Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Surprising Way To Cash In Your Life Insurance Policy Early

Seniors struggling to pay life insurance premiums have options, including selling their policy

senior citizens riding bicycles
If you're struggling to make ends meet in retirement, you're not alone. And when your income is limited and fixed, you do your best to cut out unnecessary expenses.

One expense that can be tough for some seniors to manage is the premiums on their life insurance policies. Perhaps your carrier raised your premium unexpectedly, maybe the costs from a health event have strained your budget or it could be that your retirement fund is just running low. If you feel your life insurance premiums are too expensive, you may decide you no longer need the policy.

Alternatives to surrendering a life insurance policy

Unfortunately, many seniors think their only option in this situation is to lapse or surrender the policy. In fact, each year seniors older than 70 lapse or surrender more than 710,000 life insurance policies, with a combined face value of more than $57 billion, according to the Life Insurance Settlement Association (LISA). However, many life insurance companies don't tell you about alternatives that may be more beneficial than simply surrendering the policy. For example:


  • You could maintain the policy through loans against its current value;


  • You might be able to seek an accelerated death benefit, allowing you to take some cash out now;


  • The policy may be convertible into a long-term care health insurance policy, or if it's a term policy you might be able to convert it into permanent life insurance;


  • Reducing the death benefit to a lower face value could lower the premiums, making the policy more affordable; or


  • You could assign the policy to an individual or a non-profit organization as a gift.


Another option to lapsing or surrendering the policy - one that can actually put the most amount of cash directly into your pocket - is to consider selling it through a life settlement transaction.

Selling a life insurance policy


Life insurance is personal property, so you can sell it just like any other property you own. When you decide to sell the policy to a third party - rather than surrendering it to the insurance company - you get more than the cash value, but less than the death benefit amount. The buyer of the policy takes on all future premiums and receives the death benefit when you pass away.

In order to qualify for a life settlement, you must be 65 or older with a life insurance policy that has a death benefit of at least $100,000. The amount of your settlement will depend on several factors, including:
woman gardening with medical alert pendant

  • The death benefit, which is the amount the buyer will receive when you pass away;


  • The amount in annual premiums that the buyer will pay; and


  • The number of years the buyer can expect to continue paying the premiums.


On average, a life settlement yields seniors seven times the amount of the policy's cash surrender value, LISA says, based on an analysis of a survey by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In fact, 90 percent of seniors with lapsed policies say they would have considered selling it if they had known life settlement was an option, an Insurance Studies Institute survey found.

As most seniors prefer to live and age gracefully in their own homes, selling a life insurance policy can be a viable option, and potential alternative to a reverse mortgage.  Living independently at home is a goal of most seniors and their families, and is another good reason to have a medical alert system in the home.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Can This Rotator Cuff Procedure Live Up To The Hype?

New bioinductive rotator cuff procedure helps tendons heal

The rotator cuff is one of the most important parts of the shoulder, as it consists of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place and allow the body to lift the arm and reach for items. Unfortunately, rotator cuff injuries are the most common source of shoulder pain and disability, affecting more than 4 million Americans annually, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A rotator cuff injury can greatly reduce quality of life, as it makes daily activities painful and difficult to do.

Those who suffer from rotator cuff disease often avoid surgery to repair the tear because they hear about painful, lengthy postoperative rehabilitation and time away from work. In addition, traditional procedures have focused only on biomechanical repair of the tendon without addressing the underlying biology, which can result in tears progressing and re-tears in the rotator cuff tendon after an initial repair.

Download our free fall prevention guide and learn how to make your home safe and clutter free.


A new technology is now available that helps tendons heal by stimulating the growth of new tendon tissue. The Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant, which is about the size of a postage stamp, is inserted through a small incision during a short, minimally invasive procedure. Surgical staples hold the implant in place until fibers and tendons of the rotator cuff grow into the implant. The first-of-its-kind implant can provide a range of potential benefits, including shorter rehabilitation, faster recovery, prevention or slowing of disease progression, healing of partial-thickness tears, and decreased risk of developing a subsequent tear.

