helping millions of Americans.

The expected monthly cost of coverage will dip $1.20 per month to a reduced amount of $33.50. The equated to a 3% annual savings for prescription drug coverage. This comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

This is good news for the 43 million adults over 65 enrolled in Medicare Part D. CMS attributes this decrease to lower bids by pharmaceutical companies, driving the costs for premiums down.

The actual amount Medicare Part D recipients will pay out-of-pocket will vary. Recipients select a medication program available in their area. Actual costs will depend on program deductible and co-pay, and the medication.

Income is also a factor. Adults age 65 and older 150% below the federal poverty level – $18.090 annually in 2017 – may be eligible for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy.

CMS should release actual costs for 2018 premiums in September. Open registration for Medicare begins October 15 and closes December 7.

We’re always looking for great information about insurance topics that may impact your health and your wallet. If you have any insurance-related questions please call us.

What Women Ignore May Kill Them

When catching up on women’s health don’t fall behind on cardiovascular disease. Too often, women and their doctors ignore the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Reduce your risk by learning how to identify the warning signs.

When you know a disease is serious, you are more likely to give it the attention it deserves. The American College of Cardiology reports 45% of women between 26-60 have no idea they are in danger of cardiovascular disease. According to the CDC, each year heart disease contributes to one in four deaths.

The same survey reports 25% of women between 50-60 don’t know the risks of cardiovascular disease. Of the 1000 women surveyed, over 200 were unaware cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death for women in the United States.

Know the Signs

Heart disease can affect all ages. Cardiovascular disease includes several types of heart disease – all with serious consequences. Signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Extended chest and upper body pain
  • Pain or discomfort in the back, neck, or jaw
  • Anxiety, weakness, dizziness, and nausea
  • Pain in the arms or shoulder region
  • Increased work of breathing

Keep Your Doctor Appointments

Of the women surveyed, 63% admitted to canceling doctor appointments. 45% reported delaying their appointment simply to lose weight before going in. Take your health seriously. If you haven’t spoken to your doctor about cardiovascular disease, make an appointment (and keep it).

Be Proactive

A surprisingly high number of doctors report they do not discuss cardiovascular disease with their patients. It is important you be proactive about your health. Don’t wait for your doctor to bring up cardiovascular disease. Know the signs and symptoms and take charge of your health.

Love great info on health and wellness? So are we! Please contact us with any insurance related questions today.

Doctors Can Help With Prescription Costs

Most patients between 50 and 80 don’t talk to their doctor about their prescription costs. Most trust their doctor’s recommendation, without comparing costs. What they don’t know may be costing them. Many times, less-expensive medications may be available by discussing them with your doctor.

The University of Michigan School of Medicine, with aid from the AARP, conducted a national survey on healthy and balanced aging. This in-depth study uncovered that many patients struggle to pay for their prescription medications. Approximately 2/3 of survey participants reported prescription of two or more medications. For 27% of those patients, the cost of maintaining so many prescriptions has become too high. These patients run the risk of missing doses due to high out-of-pocket costs, putting their health at risk.

The director of the survey, Preeti Malani, is also a Professor of Medicine at University. Dr. Malani expressed concern that if people did not take their prescription medications, they would likely suffer. This is not because doctors are trying to make things difficult. The study indicates improved doctor-patient communication could result in more affordable-yet-effective prescription solutions.

Among those reporting the costs for medication a problem, almost half hadn’t spoken to their doctor about it. 42% of participants thought their doctor was already familiar with the medication price already. A whopping 61% of respondents had not discussed medication costs with their doctor at all.

Dr. Malani thinks these results show an increased need for patient/doctor communication. Patients need to become comfortable speaking about prescription medication costs. At the same time, Dr. Malani encourages doctors to speak to their patients as well. The proof is in the study: of those patients who did speak to their doctor about prescription medicine costs, 67% found a less-expensive solution.

