Health Care costs

  • Thread starter Elizabeth Richardson
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E

Elizabeth Richardson

Actually I prefer to call it sick care costs because you don't usually
interact with the system when you're well. How will you address the costs of
health care in retirement? I am especially interested in your views on the
costs you may incur for prescription drugs. It has been my experience that
health care professionals rarely prescribe methods to stay healthy, only to
cure what ails you. Do you think it is possible to minimize these costs by
doing things now to get/stay healthy?

Elizabeth Richardson
 
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Michael T Wing CPA

Elizabeth Richardson said:
How will you address the
costs of health care in retirement?
My plan is to vote for Democrats. Hopefully Hillary will run in
2008 and kick butt on the current absence of drug coverage under
Medicare.

As I have often said, no tax plan or financial plan is complete
without a POLITICAL plan (ie: whom you vote for).

MTW
 
C

cal-lester

Elizabeth said:
Actually I prefer to call it sick care costs because you don't usually
interact with the system when you're well. How will you address the
costs of health care in retirement?

Since I am already "there", I can answer that after 40 years
in the Life Insurance Field, my wife and I joined the Humana
HMO. In our County, there is NO monthly premium, and no cost
for Primary Physician visit. All else has a co-pay.


I am especially interested in
your views on the costs you may incur for prescription drugs.
Humana has low co-pay and in some cases NO co-pay
for generic's, $25 to $50 for a month supply for NON
Generics.

It has
been my experience that health care professionals rarely prescribe
methods to stay healthy, only to cure what ails you. Do you think it
is possible to minimize these costs by doing things now to get/stay
healthy?
The ORIGINAL concept of the HMO was to provide WELL-CARE
and attempt to keep you healthy. That has gone by the wayside,
as it is all a BUSINESS today. Keep costs down, give minimum
care.


And of course, it is best to do everything within your power
to make & keep yourself healthy.

btw, stay out of hospitals, they can make you sick................
Cal
 
B

Beep Beep

| Actually I prefer to call it sick care costs because you don't usually
| interact with the system when you're well. How will you address the costs
of
| health care in retirement? I am especially interested in your views on the
| costs you may incur for prescription drugs. It has been my experience that
| health care professionals rarely prescribe methods to stay healthy, only
to
| cure what ails you. Do you think it is possible to minimize these costs by
| doing things now to get/stay healthy?
|
| Elizabeth Richardson
|

Elizabeth,

I'll address your question from the viewpoint of companies that have *huge*
medical-related costs - HMOs. Over the last two years, many HMOs (including
Aetna, Cigna, BCBS & Wellpoint - fourof the largest, if not *the* largest)
have implemented wellness programs for their members after seeing research
showing that (surprise, surprise) the healthier someone is, the less they'll
have in medical care costs. They have come to the conclusion that it will
cost them less to put together these wellness programs now than to pay for
the medical care costs over the years. Of course, certain types of medical
problems are more prone to cost-savings from such programs; it's usually
chronic medical problems. By improving what you can in your life to reduce
the severity of these problems, chances are you'll be reducing your outlays
related to these problems. Some examples of chronic problems being targeted
by HMOs are asthma, hypertension, and obesity. They're also assisting
members with behavior modification programs such as tobacco cessation and
exercise "encouragement" programs.
Assistance includes free information packets about their problem, free
telephone information lines, structured management programs that include
small rewards for progress and persistence with the program, arranged
savings with third parties for services and products related to the
management of their problem and automated medical and medicinal reminders.
If you have insurance, its probably a good idea to find out if the company
has any programs that would benefit you. Even if it doesn't save you money
in the long-term, what's the downside - possibly better health?

Cheers,
Michael
 
E

Elizabeth Richardson

Michael T Wing CPA said:
My plan is to vote for Democrats. Hopefully Hillary will run in
2008 and kick butt on the current absence of drug coverage under
Medicare.
Isn't this sort of like depending on social security and ignoring your
401k/IRA? Eating vegetables and taking walks are cheaper than drugs in my
experience and the politicians aren't in charge (thank goodness!)

Elizabeth Richardson
 
T

Tad Borek

Elizabeth said:
Actually I prefer to call it sick care costs because you don't usually
interact with the system when you're well. How will you address the costs of
health care in retirement? I am especially interested in your views on the
costs you may incur for prescription drugs. It has been my experience that
health care professionals rarely prescribe methods to stay healthy, only to
cure what ails you. Do you think it is possible to minimize these costs by
doing things now to get/stay healthy?
Some things are fully in our control. If you smoke, for example, you'll
have substantially higher lifetime health care costs, so should plan for
that or quit smoking if you want to avoid it. Obesity has a slew of
detrimental health effects and for many people can be controlled as
well. Diet can have a big influence on, say, whether you'll need to use
expensive statins later in life (think Copper River salmon! Or heck for
you any salmon...). So there are those kinds of things that can put you
into a lower risk pool, they're lifestyle choices really.

