Los Angeles, Calif. (March 3, 2009) - Anthem Blue Cross implemented an across-the-board increase in Medicare supplement insurance plan premiums March 1, 2009, which is causing senior citizens to look for ways to maximize their healthcare dollars and minimize expenses.
This is particularly true in light of today’s recession and as IRAs and 401(k) retirement accounts continue to dwindle in value. As federal bailout and stimulus monies are released, some economists warn of possible increasing inflation rates, a concern for many on fixed incomes.
There is no way to entirely avoid rising insurance rates. AARP and AETNA both increased their Medicare supplement insurance plan premiums on Jan. 1, 2009, and depending on the plan, rates can go up at regular intervals as seniors get older. For seniors who are not affected by the upcoming Anthem Blue Cross rate increase, in the current economy it can be beneficial to shop around, since costs vary from plan to plan and from insurance company to insurance company.
Comparisons can be made by calling the various insurance companies one by one, by seeking out an insurance broker specializing in Medicare supplement insurance plans or even more conveniently by visiting a California-based Medicare supplement insurance plan Web site, such as http://www.medicaresupplementplans.com/. The site provides easy access to information about rates, plans and benefits from several prominent insurance companies.
“I received a notification that my insurance was being increased again. I went on the Internet…and now I’m saving over $100 a month,” said Sharon Davis, 67, of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Why purchase a Medicare supplement insurance plan at all? There is a common misconception that Medicare pays 80 percent of a senior’s healthcare costs. What Medicare actually pays is 80 percent of the amount it has approved for a particular health care service, not 80 percent of what the doctor actually charges. Medicare’s “80 percent” might, for example, cover only 50 percent of the doctor’s bill, often making a Medicare supplement insurance plan, also known as Medigap insurance, essential for senior citizens’ financial well-being.
Larry Peschek, 78, of Thousand Oaks said that his insurance broker “helped my wife and me get a Medigap policy that saved us money, but still had the same benefits.”
Available insurance options and plans can often be bewildering to seniors, leaving them to wonder what the difference in costs and benefits are between various Medicare supplement insurance plans. The information is out there; it’s just a mouse-click away at http://www.medicaresupplementplans.com/
Archive for July, 2009
Los Angeles, Calif. (March 3, 2009) - Anthem Blue Cross implemented an across-the-board increase in Medicare supplement insurance plan premiums March 1, 2009, which is causing senior citizens to look for ways to maximize their healthcare dollars and minimize expenses.
Retirement may sometimes make a person mentally weak. Finance can be one of the main cause of their mental weakness. Many a times, they wonder that if some unexpected financial problem hit them then how they will arrange the money. If this is the problem that disturbs them every time, then Aarp reverse mortgage will be the best option for the financially weak people. With this scheme, they can fight against any odd circumstances and it does not let them to seek help from others. Aarp stands for American Association of Retired Persons. The main objective of this reverse mortgage is to help the retired person at the time of crisis and help them to lead a dignified life. The retired persons of America are fully satisfied with his type of scheme. It removes their tension of arranging money to meet the crisis period.
Now-a-days, most of the people find their parents to be a burden and stay apart from them. They do not even provide financial support to their parents. The parents themselves have to arrange their livelihood. A person of self-respect even does not become ready to seek any financial help from their children and survive on their own funds. In the absence of their children, Aarp reverse mortgage supports them and helps them in their bad days. Aarp reverse mortgage is a ray of hope for the senior citizen. This scheme was introduced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This scheme was introduced keeping in mind the various problems that the senior citizens of the United States of America face while they are in need of money. This scheme removes the financial woes of the old people.
Money is a basic necessity for every age group and it becomes a great need for the old and helpless people. Old age brings various types of health problems and to fight against those problems, one requires money. Aarp reverse mortgage arranges money for them. This scheme is available only for the person bearing age 65 and above. The procedures to get the loan are very easy and require less paper works. A senior citizen can get loan against his house. The loan amount can be taken in the form of a lump some amount or it can be taken as a monthly installment. The monthly interest rate is also low. The scheme is framed keeping in mind the necessity of the senior citizens. Once the loan is allotted to them, they can use it in any way and satisfy their any necessity.
