What's New at thorntonpowell
With the holidays arriving fast, many people try to adhere to the mantra of “it is better to give, than to receive”. Whether this is in the form of time or money, there is a satisfying feeling that comes from helping someone in need. Here at thorntonpowell we could not agree more.
Last Year thorntonpowell focused on two deserving families that could benefit from our assistance during the holidays. Both were affected by cancer. One wife and mother of five was determined to survive a bleak cancer diagnosis and another mother was trying to rebuild after cancer claimed her boyfriend’s life leaving behind a young daughter. The struggle was not only emotional but financial as well. This was even more apparent when the holidays came around.
Through a combined effort from all our employees, we were able to supply each family with Christmas gifts. Those for the adults were wrapped ahead of time and left as a surprise for Christmas Day. However, for the children’s gifts, the parents came into the office and were able to see everything donated and then participate in wrapping them. It was definitely a heart warming experience and one that I’m sure the families will never forget.
We are happy to report that each family is doing well and we wish them the best.
For 2010, thorntonpowell will be supporting a local charity, Ronald McDonald House, in Oak Lawn, IL. Opened in December of 2008, the “house in the woods” as it is referred to, is equipped with 16 bedrooms and houses eligible families with children (21 years or younger) that are currently being treated at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital and reside more than a ten mile distance from the hospital itself. Ronald McDonald House’s mission is “to improve the health, well-being and education of children.” They adhere to this by providing residents with a “home away from home” while their child receives treatment as well as the opportunity to connect with other families experiencing similar situations. Since opening its doors, the Oak Lawn facility has assisted more than 350 families and over 9,287 room nights.
Admittance as a resident is based on availability and an approved referral submitted by a child’s assigned hospital case manager/social worker. Once at full occupancy, waiting lists are utilized. On average, a family’s stay is about 17 days. However, “house in the woods” is unique in that they have four extended stay suites offered to accommodate families that will need to utilize their facility for longer stays due to a child’s hospital stay being prolonged. As many charitable organizations, Ronald McDonald House relies on its volunteers, donors, partners and personnel to make this all possible.
PPACA Puts the Filling in Medicare's Donut Hole
On March 23rd, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. The law is comprised of health insurance reforms that will take place over the next four years into 2014 and beyond. Everyone will be affected, from children to seniors, regarding accessibility, affordability and utilization of their healthcare.
For many seniors, Medicare Part D is relied upon to cover both brand name and generic prescriptions. Typically there is a deductible that must be satisfied before Medicare will cover any of the expenses. Once the deductible is met, Medicare begins covering 75% of the costs up to $2,830. Sounds pretty standard right? That is until seniors reach the “donut hole”, a gap in coverage where Medicare returns to paying 0% of drug costs, leaving seniors to be responsible for an additional $1,720 out of their pockets in addition to the premiums paid to retain the coverage. It is not until after seniors’ total drug costs reach $4,550 that Medicare steps back in to cover 95%. Understandably, some seniors were left to make decisions about the drugs they take, including not taking them as often as prescribed or ceasing them all together in order to avoid the cost. So bring on the filling!
Included in the PPACA legislation is relief for seniors whom find themselves in the donut hole. For 2010, eligible enrollees of Part D will receive a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check from Medicare in hopes of lessening their financial burden. Rebates will go out within 3 months of entering the donut hole. Enrollees will be able to track when they can expect to reach this gap in coverage by examining their Explanation of Benefits generated when prescriptions are filled. The Explanation of Benefits keeps a running tab on how much is spent on covered prescriptions.
While $250 may not be enough relief for those seniors with chronic conditions that require costly prescriptions to maintain, beginning 2011, brand name drugs will be discounted by 50% while in the donut hole continuing through 2020 when Medicare expects the donut hole to be completely phased out.
Attention Annual Enrollment: November 15th – December 31st is the designated time frame to enroll in (if not previously elected when eligible), make changes or discontinue Part D plans. Generally if no changes or elections are made, members will remain enrolled in their current coverage until the following annual enrollment. Any enrollments during this period will be effective January 1st.
For more information, please visit www.healthcare.gov or contact our individual/Medicare specialist, Lynn Imperiale, at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly at 708-752-8250.
thorntonpowell has a talented and well-informed Health Insurance & Employee Benefits department specializing in both individual and group needs. Please let us know how we can help you. Change is on the way, be informed and be prepared.
Five Things to Know About the 2010/2011 Flu Season
(ARA) - Last year's flu season turned out to be less severe than initially feared,
perhaps because the H1N1 scare made people more vigilant about flu vaccinations.
Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of
24,000 people in the U.S. die from the flu each year, and more than 275,000 were
hospitalized from just the H1N1 virus last season.
Now another flu season is upon us. And while the World Health Organization has
declared an end to the H1N1 pandemic, the organization expects the virus to
circulate for years to come and to continue affecting young people most severely.
That means getting vaccinated against the flu is just as important as ever.
It's never been easier to get a flu shot when it's most convenient for you. Here are
five new things you should know about this year's flu vaccine that could help keep
you and your family healthy throughout the season:
1. One shot - Last season, millions of people were vaccinated twice - first for
seasonal flu starting in September and later for the H1N1 virus. This year, only one
shot is needed for protection against both seasonal flu and H1N1.
2. Everyone 6 months and older - For the first time, the CDC is recommending
universal flu vaccination - with everyone older than 6 months recommended to get a
shot, including pregnant women.
3. Never too early (or too late) - Flu shots were available early this year, with
some retailers offering them in early August. A shot now will protect you all season
long. Most retailers will offer shots through the spring, or while supplies last.
Health experts agree: It's best to get the shot early and be protected for the
duration of the flu season, especially because flu season is unpredictable and no
one knows when viruses will begin to circulate or when flu activity will peak.
4. More convenient than you think - Many local pharmacies offer flu shots. In fact,
Walgreens, the nation's largest retail provider of flu shots, offers immunizations
at every one of its 7,500 pharmacies and all of its Take Care Clinics nationwide,
every day, during nearly all pharmacy and clinic hours and without an appointment.
Walgreens even offers flu shot gift cards that make it easy for those you care about
to get a flu shot (especially kids away at school and distant relatives). The cost
of $29.99 is covered under a number of medical plans. Walgreens is able to bill a
number of national providers directly.
5. Plentiful supply - According to the CDC, more than 160 million doses of flu
vaccine have been produced. That's more than ever before and a 40 percent increase
over last year's vaccine production, when shortages made it challenging for many to
get a flu shot.
"Whether you're among the more than 100 million Americans who get a flu shot every
year or are on the fence about whether to get one, it's as important this season as
it's ever been and now as easy as a trip to your neighborhood drugstore," says
Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy services. "Pharmacies have become
one of the fastest-growing and most-trusted resources for flu shots in recent years,
offering convenient, accessible and affordable flu prevention and health care
services in thousands of communities nationwide."
More of Our Favorite Recipes
Back by popular demand are some more of our favorite recipes. Please try them out and let us know what you think!
Beefy Nacho Bake
Hot & Sweet Ragu with Meatballs