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Elder Law

Elder Law Updates and Their Impact on Eastern Washington Seniors

By March 7, 2024May 19th, 2024No Comments
Elderly Couple Sitting on Couch with Small Dog | Elder Law Lawyer | Legacy Law Group

Seniors living in Washington will want to be aware of the elder law updates that came into place in 2024. This is a big year for elder law in Washington, as these updates could have a significant impact on long-term care planning. Long-term care is a heavyweight that many families carry as their relatives age and require more care. These updates will help to alleviate some of that worry by making it more accessible for seniors across Washington state.

What is Elder Law?

Before we discuss elder law updates, you need to understand elder care law in Washington state. This is a term used to describe the law that covers legal and practical issues that affect people over the age of 65. It impacts these people as well as their family, friends, and caretakers.

Elder law encompasses things such as state management, long-term care planning, wills and trusts, etc. For family members or seniors looking to the future, hiring Washington State elder law attorneys is vital. They can help simplify elder law and how it impacts seniors, as well as provide guidance when planning for the future.

Medicare Updates in Elder Law

Medicare is a federal health insurance provider for people who are 65 or older. Medicare is also available to those who are younger as long as they have end-stage renal disease, ALS, or another kind of disability. It is a fee-for-service health insurance program that has different parts which dictate what it covers.

  • Part A helps to cover institutional care in places like hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.
  • Part B pays for preventative care and doctor visits, as well as specific outpatient treatment and lab tests.
  • Part C bundles the benefits of parts A and B, along with dental and vision care coverage.
  • Part D helps to cover prescription medications.

Seniors need to be aware that Medicare premiums will increase in 2024. This is a negative aspect of these elder law changes, but there are also some positive things to be aware of.

Mental Health Coverage

Medicare has now made it easier than ever to find a licensed mental health provider that seniors can find nearby. There are about 400,000 providers that accept Medicare, including marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors.

Another change to Medicare is that it can also help seniors get alcohol abuse or substance abuse treatment if they need it. It will cover services such as psychotherapy, prescription drugs, and screenings. Medicare will also cover up to 19 hours a week of intensive outpatient mental health care for patients who qualify.

Having the option of mental health coverage is incredibly important for seniors who may not be able to pay out of pocket.

Medicare Part D Premiums

In 2024, the Medicare Extra Help Program boosted its number of enrollees, providing even more assistance for low-income seniors and those with disabilities. Up to 3 million more people could qualify for this Medicare assistance, and those who are already part of the program will see additional benefits.

Seniors using this medicare program will likely see their prescription medication costs drop by an average of $300 a year and will not have to pay a premium or deductible.

There are many seniors who qualify for the Medicare Extra Help Program, which is why this is always worth looking into for additional financial assistance.

Medication Savings

One of these Medicare elder law updates is going to help seniors pay for specialty medications. Before, seniors who had Medicare Part D still had to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for specialty medications every year. Now, if prescription drugs cost more than $8000 out of pocket, seniors will not be responsible for other copays or coinsurance for the remainder of the calendar year.

This is because enrollees of the Medicare Part D program will no longer be required to pay a 5% copay for catastrophic coverage. For seniors who rely on brand-name prescription medications, $3300 will need to be spent out-of-pocket for the 5% copay to be avoided.

The future in terms of specialty medications looks bright as Medicare will be creating even more updates in 2025. These updates promise to make out-of-pocket costs for part D enrollees even lower at $2000 a year.

Insulin Supplies

The Inflation Reduction Act became effective in 2024, making it so Medicare Part D plans cannot charge enrollees more than $35 per month for insulin in their plan. This will help seniors who depend on insulin since the cost of this medication has tripled over the past decade.

Chronic Pain Services

In the past, Medicare did not cover long-term expenses related to chronic pain. Now, in 2024, Medicare is providing coverage for seniors who have persistent or recurring pain that lasts longer than three months. Medicare includes medication management and pain assessments in this plan.

Keep in mind that this does not change any Medicare Part B deductible or coinsurance payments.

How This Impacts Seniors in Eastern Washington

Washington state elder care law is very important for seniors and their families in Eastern Washington. Most of these updates involve Medicare, which is a very common option for seniors who need healthcare coverage.

These changes will undoubtedly have an impact on long-term care planning and how seniors and their caregivers budget Medicare expenses. 2024 looks bright as seniors have more coverage options than ever, including mental health coverage.

Seniors who require specialty medications or long-term care for chronic pain will certainly find these updates beneficial. For those who do not entirely understand these updates, hiring an elder law attorney is a great way to get started. An elder law attorney can break down these changes and ensure seniors use all the resources available to them.

Get in Touch With an Elder Law Attorney Today

To help understand elder law in Washington state, reach out to one of the elder law attorneys at Legacy Law Group in Eastern Washington and Spokane Valley. Contact us today at 509-315-8087 to speak with one of our attorneys to get the process started.

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