Why Elderly Need Google Home

Google Home for your elderly parents? How seniors with mobility or vision issues can benefit from a smart speaker. Control the temperature or call for help with just your voice.

Google Home for elderly
Google Home for Elderly

Google Home Smart Assistant

“Hey Google, call Mom”. Worried about your mother? Ask your smart device to give Mom a call.

Follow this link If you want to know how to set up smart speakers to make phone calls.

You can also search for video instructions. As a visual learner, I find it much easier to follow video instructions.

Nurses Like Smart Devices

What triggered this interest in Google Home for seniors?

A few weeks ago one of my news alerts had this teaser headline, “Why Google Home is Perfect for Seniors“. Up to this point I considered smart speakers to be a novelty. There are a few in my home, split between the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

I haven’t (yet) plugged into the whole “smart home” program. I still turn on the lights with my hands and TV with a remote.

Coffee is made in a French press, so no way to make it smart.

According to Nurse Next Doorone of these technologies is Google Home, a voice-activated daily assistant that can control devices around the house, make calls, provide entertainment, and answer over 100 million unique questions. You can link it to the TV, radio, thermostat and more by installing a compatible device and activating connections on your phone’s Home app. This virtual helper responds to voice commands, which means that someone with limited vision or reduced finger dexterity can easily use it.”

Why Elderly Need Google Home

Google Engineer Helps Dad with Parkinson’s

I also discovered this story about Stephanie Wilson and how she helped her parents live a fuller life with Google Home and Smart Assistant.

Wilson’s parents, Fred and Linda, live in a condo, and Fred uses a wheelchair. About 10 years ago, the University of Toronto philosophy professor was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a degenerative brain disorder that leads to loss of muscle control.

When Wilson heard her father talking about how hard it was to control the lights, she installed smart bulbs around the condo. Now, her parents control the lights by speaking to Google Home.

Link to Stephanie’s video and very moving story.

Hey Google – How Does Medicare Work?

Word of advice. If you ask Google about Medicare you will most likely hear “Sorry, I don’t know that one”.

If you want solid Medicare advice, ask GA Medicare expert Bob Vineyard. If you just want rates check out GA Medigap Quotes.

#GAMedicareExpert #GoogleHome #SmartDevice #GAMedigapQuotes #GAMedigapRates

5 Medicare Myths

We talk to a lot of Georgia seniors and find there are at least 5 Medicare myths that are common and should be addressed. If you fall prey to these Medicare myths you could end up paying more for your health care than you should. It doesn’t matter how these untruths originated. The reality of Medicare is this. Medicare insurance is the most consumer friendly health care coverage you will ever experience. But if you believe the myths and misrepresentations you can pay dearly.  hospital bed

 

 

Medicare Myth #1

Because of Obamacare, Medicare beneficiaries will have fewer choices and pay more for their coverage.

This is partially true.

Obamacare cuts Medicare funding by $716 billion dollars from 2013 – 2022. The promise is that savings will be generated by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse and requiring medical providers to achieve a higher level of care.

The truth is waste, fraud and abuse will continue. As long as government programs like Medicare routinely pay for services with little or no oversight, crooks will continue to find ways to game the system in their favor.  Obamacare cuts Medicare funding

The Medicare myth is, without Obamacare the government had no way to find cheaters. Future “savings” in Medicare insurance will come through reduced payment to medical providers and cost-shifting the financial burden for care to the Medicare beneficiary.

Reduced funding for Medicare Advantage plans will result in fewer plan choices for you, higher premiums, higher deductibles, higher copay’s and fewer doctors that accept Medicare Advantage plans.

If your doctor is paid less to treat you, or is only rewarded by helping you get well, how will this impact your ability to obtain quality care?

This seems a bit of a paradox. Why shouldn’t a doctor or hospital be paid for results? Consider this.

How many Medicare patients is a doctor willing to see if they are paid 10% – 15% less than they were last year for the same treatment?

Paying for results seems fair on the surface. But think about this for a moment.

If doctors and hospitals are punished (or paid less) for poor outcomes, do you think they will “cherry pick” the easy medical conditions and let the more challenging ones slide?

