Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Friday, December 28, 2007

Medicare at Risk

has an excellent article pointing out how both Medicare and Social Security are at risk due to escalating costs and poor management. Some key points in the article include:

Social Security is threatened both because it is underfunded and Congress refuses to act, and because of Medicare problems.

Social Security’s funding problems are big. Medicare’s funding problems are significantly bigger, threatening to overwhelm the entire federal budget if Congress fails to act.

Although separate, the Social Security and Medicare programs are actually intertwined. Seniors who receive Medicare must pay monthly premiums that are deducted from their monthly Social Security checks. Due to the runaway health care costs, Medicare premiums increase each year above the cost of living adjustments added to Social Security.

Out-of-pocket expenditures to cover Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-pays for parts B and D of Medicare will consume 29 percent of the average Social Security benefit check this year. A worker who is 30 today can expect premiums, deductibles and co-pays for parts B and D of Medicare to absorb about 50 percent of his initial Social Security benefit.

Without congressional action, out-of-pocket Medicare costs will exceed Social Security benefits for today’s newborns. At that point, Medicare will have eliminated Social Security.

Government auditors estimate fraud in the Medicare program adds up to billions of dollars annually. The Government Accountability Office lists Medicare as a “high-risk” program due to fraud and excessive costs.

With facts like this, why would we even consider government health insurance or Medicare for all? Yes, health care costs are exorbitant for everyone, but clearly, the government has prove for the past 40+ years can’t be trusted with either our money or our health care.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Caregiver Burnout

The Area Agency on Aging Pasco and Pinellas counties in Florida has published a wonderful resource to help prevent burnout in caregivers. It lists symptoms of burnout and then a long lists in interventions, from sources of emotional support to respite care to self-care. It’s really a great list. If you’re a caregiver, check it out.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish a belated Merry Christmas to all of my readers. I hope that you are able to take a breather and enjoy the season.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eldercare issues at work has reprinted an article from Investors Business Daily discussing the toll eldercare takes on employees. The article reports that in 2005, 35% of the U.S. working population had faced elder care responsibilities in the previous year. And the problem will only increase. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, the number of adults over the age of 65 will reach 40 million by 2010.

To cope with the challenge faced by their employees, employers need to find ways to ways to help them balance their duel responsibilities. The National Study of Employers said that 79% of companies offer flexible work hours to allow staff to handle elder care issues, 50% of larger companies offer elder care resources and referrals, and 25% of companies with 50 to 99 employees also offer those services. This is a trend that will only increase.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Are Your Parents Costing You?

Maggie Jackson writes on that “Out-of-pocket elder expenses strain caregivers' finances, lives.” She notes that Gen Sandwich caregivers spend an average of $5,500 annually of their own money in caring for a loved one over the age of 50. This data is from a study released in late November by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, a Minnesota firm that coordinates long-term care. That sum was more than 10 percent of the median household income of the 1,000 caregivers surveyed by telephone.

I know that we spend a lot without even thinking about it, but probably not $5,500. Mom is still eager and able to pay for her needs. However, we visit once a month, which is pretty costly. And I’m always on the lookout for things that will help her out. It’s true. Caregiving is costly.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Financial Ties to Parents and Children Affect Boomer Retirement

Boomers, though arguably the most prosperous generation in American history, face mounting demands on their financial resources from both their adult children and their aging parents. In fact, one in six Boomers surveyed is "sandwiched," providing assistance to both their parents and adult children, according to Ameriprise Financial’s Money Across Generations study.

Boomers are torn between helping their adult children pay off debts and get started, and helping their aging parents with necessities. This help often comes at the expense of funding their own retirement.

Being smooshed seems to involve difficult choices, usually with too few resources. And the question is, are we helping our adult children by helping too much? For those who still have children at home, it’s important to think carefully about how much help we should give and when to require them to be responsible for themselves. My husband and I have very different perspectives on this. His parents provided everything for him through college, and were generous until their deaths. My parents provided nothing. I paid for college, grad school, and all expenses from junior high forward. Yes, it was very hard and I missed out on a lot. But I learned to be independent and make my own way.

As we’ve raised our son, we’ve engaged in an interesting blend of these two. The result has been a young man who is financially wise and independent. We’re so pleased with the financial decisions he and his wife are making, avoiding debt from the beginning. Hopefully that will continue since we are already retired and don't have money to spare.

Now I need to move some of Mom’s money to keep her independent…

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Health Care Advocates for Mom and Dad

The Milwaukee Business Journal writes than an increasing number of adult children are becoming advocates for their aging parents’ health care needs. This is having an impact on employers as these advocates are present at work, but preoccupied.

I’ve found that I need to be increasingly involved with Mom’s health care needs. She doesn’t hear well, nor does she understand much about the complexities of her medical needs. She nods like she understands, but if I challenge her, she really doesn’t know what the doctor said or what it means. To top it off, she’s what we used to call the “worried well”—people with minor health issues who are convinced they have cancer, heart problems, or something equally serious.

I’ve taken to having her make as many appointments as possible in a two-day period when I can plan to be there. It tires her, but we sure get a lot done. Recently we saw the podiatrist, the hearing aid specialist, and the neurologist. In each case, the problem was less serious than she had been telling me it was, based on her understanding of what they had told her last time. We got a lot done in a little time and I was so glad I was able to go. And this time, we even had time to take her for a drive!

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