Chuck Fluharty, Founder of the Rural Policy Research Institute, Coming to Salem. Public Invited

 Chuck Fluharty, Founder of the Rural Policy Research Institute, Coming to Salem. Public Invited

Chuck Fluharty will be coming to Salem on October 24, 2019 at 6:00 PM at the Salem High School Presentation Room as part of the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street project, a collaboration between Indiana Humanities, Washington County Historical Society, and Washington County Community Foundation.

He is the founder, President, and CEO of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), the only national policy institute in the U.S. solely dedicated to assessing the rural impacts of public policies. A Clinical Professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, and a Research Professor in the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri, he was also a German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Fellow from 2007 to 2011, and the Founding Director of the Missouri Public Policy Institute, as well as a principal in the design and development of the eventual Truman School of Public Affairs. The author of numerous policy studies and journal articles, he has presented dozens of Congressional testimonies and briefings. He is also a frequent speaker before national and international audiences, having delivered major public policy speeches in over a dozen nations, and has provided senior policy consultation to most federal departments, state and local government, planning and development organizations, and many foundations.

Chuck was born and raised on a fifth-generation family farm in the Appalachian foothills in eastern Ohio, and is a graduate of Yale Divinity School. His professional career has centered upon service to rural people, primarily in the public policy arena. He and his wife Marsha are the parents of two sons and a daughter.

Flu Vaccines for Seniors

 

What can you tell me about the flu shots designed for older adults? I got sick last winter after getting a standard flu shot and would like to find out if the senior-specific flu vaccine is worth getting.

There are actually two different types of flu shots available to people age 65 and older. These FDA-approved vaccines are designed to offer extra protection beyond what a standard flu shot provides, which is important for older adults who have weaker immune defenses and are at greater risk of developing dangerous flu complications. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during the 2018-2019 flu season up to 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died.

You also need to be aware that these senior-specific flu shots cannot guarantee you will be flu free this season, but they may lower your risk. If you do happen to get sick, it is likely you will not get as sick as you would without it. Here is more information on the two vaccines:

Fluzone High-Dose: Approved for U.S. use in 2009, the Fluzone High-Dose is a high-potency vaccine that contains four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. According to a 2013 clinical trial, this vaccine was 24% more effective than the regular-dose shot at preventing flu in seniors.

FLUAD: Available in the U.S. since 2016, the FLUAD vaccine contains an added ingredient called adjuvant MF59 that also helps create a stronger immune response. In a 2012 Canadian observational study, FLUAD was 63% more effective than a regular flu shot.

The CDC does not recommend one vaccine over the other, and to date, there have been no studies comparing the two vaccines. You should also know that both the Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD can cause more of the mild side effects that may occur with a standard-dose flu shot, like pain or tenderness where the shot is injected, muscle aches, headaches or fatigue.

Neither vaccine is recommended for seniors who are allergic to chicken eggs or to those who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past. If you are allergic to eggs, you should ask for a Flucelvax or FluBlok shot. Neither of these vaccines uses chicken eggs during the manufacturing process.

All of these vaccines are covered 100% by Medicare Part B as long as your doctor, health clinic or pharmacy does not charge you more than Medicare pays.

Pneumonia Vaccines


The CDC recommends seniors also obtain a pneumonia vaccination, especially this time of year. Around 1 million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia each year and approximately 50,000 people die from it.

The CDC recommends that all seniors, 65 or older, get two vaccinations: Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Both vaccines, which are administered just once but at different times, protect against different strains of the pneumonia bacteria to provide maximum protection.

If you have not yet received any pneumococcal vaccine you should get the Prevnar 13 first, followed by Pneumovax 23 at least one year later. But if you have already been vaccinated with Pneumovax 23, wait at least one year before getting the Prevnar 13. Medicare Part B covers both shots, if they are taken at least one year apart.

To locate a vaccination site that offers any of these shots, visit VaccineFinder.org. You can type in your location and filter the search to the specific vaccine you would like to receive.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published October 4, 2019

Social Security Disability Benefits Eligibility

Getting Social Security disability benefits when you are unable to work can be challenging. Last year, more than 2 million people applied for Social Security disability benefits. Approximately two-thirds of those applications were denied. In most cases, the applicants failed to prove that they have a disability that prevents them from working. Here are some steps you can take that may improve your application.

Get Informed


The first thing you need to find out is whether your health problem qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits. Generally, eligibility depends on if you have a health problem that is expected to prevent you from working in your current line of work (or any other line of work that you have been in over the past 15 years) for at least a year or that the health problem may be terminal.

