Saturday, May 18, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
Medicare is something that anyone 65 and over has to deal with. I can tell you it’s very confusing. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person and it’s confusing to me. I know my parents had a difficult time understanding it. Therefore, I do think that if you have older parents on Medicare, you can be very helpful in this situation. I will only speak to issues I directly dealt with. Volumes are written about how to do this but hopefully this will help you
First, I want to clear up a couple of fallacies about Medicare.
- Medicare is free – It most certainly is not. For your entire earning life, you pay for it. 1.45% of your earned taxable income goes to pay for it. Your employer kicks in 1.45% as well. If you are self-employed, you pay 2.9% (both parts). There is no cap (unlike Social Security taxes) so no matter how much you earn, you pay Medicare tax on it. Once you are using Medicare, you pay a monthly amount (that comes out of your Social Security normally) for Part B (I’ll discuss that in a minute). For 2013, it’s 104.90 a month for most people.
- Medicare pays for everything – No, it doesn’t. For a hospital stay up to 60 days, you pay a deductible of 1184.00 and for anything after that, you pay about 300 a day up to 90 days and then it gets into “lifetime use days” which I don’t even really understand. Your Doctor visits, lab tests, durable medical equipment (oxygen tanks and generator for example), you pay 20%. There is no stop-loss as is common with regular insurance policies so no matter how many of these type expenses you end up paying, you never hit a maximum. Finally, for prescriptions, you have a 300 deductible. Then, you pay 30% of “approved drugs” until you hit the “doughnut hole” (2970) when you pay 100% until you hit 4750.00.
Let’s talk about the parts of Medicare. Part A is hospital and strictly hospital. It’s not doctors, even ones that come and see you at the hospital. That’s Part B – Doctors, lab work, durable medical equipment. Part D is prescription coverage. Seniors generally apply for Part A and B when they turn 65. Part D you handle getting on your own. What’s Part C? Medicare Advantage (which I know nothing about).
I think that’s enough for one day. I’ll continue with some of our experiences and some recommendations in my next post.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Let me say up front this is strictly based on my experience in having both of my parents pass away in the past year. Yours may vary. Also, I am not a financial or legal expert. I am just trying to give some direction to others in this situation. I know having this information up front would have been helpful to me.
You may possibly run into the situation where your parents don’t want to even discuss this. It may be from embarrassment, the fact they don’t want to admit their mortality, or they simply can’t accept their children helping them (in a role reversal). Be patient with them. You may want to broach the subject by telling them about others you know who didn’t do this and how difficult it is to deal with in additional to the emotion of losing a parent (most people know somebody who has gone through this).
First, do you parents have a will? If not, they really need to get one. It isn’t as big a deal if both parents are living (assuming they own everything jointly or they are in a state that recognizes community property). If however, only one of your parents is alive not having a will can cause the assets of their estate to be distributed by law which may not match what their real intent was. The probate court will want the original copy of the will (I’ll discuss probate in another blog post). It also a good idea to read the will so that you’ll know who the executor is and have an idea of their directives. You can either have a lawyer do this or download from one of the several legal form type web sites. This can be complex so I would recommend a lawyer if you can afford one.
Secondly, each parent should have a Living Will. This will dictate what measures should (and should not) be taken in medical situations. This is especially important in situations where a parent may be close to death and not able to speak for themselves. The person assigned the responsibility for carrying this out in the Living Will should be someone who can think clearly in these situations and not allow emotions to change the actions stated in the Living Will. This document is a bit less complex that a will, so can probably handle getting a copy yourselves and having each of your parents complete one. In Kentucky, the signatures must be notarized. When a parent checks into the hospital, they will probably ask for a copy of this.
Probably the most difficult document to agree to is a Power of Attorney. This document gives the person designated as POA the ability to act for that person in financial matters. This includes signing deeds, real estate papers,etc. You can even sign checks for that person if need be. You need to have a level a trust with your parents to do this. You should request a durable power of attorney. This means the POA is in effect even should the parent become incapable of making decisions. This document can be done either by a lawyer or downloaded from a legal web site and completed. It requires notarization.
Finally, it is a good idea to know where you parents have their checking and savings accounts, any investments (401k, mutual funds), which life insurance they have and any property they own. You’ll need to know every bit of this to carry out an estate when they pass away. It also helps if one parent dies and you have to help the other parent in carrying out financial matters. You should send every one of these entities a copy of the POA. It can often take weeks from them to process this document. I didn’t realize this and it delayed things when trying to help my dad access some of my mom’s retirement accounts when she passed away.
Next time I’ll discuss the beast that is Medicare.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
What I said to myself is that I would do is post a series of blog articles on some of things I dealt with concerning my parents before and after they passed away. I know that these type things would have been helpful to me and I hope they can be helpful to people my age. Look for these to start soon and I welcome any comments you have. I will say that of course “your mileage may vary” especially if you don’t live in Kentucky. I am certainly not a trained financial or legal professional.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
On the way to BWW, I listened to ESPN Radio. They gave the Giants no chance to win. Their top running back (Ahmad Bradshaw) and wide receiver (Hakeem Nicks) were out. Their 3rd wide receiver - Dominick Hixon (he of the great Super Bowl catch) was out too. It wasn't shaping up as a stellar evening. I got to the restaurant a bit before Jonathan and went ahead and got a booth. The restaurant is separated into two areas. One has just tables and the other tables and the bar. I was able to be seated (perferably) in the non-bar area. I had only asked for two things - a booth and to be near the TVs. The booth was right in front of a big screen TV with two others in easy viewing distance. I was able to watch the Brewers Pirates game while we waited. Jonathan arrived. Our waitress told us they had 3.00 appetizers til 7. So Jonathan ordered onion rings and I ordred mini corn-dogs. His onion rings were excellent, my mini corn dogs were not. They were not hot at all, most were lukewarm and a couple were even cold.
