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Posts Tagged ‘retirement planning’

When Can Medicate Cover Nursing Home Costs?

Many families struggle understanding the complex requirements to qualify for Medicaid nursing home care. The language can be confusing, nursing home regulations are complex, and requirements vary by state. Specific requirements will vary by individual but that being said, here are the basic qualifications for Medicaid nursing home care:

Eligibility Requirements

The Medicaid program is a joint federal and state effort representing the largest source of retirement home revenue in the United States. This program offers care options for those in need due to health or financial position. Medicaid eligibility begins with a valuation of income, savings, and assets. The valuation process will vary by state, and several calculations are considered when determining eligibility.

  • Complicated math. The math to qualify can become tricky. In some states, qualification begins once personal worth dips below $2000.00. Housing factors separately, with calculations changing based on home value. Some personal property and household goods are counted separately, and life insurance policies may be independently factored. Bear in mind that while home values may be viewed separately, applicants deemed unable to return home may have potential home sales values taken into effect. There are exceptions, of course, speak to a health insurance carrier for more detailed information.
  • Medicaid is a supplement. Once all sources of income (including investments, retirement pensions, social security and others) are tallied, prepare to still spend 80-90% of personal income on nursing home care. Medicaid is used in conjunction with personal income. An allowance of 10-20% of personal income is typical for those residing in nursing homes.
  • Financial records. The net-worth requirements are investigated dating back five years. For those planning to quickly give away possessions to qualify, think again. Medicaid officials are thorough, exploring bank records for the past five years. Suspicious activity, including a rash of gift-giving, may raise red flags suspending care upon investigation. Using determined formulas, officials can help identify those trying to expedite Medicaid eligibility. For example, gifts totaling $50,000 in a state where typical monthly nursing home costs are $5,000 would disqualify eligibility for ten months ($5,000 x 10).

Spousal Security

Medicaid has specific guidelines for couples. When one person goes into a nursing home and the other continues to live at home, the healthy spouse can keep 50% of the couple’s possessions. There is a cap on this amount which will vary by state. Assets included in this calculation include the house, furnishings and household goods, as well as one car. The person living at home can also receive a portion of the other’s income, usually between $2,030-$3022. Income beyond the allowable amount will go towards paying nursing home costs.

Medicare is Different

Medicare is the government medical insurance program for adults aged 65 and older. The program also serves some younger individuals with serious health problems. Medicare is structured for medically-necessary, short-term rehabilitative care. Nursing home care is unavailable through the Medicare program.

Finding More Information

For more information on Medicaid contact the state Medicaid office. Contact information can be found at www.Medicaid.gov. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (Shiptacenter.org) can help with any Medicare or Medicaid questions.

We’re always hunting for insurance-related topics to share. Reach out with any questions; we’d be happy to hear from you!

Coping With Age Bias When Looking For a Job

For adults on the job hunt, age presents a challenge. Switching careers and re-entering the workforce are challenges enough to overcome. Older Americans are further challenged by discriminatory practices due to age. A lifetime of accomplishments and knowledge are still worth something. Before sending off a resume, update it in language for today’s interviewers. Prepare for interviews beforehand to warm up.

Age discrimination is a real issue for older Americans in the workforce. Complicating matters, recent actions by the United States Supreme Court render it practically impossible to know whether age bias played a role during an interview. Thanks to the Court, the Age Discrimination Employment Act (originally designed to protect older adults from age bias) has limits on protection. This ruling complicates the job search for older adults that want to continue working. Almost two-thirds of employees from ages 55-64 responded age is preventing employment, according to a 2017 AARP survey.

Workplace culture placing emphasis on older employees could introduce openings or promotions rewarding those with years of experience. AARP Senior Attorney Laurie McCann encourages this type of forward-thinking. Tulane University professor Patrick Switch is an age bias researcher. Switch says people today enjoy working beyond retirement age. Employers should view age and experience as a bonus.

Age as an Advantage

For those already employed, addressing age bias can be easier than for those applying for a position. Keeping track of potential age discrimination in the workplace can help address and correct age bias. Often, employers may be unaware of their actions. Age bias happens in more places than the interview. Employees passed over for management and training opportunities due to age are victims of age bias as well.

For job seekers, a resume is the first line of defense against age bias. Tailor a resume for the industry and audience it will reach. Include the most-recent experience. Demonstrate a willingness to learn, and be part of a team. During an interview, combat stereotypes. Dress for the environment. If the office has a casual environment, leave the three-piece suit at home. Show a willingness to work with a younger team. Rather than age, draw attention to experience.

