A long-term care coverage may be expensive but there are possible steps that can be taken so that it would become more flexible and affordable. “Long-term care” is the help people who have chronic illnesses or disabilities or conditions require every day and over extended periods of time. The kind of help that is needed can also vary from assisting simple activities like bathing, eating and dressing to expert care that only nurses and other professionals such as therapists can provide.
Employer-based coverage of health insurance does not cover the daily and extended services for long-term care. Medicare can only cover short stays in nursing homes or limited time at home care but only under extremely strict conditions. In order to cover the potential expenses in long-term coverage for health care, some people opt to buy long-term insurance.
Policies provide a wide range of coverage options to choose from. Since it is hard to predict the future and how long-term care necessities will be, individuals are strongly advised to buy policies with flexible options. It depends on the policy options that are selected. Long term insurance for medical care can also assist in paying for the ideal care that is necessary, whether the patient is staying at home or in a nursing home or a facility that is assisted-living. The insurance also covers the expenses for care coordination as well as daycare of and other extra services. There are even policies that can also assist in paying the costs that are associated with modifying homes in order for the elderly to live safely in it.
Factors to consider
Health and age. Insurance policies are inexpensive when purchased at a younger age and the individual is of good health. If the individual is older and has already been diagnosed with health conditions that are serious, there is a high possibility of them not getting coverage. If they do, then they are expected to spend more.
The premiums. The individual must always check whether he or she can pay the premium of the policy – today and tomorrow – without having to go broke. Premiums have the tendency to increase over a long period of time and when the individual’s income unexpectedly goes down, it may be a challenge. There are individuals who find themselves unable to pay the premiums. They should be careful when making this decision because it is possible to lose all the hard-earned money that was invested in policies.
The income. If the individual has difficulty paying the bills and are concerned regarding paying this for the coming years, then spending thousands for a year just for long-term care policies will not make sense. If the income of the individual is low and there are few assets that are needed for the health policies, then they can qualify immediately for Medicaid. Medicaid covers the care in nursing homes. In a number of states, it also covers at-home care but a limited amount. The downside is that for individuals to qualify, they must exhaust all of their resources first and meet the requirements for eligibility that Medicaid has posted.
The support system. The individual can surround himself with friends and family that can offer long-term care especially if he needs it. However, they should think about the possibility of these people’s abilities to help them and how they can help them. Sometimes, some friends and family cannot help as much as the individual would like them to which only results in disappointment.
Savings and investments. Financial advisers and lawyers specialize in estate planning or elder law and they can advise elderly individuals on ways to save and invest for long-term expenses in care for the future. They can also list the cons and pros and show these to their clients so the latter is knowledgeable before completely purchasing or investing in car insurance that is long-term.
Taxes. The benefits that were paid through the policy of long-term care are generally not regarded as taxed in the form of income. There are also many policies that are sold today that are considered to be “tax-qualified” when setting in federal standards. Therefore, if the individual itemizes the deductions and also have medical costs that exceed 7.5% of the adjusted gross income, then he or she can also deduct the final value of all the premiums obtained from the federal income as well as the taxes. The total amount of the deduction from the federal taxes depends heavily on the age of the individual. The number of states offer tax deductions and credits but limited.
The Policy Sources for Long-Term Care
Individual Plans. A number of people opt for long-term care health insurance policies via their insurance agents or their brokers. When they choose to do this, they have to make sure that the person they are working to get this policy has had training when it comes to insurance for long-term health care, as there are many states that require this. They should also check with the insurance departments of their states for the credibility of the person they are dealing with to see if this particular agent or broker has the license to sell health care policies within that state in the first place.
Plans from Employers. There are employers that offer long-term health insurance policies or make these policies available for every individual through group rates that have discounts. There are also group plans that do not have underwriting. This means that these policyholders do not have to meet the medical requirements in order to qualify, at least in the beginning. There are also benefits that are available to various family members who need to pay premiums and also have to pass the medical screenings. There are also cases wherein when the individual leaves the employer or the latter has stopped providing benefits to the former, then the individual can retain the health insurance policy and also receive something similar if they choose to continue paying the premiums.