There is no such thing as a partial disability benefit. If you are fit enough to work part-time, your application will likely be denied. If you are working your application will be denied.

Your skill set and age are factors too. Your application may be denied if your work history suggests that you have the skills to perform a less physically demanding job that your disability would not prevent you from doing.

To help you determine if your disability may prevent you from working, visit SSA.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html and go through the five questions Social Security uses to disability eligibility.

How to Apply


If you believe you have a claim, your next step is to gather up your personal, financial and medical information so you can be prepared and organized for the application process.

You can apply either online at SSA.gov/applyfordisability or call 800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply at your local Social Security office, or to set up an appointment for someone to take your claim over the phone.

The whole process lasts about an hour. If you schedule an appointment, a "Disability Starter Kit" will be mailed to you, it should help you get ready for your interview. If you apply online, the kit is available for download at SSA.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm.

It takes three to five months from the initial application to receive either an award or denial of benefits. The only exception is if you have a chronic illness that qualifies you for a "compassionate allowance" (see SSA.gov/compassionateallowances), which fast tracks cases within weeks.

If Social Security denies your initial application, you can appeal the decision. Roughly half of all cases that go the appeals process will receive benefits, but there is a large backlog for appeals of approximately 800,000 people currently waiting for a hearing. It may take 12 to 24 months for an individual to get an appeals hearing.

Get Help


You can hire a representative to help you with your Social Security disability claim. By law, representatives can charge a maximum of 25% of your past-due benefits, up to a maximum of $6,000, if they win your case.

It may be worthwhile to hire someone at the start of the application process if your disability is something difficult to prove, such as chronic pain. If, however, your disability is obvious, you may not need to work with representative. If it is necessary, you can always hire a representative at a later date.

To find a representative, check with the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR.org, 845-682-1881) or National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR.org, 800-747-6131). Or, if you're low-income, contact the Legal Services Corporation (LSC.gov/find-legal-aid) for free assistance.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published September 27, 2019
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Electric Bikes Are Booming Among Baby Boomers

What can you tell me about electric bicycles? A friend of mine, who is almost 70, recently got one and absolutely loves it. He told me he rides more now than he ever did his regular bicycle.

Electric bikes have become very popular among U.S. baby boomers over the past few years because they are super fun to ride and easier on an aging body.

Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, are conventional bicycles with a battery-powered "pedal" or "throttle" assist. When you push the pedals or throttle, a small motor engages and gives you a boost. With an electric bike, you can whiz up hills, ride into headwinds and cruise over challenging terrain without over-exerting yourself or taxing your knees.

Many older e-bike owners say that they ride more frequently and go further and longer than they ever would with a traditional bike. Here is what you should know about e-bikes, along with some tips to help you choose one.

What to Know

E-bikes are more complicated and expensive than regular bicycles, so you should do some research before you purchase one. For starters, you need to know that there are three different types of e-bikes to choose from:
  • Class 1: "Pedal-assist" electric bikes that only provides assistance when the rider is pedaling, and only go up to 20 miles per hour. These are the most common type of electric bikes.
  • Class 2: "Throttle-assist" e-bikes that let you use the electric motor without pedaling, like a motorcycle or scooter, with speeds up to 20 miles per hour.
  • Class 3: "Speed pedal-assist" e-bikes, similar to Class 1, except that the motor will assist with speeds of up to 28 miles per hour.
Because the bikes are electrically powered, states and local communities have varying regulations regarding the use of e-bikes. In many states, Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed to be ridden wherever a traditional bike goes, while Class 3 are generally allowed on the street due to their higher top speed. For more information on your state's e-bike laws, visit PeopleForBikes.org/e-bikes.

You should also know that e-bikes come in many different styles, such as commuter, cruiser, mountain, road and folding, to meet different riding needs. E-bikes typically run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Their motors are either a hub-drive motor, mounted on the front or rear wheel, or a mid-drive motor, mounted to the frame at the bottom bracket between the cranks.

The only downsides of e-bikes are weight and cost. Because of the battery and motor, e-bikes are much heavier than traditional bicycles weighing 50 or more pounds, so it can be more challenging if you have to manually lift or maneuver your bike a lot. E-bikes are also expensive, typically ranging between $2,500 and $3,500.

E-bikes are made by many of the same established companies that make traditional bikes like Specialized, Electra, Schwinn, Trek, Giant, Cannondale and Felt, along with a number of upstarts like Juiced Faraday, Pedego, Elby and Hi Bike. To shop for an e-bike, find a good bike shop in your area and ask to test ride a few styles.