Oftentimes, smaller and younger corporations are eager for older talent. The experience comes as a boon to smaller operations where team members wear many hats. Additionally, age-friendly employers can be found through the AARP and by using sources such as seniorjobbank.org. Persistence is your best ally; sending resumes will eventually result in an interview.

Visit back often for more great information about insurance topics affecting all aspects of life. Call anytime with any insurance-related questions.

Get Extra Help For Prescription Drug Costs

For people taking prescription medications costs are a priority. Those facing increased costs may turn to methods such as taking half-doses or skipping altogether to get more from prescriptions. Health is important. There are ways to save on prescription medication while taking the doctor recommended dose.

Ask a Doctor

Ask a medical professional whether generic or more-affordable options are available. In many cases there may be less-expensive alternatives. Switching from a name-brand prescription medication to a generic can save up to thousands per year or more.

Ask About Aid Programs

Many pharmaceutical companies have assistance programs for qualifying Medicare recipients. An estimated two million Medicare recipients taking prescription medication qualify,

There are 12 million people today, or about one in three people who have Medicare coverage taking advance of this cost-saving method. An estimated two million more qualifying people have yet to take advantage.

Qualifying recipients for full assistance pay reduced rates for generic and name-brand prescription drugs. Limits set at $3.30 for generic medication and $8.25 for name-brand help prescription drugs become affordable. Partial qualification reduces medication cost by 85%. Aid depends on income and revenue.

Qualifiers

For single people, an income cap of $13,820 limits participation. For married persons, $27,600. Relatives living in the home may affect income considerations. Savings accounts, stocks, and bonds count toward income and resource levels. Assets, gift amounts, and some other sources remain separate. These programs help people save thousands each year.

Register for Aid

For those interested in applying, three options are available:

  • Find an application and detailed instructions online anytime at socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.
  • Request for SSA-1020 over the phone, or apply by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213
  • Ask for aid and assistance in-person at a local SSA office.

Applications are easy to fill out. Instructions are available online or by asking an SSA representative. Bring a social security card, drivers license or similar, and bank information including account balance, assets, and investments. The Social Security Administration reviews applications with replies generally sent in a month.

Check back often for more information on prescription medications, wellness, and ways to save money. Topic suggestions are always welcome. Contact an agent anytime for all insurance-related questions.

Low Energy in The Afternoon Do This

Feeling sluggish in the afternoons? It’s a common issue. While mornings are usually high energy, the mid-afternoon slump sets in around 3 pm. Caffeine and sugar may be tempting for a quick boost but the reward is short-lived. The energy boost from coffee, sweets, or energy drinks comes at the cost of healthy sleep patterns. Stay healthy and sleep well. Here are 5 ways to improve daily energy levels:

1: Take a (Short) Nap

Sleepy? Take a short nap! For people with the option, a nap can help improve energy levels and even cognitive function. According to the National Sleep Association, even short naps can boost energy levels. They claim naps of twenty-thirty minutes increase performance while leaving nighttime rest unaffected. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published findings that older adults may want to consider sixty minutes of rest. According to the study, adults who napped, but did not over-nap, scored higher for cognitive function than adults who did not nap or napped too long.

Medical Information Today came to similar conclusions during a study on sleep and senior health. Their study drew parallels between rest and mental performance. Researchers compared elderly adults who napped and those who either didn’t at all or napped excessively. The elderly adults who did not nap or took longer naps were more likely to have lower cognitive ratings. The group who took naps for thirty to ninety minutes after lunch scored higher.

2: Take a Walk

Spending ten minutes walking or climbing stairs can boost your energy, even more than a cup of coffee! The University of Georgia studied sleep-deprived adults. Those who completed ten minutes of simple exercise daily score higher than those turning to caffeine. 10 minutes of walking is much healthier than a can of soda!

3: Eat Dark Chocolate

Feeling good can be tasty! A study by Northern Arizona University found that eating dark chocolate can improve memory. The study demonstrated improved brain scans after consuming chocolate consisting of 60% cacao or more. Improve basic cognitive wellness with a delicious dark chocolate snack.

4: Eat Nuts and Seeds

Success through trail mix. Nutrition-dense nuts and seeds help prevent the variations in blood sugar affecting energy. Nuts and seeds are great sources of protein and may contain healthy omega-3 fats aiding brain function. Combine nuts and dark chocolate for an energizing (and delicious!) snack.

5: Get Outdoors

Not enough time in the day for a walk? Spending a moment outside and enjoying the air can boost energy levels. If the outdoors are out of reach, white noise apps and other options exist for listening to nature sounds. An interesting note: Individuals tend to prefer water sounds 6x more than white noise.

