BY PRAMOD KULKARNI
HOUSTON: India House and Share Our Secrets Organization (SOS.ORG) conducted a free seminar on one of the most vexing issues faced by the retired and elderly. The seminar was held on Sunday, February 10, 2019 at the India House.
Seniors, often, do not realize the gaps that exist in their retirement plans that could threaten a comfortable retired lifestyle. For example, as seniors face health issues, they may be relying on long-term care and assisted living, which can be a significant drain on their asset pool. In order to mitigate these risks and meet their evolving needs, seniors are exploring various insurance options. The primary purpose of this seminar was to discuss how life insurance, long-term care insurance, and medical insurance can be used to fill the gaps during one‚Äôs retirement.
SOS Outreach Coordinator Atma Ram welcomed the audience of seniors and, as a stand-in for Col. Vipin Kumar (retired), Executive Director of India House, introduced a video describing the various activities underway at India House. He also described the activities of SOS, a task typically undertaken by Mani Subramanian, another SOS Outreach Coordinator.
Anasuya Kabad, Certified Financial Planner, introduced the three expert panelists and then served as the moderator during the Q&A session. The panelists were Attorney Benecia Flores, Insurance Advisor A. J. John, and SOS Founder Biki Mohindra.
An estate planning attorney specializing in elderly care, and families with special needs children, Ms. Flores explained the intricacies of the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs. She said that it is a common misconception among the seniors that Medicare would cover their long-term care costs. ‚ÄúThat is not so. I help families that have not planned to pay for long-term care possibly through the Medicaid program.‚ÄĚ
According to Flores, Medicare provides healthcare benefits for retirees who have paid into the Social Security system for at least 40 quarters. Medicare covers nursing care for only the short term. Medicaid is a need based program and covers long-term care only if the retiree is indigent.
Insurance Advisor A.J. John explained how many insurance carriers have dropped their traditional long-term care policies because of the rising cost of elderly care. John suggested that a new type of a ‚Äúhybrid‚ÄĚ insurance policy might be an option because it provides the options of either long-term care benefits or insurance benefit for your beneficiaries, if the long-term care benefit is not either used at all or used on a limited basis.
Speaking as an insurance consumer, SOS Founder Biki Mohindra presented a chart to show how much one needs to retire comfortably, based on various income levels. He also stressed the importance of getting professional help to solve your insurance-related problems as early as possible. ‚ÄúIf you use these professionals when you don‚Äôt have a problem, it will cost you $0.10. If you wait until you have a problem, it will cost you a $1. Still, if you wait until the problem gets acute, the cost will escalate to $10.00.‚ÄĚ
As in previous seminars, the event concluded with a Q&A session and then small group-huddle sessions, which allowed the attendees to raise more specific questions with the panelists.
The organizers and panelists explained that the information presented was for educational and informational purposes only. They said the information presented should enable the individuals to review their respective situation with their family and develop the most suitable strategy and plan.
The organizers‚Äô plan for the rest of 2019 is to hold three additional seminars on major topics, and deep dive hands-on workshops between those seminars. A follow up workshop is planned to be held on Tuesday, March 12 at India House from 9.30 AM to 12.30 PM to address specific questions on long-term care insurance and life insurance The organizers appreciate receiving input on topics for future seminars and hands-on workshops that can be held between these seminars. All input, including interest in attending the March 12th workshop, can be e-mailed to [email protected]
Share Our Secrets (SOS) is an educational organization, which conducts a gamut of programs for educated young people to teach them skills that are not taught in college curriculums and enabling them to succeed in their careers. SOS also conducts various community outreach events, on topics of interest to Houstonians, and specifically for seniors that could benefit them in their retired lives.
India House is a community center which provides a myriad of services & activities, either free or at a highly discounted price, including Charity Clinic, Sareen Harris Health Clinic, Yoga, Meditation, After-School and Summer Care, Technology Classes for Seniors, Hindi and Sanskrit Language Classes, Legal Consultations, Dance Classes, Cricket, table tennis and informative/educational seminars. India House, in partnership with Food Bank of Houston, has recently started a program for free food distribution to disadvantaged members of the neighboring community. All are welcome to volunteer at these events.
¬† India House and SOS have a strategic partnership, and have been conducting seminars and workshops of relevance to the seniors in our community. In the ‚ÄúLife After‚ÄĚ seminar series, two sessions were held on the subject ‚ÄúLoss of Spouse ‚Äď Life After‚ÄĚ to help the seniors to face this reality and provide etips to cope with the challenges involved. They also conducted a seminar on ‚ÄúDemystifying Estate Planning‚ÄĚ, which covered the details of various components of estate planning, and documents that one should consider executing.