Of course they will.

Look what a report about Medicare hospital readmission penalties found out.

Medicare penalties appeared to land harder on hospitals that treat large numbers of poor people, according to calculations Medicare made and included in a regulation published Friday.

Among the safety net hospitals with the most poor patients, 77 percent were penalized, while only 36 percent of the hospitals with the fewest poor patients were penalized.

Hospitals with low income patients are typically found in inner cities and rural areas. One way for hospitals to avoid the penalties is to restrict the number of low income patients that are admitted.

Which brings up another Medicare myth about hospital admission.

When is a patient admitted to the hospital?

Just ask 74 year old Rosalie Winkworth. Like many frail seniors, she tends to fall and sometimes she hurts herself. So when she spent 4 days in the hospital her daughter thought nothing of it and assumed Medicare would pay most, if not all of the bill.

But Rosalie was never admitted to the hospital. Instead she was under observation. NPR picks up her story here.

After Winkworkth’s discharge, her doctors said she needed to go to a nursing home. But since the hospital considered her an observation patient, not an inpatient, the family had to pick up the bill.

Had Rosalie been admitted to the hospital and then discharged to the nursing home, her Medicare insurance would have paid her nursing home bill. By never admitting her the hospital avoided classifying her under the readmission penalty. But that practice also meant her nursing home stay was not covered by Medicare.

Oh, and did you catch this? The Medicare hospital readmission penalty is one way Obamacare cuts Medicare funding to provide free and reduced cost health insurance to people under age 65. Over 36% of Obamacare cuts to Medicare funding comes in the form are reduced payments to hospitals.

That is not a Medicare myth. It is a fact that can impact your level of care and how much you pay for hospital or nursing home services.

Medicare Advantage plans and Georgia Medicare supplement insurance plans will not help you if you end up like Rosalie. If your bill is not an approved Medicare charge you pay.

Georgia Medicare plans can show you ways to hang on to more of your savings and reduce stress over your budget. We specialize in Medicare supplement plans for seniors 65 and up. Most of our clients average saving over $700 per year by learning how to choose the right Medigap plan for their needs. Our GA Medigap Quotes page allows you to shop and compare up to 40 plans in 60 seconds. Why not try it now and see how much you can save?

 

Medicare Myth #2

Medicare Advantage plans are better than Medicare supplement plans.

Or the inverse, Medicare supplement plans are better than Medicare Advantage.

The truth of the matter is, each approach has benefits and “bugs” that appeal to some and not others. The only truth is, the plan that is right for you is the one that fits your needs and budget.

Medicare Advantage plans have lower premiums and are good for people that can budget for medical emergencies or have a pile of money sitting around collecting dust. In other words, they are good plans until you get sick.

Medicare supplement plans allow you to stay in the original Medicare system and make it possible for you to survive a medical emergency without hocking the farm.

Most Medicare Advantage plans give you a list of participating doctors and hospitals and tell you to choose from that list. A list that changes every year.

With original Medicare and a Medigap plan you can use any doctor, hospital or lab anywhere in the country, including your own back yard. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.

When you have a Medicare Advantage plan your monthly premium is less than with a Medicare supplement plan but that does not mean the cost is lower. The myth that you save money with an Advantage plan is just that. A myth. You simply pay for your health care now (with a Medigap plan) or later (when you have an Advantage plan).

Shop and compare GA Medigap quotes now.

Your information is NEVER sold

 

Navigating the Medicare Maze


 

Medicare Myth #3.

All doctors take Blue Cross.

BCBSGA is a fine company that offers a choice of Medigap or Medicare Advantage. The myth that all doctors take Blue Cross can get you in a bind.

Most Georgia doctors do not participate in ANY Medicare Advantage plan and the ones that do may not participate in your BCBSGA  Advantage plan. If you use them any way your out of pocket cost for treatment will be higher than if you had used a participating provider. In some cases, treatment by a non-par provider means your claim is not covered at all.

You won’t have that issue with original Medicare and a Medigap plan. Any doctor that treats Medicare patients will also treat you, regardless of which Medigap carrier issued your policy. BCBSGA only offers 3 supplement plans in Georgia. You can pick plan A, F or N.