The "Wellness Letter" is a well known publication (at least around here)
that discusses the current science/thinking on a lot of these topics.
It's put out by a foundation associated with UC Berkeley's School of
Health. http://www.berkeleywellness.com. And no, though it's from
Berkeley, it doesn't focus on hemp remedies.

But then there are the conditions that are (bad) luck of the draw kinds
of things. Longer lives mean more people taking the Alzheimers/dementia
drugs, at least until some progress is made on that. Diet can only
control things like hypertension to a limited extent. I seem to know a
lot of young people who have thyroid disorders that will require a
lifetime of prescription drugs. Etc etc - there's a lot that can't be
controlled. This is why we all need health insurance of course, and I
think it's why we'll eventually see some major reforms in how drugs are
treated by public and private insurance.

There is always the "hedge" approach. Buy a health-care sector fund and
to the extent the companies are gouging consumers, you'll profit from
it. I think this is one of the cynical, but valid, approaches to this
sort of thing. It's not a place for a big chunk of dough but if only for
the comfort of seeing your prescription costs offset to some extent by
drug-stock gains, it could be a helpful part of the mix.

-Tad

PS examples: Vanguard Health Care, or the iShare for the DJ Health Care
sector
 
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Elizabeth Richardson

Tad Borek said:
The "Wellness Letter" is a well known publication (at least around here)
that discusses the current science/thinking on a lot of these topics.
It's put out by a foundation associated with UC Berkeley's School of
Health. http://www.berkeleywellness.com. And no, though it's from
Berkeley, it doesn't focus on hemp remedies.
Thanks for the link, Tad. Looks like there are some good articles there. And
thanks to those who told me about wellness programs at HMOs. We don't have
any HMOs here, but I'm glad to know those programs have started for others.

You also have an interesting concept for hedging financially re: health care
stocks/funds. I feel very certain that as we boomers age the impact on
health care will sky rocket.

Elizabeth Richardson
 
M

Michael T Wing CPA

Elizabeth Richardson said:
Isn't this sort of like depending on social security and ignoring your
401k/IRA? Eating vegetables and taking walks are cheaper than drugs
in my experience and the politicians aren't in charge (thank
goodness!)
I don't disagree with anything you say <g>, but are you
suggesting that we would somehow be better off if Medicare was
scrapped?

And, if we're trying to preach "self reliance" here, let's forget
about things like 401Ks or IRAs that represent alternate forms of
government "subsidy" (through tax breaks). <g>

I just don't think the issue of healthcare - especially for
seniors - can be separated from politics. And, like it or not,
many people DO depend on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
exclusively. When I'm on my daily walk, I don't want to have to
step over the bodies that have been dumped there because there
was no place else for them to go.

For the past several months I have observed a family member in a
nursing home. Although he is financially self sufficient, it is
painfully clear that everything in the nursing home marches to
the beat of Medicare and Medicaid regulations. You receive the
same care (for better or worse) whether you can personally afford
to pay for it or not. The only way to break this cycle is if you
are rich enough to afford private duty nurses 24 hours per day in
your own home. That, I would suggest, is a financial goal that is
simply unattainable by all but a very few.

Meanwhile, the government is dumping billions of dollars into
Iraq. And so it goes... <g>

MTW
 
J

Jim

The problems I see with Health insurance is how it has been "deployed"
and this impacts how much it costs.

For most types of incurance (life, house,car) we see a private
insurance salesman.

For health insurance it is 90% based on WHO you work for. Most people
I know work for a company, so we are dependant on what corporate
america's view on health insurance is, or what our CEO does. I've
learned not to trust my CEO (I work for EDS), and see the same in most
of my friends. How will someone who has never met me make a good
health decision for me?

If Health insurance were sold to me the way car insurance was, I think
I would have a different appreciation for what I was getting:

1) I would know how much all things cost. Perscriptions, doctor
visits, procedures. This is a problem according to my open enrollment
documents.

2) There would be competition for my health insurance dollar among
insurance companies. This alone would drive down costs. (Granted
those costs would be higher than what I'm probably paying now)

3) People who don't use doctors would have lowers costs (kind of like
the prefereed driver pool)

4) If I switch jobs my insurance would not change.

cya!
 
