Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo? (part 2)

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Aug 01, 2017

How does the debate over health care reform affect you and your estate plan?

35274856603_c2af85ca10_b.jpg In our last post we discussed the importance of keeping up with the constant changes happening in health care reform. We will continue to examine how the on-going deliberations in Washington may affect you, your future health care and your estate.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and making sure you stay informed on all the important details.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform.   

The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP "skinny repeal" bill early Friday morning. With the "skinny repeal" bill off the table, lawmakers are unsure of where the health care debate is headed. 

Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his staff are trying to find a balance between conservative Republicans, who want a full repeal of ObamaCare and a replacement that has lower health care costs, and more moderate Republicans who want to preserve its more popular benefits.

The deal-making process is in full swing, with the additions of opioid funding and allowing health savings accounts to be used to pay for insurance premiums. Some Senators are for potentially leaving in some taxes to pay for more generous benefits, after weeks of being criticized by Democrats for offering “tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid cuts for the poor.” Conservatives want to cut more from the regulations and many from Medicaid expansion states are uneasy about future cuts to Medicaid.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has offered an amendment called the “Consumer Freedom Option” that would allow insurance companies to sell any health coverage plan they wish as long as they provide one plan that satisfies the “essential benefits” mandates of Obamacare. While the Cruz amendment appeals to conservatives who want to provide consumers with lower cost options, moderates are concerned it could negatively impact those with pre-existing conditions. Supporters have suggested that federal subsidies could help ensure that premiums don’t increase for those who are seriously ill. The CBO is currently scoring this amendment.  

President Trump, along with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, has even offered to repeal ObamaCare for now and replace it later.

Of course, no one is going to get everything they want so there must be compromises. Majority Leader McConnell has said that if the Senate is not able to pass a bill soon, Congress will have to pass a bipartisan measure to shore up the imploding health insurance markets.

And so, the Civics lesson continues. The process is at work.  As we see here the process can be long, unstable and worrisome.  Luckily for you your estate planning doesn’t have be. We at Dennis Sullivan and Associates make your estate planning and asset protection worry and stress free.  Once you have a plan in place you will feel confident knowing it will protect you, your family and your life savings.  You can enjoy life to the fullest knowing you and your family are protected no matter what unknowns lay ahead. 

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Affordable Health Care, Affordable Health Care Act, Announcements, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Health Care, Health Care Ruling, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, Retirement, applying for medicare, Medicaid penalties, care costs, care, coverage, coverages, disenrollment, elder care, enrollment, elder care journey, federal, health, health Care act, life-care plan, long term care, medicaid qualification, medical expenses, proposed changes, senior, unreimbured medical expenses, seniors

What to Know Before You Enroll in Medicare

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Feb 10, 2017

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU ENROLL IN MEDICARE

 Three critical things to know to keep your healthcare costs in check and make smart decisions.

Vaccination.jpg

  1. The importance of enrolling in Medicare on time

It sounds like a no-brainer, but most people don’t realize that the effects of procrastination in their enrollment can cost them a rise in their part B premiums (these are the premiums that cover medical services) by 10% for each year they were eligible for Medicare but didn’t enroll. The “Initial Enrollment Period” is 7 months long, beginning three months before your 65th birthday and ending three months after. You may still enroll during the “General Enrollment Period” (from January 1 – March 31 of each year), however coverage won’t begin until July and be advised that you may have a late penalty. 

Another item to note: if you’re already receiving Social Security benefits before your 65th birthday, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare (you’ll receive notification in the mail via a Medicare card in the 3 months before your 65th birthday if you are automatically enrolled) Special enrollment periods are available for  people who are either working as a volunteer abroad or still working at age 65 with employer-provided healthcare coverage.

  1. Which plan is right for you?

There are two main plan choices for a Medicare enrollee – the “original” Medicare plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Read on to discover the basic components of each plan and which is best for your needs.

 The “Original” Medicare Plan includes:

  • Part A: hospital coverage
  • Part B: physician/medical insurance
  • Part D: optional, provides prescription drug coverage
  • Enrollees can also opt to add on a private ‘Medigap’ plan which will pay for more of what Medicare doesn’t cover

 Medicare Advantage Plan, sometimes a better option than the Original Medicare Plan, are regulated by the US government although they are offered by private insurers. These plans are required to offer at least as much coverage as the original Medicare Plan and many often include prescription drug coverage as well as vision, dental or hearing coverage.

The Medicare website offers a helpful tool – the Medicare Plan Finder to help you compare your plan options. Whichever plan you choose, be aware that you may choose a different plan the following year.

  1. Take Advantage of the Available Services

Screenings and preventative care may sometimes be available at no extra cost, in addition to the wellness benefits included in your coverage. One annual wellness visit to your primary care doctor is included at no extra charge in your membership. You may also be eligible to other perks such as discounts on gym membership.

 In conclusion, following the tips above to make the most of your Medicare enrollment can enable seniors to live a longer and healthier life.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

If you would like more information on Medicare, the Affordable Care, or the impact of new health care laws on your health care coverage, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty.  

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Sources: Fox BusinessNews

Tags: Medicare, seniors, elder care, Elder Law, Health Care, applying for medicare, health, care costs, medical expenses

Confused About the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare)? | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Nov 14, 2013

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We are here to help!

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provides insurance for those who are uninsured, many of whom have, unfortunately, become overcome with confusion, fear, and misunderstanding, that they are avoiding to process all together. We understand that! We are navigating the options for the people we help, but even we are little unsure of the best options for them.

