Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

Medicare Hospice Benefit

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Medicare Hospice Benefit

Hospice and other end of life issues are not things we often want to talk about. However, being prepared and knowing all your options is a good idea.

We should start by describing hospice. Hospice is a program of care and support for people who are terminally ill. The focus is usually on providing comfort instead of treatment. It is a choice a patient needs to make with their doctor and family. Hospice programs also offer assistance and services to family members during the process of caring for the patient.

If you have Medicare it will cover hospice services. The Medicare hospice benefit covers your care and you shouldn’t have to go outside of hospice to get care (except in very rare situations).

Once you choose hospice care, your hospice benefit should cover everything you need. All Medicare-covered services you get while in hospice care are covered under Original Medicare, even if you were previously in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers Hospice care if you meet these conditions:

Your hospice doctor and your regular doctor certify that you’re terminally ill (with a life expectancy of 6 months or less).

You accept palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure your illness.

You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments for your terminal illness and related conditions.

Palliative care means that the medical team will focus on relieving the patient’s pain and any other symptoms, including mental stress. Only your hospice doctor and your regular doctor can certify that you’re terminally ill and have 6 months or less to live.

To start the process you meet with your doctor to discuss all options. Medicare covers a one-time only hospice consultation with a hospice medical director or doctor to discuss your care options and management of your pain and symptoms. This one-time consultation is available to you, even if you decide not to get hospice care.

Medicare will cover the hospice care you get for your terminal illness and related conditions, but the care you get must be from a Medicare-approved hospice program.

Hospice care is can be given in your home. Although depending on your needs and wishes, there are also inpatient programs available. That is one of the things you will discuss with the hospice program (and your loved ones). Together you will create a plan of care that can include any or all of these services:

Doctor services

Nursing care

Medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers)

Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters)

Prescription drugs

Hospice aide and homemaker services

Physical and occupational therapy

Speech-language pathology services

Social worker services

Dietary counseling

Grief and loss counseling for you and your family

Short-term inpatient care (for pain and symptom management)

Short-term respite care

Any other Medicare-covered services needed to manage your terminal illness and related conditions, as recommended by your hospice team

You can find out more information at medicare.gov or by calling them at 1-800-Medicare. Hospice specific information and resources are available at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/hospice-and-respite-care.html

You can also talk to your physician about your options and care available in your area.

This information is meant to inform you of coverage available to you should you need it. Don’t be afraid to talk openly with your family about end of life decisions.

 

Medicare Coverage

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Medicare coverage

What does Medicare cover? It’s a common, but also complex question. Medicare has 2 basic parts, Part A, which is known as hospital insurance (we’ll define that in a minute) and Part B, which covers services, such as lab tests, doctor visits, etc. Part A and Part B together are known as Original Medicare.

Medicare recipients also have the choice to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (also known as Part C) which is delivered by an HMO. This coverage differs from Original Medicare not only in the delivery of benefits but also what is covered. There are many different plan options under Medicare Advantage and you can learn more at medicare.gov

When it comes to Original Medicare, coverage works like this:

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. To sum it up, Part A covers:

  • Hospital care
  • Skilled nursing facility care or Nursing home care (as long as custodial care isn’t the only care you need)*
  • Hospice (provided by a Medicare approved program, either at home or an inpatient setting)**
  • Home health services

**Keep a look out for a blog post on Medicare Coverage of Hospice Services coming soon.

*This is where some of the complexity of Medicare comes in. When a patient is sent to a nursing home/rehab facility for rehabilitation, Medicare covers your stay on a short term basis. Medicare does not pay for “long term care” or “custodial care”. If needed, Medicare will cover your rehab stay for 20 days at 100%, on day 21 (should you still need to be there) you will be responsible for a 20% copay. The maximum amount of rehab time Medicare will pay for is 100 days, so from day 21 to day 100 you would pay 20% of the cost. If you or a loved one are in a situation where you have to be in a rehab facility for more than 20 days, you should definitely be thinking about your options and what your plan for long term care is. At that point you should have already had a meeting with the discharge planner if not an interdisciplinary team at the facility.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Part B covers 2 types of services:

  • Medically necessary services: Services or supplies that are needed to diagnose or treat your medical condition and that meet accepted standards of medical practice.
  • Preventive services: Health care to prevent illness (like the flu) or detect it at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to work best.