AARP representative Alison Bryant commented on the complexity of the prescription medication costs. Her concerns were that because insurance policies change, so may costs and coverage. This makes it challenging to predict the patient costs for medication. The supplier cost is only one factor of the medication cost for a patient. Bryant recommends patients discuss cheaper alternatives with their doctor or pharmacist. There may be alternate options available reducing out-of-pocket costs.

Determining the total cost for prescription medications becomes more complex with each prescription. Of adults surveyed, 63% report using 2 or more prescriptions on a regular basis. 47% of those take between 2 and 5 medications, while 16% of adults take 6 or more. The greater the number of medications, the greater chance cost will become a problem. Adding doctors to the mix further complicates things. 69% of patients stated seeing two or more different physicians each year.

Many people think their doctors know the out-of-pocket cost of medications they recommend. Dr. Malani says that this is not usually the case. Even your regular physician likely does not know the cost of your prescriptions. This is because of much more than manufacturing cost – many factors contribute to the costs different patients will pay.

Dr. Malani encourages patients to speak up. If you’re filling a prescription and shocked by the cost, ask about it. Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a less-expensive option. Pharmacists are an excellent yet often-overlooked resource for information and help. They know what costs insurance companies may cover. If the cost of your medication too high, talk to your pharmacist about what options may be available.

You don’t have to rely on a pharmacist. People should not be afraid to comparison shop. Costs can vary depending on many factors, such as:

  • Using a lower-cost prescription card
  • Registering with a mail-order pharmacy
  • Approval for aid programs, either from a pharmaceutical firm, or state government.

The National Survey on Healthy and Balanced Aging is a new study created by the UM Institute for Healthcare. In partnership with Michigan Medicine, the study also receives support and funding from the AARP. This national survey sampled 2,131 adults, dividing them into groups between the ages of 50 to 64, and 65 to 80. The survey has a small margin of error between two and four percent.

New Medicare Cards For 2018

New Medicare cards being released in 2018 will no longer carry Social Security numbers. This change was developed to make the cards more secure and prevent fraud as well as identity theft.

Identify theft has been increasing in recent years among those age 65 and older. In accordance with the latest numbers released by the Department of Justice, the reported cases of identity theft increased up to 2.6 million as early as 2014. This is an increase in half a million cases from just two years prior.

Here’s exactly what you will need to understand about the newly released cards:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Solutions (CMS) is going to begin mailing cards to recipients in April.
  • The cards will be sent through the mail delivery system to all 58 million existing beneficiaries. You don’t need to take any action in order to receive your card.
  • The newly released cards will contain an assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) which consists of a combination of 11 numbers and letters.
  • Your benefits are not going to have any changes under the updated MBI.

Frauds connected to the brand new cards are beginning to appear. Some current Medicare recipients have reported receiving telephone calls from scammers who are telling them that they need to pay for their new Medicare card and then asking for their bank account number or Medicare card numbers. Don’t provide either number through a phone call.

Medicare recipients are advised to not provide their number over the phone as this request is likely a fraud. Also, anyone who tells you that you have to pay for your new card is more than likely a scammer. If you have a reason to contact CMS or they contact you for any reason, they are not going to require that you tell them your number since they already have access to that number through their system.

We want to be certain you are financially protected. Naturally, should this prompt questions about other ways we can help you, please reach out to us.

Defend Against Dementia With These Lifestyle Changes

A newly released study shows a marked increase in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease. The number has jumped from 16.5 deaths per 100,000 Americans to 25.4 deaths per 100,000 between the years 1999 and 2014!

Today, 5.2 million Americans have this disease and almost 94,000 died from Alzheimer’s in 214. As the senior population increases every year, that number is expected to grow. That’s why it’s important now more than ever before to do what you can to limit your risk of Alzheimer’s. These are five changes you can make to your lifestyle that may help to avoid mental decline.

Increase Your Exercise

Adding an hour of walking to your routine, three times a week can provide a huge mental boost. New research completed by the University of British Columbia found that walking could boost mental health in populations with dementia. Researchers also discovered that those who had early vascular mental deterioration and began walking regularly saw a decrease in blood pressure and improvement on cognitive tests. They also showed improved skills on cognitive tests when compared to those who didn’t exercise regularly. Cognitive decline, which is likely caused by damaged capillaries in the brain, is thought to the second cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s.

