Get Involved in National Healthcare Decisions Day — April 16, 2010

February 22, 2010

Elder Law Center, P.C., along with other national, state and community organizations, is leading a massive effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making—an effort that has culminated in the formal designation of April 16 as National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD).

NHDD organizers are asking interested organizations and individuals throughout the country to help raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning on this special day—and throughout the year. To help realize this goal, they have created a Web site with information and tools for the public to talk about future healthcare decisions and execute written advance directives (healthcare power of attorney and living wills) in accordance with their applicable state laws.  For more information, visit the Web site at www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org.

Organizations and coalitions interested in participating are encouraged to sign up at the NHDD Web site. State coordinators are also being recruited to develop statewide networks and outreach activities. For details, visit nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org.

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Medigap Coverage Is Changing

February 12, 2010

Several changes are coming to Medigap plans, which supplement Medicare’s coverage. In June 2010, four current plans will be dropped and two new plans will be added, bringing the total number of available Medigap plans to 10.

Between copayments, deductibles, and coverage exclusions Medicare does not cover all medical expenses. To supplement Medicare coverage, you may purchase a Medigap policy from a private insurer. There are currently 12 Medigap plans that are identified by letters A through L. Each plan package offers a different combination of benefits, allowing purchasers to choose the combination that is right for them.

Beginning June 1, 2010, plans E, H, I, and J will no longer be sold. Individuals who already have one of the plans can keep it as long as they like, but no new policies will be sold. At the same time, two new plans — M and N — will be added. Plan M will pay 50 percent of the Part A deductible and some of the cost of foreign travel emergencies. It will not cover the Part B deductible. Plan N will pay the full Part A deductible, but it will require a $20 copayment for Part B office visits and up to a $50 copayment for emergency room visits. Plan N will also cover foreign travel emergencies.

There will also be some changes to the benefits offered by plans. The home health recovery benefit and preventive care benefit offered by some plans will be dropped. The preventive care benefit is duplicative of services that regular Medicare offers. The home health recovery benefit covered some personal services for individuals receiving skilled care through Medicare, but was underused. In addition, all plans will include an additional benefit to cover the out-of-pocket costs imposed by the Medicare hospice benefit.

For more information on the changes, click here.

For more information on Medigap, click here.

To discuss Medigap Coverage or other Elder Law matters with an attorney, please email the Elder Law Center or call 630-844-0065. The Elder Law Center is located in Aurora, IL, Kane County, in the Chicago Western Suburbs.