For people like Starr Boykin, a company executive of Mobile, Alabama, the implant can be life changing. Boykin, who is also involved in competitive fishing tournaments, was recovering from rotator cuff surgery in her right shoulder when, in physical therapy, her left shoulder began to hurt from what turned out to be another rotator cuff tear. Despite multiple surgeries on her left shoulder, pain persisted for over a year.

"My doctor told me there was nothing else they could do, that I needed reverse shoulder replacement," Boykin says. "Being a professional fisherwoman and having already undergone serious shoulder surgeries, this really upset me. I got a second and then a third opinion, and the two other doctors told me the exact same thing."

After hearing about a physician in Florida who was using the Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant, Boykin met with Dr. Christopher O'Grady at the Andrews Institute, who evaluated her case and told her shoulder replacement surgery was not her only option.

"Starr was a great candidate for the Bioinductive Implant because her injury wasn't a technical problem, it was a biology problem," Dr. O'Grady says. "The implant didn't just temporarily repair her rotator cuff, it completely healed the injury and gave her the ability to achieve functional range of motion more quickly than a traditional, more invasive surgical treatment."

Despite several previous failed rotator cuff surgeries, Boykin is making a full recovery and is back to competitive fishing.

"After the surgery I felt an immediate difference," Boykin says. "After six months, I was back to fishing in tournaments and paddling in my kayak. I'm so grateful for the Rotation Medical technology, which gave me full use of my arm and shoulder and has given me my life back."

Active seniors also benefit from mobile medical alert systems with GPS, as part of their busy lifestyle.  Combining a cellular medical alert system with GPS and 2-way talking pendant into a waterproof 2 ounce pendant, users can summon help at the press of a button anywhere there is AT&T Cellular coverage.  This helps folks get about their busy lives, with the peace of mind that help is just a button press away.

- Article Courtesy of BPT

Friday, March 31, 2017

New Traumatic Brain Injury Breakthrough Treatment

5 things you must know about this groundbreaking traumatic brain injury treatment for servicemen and women

hyperbaric oxygen chamber
When the nation’s servicemen and women serve a tour of duty overseas, many don’t return home the same.

Nearly 60 percent of servicemen and 50 percent of servicewomen experience at least one traumatic event during their service, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These events have the potential to cause life-long complications.

Research shows the consequences of a traumatic event has the potential to impact a person's cognitive ability through traumatic brain injury (TBI), or to cause them to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Either of these conditions means that even when the service person’s tour is over, their struggles have just begun.

Download our free fall prevention guide and learn how to make your home safe and clutter free.


Fortunately for service people dealing with the effects of TBI and PTSD, new treatments are available. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is easing the pain for many servicemen and women through an increase in oxygen to combat problems ranging from complex disabilities and chronic infections to pain and neurological impairment.

If you’ve never heard of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, here are five things you need to know about this new treatment and how it is helping servicemen and women across the country.

  • The treatment is built on speed and oxygen. When a patient undergoes hyperbaric oxygen therapy, their body is exposed to a high amount of oxygen, carried through their body at a rapid pace. This alternative medicine therapy not only increases the amount of oxygen the body receives, but the purity of the oxygen as well. The increase of oxygen aides the patient’s body in the creation of new blood cells which supports the healing process.
  • In addition to supporting the healing process, it also combats stress. Research shows hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven to alleviate stress on the body through cognitive rehabilitation, making it a natural treatment solution for servicemen and women suffering not only from external wounds, but from PTSD, TBI and depression as well.
  • The treatment process involves several “dives." Each hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment is called a dive and an individual can receive 20-40 dives in which oxygen is pumped into their specialized, sealed chamber. Each treatment lasts for up to one hour. Servicemen and women pursuing this treatment see the best results when these treatments are scheduled as close together as possible.
  • The risk of TBI varies depending on conditions. Many veterans of the United States’ campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered TBI because of blast related injuries. Research shows males outnumber females in TBI cases 2:1. Age also plays a roll in a person's likeliness to suffer TBI, and people ages 0-4, 15-19 and the elderly have a higher rate of suffering TBI than those outside of those age ranges. Substance abusers also stand a greater chance of suffering a TBI incident.
  • You can support treatment for servicemen and women. Veterans across the country need your help. The Purple Heart Foundation strives to make the transition home as smooth as possible for all veterans, which includes providing them the treatment they need for the challenges they face after being discharged.