Of those, F is the only popular choice (and N is a distant third). If you bought plan F from Blue Cross you might pay as much as $500 more per year for the exact same coverage had you picked a more reasonably priced carrier.

The Medicare myth that Blue Cross is more widely accepted by Georgia doctors could cost you a lot of money. Compare our rates vs. Blue Cross and see for yourself. Shop GA Medigap Quotes now.

 

Medicare Myth #4

Medicare supplement plans from “brand name” carriers cost more because they are better.

Medigap plans are designed by CMS, not by the carrier. CMS requires all plans with the same letter (for example, F) to be identical in every way. Plan F from Blue Cross is identical in every way to plan F from Aetna, Equitable or New Era.

Except price.

When you pay more for a Medigap plan you don’t get more, you simply paid too much. Who wants to do that?

 

Medicare Myth #5

All Medicare insurance plans with the same letter are identical, so just buy the one with the lowest premium.

This is where having someone who knows the Medicare landscape can help you avoid the pitfalls of buying the wrong plan from the wrong Medicare insurance carrier.

In 2010 Medicare allowed carriers to offer Medicare supplement plan N for the first time. Some carriers jumped in while others did not. One of the carriers that aggressively marketed plan N was Mutual of Omaha. Had you bought a Mutual of Omaha plan N policy in 2010 you got a good deal.

But only until your next renewal.

Mutual of Omaha stopped selling plan N in 2011 as losses on that block started to get out of hand. Those who kept their policies have faced ever increasing renewal premiums. In some cases their only choice was to drop their Medicare insurance policy and go without coverage (other than original Medicare).

More recently AFLAC entered the Georgia Medigap market in 2012. A little over a year later they dropped out. Their policy holders are watching their premiums continue to rise as that block of business sours.

The Medicare myth of buying the lowest price backfired. My 38 years in the health insurance industry has taught me how to avoid the pitfalls of jumping on the latest fad. That helps my clients to save thousands of dollars over the years by finding value without jeopardizing your bank account when things don’t work out.

So what about the dog?

I thought he was cute. Maybe when you shop for Medicare insurance you will remember him and give me a call to discuss your options. Don’t throw away money because you believed a Medicare myth.

 

#GAMedigapQuotes #AetnaMedicareSupplement #NewEraMedigapQuotes #NavigatingThe MedicareMaze

Hospice Patients Aren’t Dying

Medicare has a problem. Hospice patients aren’t dying like they are supposed to. When you are approved for hospice you are expected to die within 6 months. When hospice patients don’t die, the cost to Medicare goes up.    hospice patients

Over the past decade, the number of “hospice survivors” in the United States has risen dramatically, in part because hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren’t actually dying, a Washington Post investigation has found. Healthier patients are more profitable because they require fewer visits and stay enrolled longer.

Washington Post

Hospice patients that don’t die are big business for companies that care for the dying.

The hospice “movement,” once led by religious and community organizations, was evolving into a $17 billion industry dominated by for-profit companies. Much of that is paid for by the U.S. government — roughly $15 billion of industry revenue came from Medicare last year.

88% of hospice patient revenue is paid for with taxpayer dollars from Medicare. End of life care is big business.

Care for hospice patients is a covered expense under Medicare Part B. When you have original medicare and a Georgia Medicare supplement plan you are covered. Medigap plan F pays 100% of your approved Medicare Part B expenses.

Are you still paying too much for your Medicare supplement plan? If you have Medigap plan F from AARP (United Healthcare), Blue Cross of Georgia, or Mutual of Omaha you are probably paying more than you should.

Shop and compare your plan costs now.

GA Medigap Quotes

Do you want to know what Medicare covers if you are a hospice patient? Click to review Medicare Hospice Benefits.

At AseraCare, for example, one of the nation’s largest for-profit chains, hospice patients kept on living. About 78 percent of patients who enrolled at the Mobile, Ala., branch left the hospice’s care alive, according to company figures.

That’s good news for the patients and their families, but bad news for Medicare. One wonders if these runaway costs will catch the eye of lawmakers that will respond with reduced funding for hospice patients.

