By Brian M. Johnson, MBA, CLTC
Long-Term Care, we often dread hearing the words. Our minds quickly go to an image of a nursing home. However, the good news is that many of us will never see the inside of a nursing home.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the vast majority (80 percent) of elderly people receiving assistance, including many with several functional limitations, live in private homes in the community, not in institutions. Your home doesn’t instill the same doom and gloom that a nursing home might.
Still, in a recent study of adults over age 65, it was found that most respondents were more comfortable discussing and planning for their own death than their potential need for long-term care. That is probably why many Americans fail to address this single biggest risk they will face in retirement.
In our practice, we regularly address long-term care planning options. In doing so, we consistently coordinate planning with elder law and estate planning attorneys, geriatric care managers, accountants, and financial advisors. One of the biggest misconceptions we hear from consumers and advisors is that long-term care is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
Many seniors are under the impression that their traditional health care programs will provide the desired services in the home such as meal preparation, grocery shopping, assistance with hygiene, dressing, grooming, 24-hour care, etc. Medicare, Medigap and most Medicare Advantage Plans are designed to cover hospital stays, doctor bills and some short-term skilled nursing. Unfortunately, they do not cover the cost of everyday assistance in your own home.
Medicaid does cover some long-term care services, however, it’s a means tested program meaning someone needs to be at the poverty line to qualify for benefits. This can be accomplished through irrevocable trust planning. However, Medicaid is primarily designed to cover the cost of nursing home care. It covers very limited home care in New York (zero homecare in most states) and no assisted living.
Long term care insurance is an option for such services, however this type of coverage is usually secured by individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 who are in better than average health and financially able to maintain a significant insurance premium into retirement.
While your loved ones will have the best intentions to be there for you when an unexpected crisis arises, most are not prepared for the time, energy, and amount of work involved in care giving and can quickly become overwhelmed.
Home care plans are the newest innovation in our industry and the most viable alternative to traditional long-term care insurance.
When assistance becomes essential in the event of a sudden injury or illness, these membership plans quickly coordinate and arrange care for seniors in the privacy and comfort of their own home. Every day can bring an unexpected challenge into a senior’s life. The good sense of having a home care plan in place will give members and their families the peace of mind, security, and independence in being prepared as they move forward together.
There is no medical underwriting, does not impact government benefits, no claims forms, no waiting periods, no age limits, are available nationwide and the cost is a fraction of traditional long-term care insurance.
Like most things we plan for, it’s important to educate yourself and talk with your advisors and family members about your options for long-term healthcare. A home healthcare plan may make sense as a component of the strategy.