Aarp reverse mortgage is a blessing for the senior citizens of America. It removes their entire financial problem and allows them to live their life on their own terms and conditions. Before opting for the scheme, one has to understand its policies. They require undergoing a credit counseling class that will make them understand about the details of this type of reverse mortgage. In the United States of America, there are almost 75% of people over 50 years of age that takes class on this topic to the senior citizens.
When researchers at Ohio State University calculated the body mass index of 8,550 Asian, black, Hispanic, Native American and white 4-year-olds born in 2001 and 2005, 18.4% were obese. The difference in percentages between racial/ethnic groups ranged from 31.2% of American Indian/Native Alaskan 4-year-olds to 12.8% of Asian 4-year-olds. The difference in percentages was attributed to lifestyle differences both culturally and socioeconomically. Children obese at age 4 can have high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. “The heavier you are as a child, the likelier that extra weight will follow you through life” is a quote not to be taken lightly.
Also not to be taken lightly is an experimental program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which helps pregnant women control their weight. The program is based on new research showing excessive weight gain during pregnancy hurts both mother and fetus. It increases risk of complications during pregnancy and puts children at risk for obesity and diabetes later in life. Animal studies have shown the environment in which fetuses grow influences genes and children can be imprinted with a vulnerability to be overweight. Because nearly one-quarter of the 4 million U.S. births annually involve obese women, further research can’t “weight”.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, food labels can state zero grams of trans fats if the trans fats are less than .49 grams. To avoid even trace amounts of these harmful fats, avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils – which are trans fats. Manufacturers use these oils to add shelf life to products. Trans fats can raise triglycerides and LDL and lower HDL, increasing risk of heart disease. LDL starts going up when 3.8% of caloric intake is trans fats. In a 2000 calorie diet, that’s 8 grams. The process of maintaining good health is avoiding trans-fat-containing, processed foods.
Helping to maintain good health, a federal study of 545,000 AARP members – which took into account other risk factors like smoking and family histories of cancer and obesity – found eating large amounts of red meat increases the likelihood of dying from heart disease and cancer. People who eat the highest amounts of red and processed meats are about 20% more likely to die of cancer. Heavy consumption of red meat also increases the risk of death due to heart disease 27% for men and 50% for women. Now the FDA is getting down to the meat of the matter.
Is reverse mortgage a sensible step? How to deal with reverse mortgage? What are the objectives that have to be focused if opting for reverse mortgage? These and many more questions bubble in your mind on talking about reverse mortgages. But very few of us actually know the exact place to look out for these answers because incorrect or half information can bring out a confusing conclusion. And the questions remain at the same status with no valid assurance. The main reason for receiving half information about the mortgages is the hidden prospects of mortgage policies. American association of retired persons or commonly known as the AARP reverse mortgage has no such hurdles. The have simplified set of terms and regulations for providing basic required information.
AARP reverse mortgage has a motive of helping out people who are above 62 years of age. It is basically a financial plan to support senior citizens economically after their retirement. As the monthly income stops after retirement, many people find it difficult to balance their expenses with definite amount of pension and other income resources. The scheme is already well established and highly acknowledged by the people of America. However, the benefits coming from AARP reverse mortgage are unbeatable and greatly rewarding. According to the government every person must seek some valuable informative counseling before selecting any reverse mortgage loan plan and schemes. This can be easily done by meeting the members of AARP. Around one third of total American senior citizens are linked with American association of retired person and all the members are entitled to receive free counseling, which can guide them in understanding the entire idea of reverse mortgage in a more appropriate manner, so that they can make wise decision fetching enough benefits.
There are certain norms and rules to be applicable for a reverse mortgage loan. AARP reverse mortgage can thoroughly guide you on these terms. The most important among them is that the applicant must own a house because the complete dealing of financial transitions are settled on that basis with the broker. On taking the reverse mortgage loan, the amount of payment that the applicant is supposed to get in the form of loan is decided by the equity of his house and other such factors. An added advantage is the fact that you do no have to pay any tax on the money you get through the reverse mortgage. However, still the most prominent thing about it that overcomes all other features is that no repayment of the loan money has to be done. After the death of the person who has taken the loan, the broker reimburses the amount by the auction of the house instead of transferring the toll on their heir.