We waited until the game started to order our meal. It was "Boneless Thursday" so boneless wings were .60 apiece. I went with the mildest they offered which was Southern BBQ. Jonathan went with the regular wings. Again, they were OK, but mine were lukewarm. I could understand if the place was packed that they might have issues with food sitting before they brought it out, but it wasn't packed at all. Anyway, each commentator on NFL Network picked the Panthers to win. The game started and the Giants got the ball and immediately started a drive. Little known Andre Brown looked good as the running back. Eli Manning threw a TD pass to Martellus Bennett. This thrilled Jonathan not only because the Giants scored on their first drive, but Bennett is the tight end on his fantasy team. The Giants held on Carolina's first drive and then drove down for a field goal. The Giants held again and then drove down for a touchdown. Ramses Barden did a good job in catching passes in place of the injured Hakeem Nicks. The Giants scored a field goal and led 20-0 at the half.
We only saw one Panters fan. It was a guy and his daughter had on a Panther's jersey. He saw Jonathan in his Eli jersey and told her to boo him. She only looked to be two or three, so she just looked at him. The Panthers received the 2nd half kickoff only to fumble it. This led to a Giants field goal and a 23-0 lead. At this point, I ordered a piece of chocolate cake with ice cream. It was good but Jonathan didn't help me eat it, so I was stuffed. The Panthers finally scored a TD to make it 23-7. The Giants got another field goal to make it 26-7. The Panthers started to drive but Cam Newton was intercepted. The Giants drove for another TD to go up 33-7 on another TD run by Andre Brown. The Panters drove down to the Giants 8, but Newton was intercepted at the goal line. The Giants then put in their subs. They got one more field goal to win easily 36-7. I know this sounds funny, but the game wasn't even as close as that score appears. We hung out til the end of the game and then left (with Jonathan ecstatic).
The experience wasn't that bad. Even though my food wasn't that hot (literally speaking), I'd go to eat again and just try something different. Our waitress was reall good, she kept our Coke and iced tea glasses full and kept checking on us. We were able to watch the game with ease. So, I'd be OK with going back again.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
A few weeks ago, Donna and I were out looking for the Mount Pisgah Cemetery (in Graves County) where my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Peeples are buried. After we left, we headed home and passed a post office which brought back memories. It was the Boaz Post Office. You see for the first 21 years of my life, my mailing address was in Boaz Kentucky. We didn't live close to Boaz, it was ten miles away or so. When I would say that as my address, I would get strange looks from people. They'd say "Boaz, where is that?". It also is pronounced as one syllable and not two - I had this discussion with a lot of people though. When we went to a post office, we generally went to one of the Paducah ones. I do remember my mom taking me to the Boaz Post Office to buy stamps. I used to collect stamps when I was young and I bought several commemoratives and plate blocks there.
I was in the area today, so I went back to look around more closely. There isn't a whole lot there, in fact the Post Office is it. There aren't even any of those neat green signs telling you that you are in Boaz (for example, I live between Hamburg and New York which are clearly marked with those signs). I pulled out my Kentucky Place names book and got a little more info.
Boaz (Graves County) A hamlet with po was until recently (note: this book was written in 1984) was located at the jct of KY 849 and the Illinois Central Railroad tracks, just yards east of the Mayfield Creek and 9 miles North of Mayfield. The Post Office (est on Sept 20, 1869) was named for Joshua Boaz, one of the largest property owners in the county who in 1854 gave the New Orleans and Ohio (now the Illinois Central) Railroad passage through his plantation. The station became an important shipping point on the railroad and the community that developed around it was incorporated in 1888. In the past few years, the community has begun to shift to the Viola-Boaz Road (over 1/4 mile to east) where the Post Office was relocated to.
When I hear the Boaz vs. Bo-az discussions, I of course think of one of my favorite Bible accounts. Boaz and Ruth ended up being the great-grandparents of King David.
I pulled up to the post office and got a picture and headed for home. I went down Wice Church Road and passed Straub Cemetery Road. These roads reminded me of a couple of adventures I'd been on when I was young, but I'll leave that discussion for another time.
Friday, June 22, 2012
For Father's Day, Donna asked me what kind of dessert I wanted. I turned a few things over in my mind. I had recently gotten an email ad for Cold Stone Creamery ice cream cakes. The cupcakes I got for Donna from there for Valentine's day were excellent, so I thought I'd give it a try.
You have the option of ordering online. You first specify where you want to order from. Then you decide what cake you want. They have some types already listed for you. You also have the choice of making your own cake based on the type of cake and ice cream you want. Then, you specify the size you want and finally the date and time you want to pick the cake up. I chose one of the already listed types - Midnight Delight. This was chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and a chocolate shell with chocolate sprinkes. I chose a small round cake (6 inches in diameter) and specified it's pickup on the night before Father's Day at 5:00pm.
When Saturday came, I went to pick up the cake. It was ready when I got there of course. The first thing I noticed was it looked smaller than I expected. It ended up feeding us for three days (plus an extra piece for Jonathan when he came to visit) so it worked out OK. The cake did not disppoint. It was easily one of the best desserts I've ever had and definitely the best ice cream cake. It was rich so you didn't want to eat huge slices of it. The only drawback is cost. The small one we ordered was a little over 25.00. It was excellent though and I'd recommend you consider giving one of these a try for your next special event.