By Aaron of Allsup
We’re getting ready for the presidential election and the World Series, so that means it’s also time to prepare for Medicare open enrollment season.
Actually, open enrollment is well underway. It began Oct. 15 and runs through Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Open enrollment is the window that Medicare participants have to review their 2017 plan options. This is your opportunity to make changes to your Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plans.
You can also find ways to save money.
Because Medicare’s Boards of Trustees said they expect higher Part B premiums next year, I strongly advise you to take a good look at all of your options—that’s your money they’re talking about. (Looking for details about Medicare’s “Parts”? Click here.)
Choosing your Medicare plan can be difficult because there are so many options to consider. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that you’ll have a choice of about 19 Medicare Advantage plans, 26 prescription drug plans and 16 Medicare Advantage-Part D plans.
That’s why I suggest that you check out the Allsup Medicare Advisor. It provides Medicare plan selection assistance with Medicare Advantage plans, Part D prescription drug plans and Medigap, or supplemental coverage.
By Guest Blogger Crawford Clay, patient navigator, Colon Cancer Alliance
Hi there! I’m Crawford. I’d like to take a minute to talk to you about a tricky subject: finances.
I’m a 12-year stage III rectal cancer survivor. I’ve also worked with the Colon Cancer Alliance’s free helpline for the past five years. Nearly half the calls we get are about money, so I’ve had a lot of experience talking about finances.
It’s a topic people can get pretty uncomfortable talking about.
I know because you tell me. You also show me. It’s hard to keep people talking long enough to truly help them. Callers hustle me off the phone so fast you’d think I was asking them for money.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Finances are a tough subject, but it all starts with asking for help. Yep, it is that easy. The first thing I want you to understand is people want to help. As proof, we have over 10 pages of organizations that offer help in the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Support and Financial Resource Guide.
The second key is to be proactive, not reactive.
Once you’ve gotten the eviction notice, your options become incredibly narrow. Most organizations limit their help to before you get in the hole financially.
I can’t say it enough: The time to start looking for help is now.
Ideally, you should discuss finances at time of diagnosis. You should talk to:
- The hospital
- Your doctors’ offices
- Your landlord/mortgage company
- The utility company
- Anyone you owe regular payments to
You also need to be creative in your thinking. Maybe you can’t find help for your treatment copays, but what if someone could help with your power bills? The money you save there may be enough to cover your copay for the month. You never know until you ask.
That’s the bottom line right there. You have to ask.
Not everyone will say yes. Expect about three out of 10 requests to get a yes. That can feel like a lot of no’s to go through. But in baseball, an average like that is a Hall of Fame career. You miss 100 percent of the balls you don’t swing at.
And just like baseball, you need to practice. Take a few minutes to practice what you want to say before you call. You have to prepare for success.
Let me close with this thought from Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I just have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Editor’s note: Join Crawford and other patient resource advocates during the Allsup True Help® Web Event, True Help Claiming Power to Improve Your Finances, on Thursday, Oct. 20, at noon CST. Click here to register.
By Tai of Allsup
Millions of dollars are raised and spent each year trying to find a cure for cancer. Millions more are spent treating it. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, each year, cancer costs the world more money than any other disease. These costs often have devastating impacts on individuals and families.
A recent study showed that one-third of working-age cancer survivors go into debt and 3 percent file for bankruptcy.
A study released at last month’s American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conference, found similar negative impacts. Of 1,000 survivors of breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer, more than half experienced some form of financial burden related to cancer.
“In order to pay for cancer care, many patients experience changes to their financial situation that can include everything from cutting back on leisure spending to dipping into savings or selling assets, taking on debt, or even losing a home or declaring bankruptcy,” said the study’s lead author, Theresa A. Hastert, Ph.D., MPP, in an AACR news release.
The cost of cancer drugs can range from $100 to as much as $65,000 a month, depending on the type of cancer being treated, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Financial Resources To Help
Fortunately, there are a number of organizations and programs that offer financial assistance to individuals with cancer. True Help Claiming Power to Improve Your Finances is a web event Thursday, Oct. 20, that will help individuals with cancer and other chronic illnesses or disabilities connect with resources that can help them improve their financial outlook.
For example, the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Blue Hope Financial Assistance program helps individuals pay bills so they can concentrate on their health. The Caregiver Action Network has resources and tools for caregivers to help them manage their own and their care recipient’s finances.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is another resource available to former workers that provides a monthly income, access to Medicare and assistance returning to work if and when they are medically able. However, obtaining SSDI benefits can be a daunting task.
True Help Claiming Power to Improve Your Finances will feature information and tips on improving the chances of getting approved for SSDI benefits. Register here for the web event taking place Oct. 20 at noon CST.