But there is one thing we are sure of, its the new benefits added to Medicare recipients! These added benefits include yearly Wellness visits (an opportunity to talk about your future), and coverage for numerous procedures that were not covered before.

For more information about this confusing topic, visit our website to receive your free copy of our report, "The Senior's & Boomer's Guide to Health Care Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty."

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

Make sure you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about Obamacare, Medicare cuts, taxes, & how to avoid nursing home poverty!

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Click the picture below for some more information on the 
"Senior & Boomers' Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty." 

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Tags: Medicare, Medicaid, MassHealth, Wellesley, medical expenses, medicaid qualification, Medicare, Obama, 2013, Massachusettes, Affordable Health Care, Obamacare

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Eyes On Washington: Future of Medicaid In Question?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Jan 16, 2013

Talks of the national budget and debt are dominating Washington.  There have been a number of questions raised regarding the long term viability of the Medicaid Program.  Many groups, like AARP and our firm, believe that preserving the Medicaid Program is critically important. 

Currently about 9 million people qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare.  These people make up only 15% of Medicaid Enrollees, but account for 39% of the Medicaid spending.  Medicaid is also the primary payer for 67% of all nursing home patients. 

Two Main Issues Being Raised About Medicaid 

First is the fcat that the program will be expanded by the Affordable Care Act (FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IMPACTS SENIORS AND BOOMERS CLICK HERE).  Eligibility rules will be loosened and as a result, more people will be able to recieve Medicaid benefits. 

The second issue is government spending on the program.  As the Medicaid program is expanded, the federal government is going to pay 100% of the costs for 3 full years.  After the 3 years, federal spending will be gradually reduced to 90% of the costs, with states picking up the other 10%.  Many states are still unsure whether or not to accept the deal. Experts warn however, that lowering federal costs will only shift the burden to other payers and will result in a decrease in care provided.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique education and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 

elder law, senior, alzheimer's, massachusetts, estate planning

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, long term care, Medicare, Medicaid, medical expenses, medicaid qualification, senior, Nursing Home, Fiscal Cliff

Key to Unlocking VA Benefits | Massachusetts VA Benefits Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Sep 07, 2012

Today you're going to learn what the VA considers "Unreimbursed Medical Expenses" - that is, what you and your loved one are paying out of your pockets - also referred to as "UME." This is a key factor to help you determine if a veteran may qualify for a pension! The formula the VA uses to calculate your real income is below:

Wartime Veteran & Spouse (if any) Gross household annual income

Minus: Unreimbursed medical expenses (UME) - for one year

Equals: Net income for Veterans Benefits purposes

VA benefits

Now, what qualifies as Unreimbursed Medical Expenses? Well, first of all, your household annual income includes anything the veteran earns, as well as his/her spouse or dependents. From that number, you would subtract UME's - which include doctors' and dentists' fees, Medicare premiums and copayments, insurance premiums, transportation to the doctor's office, and the cost of assisted living facilities or in-home caretakers. But there's much more - take a look below to see everything that qualifies!

Listing of Possible Medical Expenses: (this is only a partial list)

-Medicare premiums deducted from Social Security

-Supplementary medical insurance (Part B) under Medicare

-Abdominal supports

-Acupuncture service

-Ambulance hire

-Anesthetist

-Arch supports

-Artificial limbs

-Back supports

-Braces

-Cardiographs

-Chiropodist

-Chiropractor

-Convalescent home (for medical treatment only)

-Crutches

-Dental services

-Dentures

-Dermatologist

-Eyeglasses

-Food or beverages prescribed by doctor for treatment of illness

-Gynecologist

-Hearing aids & batteries

-Home health services

-Hospital expenses

-Insulin treatment

-Insurance premiums (medical)

-Invalid chair

-Lab tests

-Lip reading lessons (in connection with disability)

-Neurologist

-Nursing services

-Occupational therapist

-Ophthalmologist

-Optician

-Optometrist

-Oral surgery

-Osteopath

-Pediatrician

-Physical examinations

-Physician

-Physical therapy

-Podiatrist

-Prescriptions and drugs

-Psychiatrist

-Psychoanalyst

-Psychologist

-Psychotherapy

-Radium therapy

-Sacroiliac belt

-Seeing-eye dog

-Speech therapist

-Splints

-Surgeon

-Telephone/teletype for deaf

-Transportation expenses (20 cents per mile)

-Vaccines

-Vitamins prescribed by doctor

-Wheelchairs

-Whirlpool baths for medical purposes

-X rays

Note: Most medical expenses must be prescribed by a physician to be deductible from gross income for VA benefit qualification purposes.

So you see, depending on what your income is and what your medical expenses are, you may qualify - even if your gross monthly income seems too high. If you have questions about anything in the list above or aren't sure if an expense you incur is "unreimbursed" or not, go ahead and give us a call at (781) 237-2815.

For more information go to www.SullivanVeteransReport.com, which contains important information on the “Hidden Benefit” available to veterans and their spouses, and the steps you should be taking right now to find out if your loved one qualifies.

Download our FREE Veterans Benefit Report

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Register NOW for a Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Workshop

and receive a free Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection

Legal Guide with accompanying DVD

Nursing home care is more than $140,000-$180,000 per year! Attend this FREE educational seminar to learn:

  • How to protect your home and assets from the costs of long-term care
  • How to stay out of the nursing home and access in-home care
  • How to make sure your spouse is not left financially ruined if you need nursing home care
  • How to access Veterans benefits to pay for long-term care

       To register or call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com 

 

 

Tags: Estate Planning, Medicare, veterans benefits, VA benefits, medical expenses, unreimbured medical expenses, UME, wartime veteran

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