Category Archives: Elder Law

Elder Law. Advanced directives. Power of attorney. Living will. Health care power of attorney. HIPPA. DNR. Long Term Care Insurance. Medicaid. Medicaid Penalty Period. Medallion Signature. Social Security Payee Representative.

Whole Body Donation – Another Option

 

The other night, I was at the emergency room of our local hospital and overheard half of a phone conversation.  Evidently, a relative had died of cancer within the last hour and there was no money available for a funeral.  The person I could hear was lamenting that she had no idea what to do.  She wanted to do the “right” thing for the deceased but didn’t know what that was.

Respecting her privacy (even though she was talking on a cell in the middle of the lobby), I said nothing….but I began to think about options she might have.

One that is not talked about much but could have been the solution to her quandary is whole body donation. Study of human bodies can help in the discovery of cures for many diseases and medical conditions and can aid in the development of new medical and surgical procedures as well as new, potentially life-saving, medicines.

If you think this is something you’d like to do, you should make the arrangements prior to your death.  You can preregister with a medical school or research organization by signing a consent form stating your wish to donate your body.  A copy of the consent form should be put with your will and other valuable papers so it can easily be found.

When you die, your family should notify the facility.  They will transport your body transported to the research facility or medical school with which you signed the consent form.

If you did not sign a consent form agreeing to whole body donation, your family can still decide this is what they wish to do after your death.  They will need to contact the medical facility or research center of choice and sign an after death donor form.  Then the process is the same as if you had made arrangements pre death.

When the group to whom the body has been donated is finished with it, they will cremate it and return the ashes to the next of kin or dispose of them in the way you have designated.

Cost to the family – usually zero.

For a list of medical schools which accept whole body donations, check out the list published by the University of Florida State Anatomical Board.

A national organization we found which provides a lot of information about this subject is MedCure.

Finally, for further information about funeral options and body and organ donation, go to www.diesmart.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long term care insurance: If you’re a woman, be prepared to pay more!

Over ten million people have purchased long term care insurance, primarily to cover healthcare expenses that may occur in old age or during catastrophic illness.

Up until now, this insurance usually treated men and women equally.  Policy price depended on health status and age, not gender.

But this year, long term care insurance companies have indicated that they are going to start charging women more for their policies.  One of the first companies to introduce this new type of pricing is Genworth Financial Inc., purported to be the largest seller of insurance in the United States.  Their goal is to reflect statistical realities.  Women live longer than men and prepare more effectively for their futures by buying long term care policies.

According to Genworth, two thirds of its long term care payouts go to women, even though, in 2011, women only bought about 57% of its policies.  Women live longer than men and have higher rates of disability and chronic health problems.

So this spring, if their proposed plan is approved by regulatory agencies, Genworth will introduce gender specific policy pricing.  For women, that will boost the cost of a new policy by 20 to 40%, depending on age and benefit package selected.

A Genworth spokesperson said that the new pricing will only affect women applying on their own.  Lower rates will still be offered to married couples who purchase joint coverage and the changes won’t affect current policy holders.

For more information about long term care, go to www.diesmart.com.

 

Nursing Home: If your parent needs one, will you have to pay the bill?

This is a true and shocking story.  John Pittas was ordered by a Pennsylvania court to pay his mother’s $92,943.41 nursing home bill under a filial support law.  The filial support law states that certain family members are liable for the care, maintenance and financial support of some other indigent members of that family.  It’s a law that’s been around since colonial times in one form or another.  Several states have abolished it but 29 have not.

John’s mother entered the Liberty Nursing Rehabilitation Center in Allentown, PA and spent about six months there after breaking two legs in an auto accident in September 2007. 

In March 2008, his mother, who was born in the United States, relocated to Greece where two other children live.

As the only family member still living in this country, Pittas was sued for payment of the huge bill.  The owners of the nursing home sued him for the money and a 2011 court trial was decided in the nursing home’s favor.

If his mother’s Medicaid application had been approved prior to the accident, this never would have happened.  Medicaid would have paid.  Last year, Pittas appealed but the Superior Court of Pennsylvania once again ruled in favor of the nursing home.

If you have an aging parent who may one day need nursing home care, what can you do to avoid having the same problem as John Pittas?

1) Talk with your parent about his or her financial resources.  If your parent is reluctant to have this discussion, relate John Pittas’ story.  It’s better to have a plan prior to an accident or other health crisis.

2) If your parent has limited resources, find out whether that parent is eligible for Medicaid.   If so, get your parent to apply immediately so that it will be available when needed.

3) If your parent is not eligible, sit down with all the members of your immediate family and talk about which family members can provide care or financial aid in case it is needed.

Don’t delay.  Put a plan in place today so that you won’t suddenly receive an unexpected bill for $93,000 or more.

For more information about planning for long term care and Medicaid, go to www.diesmart.com.

End-of-life care: We must find ways to improve it

In the 1900’s, death often took place in someone’s home with loved ones nearby. Now, as more people are living longer and lifestyles have changed, death often occurs in a hospital overseen by trained staff. The resulting increase in the cost of dying has raised serious issues related to the current American health care system.

The National Institute of Medicine, the health branch of the National Academy of Sciences, recently announced that “given the rapidly changing environment for health care delivery, punctuated by the landmark passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and the twin imperatives of improving the quality of health care while controlling costs, the time is ripe for a new examination of how individual values and preferences can be aligned while assuring compassionate care focused on the needs of individuals approaching death in an affordable and sustainable manner.” “…the matter of death and dying has become a political as well as an ethical, moral and societal one.”

The Institute said that it is pulling together a panel of experts to tackle this critical subject. “Given the importance of death and dying to our citizens and our nation, the IOM plans to examine the current state of end-of-life care with respect to delivery of medical care and social support; patient-family-provider communication of values and preferences; advance care planning; health care cost, financing and reimbursement; and education of health professionals, patients and their loved ones.

The study will also explore approaches to advance the issues surrounding the end of life from a wide variety of perspectives including clinical care and delivery, resources and workforce, economics, spirituality and compassion.”

On January 29th and 30th, the National Academy of Sciences also hosted the first National Summit on Advanced Illness as part of their effort to find ways for people to get good end-of-life care.

As our society ages, end-of-life care – how to afford and sustain it – becomes a critical subject. To read more, go to http://www.diesmart.com/.

Have you collected the Social Security benefits to which you may be entitled?

You worked hard your whole life and paid money into the Social Security program evey month. So did your spouse. And now that you are both retired, you are relaxing, enjoying life and collecting a benefit check every month.

But Social Security benefits are not just for retirement. They are for widows and widowers, too. That’s right. Some of the money you paid into Social Security during your working life goes to survivor’s insurance from which you may one day be entitled to collect benefits. The amount of those benefits is based on lifetime earnings.

It is important to know that the surviving spouse is not the only one who can collect benefits. Surviving minor or disabled children are eligible as well.

Diesmart has received questions from widows and widowers who want to be sure they have collected all of the pension benefits to which they are entitled. However, they usually either forget or don’t know that they are leaving money on the table when they don’t file for Social Security survivor benefits as well.

Don’t forget to contact the Social Security administration to find out what steps you need to take to collect benefits to which you are entitled. www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou.htm

For more information about death benefits, go to www.diesmart.com.