medical alert system with automatic fall detection
Many who suffer from traumatic brain injury are often left alone while family members and caregivers tend to the business of the household.  A medical alert system is an inexpensive, valuable tool to allow caregivers some breathing room, while knowing their loved one can get help quickly if needed.  Automatic fall detection is a good optional feature for many with this condition.  

The Purple Heart Foundation is a nonprofit, Veteran Service Organization whose mission is to honor the sacrifice of military veterans and create a smooth transition for them from the battlefield to the home front. Nearly 90 percent of each cash donation made to the Purple Heart Foundation goes to support aspects of this mission statement including: hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the National Service Officer Program, the scholarship program, service dog programs and other rehabilitation or recreational programs aimed at improving the lives of veterans. To learn more about how you can support veterans returning from overseas, visit
purpleheartfoundation.org.


-- Article Courtesy of BPC

Monday, March 13, 2017

Maximizing Your HSA Account

Use These Tips to get the most out of your HSA dollars

Millions of Americans with high-deductible health insurance plans rely on health savings accounts to help them manage the costs of health care. If you're among them, you know how important it is to maximize the value you get out of every HSA dollar.

If you don't yet have an HSA, you may qualify for one if you receive health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan with a high deductible. Individuals may qualify if their deductible is at least $1,300, and families may qualify with a deductible of at least $2,600, according to the IRS. With an HSA, you can deposit pre-tax dollars into the account to pay for certain health and medical-related expenses - up to $3,400 for an individual and $6,750 for a family in 2017.

While there are approximately 17 million HSAs currently in use in the U.S., insurance industry watchers predict that number could rise significantly as the federal government again addresses health care reform, the Boston Globe reports.

You can maximize the value of your HSA in several ways, including:


  • If you're at risk for arterial or heart disease, you and your doctor may decide preventive screenings are in order. Screening proactively can help catch warning signs of trouble before a more serious problem develops. However, most insurers won't pay for preventive screening for arterial health.
  • You can use your HSA dollars to schedule vascular health screening through Life Line Screening. You don't need a doctor's referral to schedule a simple, safe and painless ultrasound to detect possible plaque buildup in arteries - a leading factor in stroke and heart disease. Life Line Screening tells you the price of the screening up front and offers appointments in convenient locations throughout communities. Visit www.lifelinescreening.com to learn more and schedule an appointment.
  • The cost of a "life alert" type emergency medical alert system is an eligible medical expense.  Use your HSA or FSA to pay for your medical alert system.  Check with your provider first, as they may deem the medical alert system eligible when prescribed and/or supported by a physician statement.
  • Keeping track of HSA-eligible expenses can be challenging, but budgeting software can help. Numerous free programs are available online. Most HSA providers also offer online access and digital tools to help you monitor your account, track saving and spending, and better understand the tax impact of your contributions.
  • If your employer doesn't provide vision insurance, you can use HSA funds to pay for eye exams, corrective lenses and even Lasik surgery. Studies show regular vision care is an essential component of overall health, and helps not only preserve your eyesight and eyes, but can also help detect other serious health problems.
  • Only about half of American workers have dental insurance through their employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those who do have dental insurance, it typically does not cover all expenses. Yet dental health is intrinsic to overall health. You can use HSA money to pay for dental care, including exams, X-rays, braces, dentures, fillings and oral surgery.
  • Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do for your health, and your HSA dollars can help you kick the habit. Smoking cessation treatment is a qualified medical expense that can be paid for through health savings accounts. When you quit smoking, your body immediately begins to repair the damage caused by smoking, and you reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer, according to the American Lung Association.