Preventive services include screenings such as, mammograms, colonoscopies, bone mass measurements, and other cancer screenings, if your doctor thinks you are at risk. You also get a Welcome to Medicare visit within your first 12 months of enrollment, during this visit you can talk to your doctor about screenings and review your medical history. In addition to the Welcome to Medicare visit, you are entitled to an Annual Wellness visit. You pay nothing for most preventive services if you get the services from a health care provider who accepts assignment.

Part B covers things like:

  • Ambulance services
  • Durable medical equipment (DME)
  • Mental health
    • Inpatient
    • Outpatient
    • Partial hospitalization
  • Getting a second opinion before surgery
  • Limited outpatient prescription drugs

The fourth part of Medicare is Part D, which is prescription drug coverage. With Original Medicare prescriptions are not paid for, therefore you should obtain a separate Medicare Part D plan.

To learn more about all the parts of Medicare and to explore your options, such as, Original Medicare (Part A & B), Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D) visit https://www.medicare.gov/ or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

You can also contact your local SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) through you County- find their contact information at: http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/home/sashipsite.html or call the SHIP Information Center at 1-800-792-8820.

 

medicare

Social Security Facts

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Social Security Facts

Recently, NJFA Deputy Director, Melissa Chalker sat down with two representatives from the Social Security Administration for a taping of our half hour TV program Aging Insights.

Given all of the extensive information they shared, we thought it was time to do a blog about Social Security benefits and what you need to know. Be sure to tune into the show in September, in the meantime, here are some facts.

Social Security is a family insurance program. It is meant to be additional income for those who are retired, disabled, widowed, etc. Eligibility for retirement benefits is based on your work history (the # of credits you earned while working and paying into the Social Security system) and your age. Depending on the year you were born, your retirement age could be anywhere between 65 and 67 years of age. You can receive your benefits starting at age 62, however it will be a reduced benefit because you are choosing to receive it early. Reduction amounts are calculated based on when your official retirement age should be.

All of this information and more is available at sss.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213. You can start a my social security account online, look up information about Social Security and/or Medicare benefits and even apply for benefits online. A my social security account is available for anyone over 18 who is working, it helps you to track your Social Security record, estimate your benefit and much more. Social Security’s website is safe and secure, be sure to sign up for your account and create your own user name and password to protect your identity.

Many people don’t know that Social Security benefits are also for family members of a retired person. If a retired individual has minor children, disabled children and/or a spouse caring for a minor child, those family members may also be eligible for a monthly benefit. More information about those benefits are available by contacting Social Security or creating a my social security account to see what benefits you and your family could receive.

Information about benefits for spouses, survivors, disabled individuals and more is available at ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (Mon- Fri).

 

Announcing NJFA’s 17th Annual Conference!

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Announcing NJFA’s 17th Annual Conference!

NJFA will hold its 17th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 3rd at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. The 2015 Keynote Speakers are James Firman, CEO of NCOA and Nora Dowd Eisenhower, Assistant Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans. Jim Firman will address the crowd in the morning. Heis recognized leader and advocate in the field of aging. Mr. Firman will discuss a variety of topics including key aspects of the political and legislative landscape, such as the White House Conference on Aging and the Affordable Care Act. He will also talk about NCOA’s work on Elder Justice, Economic Security, Benefits Check-up, Senior Hunger and evidence based programs.

Ms. Dowd Eisenhower will be the luncheon keynote speaker and will discuss the mission and structure of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the specific role of the Office for Older Americans. She will also talk about CFPB tools/guides on financial decisions such as reverse mortgages or choosing a financial advisor. This will include two programs from CFPB that look at preventing elder financial exploitation and guides created for powers of attorney, etc.

The 2015 conference workshop speakers will include policy makers, direct care & clinical practice specialists. Topics include Dental Health and Oral Cancer Screenings, Addiction and Gambling in Older Adults, New Models of Care, Elder Bullying and more.

More information and registration can be found on NJFA’s website at www.njfoundationforaging.org Limited vendor space and sponsorships remain, call us at 609-421-0206, email at office@njfoundationforaging.org or check out the website for details.

