Financing Long Term Health Care

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This article was prepared for the December 12, 2001 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Back to Marketing Basics

Stock exchanges weren’t the only places popping with

irrational exuberance back at the end of the last century. "There

was irrational exuberance in marketing too," says Larry

Garfield,

founder and president of Newtown, Pennsylvania-based Garfield Group,

a 40-person marketing communications company targeting the technology

community. Dollars — lots and lots of dollars — were thrown

around with little thought to where they would stick.

"People felt they had to send money for mind share, for buzz,"

says Garfield. "They spent irresponsibly. They thought money

equals

buzz, and buzz equals stock price."

Times have changed dramatically, with some saying the dearth of

dollars

being spent on advertising has caused a "100-year firestorm"

in the advertising industry. Still, money needs to be spent to drive

sales. Garfield speaks on how to market effectively in 2002 as part

of a panel addressing "The Changing Terrain for Business in

2002,"

staged by GetContactX on Thursday, December 13, at 8 a.m. at the

Ramada

Inn, Route 1 South. Also on the panel are Paul Mlynarski,

Deloitte

& Touche; Michael Pollack, Register.com; and others. Cost: $30.

Call 610-718-9810.

Garfield, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton

School

(Class of 1982), founded his company in 1990. It caters exclusively

to the software, Internet, and telecommunications industries. Clients

include Platinum Technology, Princeton Softech, BEA Systems, and

4anything.com

Of business prospects for 2002, Garfield says, "I sure would like

to have a crystal ball." But while he can’t clearly see where

the industries he serves are going, he is sure of one thing.

"There’s

been a real back to basics," he says. "When you invest

marketing

dollars, it is about driving to a business result — sales."

Garfield offers the following suggestions for how marketing dollars

can be made to morph into sales:

Know your market. Brand awareness was overemphasized

during

the Internet heyday, yet it is still important. "Continue to build

brand awareness," says Garfield, "but it’s not about reaching

everyone. It’s about targeting."

It is incredibly expensive to get a message to everyone, as the

Internet

companies that spent millions on Super Bowl ads found out. And many

companies, especially business-to-business companies selling to just

a few industries, might need only to reach several thousand decision

makers, or maybe only several hundred. Know who they are, and go after

them, and leave the worldwide consumer audience to others.

One of Garfield’s clients, for instance, sells CAD software to the

construction and engineering industry. For them, "an ad in The

Wall Street Journal just to raise the stock price" would be

foolish

— and unnecessary — says Garfield. Their dollars are better

spent on ads in vertical trade magazines.

Don’t give up on the Internet. "There is definitely

more time being spent online by decision makers," says Garfield.

"It’s still the most ubiquitous communication tool ever."

The ‘Net can be a good place for advertisers to be, especially if

they think creatively. "It’s not just banner ads," he says.

"It’s content and sponsorship. You have to use the Internet in

innovative ways."

The medium has taken a bashing as a sinkhole for ad dollars, and rates

on most sites are way, way down. Bargains abound. Says Garfield:

"websites

are definitely looking to deal."

Print is old faithful. While the Internet is everywhere,

print still carries a big impact. "Being in core vertical

publications

is extremely important," says Garfield. "A regular presence

in print delivers good return, especially for BtoB

(business-to-business

companies).

Beef up core sales tools. Garfield is seeing a greater

emphasis on beefing up company websites, making them sharp,

information-filled

sales tools. Salespeople’s tools also are getting a good look to

ensure

that they have everything they need in the field, whether that be

laptop sales presentations or the ability to videoconference.

Center the message on value. Brand awareness goes only

so far. Potential customers need to know just how you will boost their

bottom line. "Make sure messaging and pitch is about business

value," says Garfield. "If a business is going to invest what

are limited dollars it needs to know there will be a return on

investment."

As we approach 2002, the cork is back in the champagne bottle.

Now is the time to demonstrate how well you can serve up the meat

and potatoes.

Top Of Page
Financing Long Term Health Care

This should come as a surprise to no one, but long term

health care is a pretty expensive proposition.

While everyone knows this in general terms, the actual numbers may

come as a bit of a shock. The average nursing home in New Jersey costs

families $5,500 per month, and can easily be twice that amount for

a shared room in the Princeton area, not including medicine, doctors’

visits, transportation to medical appointments — or tissues.