If you are interested in a cheaper option, there are also e-bike kits you can purchase like Walmart, Amazon and eBikeKit that can convert your regular bike into an e-bike for a few hundred dollars.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published September 20, 2019
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Home Sharing Programs Can Help Homeowners Find Renters

Can you share information about renting out part of my home? I am 76-years-old and interested in renting oHome Sharing Programs Can Help Homeowners Find Rentersut a spare room for extra cash and for some help around the house.

Renting out a spare room in your house is a great way to generate some extra income and even get some help with chores. To find a good fit, older homeowners often turn to a "home sharing program" that matches an empty nester with someone needing affordable housing.

Please be aware that home sharing is not for everyone and may require a business license in certain geographic locations. You need to carefully consider the pros and cons of renting out a spare room in your house and make a list of what you want in a housemate/renter.

Finding a Match


If you decide to proceed in finding a housemate/renter, your first step is to seek out a home sharing program in your area.

Home sharing programs, usually non-profit organizations, screen both homeowners and renters. They check references, handle background checks and consider lifestyle criteria when making matches. They can also help you with a leasing agreement that covers detailed issues like smoking, pets, chores, overnight guests, use of common rooms, quiet hours, etc.

Most home sharing programs are free to use or the companies may request a small donation. Others, however, may charge the homeowner and potential renter a fee for their services. To look for a home sharing program in your area visit the National Shared Housing Resource Center website at NationalSharedHousing.org.

Other Options


If you do not find a program that serves your area, you can also search for housemates through online home sharing services.

These sites require homeowners and home seekers to fill out a profile to find a match. Once a match is made, you will be responsible for contacting and interviewing prospective renters and making the final agreement.

If you do not have luck with any of these home sharing sites, put a call in to your Area Agency on Aging (call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for contact information) who may be able to offer assistance or refer you to local agencies or nonprofit organizations that offer shared housing help.

You can also check with your local senior or community center or religious institution to see if you can post an ad on their bulletin board or in their newsletter. You can also advertise in your local newspaper or online.

If you find someone on your own that you are interested in renting to, ask the prospective renter to fill out a rental application (see RentalLeaseAgreement.org to download and print one for free), run a tenant screening, a background check and call their references. Some tenant screening/background checks can be done for free online. Some credit bureaus offer credit screenings free of charge.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published September 13, 2019

Who Needs to See a Geriatrician?

What can you tell me about geriatrics doctors? My father, who is 82, takes eight different prescription drugs for different health issues but has not been feeling like himself lately. I am wondering if he would benefit by seeing a geriatrician in place of his regular primary care physician.

If your dad is dealing with a variety of health problems and is taking multiple medications, a visit to a geriatrician may be just the antidote to help get him back on track. Here is a rundown of the different types of health conditions geriatricians treat and some tips to help you locate one in his area.

Geriatrics Doctors


For starters, it is important to know that geriatricians are family practice or internal medicine physicians that have had additional specialized training to manage the unique and oftentimes multiple health concerns of older adults. Just as a pediatrician specializes in caring for children, a geriatrician is trained to provide care for seniors – usually those over age 75.

While most doctors are trained to focus on a person's particular illness or disease, geriatricians are trained to take a holistic view of the circumstances that can affect elderly patients, not just their patient's physical symptoms. Geriatricians are trained to coordinate treatments among a patient's specialist. They often work with a team of other health care professionals like geriatric-trained nurses, rehabilitation therapists, nutritionists, social workers and psychiatrists to provide care.

Patients who may benefit from seeing a geriatrician are elderly seniors with multiple health and age-related problems. Some of these problems may be diagnosed illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, confusion, memory problems, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, hypertension, depression, respiratory problems, osteoporosis, arthritis and chronic pain. Other difficulties may include mobility issues, incontinence, vision impairment, hearing impairment, trouble with balance or tendency to fall.

Geriatricians are also particularly adept at tackling problems with medication. Because many seniors, like your dad, take multiple medications at the same time for various health conditions, and because aging bodies often absorb and metabolize drugs differently than younger adults, unique side effects and drug interactions are not uncommon. A geriatrician will evaluate and monitor your dad's medications to be sure they are not affecting him in a harmful way.

Geriatricians can also help patients and their families determine their long-term care needs. Some physicians provide opinions on how long patients can remain in their own homes safely without assistance and what type of services may be necessary when they do need some extra help.

Find a Geriatrician


Unfortunately, there is a shortage of geriatricians in the U.S. Depending on where you live, finding one may be challenging. Not all seniors need to see a geriatrician. Seniors with fewer health problems may be just fine seeing their primary care physician.