Advocates and patient resource experts from the Colon Cancer Alliance, Caregiver Action Network, National Stroke Association and Allsup will be on hand to answer questions during the live event. The webinar also will be available on-demand after Oct. 20, and participants who submit questions will receive an email response.
Share the wealth, and post the event registration link, bit.ly/TrueHelpFinances, on social media. You can meet your friends in the chat room and make new ones during the event.
By Guest Blogger Carol Conduff, founder and executive director, The Spine Health Foundation
“I got to the point where my life wasn’t worth living. I was standing on the edge of the bridge, figuring it was better to jump than to go back to where I was. I have a new life now.”—Bill Walton, NCAA and NBA legend as reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune, on April 17, 2010.
Bill Walton had suffered with back pain for years and tried many noninvasive treatment options, to no avail. Everything changed when he was introduced to a surgeon offering a new surgical technique. The surgery was a success, and Bill went on the record stating his surgeon saved his life.
One out of 10 Americans is affected by chronic back pain. Chronic back pain is difficult to explain and even more difficult for others to understand. Ongoing, chronic pain can cause depression, unemployment, pain medication addiction and family breakdown. These negative effects can lead to isolation, exacerbating the condition and situation. It’s a difficult and never-ending cycle for the affected individual.
Chronic back pain is a widespread epidemic in our country. The cost of back pain to Americans is estimated to be anywhere from $50 to $200 billion each year in lost wages, productivity, disability and medical care.
Access Help Through The Spine Health Foundation
The costs associated with chronic back pain are tremendous, and The Spine Health Foundation (SHF) is making a small difference in the total sum. But we are making a big difference in the lives of our recipients and their families by giving them back their lives.
Since 2011, SHF has provided access to more than 800 medical resources, including 34 spine surgeries.
Recently, a young working mother reached out to SHF for help. She has since seen a specialist, undergone medical treatments and spine surgery. She is now back at work and moving forward with her life.
“I have had back problems and pain for several years,” she said. “I went to see a doctor, but since I was uninsured, they couldn’t just get me the help I needed.
“One day, late last year, I had a fall and was taken to the ER. The physician recommended I call SHF. This is when I learned of this wonderful foundation. I am honest when I say that I do not know where I would be today if not for Carol and The Spine Health Foundation. She has helped me and others so much! I’m still receiving help through the foundation and I am grateful and blessed.”
September and October are spine health awareness months.
By Guest Blogger Mercedes Rauen, executive director, Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois
September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.
While I do not have a spinal cord injury (SCI), and I believe it is best when the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois (SCIA of Illinois) can be represented by a peer member—I appreciate this opportunity to let people know about paralysis.
SCI is a low-incidence disability. Nationally there are about 12,500 traumatic spinal cord injuries a year. That number is small when compared to medical conditions that impact hundreds of thousands. Many of us live our lives without knowing a person who is paralyzed.
But spinal cord injury does not discriminate; it can happen to anyone at any age.
The leading causes of traumatic injuries are motor vehicle crashes, falls and violence. Most injuries can be prevented, which is why the SCIA of Illinois’ injury prevention presentations to students and adults are important.
Resources When Spinal Cord Injury Happens
Whether the spinal cord is damaged by trauma or medical conditions, loss of function and voluntary movement below the point of injury may occur.
Along with paralysis and the inability to walk, other effects may include dysfunction of the bowel, bladder and sexual function, chronic pain and spasticity. Multiple complications including pressure sores, urinary tract infections, respiratory complications, pneumonia, osteoporosis and depression may occur.
Nearly every aspect of life is affected by paralysis. Relationships change. Financial costs are staggering. Wheelchair accessibility and accommodating the disability become a way of life.
SCIA of Illinois is a resource for information, education and guidance to facilitate life in the world of disability. It is a place to find peers who share their knowledge and hope for the future.
During SCI Awareness Month, SCIA of Illinois, along with Adaptive Adventures, is holding a three-day outdoor adventure called “Beyond Boundaries.”
Teams from rehab hospitals go to the Mississippi Palisades State Park to camp, hand cycle, kayak and rock climb. Using adaptive equipment to pull oneself up a 145-foot rock is an extraordinary experience. Some people think they will never be able to do such things, but with a good support network, they can.
My favorite quote is from the book, “Options–spinal cord injury and the future.” W. Mitchell is featured in the book, and he was burned in a motorcycle crash and later paralyzed in a plane crash. He went on to become an author, TV host, international speaker and much more.
Mitchell said, “The way I look at it, before I was paralyzed, there were ten thousand things I could do; ten thousand things I was capable of doing. Now there are nine thousand. I can dwell on the one thousand, or concentrate on the nine thousand I have left.”
- Mitchell knows life with paralysis is not easy, but it can be very good! SCIA exists to help make that happen. Learn more about SCIA of Illinois online.