Furthermore,

statistics show that approximately 43 percent of the population will

one day require the services of a nursing home.

"Not many people can afford to pay that kind of expense out of

pocket for very long, and sure, it’s best to plan ahead," says

Dana Bookbinder, an attorney who specializes in elder law at

Begley, Begley, and Fendrick P.C. "There are strategies that

people

can use. Obviously the earlier you plan the more you can save. By

starting three to five years in advance, you can really save a lot

of money."

On the other hand, it’s never too late either. "People are often

under the misconception that it’s already too late if you haven’t

started planning until after a family member has gotten sick or is

in a nursing home," say Bookbinder. "But that’s not true.

It’s still possible to save a substantial portion of an estate even

then."

Bookbinder finds that many people are unaware of the opportunities

available to them. "Estates are lost, and liens are placed on

houses in cases where it is simply not necessary," she says. She

speaks on "Financing Long Term Health Care" on Thursday,

December

13, at 1 p.m. at a free seminar at the New Jersey Law Center in New

Brunswick. Call 856-235-8501.

The goal is to educate people on the variety of ways to finance

nursing

home care, such as private pay, long term care insurance, veterans

benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid. "But unless people have the

funds to private pay or someone in the family is a veteran, the only

viable solution in many cases is Medicaid eligibility," says

Bookbinder.

"We will outline the requirements to qualify for Medicaid, which

pays for over half the nursing home care costs in this country. There

are many legal planning techniques available that clients can

use."

Bookbinder graduated from Cornell University in 1992,

where she majored in English. She went on to law school at George

Washington University, graduating in 1995. Prior to coming to Begley,

Begley, and Fendrick, a Mooresville-based firm with an office at 993

Lenox Drive, she clerked for the New Jersey Superior Court in Mercer

County for the Honorable Thomas P. Kelly in the Civil Division.

Bookbinder now specializes in Medicaid planning, estate planning,

estate administration, and guardianships. She is active in the state

elder law section, currently serving as vice chair and is slated to

chair the section next year.

"Unfortunately, most people don’t plan too far in advance,"

says Bookbinder. "Probably most of our clients come to us after

a spouse has been diagnosed with a progressive illness. Despite the

importance of planning ahead for long term health care, people do

tend to neglect it."

Bookbinder offers these tips to those seeking to actively get a grip

on their future long term health care needs, whether those needs be

in the near or distant future.

Retain an expert. Don’t rely on your nephew who just

graduated

from law school. "It’s important to see an attorney who

understands

not only the Medicaid laws, but also the tax laws," says

Bookbinder.

"A lot of financial advisers and general practitioners try to

give their clients elder law advice and the problem is that they only

understand half of the law."

An elder law attorney will do a comprehensive review of an

individual’s

financial situation and design an asset protection plan to help save

as much of his estate as possible. "Nursing home costs are so

high that very often if one spouse goes into a care facility the other

healthy spouse’s standard of living is jeopardized," says

Bookbinder.

"With planning, we can help maintain their standard of

living."

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys has lists of elder law

attorneys in every state. (520-881-4005 or www.naela.org.)

Get organized. Bookbinder recommends that individuals

get their estate planning documents in order and make sure they have

a good power of attorney and living will. Despite the anxieties many

people feel many pitfalls can be avoided by careful planning.

Start planning early. Bookbinder recommends that everyone

over the age of 18 should have in place a last will and testament,

a living will, and a general durable power of attorney. "It’s

much less expensive to do this planning in advance than it is for

a family to go to court if something should happen," she says.

"When it comes to planning for long term health care, before

people

think it’s important, it already is. There’s no reason not to plan

ahead."

Despite the myriad anxieties many people feel when facing the

possibility of long term health care needs, individuals can do

themselves

and their families an enormous favor by taking care of these issues

in advance. "The way the law is designed now, individuals who

pass away suddenly can leave assets to their children through their

wills," says Bookbinder. "But individuals who suffer from

a long term progressive illness often don’t have that option because

their estates are slowly depleted by the costs of their long term

care."

— Jack Florek


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