By Steve Worrall, Marietta Elder Law Attorney
If you watch television at all, you can’t miss the increase in ads for Medicare prescription drug coverage.
What you might not know is that the open enrollment period for this coverage expires December 31st.
If you (or your parents) are eligible for Medicare, you need to take advantage of this coverage now or you’ll pay more for it later.
Space does not allow us to break the whole plan down for you, but here’s some information to help you sort out your options.
What Is The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan?
Medicare Part D allows people covered by Medicare to buy additional insurance coverage to help them pay for their prescription medications. Medicare works with various insurance companies to provide this benefit and it’s available to everyone with Medicare regardless of income, your medical conditions or how much your prescriptions cost.
Where To Go For Additional Information
As with most government programs, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan can be confusing. The following resources are available to help you sort out the best plan for your needs:
www.medicare.gov – This is the official site for people covered by Medicare.
Medicare & You – This is a brochure containing information about various prescription drug plans, how to compare the plans and how to apply for extra assistance.
www.medicare.gov/MPDPF/Home.asp – This is an online tool that helps you compare various plans side by side to decide which plan will work best for you.
www.yourpharmacybenefit.org – This website was created to help people make the best use of their prescription benefits.
www.mymedicarematters.org – This provides basic information on Medicare and what it covers so you can decide what, if any, additional coverage you need.
www.benefitscheckup.org – This website is provided by the National Council on Aging and gives information on any changes to the eligibility requirements and what Medicare actually provides. You may be eligible for benefits you aren’t even aware of.
All of these resources are available, free of charge, on the internet. If you have any additional questions, contact Medicare directly at 1-800-Medicare to speak with someone who can help you, one on one.
By Steve Worrall, Atlanta GA elder lawyer
As an Atlanta GA elder lawyer, I help people plan for long-term care costs on a regular basis.
Long-term care can include any service that helps people who have a prolonged illness. The illness can be a physical disability or a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. The services may include help with activities of daily living, home health care, adult day care, hospice care, nursing home care, or care in an assisted living facility. The level of assistance required can include physical therapy, administration of medication, and help with daily activities such as bathing, eating, and dressing.
Paying for long-term care can be financially devastating to families. Contrary to what many people believe, Medicare coverage will not pay for most of the long-term care they will need if they suffer from a long-term illness. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average costs in the U.S. (in 2009) are:
- $198/day for a semi-private room in a nursing home
- $219/day for a private room in a nursing home
- $3,131/month for care in an Assisted Living Facility (for a one-bedroom unit)
- $21/hour for a Home Health Aide
- $19/hour for a Homemaker services
- $67/day for care in an Adult Day Health Care Center
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you are now young and healthy you don’t need to worry about long-term care, but consider this:
- Life expectancy after age 65 has now increased to 17.9 years, up from 1940 when life expectancy after 65 was only 13 extra years. The longer people live, the greater the chance they will need assistance due to chronic conditions.
- 44% of people reaching age 65 are expected to enter a nursing home at least once in their lifetime and 53% of them will stay for one year or longer.
So, the bottom line is that millions of us are going to need long-term care. It is important to put an estate plan in place that will protect your assets if you become disabled. I’ve seen too many instances where a family has waited until a crisis strikes to take action. Most of the time it’s then too late to save their assets and income from the hands of such a facility.
But instead, you can talk to an estate planning attorney now to ensure your bills will be covered in the long-run without losing your house, your assets or other income sources in the process. To get started, simply call me, your neighborhood Atlanta elder law attorney at 770-425-6060 for a free Peace of Mind Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session.
Together we’ll walk through the complicated world of long-term care planning to ensure your family is protected when they need it the most.