Stay Social

While the exact connection between isolation and Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly known, some studies have shown a link between having a social support network and a reduced risk of dementia. One four-year study of 800 individuals age 75 and older found that isolated people were more than twice as likely to demonstrate signs and symptoms of dementia when compared to those that had regular social activities. The greatest benefits were seen in individuals who were both socially active and also emotionally active.
An even larger study that included 2,249 women ages 78 and older found that individuals who were socially active were 26% less likely to develop dementia when compared to individuals who had minimal social networks. Women who communicated with friends and family on a daily basis cut their risk of mental decline almost in half.

Watch Your Head

The Alzheimer’s Organization strongly recommends protecting your head as there is a link between developing Alzheimer’s and head trauma. When you drive, always wear your safety belt. If playing sports, wear a helmet and take steps to make sure that your house is fall-proof.While you may not be playing football as you age, you may be taking part in physical activities such as biking. If you do, always wear a helmet. You can also use these suggestions to make sure your residence is fall-proof:

-Make sure the floor is free of clutter

-Get rid of or fasten down any area rugs

-Avoid using wax on floors

-Add a slip-free mat to the tub

-Remove any wires or cables from commonly walked areas

Watch Your Diet

To get started in this area, make sure that your diet has adequate vitamin D which is a nutrient that’s important for cognitive function. Good sources include tuna, salmon, milk, and orange juice fortified with vitamin D. Folks with serious vitamin D deficiencies had more than twice the risk to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia than those with normal levels.

Being overweight, having diabetes, and high cholesterol all increase your risk of dementia. It’s important to speak to your doctor regarding your diet as well as how many calories you need. Eating more vegetables as well as reducing your red meat intake have been shown to decrease the risk of cognitive decline. Also, new studies indicate that artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks have been connected to a higher risk of dementia and stroke.

Get Plenty of Sleep

You probably sleep every night, but are you actually getting enough? If you aren’t sleeping at least 7-8 hours every night, you may be creating your own health problems, including mental decline. This claim is stated by the Global Council on Brain Health and Wellness.

One study suggests that a lack of sleep may actually cause Alzheimer’s. This is due to the fact that a lack of rest doesn’t provide adequate time for your glymphatic system to work. The glymphatic system removes proteins known as amyloid beta which can turn into plaques that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and mental deterioration and works while you’re sleeping.

It’s a common misconception that adults need to rest less as they age. There is clear evidence that cognitive and physical health is connected to getting an average of 7-8 hours of sleep every day.

By taking these simple and healthy steps you can substantially increase your chances of living a longer, more enjoyable life.

Can You Leave Life Insurance to a Family Trust?

Q. You did a tale concerning leaving life insurance to an estate. What occurs if it’s left to a family members trust fund?
— Wondering

A. Let’s have a look at how life insurance policy is dealt with.

Your gross estate consists of all home that you have. This would certainly consist of any type of plan guaranteeing your life if you’re the proprietor of the policy.

As long as you have “occurrences of possession,” the policy would be included in your taxable estate, claimed Betty Thomas, a monetary organizer with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.

” Events of ownership” enables you to obtain versus a policy, appoint or cancel, withdraw a project, name or transform a beneficiary, Thomas said.

When a person dies and also has a possession interest in the life insurance policy plan, the worth of the policy will be included in the deceased individual’s estate, Thomas claimed.

This may enhance the value of the estate to the point where either federal or state estate or estate tax could be owed, she stated.

If the ownership of the policy is altered to the trust fund, then all “events of ownership” have been waived, Thomas said.

The difference below is the possession of the life insurance policy plan, she said.

” By changing hands to an unalterable trust fund, you have actually essentially made a gift to the trust fund and also the gift can not be revoked,” she stated. “The policy is after that removed from your taxed estate.”