"Smoking is associated with multiple chronic diseases, so quitting is one of the best things you can do for your overall health," says Dr. Andrew Manganaro, chief medical officer at Life Line Screening. To help people understand their personal risk, Life Line Screening offers a program called "6 For Life" that outlines an individual's risk for six chronic diseases and includes blood tests.

Although controlling your weight is another important factor in overall health, few health plans will cover any kind of weight loss program. However, a doctor-prescribed weight loss program aimed at treating a specific disease such as obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease can be paid for with HSA money.

Your health savings account comes with many benefits and cost savings and tax breaks are just two of them. More importantly, when used wisely, your HSA can help you achieve better health.

- Article courtesy of BPT

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

8 Medication Management Tips for Caregivers

Use these 8 simple steps to help seniors, caregivers better manage their medications.

When it comes to medication use, seniors take more prescription and over-the-counter drugs than any other age group, and they are most likely to experience problems because of their medications.

Modern medicine can work wonders. However, in order to be effective, medicine needs to be taken safely, according to prescribing guidelines, and patients and health care providers need to be vigilant about the dangers of drug interactions.

The average American senior takes five or more prescription medications daily, and many of them can't read the prescription label or understand the prescribing instructions, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education.

Download our free personal emergency medication list to keep on the refrigerator in the event of an emergency.



"Unless they reside in a senior living community or have another form of assistance, it can be very difficult for seniors to manage their own medications," says Kim Estes, senior vice president of clinical services for Brookdale Senior Living. "A lot of factors make medication management a challenge for seniors, including the sheer number of prescriptions many of them take in a day."

Medication Management challenges

While doctors prescribe medication to treat a range of chronic conditions from arthritis to diabetes and high blood pressure, seniors may find managing their medications difficult for multiple reasons:

  • Many meds and many prescribers - Seniors who are on multiple medications are often prescribed to them by multiple doctors, who may or may not be aware of other medications the senior is already taking. Taking a large number of medications can increase the risk of a drug interaction that harms seniors' health, rather than helps them.
  • Adverse side effects - If a medication makes a senior feel ill, he or she may stop taking it.
  • Lack of knowledge - If they don't understand exactly what the medicine is supposed to do for them, seniors may feel they don't need it and discontinue use.
  • Physical challenges - Age-related physical challenges such as hearing or vision loss, dexterity issues or trouble swallowing can make it difficult for seniors to take their medications as prescribed.
  • Cognitive challenges - Seniors with memory loss or dementia may forget to take their medications as prescribed.
  • Cost - Even with Medicare and supplemental health insurance, many medications can come with a hefty price tag. Seniors may not be able to afford a medication their doctor prescribed.

Medication management made easier

"Fortunately, seniors and their caregivers can take some fairly easy steps to help them better manage their medications," Estes says. "These steps take a little time and effort, but they can go a long way toward helping seniors use their medicines more effectively."