The AARP reverse mortgage page offer you a detail study about the ways in which you can receive your money from reverse mortgage. There are several schemes, according to which you can get the entire amount in one go or in monthly installments. There are few programs that present to you a credit line through which you can fix your monthly income.
It used to be true that a vacation meant getting away from one’s day-to-day surroundings for the promise of leisure and relaxation. While that’s still true, today’s travelers expect more from the promise.
For previous generations, leisure and relaxation often meant being idle. When the World War II generation wanted to get away, some could afford to be pampered, but most did not do much more than eat, drink, and be merry. It was a generation that was content to spend a weekend camping at a local lake, gamble in Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe, or take a cruise in the Caribbean. Leisure activity was to them, essentially, an unheard-of oxymoron.
Not so anymore. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), baby boomers have, in recent years, embraced greater willingness to travel, and have the resources to do it. But while that much is true, adventure has become a big part of their travel plans.
A recent AARP survey of 1,594 respondents ages 41 to 59 shows that about 55% of boomers consider themselves adventurous, and a whopping 77% feel they are more adventurous than their parents. The survey suggests that huge numbers of seniors are traveling, and that they want to participate in healthy activities when traveling. The baby boomer generation, unlike their parents, is not content to lie around on the beach or get their only exercise playing one-armed bandits.
You can bet that the travel industry is capitalizing on this trend. In fact, a recent relationship between AARP and Travelocity has resulted in Passport, a travel service site aimed at the baby boomer market. There are over 81 million people in the United States 50 or older, which equates to roughly 28% of the U.S. population. It’s a segment that controls 67% of the nation’s wealth, has more than 750 million dollars in discretionary income, and owns more than 28 trillion dollars in assets. Baby boomers also want to spend that hard-earned money wisely, knowing that self-gratification means eating well, drinking moderately, getting in a good hike or a few good ski runs, and earning a good night’s sleep while away from home.
Boomers know how to use the Internet, too, with nearly 40% of them booking their travel on the worldwide web. And, like much of the younger generation, they are looking for ways to streamline their lives, favoring e-commerce sites that allow them to quickly and easily pay for their vacations instantly via credit card, without writing checks or hassling with follow-up phone calls to book tours.
While good diet and exercise is uppermost in the travel plans of baby boomers, they also want intellectual or cultural stimulation, many having identified community heritage, artisan crafts, local theatre, naturalist-led hikes, and wine education as motivations for booking vacations in a given region.
Today’s mature travelers, then, are not content to while away their leisure hours idly. They want to learn, feel, see, and do. And they have the desire, tools, and discretionary income to do it.
I spend a lot of time on this blog glorifying protein from meat, which I do not stray from very easily. However, when new research comes out which challenges this in some way, I feel obliged to share it with you folks! So, here we go: a new study just out is suggesting that people who eat more red and processed meat may have a modestly increased risk of death from all causes and also from cancer or heart disease over a 10-year period.
In contrast, a higher intake of white meat appeared to be associated with a slightly decreased risk for overall death and cancer death. The study, out of the National Cancer Institute, assessed the association between meat intake and risk of death among more than 500,000 individuals as part of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Their analysis of the follow-up period found that of the 47,976 men and 23,276 women who died, the 1/5 of men and women who ate the most red meat had a higher risk for overall death, death from heart disease and death from cancer than the one-fifth of men and women who ate the least red meat (a median of 9.8 grams per 1,000 calories per day), (the same for the 1/5 of men and women who ate the most vs. the least amount of processed meat). In contrast, when they compared the 1/5 of participants who ate the most white meat to the 1/5 who ate the least white meat, those with high white meat intake had a slightly lower risk for total death, death from cancer and death from causes other than heart disease or cancer. The scientists think that cancer-causing compounds are formed during high-temperature cooking of red meat. Also, we know that meat also is a major source of saturated fat, which has been associated with breast and colorectal cancer.
So what can we “take home” here? Well, I have to wonder if these people were also very low in veggies and fruits intake—we know that when you eat your meat alongside these foods, your risks plummet. Plus, we know here that when you choose red meat cuts, you should always look for the leanest you can buy. I believe that these factors may be key in whether your risk is increased…but we’ll stay alert for further studies, for sure.