Plans That Organizations Offer. Professional as well as service organizations that the individual belongs to offer group-rate insurance policies for long term health care to every member. Similar to coverage that is sponsored by employers, individuals must study their options so that they know the possible scenarios if they choose to have their coverage terminated or they choose to leave these organizations that they belong to.
Partnership Programs from the State. If the individual chooses to invest in long-term health care insurance policies that qualify for the partnership programs from the state, he or she can keep a specific amount of the over-all assets and still be regarded eligible for Medicaid. These states also have partnership programs. The individuals have to make sure to check with their insurance agents whether the health policies that they are considering are qualified under these partnership programs of the particular state if it is associated with Medicaid and how and when they could qualify for this. If they have additional questions re Medicaid and the State Partnership Program, then they should check with the Health Insurance Policies Assistance Program of their state.
Joint Policies. There are plans that let the individual by single policies to cover more than an individual. The policy is also used by husbands and wives, partners, or a couple of adults that are related to one another. There are usually maximum benefits that apply to every individual that is insured with that particular policy. For example, if a husband and wife have a health care policy that has $100,000 benefit maximum and one of them uses $40,000, then the other would still have $60,000 remaining for him or her. The downside to this is that there is a possibility that one person will deplete the funds that the other one would eventually need in the future.
Long Term Health Care Insurance Coverage and Its Pre-Existing Conditions
Insurance providers turn down the applicants for pre-existing conditions that they already have. If a company sells health care policies to individuals who already have conditions, the insurers can withhold payment for the healthcare that is related to these specific conditions for some time after the insurance has been sold. Therefore, the individual then has to make sure that the time that the payments have been withheld is reasonable for him or her. If they fail to inform the company of this pre-existing condition, then the insurer may not even pay for the care that is related to the specific condition in the first place.
There are insurance companies that require their policyholders to turn to services from home care agencies or licensed professionals that are certified. There are others that allow the latter to hire non-licensed and independent providers or even family members. There are some companies that put certain qualifications like licensure if this is available within the state or restrictions on the programs and the facilities that are used. Policyholders must then make sure that they buy policies that cover these facilities, services, and programs and these are also available in their locations. Moving to a different location may also make differences in the coverage as well as the kinds of services that are available.
Health care insurance coverage has the following arrangements on long-term care:
Nursing home. These are facilities that provide full-range health care, personal care, rehabilitation care, and daily activities 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It is necessary that individuals cover to find out if this policy does not just cover lodging.
Assisted living. This is a resident that is like an apartment. It has units and there are individualized services and personal care available whenever necessary. An example of this is that the patients can have their meals delivered right into their apartment.
Day Care Services for Adults. This is a program that is not included in the home and it provides social, health and support services for adults in a supervised setting. These are ideal for those who need some help during their stay.
Home Care. This is an individual or an agency that performs personalized services like grooming, bathing, and assistance in housework and chores.
Home Modification. These are adaptations and renovations done in the home, like installing grab bars or ramps, to make it more livable and accessible.
Care Coordination. These are services from licensed and trained professionals who assist in locating services, determining needs and arranging the care for policyholders. This policy also includes monitoring the care providers.
Service Options for Future. If there is a new kind of long-term health care services that have been developed after purchasing the insurance, then there are also some policies that are flexible enough to cover these services as well. This option can be available once the policy has a specific language regarding alternative options.
Amounts and Limits of the Policy Coverage
Long-term health care coverage also pays for various services (for example, $50 for home care as well as $100 for nursing home care). They can also pay a particular rate for a specific service. Most health care policies have limits to these amounts for the benefits that they receive, like specific total years or the over-all dollar amount. Therefore, when purchasing a health care insurance policy, the individual must select the specific benefit amount as well as the duration that is right to fit the budget as well as the anticipated needs.
In order to figure out how useful policies are to the individual, he or she must compare the total value of the policy and its daily benefits alongside the average cost and value of the health care within the area. They also have to remember that they have to cover the difference. The price of long term health care can increase over a period of time. These benefits can also begin to erode especially if the policyholder does not choose one that protects it from the inflation in that particular policy.