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is a public charity with the primary goal to empower elders to live in the community with independence and dignity.slide_01

 

Job hunting over 50

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Job hunting over 50

Looking for a new job over 50 might not sound like an easy task, but it is possible. And there are some steps you can take to increase your success.

Keep busy. Be a self starter. You can remain active by consulting, writing articles or blogs. It’s a mistake to take too much of a break. Keeping in touch with colleagues is also great. Keep them up to date on what you are doing and ask what is going on in their field. Networking can be a very beneficial thing, you can even look into attending networking meetings.

Be up to date. Email accounts with aol or yahoo are considered out dated. You may want to look into creating a gmail account (google) or using outlook. You want your email address to look professional and convey who you are, so no cute nicknames. Your email address should be your name and maybe something to indicate your profession or field of interest. For example, mchalkerSW@gmail.com

It’s good to be careful about your online persona, but being completely unable to find is not good either. An online job search expert, Susan P Joyce said, “the biggest mistake I see is older job seekers confusing privacy with invisibility”. You can create a Facebook account and/or a Linkedin profile where you can share information about yourself or things relevant to your line of work. Remember to keep it professional, no pictures of you getting drunk at a party or inappropriate posts like off-collar jokes.

You may be able to negotiate a few perks when offered a job for less money than you were hoping. Holding out for a job that pays more is not always the best move, that job may not be out there. It may be necessary to accept a job that is below your asking salary. However, you may be able to ask for more flextime, vacation days or another perk. Do some research on what jobs in your field of interest are paying, this will help you be prepared when asked what salary you are looking for.

It’s also good to be prepared in regard to your resume. It’s a good idea to ask for help from friends or family, but you can also get professional resume assistance. And keep it short, no one wants to read a five page resume. Recruiters get a lot of resumes, keeping it short and sweet is key, limit your work history to your most recent jobs. Highlight your skills. And proofread, nothing turns people off more than typos.

And don’t forget to check your wardrobe. If you’ve been working in a business casual environment, you may have to spend some money updating. Make sure your clothing fits and is not obviously out of date.

Do your research on any company you are interviewing with. You want to sound knowledgeable when you meet with them and you also want to be able to say why you will be a good asset. And be prepared to ask the interviewer questions too. Don’t say no if you are asked if you have any questions, come prepared with a few to ask.

Apply for a job even if you don’t meet all of the “job requirements”. I think this is good advice for job seekers of any age. Employers aren’t necessarily looking for someone to have all of the skills they list in a job description, if you meet a number of skills on the list and have other good qualities like a good work history you might be just the person they are looking for!

You can find assistance at

NJ Dept of Laborhttp://jobs4jersey.com/jobs4jersey/jobseekers/older/

Pathstonehttp://www.pathstone.org/services/training-and-employment-services/#Senior%20Training%20and%20Employment%20Services

Workforce 50http://www.workforce50.com/content/JobsByState/New-Jersey-Jobs.cfm

AARPhttp://www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/?intcmp=FTR-LINKS-JOBRES-JOBHUNT

 

Encore Presentation!

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

 Encore Presentation!

 NJFA is pleased to announce that we will be hosting an Encore Presentation of two sessions offered at our June conference. If you were unable to attend in June or if you did attend and did not get to these sessions, now is your chance!

 Also, please send this along to any colleagues who may have missed out on our June conference.

 Space is limited! Register today!

 NJFA Fall Seminar Series

Monday, November 10th

8:30 am to 12 pm

Crowne Plaza Monroe

Aging in Place for All

Land Use and Complete Streets- Considerations for age friendly communities.

Karen Alexander, MPA, Managing Director, NJTIP @ Rutgers

Tim Evans, MS, MCRP from NJ Future

Recognizing and Adjusting Attitudes to Serve LGBT Seniors

Carolyn Bradley, Ph.D, LCSW, LCADC, Associate Professor Monmouth University.

 2 CEUS for Social Workers, LNHA/CALA, Activity/Recreation Professionals

 8:30 am        Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 am        Welcome

9:30 am        Program Begins

 Registration: $45

Please RSVP by November 3rd.