When you think of home remodeling, you probably think of extending a room or changing cabinets in a kitchen or modernizing an older home. Yet there is a whole new market of people needing home renovations - the elderly.
Renovations for the Elderly:
According to a recent CNN report, home renovations for the elderly are on the rise. These types of renovations are the fastest-growing segment of the remodeling industry, said James Lapides of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). NAHB’s recent study concluded that 75 percent of remodeling companies have seen an increase in requests for so-called “aging-in-place” work.
The “Certified Aging in Place” Specialist program, offered by the NAHB Remodelers Council to teach professionals how to modify homes for older adults, has increased in enrollment, according to Lapides. Representatives of NAHB and the AARP created the program in 2002. Over 1,000 participants have learned building techniques and structural awareness for accommodating physical needs. (CNN, “Builders: Home Renovations for Elderly on the Rise”, by Grace Wong)
Statistics Show Elderly Want to Stay in Their Homes:
According to the AARP, 83% of people over 45 own their own homes. A 2003 AARP survey, “These Four Walls,” sampled this group and found that 75% expect to stay there for the rest of their lives. 51% envision making changes so that can happen.
In addition, The National Association of Home Builders conducted a survey of remodelers and learned that:
• 75% reported getting more requests for “aging in place” projects
• 60% had done “aging in place” projects. Of those:
• 43% were for customers aged 45 to 54
• 76% were for customers aged 55 to 64
• 67% were for customers 65 and older
Remodelers reported that clients wanted aging-in-place remodeling because:
• 75% were planning for future needs
• 53% were living with older parents
• 46% had acute, age-related disabilities
• 23% had acute disabilities unrelated to aging
(realestate.msn.com, “Elegant Remodels Allow ‘Aging in Place’”, by Marilyn Lewis)
A Remodeling Project:
Some families are bringing older relatives to live with them and extending a part of the house to accommodate that change. Others are making modifications for physical reasons, such as widening doorways for wheelchairs, lowering bathtub walls and adding support bars. Other modifications simply include updating an older home because of wear and tear. However, the going trend is to do it all with style.
An example of an accommodating remodeling project occurred in a California backyard. A playhouse was rebuilt to become a livable apartment for one family’s 70 year-old father with Paget’s disease. Building aspects of the apartment include a walk-in shower with no obstructing ledge at the entrance, two-inch-square commercial nonskid tile, lever handles instead of doorknobs and an anti-scald device to keep water temperature even. (realestate.msn.com, “Elegant Remodels Allow ‘Aging in Place’”, by Marilyn Lewis)
Suggestions for Remodeling:
If you are contemplating a remodeling project, keep the future in mind. You can make simple changes now for what may be needed many years in the future. Sam Clark, a builder and author of “The Real Goods Independent Builder: Designing & Building a House Your Own Way” and “Remodeling a Kitchen”, provides the following suggestions for changes to make to your home to accommodate the physical bodily changes that occur over time:
• Remodel your home so that you can live on the ground level if necessary.
• Widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs.
• Plan the front entry to be as level with the ground as local building codes allow. Eliminate stairs with sloping sidewalks.
• Try to think way ahead. For example, in a bathroom remodel, install reinforcement for grab bars.
• Plan for a lot of storage within the “optimal reach zone” - the space between 20 inches and 44 inches above the floor to a depth of 20 inches away from your body.
• Use drawers instead of cupboards where possible.
• Install lever handles throughout the house.
• Use hard flooring or choose an attractive, low-pile commercial carpet.
• Place electric outlets higher than usual and switches lower.
• Install a shelf outside the front door so you can put down packages while searching for keys.
Additional tips from the Home Remodelers in New Jersey (www.homeremodelersgroup.com) further suggests vinyl siding. Vinyl siding is made to look like real wood and it never needs painting, preventing any hazardous maintenance or painting. Vinyl windows are also suggested; they are easy to clean and energy efficient.