To locate a geriatrician in your area, use Medicare's online physician search tool. Just go to Medicare.gov/physiciancompare and type in your ZIP code, or city and state in the "Enter your location box" and then type in "geriatric medicine" in the Search box. Alternatively, you can get this information by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227. The American Geriatrics Society also has a geriatrician finder tool on their website at HealthInAging.org.

Keep in mind that locating a geriatrician does not guarantee your dad will be accepted as a new patient. Many doctors already have a full patient roster and cannot accept any new patients. You will need to call the individual doctor's office to find out.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published September 6, 2019

Youth Foundation offers grant cycle

The Washington County Youth Foundation has been steadily working to be ready for the start of this year’s fall grant cycle.  The Youth Foundation offers grants for youth directed community service projects. 

Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Foundation, commented, “The Youth Foundation has been offering a grant cycle since 2002.  They have funded many youth-directed community service projects.  It is so exciting to see youth and adults working together for the betterment of Washington County.”

Applications are available on-line at www.wccf.biz and are due by October 3, 2019, 3:00pm in the Foundation Office.  The grant awards will be announced in November.  For more information, you can call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.  For more information, visit www.wccf.biz

Getting Around When You No Longer Drive

Where can I find out about alternative transportation options for my elderly mother? She needs to give up driving, but before she does, we need to figure out how she will get around.

Alternative transportation services vary widely by community. The services available to your mom will depend on where she lives.

Transportation Options


While most urban areas offer seniors a variety of transportation services, the options may be few for those living in the suburbs, small towns and rural areas. Alternative transportation is an essential link helping seniors who no longer drive get to their doctor's appointments, stores, social activities and more.

Here is a rundown of possible solutions that can help your mom get around, along with some resources to help you locate them. These solutions will vary depending on where she lives.

Family and friends: This is by far the most often used and favorite option among seniors. Make a list of all possible candidates your mom can call on, along with their availability and contact information.

Local transportation programs: These are usually sponsored by nonprofit organizations that serve seniors. These services may charge a nominal fee or accept donations. They often operate with the help of volunteer drivers.

Also check out the Independent Transportation Network, which is a national nonprofit that has 27 affiliate transportation programs in 23 states. With this program, seniors pay membership dues and fees based on mileage. Most programs will let your mom donate her car in return for credits toward future rides.

Demand response services: Often referred to as "dial-a-ride" or "elderly and disabled transportation service," these are typically government-funded programs that provide door-to-door transportation services by appointment and usually charge a small fee or donation on a per ride basis. Many use vans and offer accessible services for riders with special needs.

Taxi or car service: These private services offer flexible scheduling, but they can be expensive. However, they may be cheaper than owning a car. Some taxi or car services may be willing to set up accounts that allow other family members to pay for services and some may offer senior discounts. Be sure to ask.

Another option to look into is a ride-sharing service. Ride-sharing connects people with cars to people who need rides. The larger ride-sharing companies offer services in dozens of cities across the U.S. and must be accessed via an application on a smart phone.

Private program services: Some hospitals, health clinics, senior centers, adult day centers, malls or other businesses may offer transportation for program participants or customers. Additionally, some nonmedical home-care agencies that bill themselves as providing companionship and running errands or doing chores may also provide transportation.

Mass transit: Public transportation, (buses, trains, subways, etc.) where available, can also be an affordable option and may offer seniors reduced rates.

Hire someone: If your mom lives in an area where there are limited options or no transportation services available, another alternative may be to pay someone in the community to drive her. Consider hiring a neighbor, retiree or student that has a flexible schedule and would not mind making a few extra bucks.

Where to Look


To find out what transportation services are available in your mom's community, contact the Rides in Sight national toll-free call center at 855-607-4337 and the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116), which will direct you to her area agency.

You can contact local senior centers, places of worship and retirement communities for other possible options. Additionally, you may want to check with the state department of transportation at www.fhwa.dot.gov/webstate.htm and the American Public Transportation Association at publictransportation.org.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published August 30, 2019

How to Find a Good Financial Planner

Can you recommend some tips on finding and choosing a good financial planner? My wife and I are both in our late fifties and would like to get some professional advice to help us better prepare for our retirement years.


With all the different financial planners, advisors and services available today, finding and choosing a trusted professional who can help you meet your financial goals can be confusing. Here are a few suggestions to consider.

Where to Look


A good place to start your search is by asking friends or relatives for recommendations. If you do not know anyone who can give you a referral, and you are looking for broad-based financial advice, hire a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), the "gold standard" in the industry. CFPs must act as fiduciaries, putting their clients' best interests above their own.