Have interesting insurance topics to share? Insurance topics impact health, finances, and more. Call for answers to any insurance question!

In 2018, Medicare Premiums Likely to Decline

For the first time in five years monthly Medicare costs are expected to go down. Prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D should become more affordable in 2018 helping millions of Americans.

The expected monthly cost of coverage will dip $1.20 per month to a reduced amount of $33.50. The equated to a 3% annual savings for prescription drug coverage. This comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

This is good news for the 43 million adults over 65 enrolled in Medicare Part D. CMS attributes this decrease to lower bids by pharmaceutical companies, driving the costs for premiums down.

The actual amount Medicare Part D recipients will pay out-of-pocket will vary. Recipients select a medication program available in their area. Actual costs will depend on program deductible and co-pay, and the medication.

Income is also a factor. Adults age 65 and older 150% below the federal poverty level – $18.090 annually in 2017 – may be eligible for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy.

CMS should release actual costs for 2018 premiums in September. Open registration for Medicare begins October 15 and closes December 7.

We’re always looking for great information about insurance topics that may impact your health and your wallet. If you have any insurance-related questions please call us.

What Women Ignore May Kill Them

When catching up on women’s health don’t fall behind on cardiovascular disease. Too often, women and their doctors ignore the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Reduce your risk by learning how to identify the warning signs.

When you know a disease is serious, you are more likely to give it the attention it deserves. The American College of Cardiology reports 45% of women between 26-60 have no idea they are in danger of cardiovascular disease. According to the CDC, each year heart disease contributes to one in four deaths.

The same survey reports 25% of women between 50-60 don’t know the risks of cardiovascular disease. Of the 1000 women surveyed, over 200 were unaware cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death for women in the United States.

Know the Signs

Heart disease can affect all ages. Cardiovascular disease includes several types of heart disease – all with serious consequences. Signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Extended chest and upper body pain
  • Pain or discomfort in the back, neck, or jaw
  • Anxiety, weakness, dizziness, and nausea
  • Pain in the arms or shoulder region
  • Increased work of breathing

Keep Your Doctor Appointments

Of the women surveyed, 63% admitted to canceling doctor appointments. 45% reported delaying their appointment simply to lose weight before going in. Take your health seriously. If you haven’t spoken to your doctor about cardiovascular disease, make an appointment (and keep it).

Be Proactive

A surprisingly high number of doctors report they do not discuss cardiovascular disease with their patients. It is important you be proactive about your health. Don’t wait for your doctor to bring up cardiovascular disease. Know the signs and symptoms and take charge of your health.

Love great info on health and wellness? So are we! Please contact us with any insurance related questions today.

Doctors Can Help With Prescription Costs

Most patients between 50 and 80 don’t talk to their doctor about their prescription costs. Most trust their doctor’s recommendation, without comparing costs. What they don’t know may be costing them. Many times, less-expensive medications may be available by discussing them with your doctor.

The University of Michigan School of Medicine, with aid from the AARP, conducted a national survey on healthy and balanced aging. This in-depth study uncovered that many patients struggle to pay for their prescription medications. Approximately 2/3 of survey participants reported prescription of two or more medications. For 27% of those patients, the cost of maintaining so many prescriptions has become too high. These patients run the risk of missing doses due to high out-of-pocket costs, putting their health at risk.

The director of the survey, Preeti Malani, is also a Professor of Medicine at University. Dr. Malani expressed concern that if people did not take their prescription medications, they would likely suffer. This is not because doctors are trying to make things difficult. The study indicates improved doctor-patient communication could result in more affordable-yet-effective prescription solutions.

Among those reporting the costs for medication a problem, almost half hadn’t spoken to their doctor about it. 42% of participants thought their doctor was already familiar with the medication price already. A whopping 61% of respondents had not discussed medication costs with their doctor at all.

Dr. Malani thinks these results show an increased need for patient/doctor communication. Patients need to become comfortable speaking about prescription medication costs. At the same time, Dr. Malani encourages doctors to speak to their patients as well. The proof is in the study: of those patients who did speak to their doctor about prescription medicine costs, 67% found a less-expensive solution.

AARP representative Alison Bryant commented on the complexity of the prescription medication costs. Her concerns were that because insurance policies change, so may costs and coverage. This makes it challenging to predict the patient costs for medication. The supplier cost is only one factor of the medication cost for a patient. Bryant recommends patients discuss cheaper alternatives with their doctor or pharmacist. There may be alternate options available reducing out-of-pocket costs.

