A Helpful Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance

You may not think of long-term care insurance as an end of life issue, but it’s something that aging people (and progressive younger people) are realizing that they need. People are living longer in various states of awareness. For instance, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s may not understand the difficulties of providing long-term care for them, but their family certainly does.

The brochure, Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance, sponsored by the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) www.pueblo.gsa.gov, and written by the AHIP is a good review about long term care insurance. The American’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is a national association advocating for the consumer who needs to research and buy a health care plan. The following information is adapted from the AHIP brochure and can be ordered for free at the email address above.

By the year 2020 it is expected that 12 million Americans aged 65 and above will need long-term care insurance. So what it is? It covers things like a visiting nurse, a home health aide, meals delivered to your home, and even services for chores such as bathing and grooming. Most importantly it lets people decide if they want to be at home, a nursing home, or assisted living facility. It gives people a choice.

The cost depends on where you are residing. Nursing home costs for a year can average over $50,000. In home care is expensive too, $12,000 a year and up, and even assisted living facilities can cost $24,000 a year.

Generally Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care insurance and Medicaid only covers about half of the cost of a nursing home. It’s important that client families understand that the government won’t pay for all of their long-term care needs.

The brochure lists 17 questions to ask before purchasing long-term care insurance. Here are a few that stood out:

• How much does the policy pay per day for nursing home care? Home health care? Assisted living facility? Adult Daycare? Alternate care? Respite care?

• Does the policy have a maximum lifetime benefit?

• How long must I wait before preexisting conditions are covered?

• Does the policy offer an inflation adjustment feature?

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) says that qualified long-term care insurance receives the same tax treatment as accident and health insurance. However, you should refer your client family to a financial planner or tax advisor regarding eligible deductions available to them.

In conclusion, every state has a Department of Insurance that regulates the industry. You can find their contact information on the web or in the blue government pages of your phone book.

Caring for an Aging Loved One

The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) provides A LOT of free aging and end of life information for consumers. I recently wrote to the FCIC and received about 10 free brochures on those topics. This week we will review the brochure, Caring for an Aging Loved One. You can order this brochure for free at www.pueblo.gsa.gov.

I am literally surrounded by people at work who are approaching retirement and are beginning the journey of caring for their aging parent. They talk in the halls and the lunch room updating one another how their Mom is doing, or where they are looking to place her, what kind of medications are needed, and even asking me advice on which funeral home to use when the time comes. It seems overwhelming that these people can work a 40+ hour work week on top of caring for someone else, and making life changing decisions. Not having dealt with this topic on person level yet I am in awe at how much they have to research, balance, and make decisions about.

The 28 page brochure Caring for an Aging Loved One outlines what many caregivers need to know or think about. These topics include; How Will You Know When a Loved One Needs Assistance, Developing a Care Plan, Organizing Documents and Paperwork, When Your Loved One Can No Longer Live at Home, Who pays for Long-Term Care, and many more.

Some of the more useful pages in the brochure include information on aging websites. Here are a few off the beaten path that you may not have heard of before.

www.benefitscheckup.org. This website was developed by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to help people determine benefit eligibility in their area. This website is easy to navigate; you will be able to determine quickly if their information will be helpful to you.

www.aahsa.org American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. This site has some fantastic questionnaires and suggestions for people who are facing aging issues.

www.caregiver.org The Family Caregiver Alliance founded in 1977 is headquartered in California; their website is in English, Spanish, and even Chinese. They have a great archived newsletter, and although many issues are referenced to the State of California, the information provided can be used anywhere.