If the recipient classification of the plan explicitly states that the estate obtains the earnings, then the proceeds will certainly be included in the estate, Thomas claimed.

If this was to take place, not just would the profits be consisted of in the estate, possibly raising the estate value, yet they could also go through the insurance claims of lenders, she stated.

” If no recipient is called, the proceeds will certainly go into the trust fund as well as the trust fund’s beneficiaries will certainly rule, or if the plan recipients are beyond the trust fund, there is no effect on the estate,” she claimed. “Bear in mind if existing policies are moved to an irreversible depend on and you die within three years of the transfer, the policies are drawn back into the estate.”

If the taxed estate is excused from the government estate taxes, it’s still crucial to recognize your state’s inheritance tax legislation.

For New Jersey, the estate tax boosted from $675,000 to $2 million for 2017 and it will be removed in 2018, Thomas claimed.

And also keep in mind New Jersey likewise has an estate tax. A successor in New Jersey could pay as much as 16 percent inheritance tax relying on their category, yet life insurance policy that goes to a named beneficiary would certainly not go through the tax obligation.

The bottom line is you must ensure you speak with an estate attorney to be sure the trust fund document is written to ensure that it will do exactly what you want. Additionally make sure the recipient designations are assessed.

The Grandparent Scam

American senior citizens have become the target of vicious scammers who pretend to be their grandchildren. One such victim is an elderly man named Sam (not his real name), who was called by a fraudster through his workplace landline. The scammer started politely by greeting the elderly gentleman, referring to him as grandfather’. Sam was unable to recognize the voice and asked the caller to identify himself. The scammer said that he was the gentleman’s grandson Rick, who resided in San Antonio with Sam’s granddaughter Sally. The fraudster offered to inform Sam of a secret that Sam was not to share with anyone. Of course, this was meant to captivate Sam the more.

 

What Sam had not realized so far was that he was a victim of a well-choreographed financial scam that targeted many grandparents across the country. According to the FTC, nearly 11,000 elderly citizens were targeted in 2015 alone. The authority noted that sadly, the actual amount in dollars lost to the scammers may not be fully appreciated as most of the victims do not report their ordeal to the relevant state or federal authorities.

 

Keen to listen to the purported grandson’, Sam lent his ears to the caller. The narrative that followed was one that many grandparents have unfortunately known only too well. The scammer informed Sam that the previous night, as he and Sally were driving to a hotel from a trip; they had been stopped by the police. In the ensuing encounter, the fraudster continued, the police officer had discovered a stash of cannabis in the trunk of their taxi. They were therefore arrested and detained at the local precinct. The fraudster informed Sam that he had recruited the services of an attorney to sort out the matter. Of course, the fraudster knew that mentioning an authority figure like an attorney would lend credence to his narrative.

 

By this time, Sam was not only stunned by the narrative, but he had also been fully absorbed. However, the elderly gentleman realized was that if Sally owned a home, then what was his grandson’ and his sister doing going to a hotel? He became suspicious.

 

Totally confounded, Sam asked the youngster whether they actually had the drugs in the car. He was informed that the drugs belonged to the taxi driver, and that he (the conman) had been asked by the authorities to remain in San Antonio for the following four to six weeks; awaiting the completion of the taxi driver’s trial. He continued to say that the police had agreed to release them on a bond of $2,000 – as surety that they would present themselves for the duration of the trial.

 

Sam knew very well that both Sally and Ken were college students, who were due to resume their academic courses in two days’ time. The fraudster used this to create urgency in his plea.

 

The fake grandson asked Sam to talk to his lawyer, who he said was right beside him. Of course, the ploy was designed in way that the fraudster had a standby henchman to help him in his scheme. Fortunately, caution got the better of Sam, and he was quick to note that the background noise was very much uncharacteristic of a typical police station.

 

Being doubtful of the caller’s identity, Sam asked the scammer to contact their relatives in San Antonio, as Sam himself was too far away. To press his point home, Sam asked the caller to state his exact address. Feeling cornered, the fraudster disconnected the call.