Determining the total cost for prescription medications becomes more complex with each prescription. Of adults surveyed, 63% report using 2 or more prescriptions on a regular basis. 47% of those take between 2 and 5 medications, while 16% of adults take 6 or more. The greater the number of medications, the greater chance cost will become a problem. Adding doctors to the mix further complicates things. 69% of patients stated seeing two or more different physicians each year.

Many people think their doctors know the out-of-pocket cost of medications they recommend. Dr. Malani says that this is not usually the case. Even your regular physician likely does not know the cost of your prescriptions. This is because of much more than manufacturing cost – many factors contribute to the costs different patients will pay.

Dr. Malani encourages patients to speak up. If you’re filling a prescription and shocked by the cost, ask about it. Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a less-expensive option. Pharmacists are an excellent yet often-overlooked resource for information and help. They know what costs insurance companies may cover. If the cost of your medication too high, talk to your pharmacist about what options may be available.

You don’t have to rely on a pharmacist. People should not be afraid to comparison shop. Costs can vary depending on many factors, such as:

  • Using a lower-cost prescription card
  • Registering with a mail-order pharmacy
  • Approval for aid programs, either from a pharmaceutical firm, or state government.

The National Survey on Healthy and Balanced Aging is a new study created by the UM Institute for Healthcare. In partnership with Michigan Medicine, the study also receives support and funding from the AARP. This national survey sampled 2,131 adults, dividing them into groups between the ages of 50 to 64, and 65 to 80. The survey has a small margin of error between two and four percent.

New Medicare Cards For 2018

New Medicare cards being released in 2018 will no longer carry Social Security numbers. This change was developed to make the cards more secure and prevent fraud as well as identity theft.

Identify theft has been increasing in recent years among those age 65 and older. In accordance with the latest numbers released by the Department of Justice, the reported cases of identity theft increased up to 2.6 million as early as 2014. This is an increase in half a million cases from just two years prior.

Here’s exactly what you will need to understand about the newly released cards:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Solutions (CMS) is going to begin mailing cards to recipients in April.
  • The cards will be sent through the mail delivery system to all 58 million existing beneficiaries. You don’t need to take any action in order to receive your card.
  • The newly released cards will contain an assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) which consists of a combination of 11 numbers and letters.
  • Your benefits are not going to have any changes under the updated MBI.

Frauds connected to the brand new cards are beginning to appear. Some current Medicare recipients have reported receiving telephone calls from scammers who are telling them that they need to pay for their new Medicare card and then asking for their bank account number or Medicare card numbers. Don’t provide either number through a phone call.

Medicare recipients are advised to not provide their number over the phone as this request is likely a fraud. Also, anyone who tells you that you have to pay for your new card is more than likely a scammer. If you have a reason to contact CMS or they contact you for any reason, they are not going to require that you tell them your number since they already have access to that number through their system.

We want to be certain you are financially protected. Naturally, should this prompt questions about other ways we can help you, please reach out to us.

Defend Against Dementia With These Lifestyle Changes

A newly released study shows a marked increase in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease. The number has jumped from 16.5 deaths per 100,000 Americans to 25.4 deaths per 100,000 between the years 1999 and 2014!

Today, 5.2 million Americans have this disease and almost 94,000 died from Alzheimer’s in 214. As the senior population increases every year, that number is expected to grow. That’s why it’s important now more than ever before to do what you can to limit your risk of Alzheimer’s. These are five changes you can make to your lifestyle that may help to avoid mental decline.

Increase Your Exercise

Adding an hour of walking to your routine, three times a week can provide a huge mental boost. New research completed by the University of British Columbia found that walking could boost mental health in populations with dementia. Researchers also discovered that those who had early vascular mental deterioration and began walking regularly saw a decrease in blood pressure and improvement on cognitive tests. They also showed improved skills on cognitive tests when compared to those who didn’t exercise regularly. Cognitive decline, which is likely caused by damaged capillaries in the brain, is thought to the second cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s.

Stay Social

While the exact connection between isolation and Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly known, some studies have shown a link between having a social support network and a reduced risk of dementia. One four-year study of 800 individuals age 75 and older found that isolated people were more than twice as likely to demonstrate signs and symptoms of dementia when compared to those that had regular social activities. The greatest benefits were seen in individuals who were both socially active and also emotionally active.
An even larger study that included 2,249 women ages 78 and older found that individuals who were socially active were 26% less likely to develop dementia when compared to individuals who had minimal social networks. Women who communicated with friends and family on a daily basis cut their risk of mental decline almost in half.

