Plan NOW, Save Money on Home Care Later

By on April 1, 2014
nurse with senior couple

By Lesley Mills –

The majority of people who seek in-home care for their loved ones need help within 24 hours. Usually, a fall, diagnosis of a chronic illness, or a sudden event such as a stroke prompts families to spring into action and find quality, qualified care for their loved one in need.  Although planning ahead can help ensure that families have the proper amount of time to research care options thoroughly, unfortunately, many families do not have the luxury of time to consider their options.

Emotional turmoil adds to the complexity of this decision-making process. While determining the best available options for care on a given budget can be daunting, it is much more difficult to make these decisions under extreme emotional duress, worrying about the care and condition of an older loved one in need of care.

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Consider these options and prospects to find the right in-home care provider and ways to pay. Here are a few simple tips designed to guide you and your family through the process.

Understand your loved one’s needs: Very often, families are not prepared for events that trigger a need for care for a parent or grandparent. Understanding what your family member needs helps you think through the process. Does your loved one require medical care, or just assistance with day-to-day activities? This helps you determine the right in-home care provider suited to offering the best services for those needs.

Meet with case managers and staff: Many reputable home care providers will meet, free of charge, with families to discuss their aspirations for home care. For example when you meet with a manager from Griswold Home Care, together you will walk through the process of discussing care options and finding all the ways to pay for care.  When you register with a company such as Griswold Home Care, you are under no obligation to engage in their services. Your information stays on file confidentially, but you are free to choose another provider after exploring other options. This simply saves you time when that urgent need arises.

Experienced professionals will be able to advise you of your options and confirm what is covered by Medicare, Medicaid or your private long term care policy. Meeting with all parties involved will allow your family to determine if this is the right fit for your family. Trust your gut: you can tell a lot about a home care provider based on how helpful the case manager is. This is the person who will be responsible for the quality of your care. Trust your research: see how long they’ve been in business; ask for references; ask about awards.

Ways to Pay for In-Home Care

Although it would be wonderful to have available cash-on-hand to pay for care for a loved one, not everyone has sufficient funds for the cost of an in-home caregiver. During your interview, a good home care provider will cover with you in-depth how you will pay for care. Families will have several options.

One option that can be a boon for families is long term care insurance. Unlike health insurance, the coverage is for a certain amount of money, not a period of time. However, once that money is gone, it’s gone. It’s up to your family to spend that money as wisely and economically as possible. Many states have a Partnership Program with Long Term Care. For every dollar of insurance the family buys, it can protect a dollar of assets before being eligible for Medicaid support. For instance, if you purchase a $100,000 policy for long-term care in a state with such a program, as soon as the assets decline for $100,000, you are eligible for Medicaid. The remaining $100,000 can be spent how the elder chooses: for vacations, home maintenance, donations or gifts.

Many older adults purchase these types of long-term care insurance policies with the intention to leave their survivors an inheritance.  Otherwise, these seniors put off their own home care because they want to leave their family something — even if their own children are independent or even over 65 themselves.

What many of these well-meaning seniors fail to recognize is that their money can be protected by putting this plan in place. This is the best way to help their child — regardless of age — by helping to alleviate the burden and anxiety of Mom and Dad not getting the care they need. “Being a burden” is one of the greatest fears of our Depression and war-hardened elders.

Other Ways to Pay Depending on Eligibility

Beyond available funds and long term care insurance, there are other payment options older adults and their families may consider with regard to in-home care. While long term care insurance can be applied to non-medical in-home care scenarios, other options — including Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance — hinge upon several eligibility factors.

Medicare pays primarily for skilled care services. Skilled care services are “a level of care that includes service that can only be performed safely and correctly by a licensed nurse (either a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse.)” Medicare will pay for non-skilled care (personal care including such as bathing, dressing, etc.) only if it’s accompanied by skilled nursing care. Normally, medically-necessary skilled care is only approved for a short period following a hospital stay. Unfortunately, most people are discharged from Medicare before they are able to be independent.

Medicaid provides for longer non-skilled care but has very low asset and income criteria. These criteria vary by state. A good care manager knows all the rules and can advise you.

Families often learn the hard way that health insurance does not pay for chronic illness such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s or heart disease. It only pays for episodic care – such as a hip replacement – that has a start and an end. For the elderly, the vast majority of cost is for chronic illness and neither Medicare not health insurance pays for it.

These are just a few options and concerns to be mindful of when weighing the cost aspects and ways to pay for in-home care. For additional ways to pay for in-home care, please check out Griswold Home Care’s 5 Ways to Pay for Home Care guide. Be sure to talk to a Griswold Home Care manager to learn all of your options, including those for veterans.

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Plan NOW, Save Money on Home Care Later