For additional remodeling articles, visit http://www.homeremodelersgroup.com/?source=articles
WHITE COAT or WHITE GLOVE:CONCIERGE MEDICINE 101
Posted on 28 June 2009
By Laura Turner
SDN Staff Writer
“Boutique” or “retainer” medical practices have been steadily growing since 2005. In this practice model, patients pay an annual retainer fee outside of insurance to gain greater access to their physician. (1)
While it is growing in popularity, some physicians, ethicists, and policy makers are concerned about the trend. (2)
“Concierge care…is like a new country club for the rich,” Representative Pete Stark, Democrat of California, said at an economic committee hearing to Congress in April 2004. “The wealthy will pay for exclusive access to quality care, and everyone else will continue to have inferior access to primary care physicians, specialists, and basic medical advice.” (3)
Proponents of concierge medicine, on the other hand, say that it enables doctors to provide the best possible care and remain in a clinical setting. Dr. Bernard Kaminetsky, an internal medicine physician in Florida, told the New York Times he would be working for a pharmaceutical company if he hadn’t been able to move to a concierge model. “I’m really helping a lot of people. I feel good about what I do,” he stated. (2)
To learn more about this growing trend, the Student Doctor Network spoke with Arney Benson of SignatureMD located in Santa Monica, California. SignatureMD helps primary care physicians transition their practice to a retainer medicine model. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy &Allied Health, and has over 25 years of healthcare consulting experience. He currently serves as President of AB Consulting and Senior Vice-President for Physician Development for SignatureMD.
How do you define “concierge” or “retainer medicine”?
Retainer medicine, sometimes referred to as “concierge” or “boutique” medicine, is a different type of care delivery experience in which physicians limit the size of their patient panel in order to provide more proactive health care services and greater convenience and access to their patients. Patients pay a defined fee to experience this type of care, the specifics of which vary among physician practices.
How do retainer practices fit into the current health care structure (i.e., Medicare, insurance companies, etc.)?
A retainer practice focuses on patients in a proactive continuum of care. You get to know your patients well and help them to coordinate their healthcare. Instead of building your practice up to a panel with thousands of patients, you will have a panel between 300-500 patients. While you can still accept insurance, you will also assess a yearly membership fee from your patients.
This retainer model typically requires fewer supporting personnel because of the lower patient load. Therefore, you will have fewer patients and fewer staff to manage.
The retainer practice also offers a different service level that might include cell phone and/or e-mail access, same day appointments, longer physicals and routine appointments, coordination with fitness and nutrition providers and 24/7 access.
However, any practice continuing to participate in insurance plans must take into consideration the view of retainer fees by those insurance providers. When the legality of retainer medicine comes into question, it’s typically because an insurance provider has a provision that does not allow the patient to be billed a fee for such management. It is wise to work with a team of legal advisors, or a company like SignatureMD, to mitigate your risk.
One needs to always remember that a retainer fee is for non-covered services. If you stick to that, there should be no added issues for the current carriers.
What do you see as the benefits of the retainer medicine model for patients?
Many patients complain today that by the time they get in to see their primary care physician, they have 10 to 15 minutes to explain their concerns before the physician is exiting the exam room. Your patients need a relationship and a physician that knows them and thinks about the bigger picture. A retainer practice allows for more time and more questioning. A retainer practices focuses on prevention and the overall continuum of care. Many physicians who practice in this manner also include their patient in the process in a more educational manner so they work on wellness plans together and discuss options in an informed (and un-rushed) manner. If you were the patient, wouldn’t this type of care be what you prefer?
What do you see as the benefits of the retainer medicine model for physicians?
Here are the benefits we find:
Increased income More time to spend with patients: This increased time available to spend with each patient will allow you to address all of their problems, rather than just one or two. It also gives you the luxury of having the time to truly explain their diagnosis and treatment, which will enhance the patient’s trust, education, compliance, and satisfaction. More compliant patients Patients who value and respect their physician Less time at the office
Our company, and others like it, also provide help with practice management, such as:
Secure online electronic medical records (EMR) Ongoing patient marketing Help with business operations Help with regulatory and legal issues
What types of personalities enjoy a retainer practice versus a more traditional structure – do your doctors tend to be more entrepreneurial, for example?
Not necessarily more entrepreneurial … but what that physician is: a forward thinking healthcare service provider that wants to deliver a quality of care model, and not the run of the mill reimbursement model (which is) stealing the only commodity necessary to function well in medicine, and that is the time factor.