Watch Your Head

The Alzheimer’s Organization strongly recommends protecting your head as there is a link between developing Alzheimer’s and head trauma. When you drive, always wear your safety belt. If playing sports, wear a helmet and take steps to make sure that your house is fall-proof.While you may not be playing football as you age, you may be taking part in physical activities such as biking. If you do, always wear a helmet. You can also use these suggestions to make sure your residence is fall-proof:

-Make sure the floor is free of clutter

-Get rid of or fasten down any area rugs

-Avoid using wax on floors

-Add a slip-free mat to the tub

-Remove any wires or cables from commonly walked areas

Watch Your Diet

To get started in this area, make sure that your diet has adequate vitamin D which is a nutrient that’s important for cognitive function. Good sources include tuna, salmon, milk, and orange juice fortified with vitamin D. Folks with serious vitamin D deficiencies had more than twice the risk to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia than those with normal levels.

Being overweight, having diabetes, and high cholesterol all increase your risk of dementia. It’s important to speak to your doctor regarding your diet as well as how many calories you need. Eating more vegetables as well as reducing your red meat intake have been shown to decrease the risk of cognitive decline. Also, new studies indicate that artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks have been connected to a higher risk of dementia and stroke.

Get Plenty of Sleep

You probably sleep every night, but are you actually getting enough? If you aren’t sleeping at least 7-8 hours every night, you may be creating your own health problems, including mental decline. This claim is stated by the Global Council on Brain Health and Wellness.

One study suggests that a lack of sleep may actually cause Alzheimer’s. This is due to the fact that a lack of rest doesn’t provide adequate time for your glymphatic system to work. The glymphatic system removes proteins known as amyloid beta which can turn into plaques that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and mental deterioration and works while you’re sleeping.

It’s a common misconception that adults need to rest less as they age. There is clear evidence that cognitive and physical health is connected to getting an average of 7-8 hours of sleep every day.

By taking these simple and healthy steps you can substantially increase your chances of living a longer, more enjoyable life.

Can You Leave Life Insurance to a Family Trust?

Q. You did a tale concerning leaving life insurance to an estate. What occurs if it’s left to a family members trust fund?
— Wondering

A. Let’s have a look at how life insurance policy is dealt with.

Your gross estate consists of all home that you have. This would certainly consist of any type of plan guaranteeing your life if you’re the proprietor of the policy.

As long as you have “occurrences of possession,” the policy would be included in your taxable estate, claimed Betty Thomas, a monetary organizer with Lassus Wherley in New Providence.

” Events of ownership” enables you to obtain versus a policy, appoint or cancel, withdraw a project, name or transform a beneficiary, Thomas said.

When a person dies and also has a possession interest in the life insurance policy plan, the worth of the policy will be included in the deceased individual’s estate, Thomas claimed.

This may enhance the value of the estate to the point where either federal or state estate or estate tax could be owed, she stated.

If the ownership of the policy is altered to the trust fund, then all “events of ownership” have been waived, Thomas said.

The difference below is the possession of the life insurance policy plan, she said.

” By changing hands to an unalterable trust fund, you have actually essentially made a gift to the trust fund and also the gift can not be revoked,” she stated. “The policy is after that removed from your taxed estate.”

If the recipient classification of the plan explicitly states that the estate obtains the earnings, then the proceeds will certainly be included in the estate, Thomas claimed.

If this was to take place, not just would the profits be consisted of in the estate, possibly raising the estate value, yet they could also go through the insurance claims of lenders, she stated.

” If no recipient is called, the proceeds will certainly go into the trust fund as well as the trust fund’s beneficiaries will certainly rule, or if the plan recipients are beyond the trust fund, there is no effect on the estate,” she claimed. “Bear in mind if existing policies are moved to an irreversible depend on and you die within three years of the transfer, the policies are drawn back into the estate.”

If the taxed estate is excused from the government estate taxes, it’s still crucial to recognize your state’s inheritance tax legislation.

For New Jersey, the estate tax boosted from $675,000 to $2 million for 2017 and it will be removed in 2018, Thomas claimed.

And also keep in mind New Jersey likewise has an estate tax. A successor in New Jersey could pay as much as 16 percent inheritance tax relying on their category, yet life insurance policy that goes to a named beneficiary would certainly not go through the tax obligation.

The bottom line is you must ensure you speak with an estate attorney to be sure the trust fund document is written to ensure that it will do exactly what you want. Additionally make sure the recipient designations are assessed.