Monthly Archives: October 2015

Medicare Open Enrollment for 2016

medicare form

Medicare’s open enrollment period lasts from October 15 through December 7.

I am no expert on the matter, and rely on insurance professionals to help clients with these issues. However, since the period is upon us, I’d like to share the following article, linked from the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) newsletter, which may be helpful to those studying their options:

5 Things to Know About Open Enrollment for Medicare

Feel free to contact me for additional resources!

Image © zimmytws –


When is the Right Time to Start Long-Term Care Planning?

Elderly couple purchasing life insurance

If there is a reasonable chance that long-term care is on the horizon, the time is now!

One of the services I provide is the long-term care planning consultation. Often, these are “crisis planning” situations. That is, families are suddenly and (sometimes) unexpectedly facing the need for long-term care for a spouse or parent, and are in a panic about how to pay for it.

According to Genworth’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey, the median rate for nursing home care in Georgia is $5,565 per month. The Georgia Department of Community Health has determined the state average to be around $5,900 per month, and prices in metro Atlanta tend to skew higher. Note that this is for a semi-private room (read: 2 patients per room). The median cost for Assisted Living Care in Georgia is $2,880, and can get up to $6,840 or more per month. Finally, in my experience, full-time in-home care is the most expensive, running around $20/hour, or $14,880 per month. So, clients’ anxieties about the cost of care are often justified.

Payment sources for long-term care are limited. Other than paying out-of-pocket, the three sources are long-term care insurance, VA Pension benefits, and Medicaid. Both the VA Pension and Medicaid are means-tested, so certain financial requirements must be met for eligibility.

While an elder law attorney has a number of tools that may help an individual in need obtain eligibility for the VA Pension and/or Medicaid benefits without becoming completely impoverished, advanced planning is crucial. The more years we have between the planning and the onset of long-term care, the more opportunities we have.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you have a loved one who may need long-term care in the next five to ten years, consider learning about planning options now.

Isn’t that a great picture of me with my clients?? Just kidding, that’s not me. Image © Gajus –

Nursing Home Problems and the Nursing Home Reform Act


Do you have a loved one in a nursing home?

In addition to the inherent stress of having a loved one in a skilled nursing facility (often called a “nursing home”), some families face the additional burden of dealing with a facility’s violations of residents’ rights.

As background, in 1987 Congress passed the Nursing Home Care Reform Act to protect the rights of nursing home residents. The purpose was to make sure that the care nursing home residents received helped them achieve or maintain their greatest potential for well-being, while protecting their individual rights. These established rights include:

  • The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect;
  • The right to freedom from physical restraints;
  • The right to privacy;
  • The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs;
  • The right to participate in resident and family groups;
  • The right to be treated with dignity;
  • The right to exercise self-determination;
  • The right to communicate freely;
  • The right to participate in the review of one’s care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility; and
  • The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.

The Justice in Aging organization published The 20 Common Nursing Home Problems – and How to Resolve Them, by Eric Carlson. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, I encourage you to download and review this resource to confirm that the facility is meeting the required standards of care. If they aren’t, the publication has tips for resolution of some problems residents might face.

Image © whim_dachs –