Name:______________________________ Organization:________________________________

Email:_______________________   Phone#:___________________

Payment:

?Check

Please make check payable to NJ Foundation for Aging, 145 W. Hanover St. Trenton, NJ 08618

?Credit Card

(Visa/Mastercard/Discover Only)

Name (as appears on Card) _____________________

CC #________________________________________

Security Code(3 digit # on back of card)___ Exp Date___

Billing Zip Code ____________

This program has been sponsored by The Reinvestment Fund

Questions? For more information, contact the New Jersey Foundation for Aging at 609-421-0206 or email mchalker@njfoundationforaging.org

Please return this form by November 3, 2014 to the email above or fax to 609-421-2006

Space is limited, register early!

 

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http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/

Property Tax Reimbursement Program Deadline Extended

Friday, August 8th, 2014

 Property Tax Reimbursement Program Deadline Extended

More seniors can benefit from tax relief

Access to tax relief is still available for New Jersey residents. The filing deadline for applications to the Senior Freeze (Property Tax Reimbursement Program) has  been extended to September 15, 2014. The original deadline was June 2, 2014.

The NJ Elder Index indicates that 184,320 persons over age 65 who own their home in NJ have incomes below $48,204, which is well below the eligibility threshold for the Property Tax Reimbursement program which hovers around $80,000.  These are seniors who struggle each day to maintain their quality of life by trying to cover their basic needs. The Property Tax Reimbursement is a huge help to these seniors.

In order to be eligible for the reimbursement in 2014 these homeowners must have paid their property taxes by June 2013. The Division mailed reimbursement checks to eligible seniors and disabled residents who filed their 2013 applications by the original June 2 deadline in mid-July. Checks for eligible applicants who file 2013 applications after June 2 will be processed and delivered as quickly as possible thereafter.

For more information and details on how to apply visit: http://www.nj.gov/treasury/taxation/ptr/index.shtml or call 1-800-882-6597

EyeCare America

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

You never know where you are going to find good information. This time we have to thank Abigail Van Buren, also known as, Dear Abby. A reader wrote in on the topic of eye care and how some people put off exams and tests due to insurance issues. Either lack of insurance or high out of pocket costs even with insurance; many of these people are seniors. The reader just happened to be an eye doctor and wanted to share information about a program that can help, EyeCare America. And luckily being the smart lady she is, Ms. Van Buren shared it in her column. So, we here at NJFA looked a little further into EyeCare America so we could share it with you.

EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Their mission is to preserve sight by raising awareness about eye disease and providing access to medical eye care.

By age 65, one in three Americans has some form of vision-limiting eye disease. To help address this growing need, EyeCare America provides eye care to US citizens and legal residents through volunteer ophthalmologists (Eye Doctor) at no cost to those who qualify. The exam is focused on eye disease and will not cover eye glasses, please see below for more details on what is covered in this program or visit the EyeCare America Website

EyeCare America facilitates eye care for U.S. citizens or legal residents who are without an Eye doctor. and who do not belong to an HMO or do not have eye care coverage through the Veterans Administration.

So, who qualifies for this help?

  • Those who are age 65 or older and who have not seen an eye doctor in three or more years may be eligible to receive a comprehensive, medical eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam. Volunteer ophthalmologists will waive co-payments, accepting Medicare and /or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full: patients without insurance receive this care at no charge.
  • Those who are determined to be at increased risk for glaucoma (by age, race and family history) and have not had an eye exam in 12 months or more may be eligible to receive a free glaucoma eye exam if they are uninsured. Those with insurance will be billed for the exam and are responsible for any co-payments. The initiation of treatment is provided, if deemed necessary by the doctor during the exam.

SERVICES THAT ARE NOT COVERED:

  • Additional services necessary for your care such as, hospitals, surgical facilities, anesthesiologists and medications, are beyond the scope of EyeCare America services. The ophthalmologist is a volunteer who agrees to provide only services within these program guidelines.

EYEGLASSES ARE NOT COVERED:

  • Some eye conditions may affect vision as though eyeglasses are needed, when what is actually needed is the medical care of an ophthalmologist, and not eyeglasses. EyeCare America provides this medical eye care, only. The program does not provide eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglass/refraction exams (the prescription part of exam) or cover the cost of glasses. If you are concerned about the cost of these items, please discuss this with the doctor BEFORE the examination.

