The Ability To Remain In Your Own Home Is One Of The Greatest Benefits Of Owning Long-Term Care Insurance
Most people still mistakenly associate long-term care and long-term care insurance with nursing homes. In fact, just the opposite is true.
According to the LTCi Sourcebook, published by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, some 7.6 million individuals currently receive care at home because of acute illnesses, long-term health conditions, permanent disability or terminal illness. By comparison, there are just over 1.8 million individuals in nursing homes.
Most people buy long-term care insurance just so they can receive care in their own home. If that's something you'd value, now is the time to start the process. Click here to complete our simple online questionnaire and be connected with an expert in your area to find out whether you can health qualify for long-term care insurance and what coverage costs.
The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance thanks Homewatch CareGivers and the National Private Duty Association for providing the following information on home care. Links to their websites can be found at the end of this page.
Home Care Information Center
- Home Care Defined
- Who Provides Home Care
- Which Home Care Services Will Long-Term Care Insurance Cover?
- Why Sooner Can Be Better
- 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Care Provider
Home Care Defined
The majority of people are most comfortable in their own environment where they feel safe and close to the things they love, and home care is the long-term care option that promotes the individual's independence and ability to continue with the normal, daily routine as long as possible. The goal of home care is to provide in-home care for those who need it, and to allow an individual to remain living at home as long as possible, regardless of age or disability.
Home care services cover a wide range of needs, from homemaking and companionship to meal preparation and medication reminders. They may also include personal care services, or those that help with the activities of daily living, including home care services like bathing, dressing, and grooming. To promote a safe and functional lifestyle, a caregiver can help you brush your teeth, secure the buttons on your shirt, or stand-by while you bathe to make sure you do not fall.
Often, skilled services that utilize the expertise of a nurse may also be grouped within the home care category. Services include checking vital signs, coordinating with doctors and other healthcare professionals working with the individual, and performing comprehensive evaluations of health and community needs to keep individuals safe at home.
As a rule, skilled nursing services are provided by home health agencies; often your home care agency will be associated with home health agencies in your area that can provide a higher level of care through nursing in the home when those services become necessary. However, home care can be a highly effective interim solution for individuals who are not sick enough to need nursing services but just need a little help to stay safe and independent in their homes.
Who Provides Home Care
Not all home care services offer the same peace of mind, and there are some important, but often unrecognized, issues to consider when hiring a caregiver. Home care services are best when provided through an agency that employs, trains, bonds and insures, and background checks its caregivers. This allows to you have peace of mind knowing that you are bringing someone into your home that you can trust. In addition, the agency will take care of any legal issues that occur should the caregiver or client be injured on the job.
On the other hand, a home care registry is an organization that helps you locate a caregiver and places one in your home on an independent contractor basis. Registries do not employ caregivers, nor do they take responsibility for their training and supervision. A private caregiver or an independent contractor with a home care registry may be highly compassionate, lower in cost, and an overall good fit with the client, but remember you will be liable for the payroll taxes and possible work related injuries of the caregiver.
Hiring a caregiver that is not background checked on a yearly basis and continuously trained by an agency that employs him or her creates a situation where you don't know if the caregiver has the skills to perform the needed tasks, and potentially exposes you to the risks of using a caregiver with an unknown background. So, it is vital to check a private caregiver's criminal and sexual abuse records at least annually.
"The first and most important thing consumers need to know is if they are dealing with an agency that employs its own caregivers," says Leann Reynolds, President of Homewatch CareGivers, a home care company with over 170 locations worldwide. "And find out if the agency or provider performs unannounced quality assurance visits to the client's home. These are two of the most important activities that home care agencies should be performing."
According to Kim Stoneking, President of the National Private Duty Association, "Employment of the caregiver is extremely important. As the voice of the private pay home care industry, the National Private Duty Association has removed the guesswork for the consumer. Every member agency of the National Private Duty Association must have evidence of employing at least 90% of its workers. We also know that NPDA members take care of all insurance and taxes for their caregivers and that training and background checks are completed."
Long-term care insurance will reimburse you for whatever home care you choose, and of course you want your benefits to last as long as possible; just keep in mind the hidden costs of a private caregiver or an independent contractor and remember the benefits of using a trusted, professional caregiver from an agency to keep you safe and independent in your home, who can provide long-term home care, and a continued trustworthy relationship.
Which Home Care Services Will Long-Term Care Insurance Cover?
With advancements in medical technologies, people are increasingly living longer lives. This longer life, though allowing us to have greater life experiences, also increases the chances that we will experience long-term illnesses that require help in order to continue living safely in our homes. Activities of daily living (ADL's) is a term you might hear that refers to the things we do on a daily basis to take care of ourselves, including bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. Individuals with many chronic, or long-term, diseases often have trouble performing some of these ADL's, and the need for assistance with these activities is a measure used to assess when an individual is eligible to use Long-term care insurance benefits.