C

cal-lester

Jim said:
The problems I see with Health insurance is how it has been "deployed"
and this impacts how much it costs.

For most types of incurance (life, house,car) we see a private
insurance salesman.

For health insurance it is 90% based on WHO you work for. Most people
I know work for a company, so we are dependant on what corporate
america's view on health insurance is, or what our CEO does. I've
learned not to trust my CEO (I work for EDS), and see the same in most
of my friends. How will someone who has never met me make a good
health decision for me?

What you say is true, since Most employers pay soem (or all)
of the EMPLOYEE cost of Health care. However, in many cases
it is possible for employees to have "input" to the employer or
its representative as to how those "health care dollars" should be
spent.................


If Health insurance were sold to me the way car insurance was, I think
I would have a different appreciation for what I was getting:
Yes, you would have the opportunity to purchase what YOU
consider is good coverage IF YOU COULD AFFORD IT.
In addition, YOU would have to QUALIFY Medically to be
able to purchase it (whaereas in most cases, GROUP Ins.
does NOT require a health exam)......................
1) I would know how much all things cost. Perscriptions, doctor
visits, procedures. This is a problem according to my open enrollment
documents.

You should have received a"Certificate of Coverage", which
would contain most of that info. In addition, you have the
RIGHT to review the Group Plan Document to assertain the
actual benefits......................

2) There would be competition for my health insurance dollar among
insurance companies. This alone would drive down costs. (Granted
those costs would be higher than what I'm probably paying now)
There is in most cases "competition for those GROUP $'s" as
well. However I am NOT aware of many companies that are
offering LOWER rates to ANYBODY......................


3) People who don't use doctors would have lowers costs (kind of like
the prefereed driver pool)
That is a given, and is taken into consideration by the Carrier
in determining the rates that they will cahrge You or the Group.
4) If I switch jobs my insurance would not change.
That is true, ONLY if YOU could afford to continue the payments
without income while unemployed.
In most cases if you leave your employment, you have the option
to continue the contract on your own, or to convert to a Personal
policy.......................



--
Childhood is a time of rapid changes. Between the ages of twelve and
seventeen, a parent can age 30 years. Sam Levenson.

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E

Elizabeth Richardson

Michael T Wing CPA said:
I don't disagree with anything you say <g>, but are you
suggesting that we would somehow be better off if Medicare was
scrapped?
Not at all. Your comment sounded like we should work towards that being all
we should depend upon. I clearly see you think otherwise.
For the past several months I have observed a family member in a
nursing home. Although he is financially self sufficient, it is
painfully clear that everything in the nursing home marches to
the beat of Medicare and Medicaid regulations. You receive the
same care (for better or worse) whether you can personally afford
to pay for it or not.
I have a very dear friend who is in an assisted living home. She is very
lucky that the only one here in town is well-managed and whose staff appears
to be very competent and caring. If I live to be 94 (as she has) I hope the
care available to me will be as good.

The only way to break this cycle is if you
are rich enough to afford private duty nurses 24 hours per day in
your own home. That, I would suggest, is a financial goal that is
simply unattainable by all but a very few.
The mother of a friend of mine, an alzheimer's patient, was able to afford
this home care, although I'm not certain all of her caregivers had the
nursing training you suggest. We just don't have a large enough population
here to attract that many qualified people. Anyway, her son told me that if
he had it to do over again, he may likely have chosen to place her in the
home where my friend is, that it would likely have been better for as well
as for the family.

I'm glad to hear you're out walking daily. ;-) This is good not only for
your long-term heart health, but is likely to minimize your out-of-pocket
costs on whatever prescription drug benefit comes along. That will also help
my grandchildren's financial health, I think, in that maybe their tax
burden will be lightened.

Elizabeth Richardson
 
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Elizabeth Richardson

Jim said:
The problems I see with Health insurance is how it has been "deployed"
and this impacts how much it costs.

For most types of incurance (life, house,car) we see a private
insurance salesman.

For health insurance it is 90% based on WHO you work for. Most people
I know work for a company, so we are dependant on what corporate
america's view on health insurance is
I'm with you on this one, although I DO know how much an office visit costs
and how much a prescription costs, and it ain't pretty. If I were buying my
own health insurance it wouldn't cover pregnancy, for one thing. That would
be a huge cost saver and coverage I absolutely do not need! I would buy a
policy with a $1000 deductible to get a lower insurance cost -- for our
household that would mean we would pay all of our own medical needs in most
years, but if something big happened (like it did this year) then I would
have some help.

Elizabeth Richardson
 

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