August 19 - 26, 1998

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It sure is nice to have a day in which we can breathe. The high humidity and heat make it hard for those with heart and lung problems...and it isn't so great for arthritics, either. For two nights now I've been able to turn off the air conditioner, open the window and have the birdies wake me up in the morning. I love my air-conditioner, but dread seeing what the bill will be for having it on night and day. Ah, well! There is no free lunch, everything we want has a cost, in money, in time, in my age I ought to know that.

The news media and many other publications are getting more concerned about the inefficiencies of HMO's and while I seem to zero in on this subject quite often it is imperative that you know what to do.

In the first place do not change from a Medigap policy unless you simply can't afford it.

The prices go up on the premiums, but you have much more control over the treatment you can get. Of course when the budget gets so tight that you are short of food, talk to someone who can help you. There are solutions for keeping a policy you might not be able to renew if you go off it. Perhaps your children or more successful siblings can help with the policy costs. An HMO which younger persons have through their employers is one the insurers want. Those in the Third Age are not adored. Recent news stories are not happy about the financial losses of all the big insurers and the threat of premiums on the HMOs (which has been their big selling point) are threatened, along with elimination of some benefits or limitation of eye care, hearing care, etc., etc., are being considered for January l, l999.

There is also the restriction that HMO holders cannot sue the companies for malpractice or neglect. If you are interested in seeing that this present restriction is eliminated, contact your state legislator and ask him/her to vote to pass this important bill and to line up their friends in the legislature to see that this unfair restriction is removed. This was part of the original legislation for HMOs and is discrimination against us.

I was given a cartoon by a client who is very good at keeping me posted on legislative items. It stated simply that HMO has a different meaning now...Healthy Members Only.

We Third Agers have many ailments, which doctors and the pill producers manage to keep at bay. In addition the life span has been extended so that we are living with these ailments a lot longer than when Medicare was first offered. HMOs do not come close to solving this dilemma. And we must be ever watchful that whatever is passed in the legislature benefits us.

I know that some of you feel the volunteer opportunities offered you are not up to your abilities and that you wish for things a bit more challenging. Superior Court needs your help at the information booth. There appear to be some perks, such as free parking for those with cars...on a bus line for those without cars, and of course Dial-A- Ride will let you off at the Washington St. Courthouse. Ideally two people work together at the information booth. Sounds great for a man and wife, or two buddies who like to share. Hours are 9 am to 11 am.

You should like to meet people, have an interest in court procedures and have good hearing as the courthouse lobby can be noisy. Please call Roseanne Purtill at 560-8350 for more information.

Another warning has come across my desk about telephone scams. The caller identifies himself as an AT&T service technician testing your line. He asks you to punch the number 9, then 0, then the pound sign #. Please don't do it, because you could find that this opens your line to his making dozens of long distance calls which will be charged to you.

It is very good to remember that any time anybody, no matter how sincere they sound, wants you to do something, simply say, "Not Interested" and hang up. You can save yourself a lot of grief.

Is a Reverse Mortgage a solution for you? I keep reading about the usefulness of these which primarily provide monthly income to home owners, with fully paid up mortgages, an opportunity to get monthly payments from a bank for essential home repairs, chronic illness of a member of the family requiring costly home care or for other reasonable problems.

There are restrictions such as applicants must be over age 70. Only a portion of the worth of the house can be used, and there is then a lien against the house when it is sold. Those who think this type of financial assistance is going to "save the house for the children" need to study the entire project very carefully. Installing easy access ramps for disabled can make a home less saleable at a later date. A deteriorating neighborhood or even a neighborhood changing from residential to something else, can be a problem. The monthly payment is a very persuasive argument but longer life can change the original basis. Just be sure you have examined all the angles and asked all the right questions.

Talk with you next issue.

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