Depending on your policy, you might have a waiting period before you can access your funds. Does your policy allow you to start collecting benefits on the day you begin receiving assistance, or are you subject to a waiting period of anywhere from 30 to 120 days? It is important to ask these questions and get advice from your broker when deciding which policy is best for you.
Likewise, you will want to seriously consider when is the right time to initiate your claim. The waiting period often corresponds to the benefit period, or the maximum amount of time that the insurance company will pay benefits. Often, the longer the waiting period before benefits begin, the longer the company will pay for your care. Benefit periods are typically three to five years, and correspond to the lifetime benefit cap, or the maximum dollars that will be paid by the insurance company on the policy; these figures are related in terms of the maximum daily benefit over the number of years in the benefit period.
You should discuss and weigh your options carefully with your broker and consider what your needs may be if you experience a stroke, are diagnosed with cancer or other situations where you have the potential to live a long time needing just a little bit of help to stay in your home. Long-term care insurance can help you pay for the home care you need as you age if you anticipate your needs and choose your policy accordingly.
It is important to know that the cost of long-term care is expected to grow significantly over the next few decades. In the next thirty years, the annual cost of long-term care is expected to increase over 330% to over $300,000 a year for a home care aide and even more for a nursing home or assisted living facility. For most of us, that means that the care we need as we age will be more than we are able to save through investments or other private sources, making Long-term care insurance a smart investment in our future independence and safety.
Today, home care services through an agency cost roughly $14 to $28 per hour. On average, individuals from the general population use twenty hours of home care each week for about six months. Those with Long-term care insurance use thirteen months of care, on average, at about twenty hours per week. Consider these averages as you and your broker design your policy.
Why Sooner Can Be Better
While none of us want to dwell on a time when we're no longer able to take care of ourselves, the truth is that the earlier that we consider our future needs and plan for them, the more likely we are to be prepared and to minimize the stress felt by our families and ourselves when the time does come. In addition, financial planning prior to long-term care needs begin will give you a greater choice of intervention, and put you in the driver's seat.
Many don't know that there are significant benefits to purchasing long-term care insurance earlier in life. For one, the price of long-term care insurance premiums is significantly lower when you are younger. For the same policy, yearly premiums for policies purchased at the age of fifty are significantly less than premiums purchased at the age of seventy. In addition, the earlier you purchase your policy, the more likely you are to have your application approved.
By planning ahead, you will be best prepared to secure an affordable policy that helps you stay at home when the time comes. In addition, many policyholders wait longer than necessary to start using their benefits. They intend to save their benefits for when they need them more, but in actuality, intervening with home care earlier in a disease or aging process can help prolong one's ability to stay at home, and stave off the need for a higher level of care or relocation to a nursing home.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, falls are the leading cause of injury among the elderly. When an elderly person falls, they are more likely than younger people to end up in the hospital and often, to come back home unable to perform their normal activities. Having a home care aide can help prevent these fall emergencies. If a fall has already occurred, home care may be an appropriate intervention during recovery. Just because you cannot walk up a flight of stairs unaided, does not mean a move to a facility is required as a permanent decision. Long-term care insurance can fund home care that will allow you to remain at home where you are most comfortable, with safety and independence.
10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Care Provider
When selecting a home care agency, it is important to know what questions to ask. Here are some examples of important questions that consumers should ask of a prospective service provider:
How long has the agency been providing private duty home care?
Is a written, customized care plan developed in consultation with the client and family members, and is the plan updated as changes occur?
How are emergencies handled after normal business hours?
Do they closely supervise the quality of care, including maintenance of a daily journal in the client's home and non-scheduled supervisory visits?
Does the agency employ a nurse, social worker, or other qualified professional to make regular visits to the client's home?
Do they triple-screen their caregiver employees carefully, including use of reference checks, driving records and criminal background investigations?
Does the agency mandate ongoing training of its employees to continually update their skills?
Does the agency manage all payroll and employee-related matters and adhere to state and federal guidelines in its employment practices, such as withholding appropriate taxes and providing workers' compensation and other benefits?
Do they also use independent contractors? If so, who employs the person and what type of background checks do they do on their employees? Also, who pays the mandated taxes and withholdings?
If you are ready to find out whether you can health qualify for long-term care insurance and to see what coverage costs start the process. Click here to complete our simple online questionnaire and be connected with an expert in your area there is never any obligation and the information is free.
A critical illness such as cancer, a stroke or heart attack impacts millions of Americans yearly. To learn more about critical illness insurance please visit the website of our sister association the Click here for the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.