vial of life medical information form
  • Most seniors take five or more medications a day, and those with severe health issues or who are in the hospital may take significantly more than that. Make a list of every medication you take, what it's for, and what the pill actually looks like.
  • Make a checklist of all your medications. Every time you take a prescription, note the date, time and dosage on your checklist.  Medical Care Alert offers a free Emergency Medical Information form to list your medications, and other critical health info.
  • If you have trouble reading the labels on your prescriptions or can't open the bottle, ask your pharmacist to provide your medicine in easy-to-open containers with large-print labels.
  • Make a plan for getting your prescriptions. You may decide to schedule a drive to the pharmacy every month on a certain day or have someone drive you there. You may also find an online pharmacy that can deliver your prescriptions to your home.
  • When you go to the doctor, take your list of prescriptions with you, especially if you're seeing him or her for the first time. Your list will help the doctor know what medications you're already taking.
  • Work with your doctors to see if you can reduce the number of pills you take by consolidating medicines. For example, if you take a pill to reduce water retention and a medication for high blood pressure, some prescription drugs combine both types of medicine into a single pill.
  • A study by the University of Arizona found that having a pharmacist on a senior's care team helped keep seniors safer and improved their ability to take medications as prescribed. Keep all your prescriptions with one pharmacy and get to know the pharmacists who work there. Your pharmacist may be able to help you spot potential drug interactions.
  • Technology can help you remember to take medications on time. Set an alarm on your cellphone or download an event reminder app on your smartphone to help you remember when it's time to take your medicine.

"With a little planning and help, seniors and their caregivers can better manage their medications to ensure seniors get the most benefit out of their prescription treatments," Estes says.

- Article courtesy of BPT

Thursday, January 26, 2017

5 things life insurance companies don't always tell you

A life insurance policy can be the difference between financial security and disaster for families whose primary bread-winner passes away unexpectedly. 

A significant loss of income can leave uninsured families struggling to pay bills, including final expenses. This is particularly serious when you consider that nearly half of all Americans don't have enough emergency savings to cover three months worth of expenses, and more than a quarter have no emergency funds at all, according to a Bankrate survey.

Still, life insurance isn't the answer to all of life's financial challenges, especially if you buy a policy without fully understanding how it works, or what life insurance can and can't do for you.

Here are five things your life insurance company won't always tell you about life insurance:


1. Not everyone needs life insurance.

While most people can probably benefit from having life insurance, it's not for everyone.
For example, most financial experts agree the majority of people don't need to buy life insurance for their kids. The purpose of life insurance is basically to: replace lost income (most kids have no income); pay final expenses (they're likely to be manageable); or accrue cash value. You may think a whole life policy could give your child money toward his or her education once the policy matures.
However, there are other ways to save for a college education that offer tax benefits a whole life policy doesn't.

Likewise, if you're a young worker with no dependents and no debt, you might not need life insurance right now. You could put what you'd spend on premiums into your retirement savings. Or, if you're older with no dependents and already have a legacy set aside for your descendants, you might choose other types of investments.

However, anyone who has debt and dependents could probably benefit from having life insurance protection.

2. Online tools can help you figure out how much life insurance you really need.


Years ago, people relied on their insurance agent or company to advise them on how much life insurance to buy. The internet has made it easy to know exactly how much death benefit you really need.

Online tools and "robot advisors" have become very useful resources for helping consumers figure out how much life insurance is appropriate for their unique circumstances. A quick web search for "life insurance calculator" will yield numerous results, including calculators not provided by insurance companies or anyone in the insurance industry. For example, personal finance websites Yahoo Finance and Nerd Wallet both offer life insurance calculators.

3. No single "best" type of policy fits everyone.


Life insurance comes in three basic types: term (the cheapest kind, it has an end date), whole (costs more, has no end date, accrues cash value and premiums are fixed) and universal (also permanent and accrues, but with premiums that can vary). Insurance agents are happy to sell you any kind of policy, but of course their commission rewards are greatest when they can sell you more expensive policies.
Each type of life insurance has advantages and drawbacks for different people, depending on a lot of factors like your age, health, why you need life insurance, and how long you need it. To ensure you're getting the best value, understand the policy and how it works for you before you buy.

4. Your term life policy doesn't (always) have to end.


Term life is cheapest because it has a definitive end date. Term life aims to provide insurance for when you most need it, such as until your kids finish college. However, most term policies sold today are convertible - at the end of the initial term you can either continue with a new term (at a higher rate), or convert the term policy to whole life (also at a higher rate).