To get the CFP credential, the advisor must have a college degree and be educated in a wide range of personal finance subjects, pass a rigorous certification exam, have three years professional experience, meet continuing-education requirements and abide by a code of ethics. CFPs are taught to look at the big picture view of your finances, talking you through your goals and advising you on the details of your financial life.

You may be better off hiring a CFP who is a fee-only planner, versus one who earns a commission by selling financial products. Fee-only planners charge only for their services – for example you might pay $150 to $350 an hour for a financial tune-up, a flat fee per project or an asset-based fee. To find a fee-only planner in your area, use the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, which carefully vets all members and offers an online directory.

If your needs are more specific, some other financial professionals to consider include a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) who is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or a state securities regulator to manage investment portfolios; a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), who specializes in insurance and estate planning; and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), who can help with tax planning.

Do your homework if a planner has other financial advising titles, designations and certifications. Many of these other designations may require no more than a few courses at a seminar or online. To research the different certifications or designations visit FINRA.org/investors - click on "Tools & Calculators," then on "Professional Designations."

How to Choose


After you find a few candidates in your area, call them up and schedule an appointment to meet and interview them. Find out about their experience, expertise and the types of services they provide; whether they are a fiduciary; how they charge and how much; what their investment philosophy is; and how they will handle your ongoing questions or financial needs. Look for someone whose clients are in situations similar to your own and who is available as often as you need them.

It is also wise to do a background check on your potential advisor. At LetsMakeaPlan.org, you can verify a planner's certification as a CFP (click on "Verify CFP Professional Status"). You can also see any information on the planner's disciplinary history with the CFP Board and on any bankruptcy filings in the past 10 years.

To vet an RIA, go to Investor.gov where you can search an individual's name. Click on "Detailed Report" to see information on qualifications, employment history, disciplinary actions, criminal convictions and more.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published August 23, 2019

Is Pet Insurance a Good Idea for Those on a Budget?

I own two dogs and a cat that I would do almost anything for, but expensive veterinary bills put a strain on my budget. Is pet insurance a good idea?


If you are the kind of pet owner who would do anything for your furry family, including spending thousands of dollars on medical care, pet insurance is an option to consider. Here is what you should know.

Rising Vet Costs


The cost of owning a pet has gone up in recent years. New technologies make it possible for pets to undergo sophisticated medical treatments for many life-threatening diseases, but these treatments are not cheap. This is why pet insurance has become more popular in recent years. More than two million pets are currently insured in the U.S. and Canada, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

How Pet Plans Work


Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance. Pet policies typically come with premiums, deductibles, co-payments and caps that limit how much will be paid out annually. Unlike regular health insurance, with pet insurance you usually have to pay the vet bills in full then wait for reimbursement from the insurer.

Pet policies vary greatly from basic plans that cover only accidents and illnesses, to comprehensive policies that provide complete nose-to-tail protection including annual checkups, vaccinations, spaying/neutering and death benefits. You should also be aware that pet policies typically do not cover pre-existing conditions, and premiums are generally lower when your pet is young and healthy.

Costs for pet insurance will also vary by insurer and policy, but premiums typically depend on factors like the cost of veterinary care where you live and the age and breed of the pet. The average annual premium for basic accident and illness coverage was $516 per pet in 2017, while the average claim paid was $278, according to the pet health insurance association.

If you are still working, one way to pay lower premiums, and possibly get broader coverage, is to buy pet insurance through your employer, if available. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 11% of employers in the U.S. offer pet health insurance benefits. These plans are usually discounted.

Alternative Option


Many animal advocates suggest forgoing pet insurance. They recommend putting the money you would have spent on premiums into a dedicated savings account to pay for vet care as needed. Depending on the policy, pet insurance can cost $1,500 to $6,000 over the life of an average pet. Most pet owners will never spend that much for treatment.

Ways to Save


If you cannot afford pet insurance or choose not to buy it, there are other ways you can save. For example, many local animal shelters offer free or low-cost spaying and neutering programs and vaccinations. Some shelters work with local vets who are willing to provide care at reduced prices for low-income and senior pet owners.

There are also a number of organizations that provide financial assistance to pet owners in need. To locate these programs, visit the Humane Society's website.

To save on pet medications, get a prescription from your vet (ask for generic if possible) and shop around for the best price. Medicine purchased at the vet's office is usually more expensive than what you can get from a regular pharmacy or online.

Most pharmacies fill prescriptions for pets inexpensively and many offer a pet discount savings program too. You can also save by shopping online at a verified pharmacy.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published August 16, 2019

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