The typical physician, if there is such a thing, that would do well has to have a driving force to change the status quo and deliver the kind of medicine and diagnostics as he or she sees fit and not be buried under the bureaucracy of the reimbursement model of short time diagnostics and paperwork equal to the time, and sometime more, than the treatments the physician delivers.
Is this a model that a physician could enter immediately out of residency?
Typically no. However, one could start a retainer practice, advertise the concept and build it from there. Realistically, that would take the better part of 24 months to 36 months to get to a reasonable patient enrollment to support the overhead of an office and earn a living. However, a better suggestion would be to seek out a retainer medical clinic for employment to build a relationship with patients so in 3-5 years, once your “affinity” relationship is such to support a retainer model, you can consider a boutique or concierge model. By the affinity relationship I mean, would the patient be willing to pay a retainer to keep you as their primary care physician. We find that a good professional relationship takes between 3 to 5 years to establish.
How would you anticipate retainer medicine changing if universal healthcare is implemented?
I think that’s it’s not a matter of if universal healthcare were to be implemented but a matter of when.
That being said, the retainer practice model will continue to gain popularity, as it has, as an example, in Massachusetts where healthcare for all has been implemented for the last two years. The reasons are many, but the driving force for many patients is that they are already frustrated with the existing system, including the wait times and care they receive from a 5 to 10 minute appointment.
The system will be a tiered system where everyone will have healthcare and those that wish a different service offering will seek out an alternatives, i.e. retainer model or a different delivery option for their primary healthcare needs. For further information and direct contact us call 866 883 8859 X 1 OR www.signaturemd.com
1) Jeff Levine, “Boutique Medicine: For Your Well-Being? Or the Doctor’s?”, AARP Bulletin Today, April 18, 2008
2) Abigail Zuger, “For a Retainer, Lavish Care by ‘Boutique Doctors’”, New York Times, October 30, 2005
3) Congress of the United States – Joint Economic Committee Hearing, Opening Statement, Representative Pete Stark, April 28, 2004
Traveling can be a lot of fun as individuals or as a family. With the rising costs of gas prices, many of us stay close to home rather than traveling long distances to vacation hot spots.
I have been the marketing manager for a resort property for over 11 years. My primary responsibility is to market this establishment to attract new guests to stay with us as well as to entice repeat guests to join us again for another great getaway.
Many of us would love to enjoy a vacation but simply are not able to afford the cost for a room. I have listed a few ways to cut the costs and enjoy a much needed getaway for a fraction of the cost.
Coupons – Many motels participate in programs where you can receive two nights for the price of one night. Ask about these discounts when making your reservation. Check the motel’s website prior to calling to see if there are any specials listed online that must be mentioned prior to receiving the discount.
Corporate Rate – You can often receive an additional 10% off just for presenting your business card at a motel. Of course this depends on whether or not you are arriving during their peak season, but it certainly is worth asking about.
Military Discount – Some establishments will give a considerable price break for those serving in the military. You will need to present proper identification upon check-in so be prepared to do so.
AARP – Are you a senior citizen and a member of AARP? You are eligible for an additional 10% off your room rate at all participating motels.
Group Rates – Motels love groups and it is important to ask if there are any group rates available during the time you intend to arrive. If you are arriving during a time when the establishment does not intend to have occupancy, they may graciously extend a discount for your group. Certain requirements will apply and will vary.
Travel Midweek – It’s typical for motels to be very busy on the weekends and slower during the middle of the week. Try to travel Sunday – Thursday to receive the best deals. The rates are usually lower during the middle of the week. Combine this with a coupon or other discount and you are well on your way to savings.
Off-Season Specials – Check the local newspapers and travel websites for any specials the motel may be offering. Depending upon the location of the motel, you can get a great discount! For instance, take in a winter storm at the beach and you are certain to get a spectacular deal!
Mailing List – If you enjoyed your stay, ask the front desk if they have a mailing list. Perhaps they can mail you unadvertised specials or keep you posted of any savings coupons they may be offering.
Traveling doesn’t always have to break our pocketbook. If you take a moment to do your research prior to making your reservation, you will be well on your way to saving yourself some money.