5. You may be able to sell your term policy for cash.


If you're a senior and you own a convertible term policy that will soon expire, you may think your choices are limited simply because there was no "cash value" built up in the policy over the years. Your life insurance company is unlikely to tell you otherwise and, in fact, many insurers prevent their agents from informing you of any alternatives to either letting the policy expire or converting it to a more expensive new policy. But the truth is that you may be able to unlock the value in your policy by selling it to outside investors for a lump-sum cash payment.

According to the Life Insurance Settlement Association, in the right situation, a policyholder can turn a term life policy into cash in their hands, provided that it is able to be converted to a new policy and has a death benefit of at least $100,000. By selling your life insurance policy, you can avoid higher premium costs and generate some cash to help fund your retirement.

- Article courtesy of BPD

Monday, January 23, 2017

Changing the end-of-life care conversation

Having a conversation about end-of-life care and advance directives may not be the easiest conversation you'll ever have, but it is one of the most important.

Hospice and palliative care services help people with illnesses no longer responding to curative treatment face death on their own terms, most often at home or in a familiar setting. No matter where a person chooses to receive these services, hospice staff can guide them and their families through difficult decisions surrounding end-of-life care.

Many families feel overwhelmed when told by a physician that a loved one has six months or less to live. A physician may use the terms "palliative care" or "hospice care," which often raises questions about the details regarding these services.

Both hospice and palliative care are patient- and family-centered health care options that address physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Hospice is limited to terminally ill patients who meet Medicare's eligibility requirements and focuses on enhancing comfort and quality of life during the final months of life - without curative intent. Palliative care is available regardless of the diagnosis and may or may not include curative options along with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness. Families of patients in hospice care gain access to caregiver education and training, help with difficult decisions, respite care, and bereavement services, among others.

There is no "One size fits all"

Hospice and palliative care can be delivered at home, in a nursing home, a dedicated hospice facility or an acute care hospital. These services have come a long way since the first U.S. hospice facility opened in Branford, Connecticut in 1974.

According to Joseph Shega, MD, senior vice president and national medical director for VITAS Healthcare, the nation's leading provider of end-of-life care, "we started as pioneers in this area of health care about four decades ago and it has been gratifying to see how the practice of hospice and palliative care has truly transformed the way people think about and manage end-of-life experiences." He explains that "it's so important to preserve comfort, respect and dignity in the face of terminal illness."

A growing number of Americans are choosing to access hospice services, which are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance. In 2014, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) reported nearly 2 million Americans received hospice care, and according to AARP, among those 50 to 64 years old, 71 percent want to "age in place," in their own homes. When people are in control of where and how they face the end-of-life, they can focus more time on experiencing meaningful moments with loved ones.  A monitored medical alert system can help a loved one live at home longer, with the ability to get help at the press of a button in an emergency.

How to start "The conversation"

If you were unable to speak for yourself, do your loved ones know what kind of medical care you would want? Do you know what they would want?

Despite the topic's importance, only 27 percent of Americans report having talked with their families about end-of-life care. The best way to make your medical wishes known is to create an advance directive and share it with your family and your doctor.

Have the conversation and don't wait for a crisis. Failing to communicate healthcare choices can lead to anguish, family conflicts and unintended costs that can result when patients no longer can tell their loved ones what kind of care or which "heroic measures" they would accept or reject.

Talk to your loved ones-briefly, in depth, frequently, lightly, seriously-about your wishes. We suggest using milestone events-wedding, anniversary, birthday, retirement, graduation, downsizing move, family holiday-to hold "what if" conversations with loved ones. Keep it light but heartfelt. You may be surprised: letting your loved ones know your wishes could start a frank conversation among the generations about terminal illness, funerals, religious beliefs and other end-of-life concerns.

If you or a loved one is ready to talk about end-of-life care options or would like to find out more about hospice care or how to start the conversation, VITAS can help.
Visit www.vitas.com/hospicemonth or call 1-877-531-6798.

- Article courtesy of BPD