For more information or to see if you qualify, visit the EyeCare America website at eyecareamerica.org

 

 

Heat and Eat Programs are Vital for our most Vulnerable Residents

Monday, June 9th, 2014

                                                                                               

Heat and Eat Programs are Vital for our most Vulnerable Residents    

The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) works with a variety of partners to highlight the essential safety net programs for low income seniors. These programs make the difference when seniors are faced with the daily challenge of paying the rent or buying food, paying for utilities or needed prescriptions.  SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- formerly Food Stamps) and LIHEAP (a subsidy program for utility assistance) are two such programs. 

The NJ Elder Index and related data presents the basic costs of living for single elder and elder couple households in NJ. The NJ Foundation for Aging developed this report in partnership with the national organization Wider Opportunities for Women. The NJ data indicates that 43 percent of NJ single elders and elder couples living the community do not have sufficient income or assets to cover their basic living expenses. The average statewide costs for a single elder renter living in a one bedroom apartment are nearly $28,000 annually but the average Social Security benefit for a woman in NJ is around $14,800 and slightly higher for a man at around 19,000.

However, many seniors actually receive significantly less than the average. This point was clearly illustrated in a recent letter to our office from a single 84 year old elder whose sole income is $761 a month from Social Security.  After her rent she only has $104 to cover her monthly expenses.  Her monthly SNAP benefit is crucial to her quality of life and wellness. Many NJ seniors who have worked and saved find they face a similar challenge with the widening gap between their costs and income. SNAP and LIHEAP benefits make the difference for thousands of our neighbors across NJ.

Cuts for both of these programs are now in place which will disproportionately hurt seniors and persons with disabilities. As advocates, we need to raise our voices to urge the restoration of these cuts by considering administrative changes for the LIHEAP, along with budgetary resolutions to assure that $3.2 million is available so that food stamps are available for about 177,000 families. It is also important to note that while these programs help low income seniors and low income families they also dramatically impact the local economy since it is estimated that every one SNAP dollar actually results in $1.70 that is actually spent locally.

These are essential programs for New Jersey’s low income residents and our economy.

 

Vulnerable Groups Linked by Need for Affordable Housing

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Vulnerable Groups Linked by Need for Affordable Housing

The NJ Foundation for Aging (NJFA) recognizes that aging friendly and age sensitive issues are in reality ageless. In this spirit NJFA works with many partners including the Anti Poverty Network (APN).  This organization represents a wide array of groups and concerns. The intersection or cross tracking of concerns creates a dynamic profile impacting people of all ages. Across the board access to nutrition & health services, employment and affordable housing are essential quality of life ingredients.

Among the vulnerable populations whose lives are deeply impacted by these intersecting concerns are our state’s elders. A simple examination of income data makes this reality painfully clear. The NJ Foundation for Aging’s NJ Elder Index and Data Report indicates that 25 % of all seniors living in NJ rely on their Social Security benefit as their sole source of their annual income. The average annual cost of living for a single elder renting a one bedroom apartment reported in the index is slightly below $28,000 and the cost of living is even higher in Bergen and Passaic counties. This level is a significant challenge when we know the average Social Security for a woman in NJ is $14,848 (and this is the average meaning many women receive significantly less). More than 252,000 single elders and elder couples face the daily crisis of covering their basic expenses with inadequate income.

Public benefits can improve the quality of life for the elder receiving the average SS benefit of $14,848 (as their sole source of income) as well as those with even lower incomes. This elder would be eligible for SNAP, for congregate meal programs, for Farmers market coupons, for energy and utility assistance, for PAAD, and a low income subsidy for their Medicare premium. Even with all of these existing programs, however, they would still fall short in the ability to cover their basic costs.

Here is where the needs and the solutions collide. Affordable housing is the only benefit that helps this elder really narrow the gap between their costs and their income. As declared by the headline for a recent NJ Spotlight article, “Affordable housing remains out of reach for a majority of NJ Renters”. This is not new news, but the article cites data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual “Out of Reach” report. The NJ Foundation for Aging recognizes that affordable housing is needed for people of all ages so people do not age into poverty. Housing policy across NJ is sorely lacking and we need to offer a full portrait of those who would benefit from this important resource: children, low income families, adults, health care workers, seniors, and residents with special needs. Let’s make housing for all a priority.