Medicare Patients Face Bigger Hospital Bills

Medicare patientsMany Medicare patients may find themselves paying more for their care following a hospital stay. A LOT more. If your hospital admission qualifies under Medicare rules, you are entitled to up to 20 days convalescent care that is covered by Medicare.

But some Medicare patients are short changed due to the way their hospital stay is coded. They can still go to a nursing home, but may have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars up front.

A patient could be treated at a hospital for congestive heart failure for four days then, because the stay didn’t count as an admission, owe $250 a day for follow-up nursing home care.

Post Gazette

Ouch!

Medicare patients need to know the rules if they want to hang on to their money. The federal government is trying to balance their budget on the backs of seniors.

What has changed is Medicare’s interpretation of what constitutes an inpatient hospitalization — and several days in a hospital bed receiving treatment under a doctor’s care does not necessarily meet the criteria.

Medicare changed the rules, but did you get the memo?

No, because there wasn’t one. In most cases you discover the rule change when you get a huge bill from the nursing home.hospital

Historically, an outpatient observation would be a period of time when a person is being evaluated for something like chest pain or is receiving short-term treatment while doctors decide if further, inpatient care is needed.

But, in an attempt to hold down costs, the scope of “observations” now can include spine fractures or overnight stays that last several days while the patient undergoes tests and receives treatment.

The definition of observation changed. If your stay was less than 24 hours it would have been classified as observation, not an inpatient admission. But now you can stay several days without technically being admitted.

With Medicaid, which provides coverage for low-income families, observations are not reimbursed at all.

Now Medicare patients and those with private insurance are paying the price, too. Under Medicare rules, a beneficiary is entitled to a nursing home stay following a minimum three-day hospitalization. But it must be a three-day admission — and neither time spent in the emergency room nor the day of discharge count.

In other words, someone can be receiving hospital treatment for congestive heart failure over four days but Medicare may consider it an observation. Then, when the patient transfers to a nursing home afterward, there’s no coverage — and the facility may start charging $250 a day or more.

So now you know.

If you are a Medicare patient in a hospital, know the rules unless you want to pay dearly.

If Medicare denies your claim, your Medicare supplement plan won’t pay either. Something to keep in mind.

Georgia Medicare Plans have the best Medigap rates in Georgia. Check us out for yourself.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

 

#Medicare  #observation

Convalescent Care and Nursing Homes

Convalescent care and nursing homes in Georgia presents a challenge.

Which nursing home is best for my loved one?

Where should I get my surgery?

Consumers often have no clue on choosing a health care facility for themselves or a loved one.

Sometimes they’re guided by a physician. But having more data about the quality of care at a hospital or nursing home can allow a person to choose more confidently.

The federal agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid has updated two websites that allow consumers to check out facilities near their homes.

The two sites, Hospital Compare and Nursing Home Compare, provide data on quality measures, such as the frequency of infections, how often patients have to be readmitted to the hospital, and the percentage of nursing home residents who report having moderate to severe pain.

Updates to Nursing Home Compare include the actual narrative text of nursing home deficiency reports, and figures that report a nursing home’s use of antipsychotic medications.

The Boston Globe published a series examining overuse of antipsychotic drugs to sedate elderly nursing home residents, many of whom suffer from dementia and are at risk of serious, sometimes fatal, complications when given these powerful medications.

Additions to Hospital Compare include new figures that cover the potential health risks of imaging services, such as exposure to unnecessary radiation.

The sites can be found online at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/ and www.medicare.gov/nhcompare/

http://www.georgiahealthnews.com/2012/07/finding-place-care/#more-19963

Medicare only covers skilled care. To receive Medicare benefits for a nursing home stay you must be admitted to a hospital for 3 days (not including your day of discharge), you must be admitted to a nursing home within 30 days of discharge, and you must received skilled nursing care for the condition that caused your hospital admission.

Medicare coverage for a nursing home stay is limited to 100 days and you are required to pay a copay for 80 of those days.

A Convalescent Care insurance policy may help defray some or all of the expenses. Ask us about how a Convalescent Care policy can help.