 

Sam was unable to identify the scammer as his phone did not have a caller ID. It is conceivable that the call could have been from anywhere. According to FTC, such calls could originate from anywhere – even overseas.

 

The scariest part of this ordeal is the fact that the fraudster will refer to you by your own name, the names of your children and grandchildren, and other such personal details. Sam was scared by the fact that the fraudster actually knew where his granddaughter was living. FTC claims that the fraudsters buy or steal such information. We also inadvertently give away the information when we include intimate details about our life on commonly accessible social media platforms. Fraudsters will often frequent Twitter, Facebook and other platforms in hunt for personal data on their victims.

 

When the conman hung up, Sam sent out a group email to all his family members to alert them about the scammer. Surprisingly, he discovered that two other elderly gentlemen in his family had been victims of similar scams. In fact, one of them in Kentucky had been quick enough to discredit the fraudster, and when he threated to call the police, the scammer promptly hung up.

 

The other one was a resident of California. He received a call from a purported grandson, who claimed that he had been imprisoned for having been involved in a drunken brawl; and that he required $1,500 to post as bail. The fraudster said that his voice had changed as he had broken his nose in the fight. The scammer was able to convince the elderly man to send the money via Western Union, a branch of which was located near his home.

 

According to government sources, the fraudsters aim at making you so distressed that you forget to reason logically. After sending the money and getting back to the house, the grandpa received another call from the fraudster. He claimed that the first amount was not enough. That is when the elderly man realized that he was a victim of a scam, and hung up the phone. He called his wife and alerted her of what had happened. They also notified the police.

 

It has been noted that fraudsters will often call numbers randomly until they get that of a senior citizen, whom they consider as soft targets. They often paint a picture of a grandchild in trouble who needs financial help.

The lesson of the above narrative is clear. If you ever get a call from anyone saying that they are your grandchild and in need of urgent cash, do not be quick to act on that request. Tell them that you need to consult with other family members, ask for their phone number and address, and then hang up the phone. Then, go ahead to confirm if the situation is as depicted by the caller. That action could very easily save your money, and prevent you from becoming a victim yourself.

 

Have other questions about how to protect your finances and to take care of your loved ones in meaningful ways? Be sure to reach out to us for ideas on how we can help you.

Keeping Active as a Senior

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – As we get older our bodies begin to slow down as well as obtain stiffer, so exercise can obtain harder. However, staying energetic is very important to keeping us healthy.

Research reveals that workout improves our cognitive feature along with our physical feature.

For older grownups it is very important to get an excellent mix of exercise in various classifications: adaptability, cardiovascular workout, stamina, and also balance.

Adaptability: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and also the American Heart Organization (AHM) suggest older adults stretch three or four times a week for a minimum of 10 minutes. They need to try to extend the upper body, shoulders and elbow joints, rear of the upper legs and also knees, calves front of the wrists as well as hands, and also low back and neck.

Cardiovascular Workout: The ACSM and also AHM advise older grownups do 150 mins of moderately paced aerobic task every week. That’s about HALF AN HOUR a day, 5 times a week. Procedure of activity in 10-15 min increments spaced throughout the day are likewise efficient.

Stength: The ACSM as well as AHM suggest older grownups do toughness training two or 3 times a week enabling muscle mass teams to rest between sessions. The muscle groups to target are the core (abdominals/back), upper legs, butts, and back of the arms.

Balance: The ACSM recommends older adults balance train 2 or three times a week. It entails targeting stance control as well as sensory systems.

When you are working to stay healthy and balanced, here are some points to keep in mind:

Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist

Discover a workout program or exercise that is enjoyable, obtainable and also sustainable so it could become regular

Attempt to integrate physical activity right into your everyday routine. March in place while you brush your teeth!

Difficulty on your own to try something new, discover new motion pattern. Great for body and also mind!

Look into offerings at local recreation center as well as gyms. West Michigan has numerous sources available for walking clubs as well as team exercise classes developed for the older grownup.

To compliment your fitness routine, consume healthy as well as stay hydrated.

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