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Long Term Care Options

Published by 4Hope on 2004/5/19 (3349 reads)
This script from a Community Focus segment on KEOM 88.5FM deals with the kinds of care available as we age, misconceptions about paying for that care, and ways to prepare for obtaining the kinds of care we want and need.

Long Term Care Options
Recorded live at KEOM studios in Mesquite, Texas
May 19, 2004

Q:So, Barb, what are we talking about today?

A: Today, I thought we’d talk about some new research on long term care options. Recently, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging did a consumer survey in which they found that only 40% of those 45 and older had considered their needs for “additional care as they age.” Additionally, half of the respondents assumed that Medicare or Medicaid would pay for assisted living care, indicating serious misinformation about payment for assisted living. So, today, I’d like to spend a few moments encouraging listeners to consider what kinds of care they would expect to have as they age and how they might finance that care. We are not experts in the financial end of long term care, but the misunderstanding of how long term care is financed indicates that a serious wake-up call is needed. Moreover, the fact that so few have considered what their options were in terms of future health care is likewise disturbing.

Q: So, we’re not planning as well as we might?

A: Exactly. While the aging population seems to know the basic kinds of resources that are available, nursing homes, assisted living, and home care, for instance, we only know them on an intellectual level, really, and have not given much consideration to what kind of care we would like, if we had a need, nor how we would pay for it. For instance, it’s a mistake to think that Medicare and Medicaid will pay for that care up front. They only provide payment once the person in need has sued up their own resources to a certain level. This process is called spending down. Only after you have spent down your savings does Medicare or Medicaid step in. With respect to the assisted living level of care, Medicare or Medicaid almost never pay.

Q: So, if we hoped to be able to use an assisted living center later in life, we would have to pay for it out of our own pocket?

A: Right.

Q: Would Long Term Care insurance cover some of those costs?

A: It very well might. But, those who have long term care insurance should carefully review their policy to see what is covered and what is not. A Certified Public Accountant or Financial Planner knowledgeable about the needs of the elderly should be included in any planning you do. They should be familiar with the ends and outs of such contracts, as well as some of the clauses that some companies include to avoid paying for the very expensive costs of care. The use of an accountant can help in ensuring that a long term care policy is right for you, that it’s coverage is meaningful, and can help consumers make sure that they have the additional resources they need should coverage not be enough or if it runs out.

Q: You spoke of levels of care. Can you talk a little more about this?

A: Yes. Most folks are familiar with assisted living, nursing homes, and senior housing. Some folks are less familiar though with things like adult day care. This allows an adult to stay in the home of his choice during the evenings, while giving caregivers the opportunity to work during the days. Another resource is home care. This is normally quite expensive, if staff is required for large blocks of time. Most of us, though, at one time or another, will likely need long term care in a skilled nursing facility. There are some facilities that have all these resources on the same campus, a real benefit to those who will be transitioning through the various stages. Levels of care, if reimbursed by insurance and government at all, are often reimbursed at different levels. But, the thing I want to encourage listeners to do is to give thought to the kind of care they like, and the means that they will use to pay for their care.

Tags: care   home   long   term   nursing   facility  

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