The Importance of Having a Long Term Care Plan

Whether just starting out on their own or later on in life, most people want to be able to live the life they choose to in their own home. Unfortunately, accidents, illnesses and disabling events that prevent individuals from being able to perform essential tasks for daily living can happen to anyone, at any age. In order to live your ideal life, planning is essential, and long term care insurance could be a part of an effective plan.

Long term care is the type of assistance or supervision one needs if they can no longer feed, bathe or dress themselves, or move around their home without incident. These conditions often come about after disabling events such as strokes, or as a result of cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. This type of care is very common, and not just for the elderly: Seventy percent of those turning 65 will need long term care at some point in their lives, and 41 percent of long term care insurance covers people who are under 65 years old.

Chronic or ongoing care typically is not covered by one’s normal insurance plans, or is only covered for a shorter period of time. In these cases, assistance is often provided by informal caregivers such as family and friends. While family and friends are usually more than happy to help, the continuing need for intensive care can put stress and strain on those individuals over time. Additionally, they are often not professional caregivers and may not be equipped to provide the type of care or supervision one needs, which can complicate their medical situation.

For federal workers, that’s where the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) can help. Proper care requires documentation, communication and a knowledge of the care and claims process. The FLTCIP representatives, Registered Nurses Care Coordinators (RN), have extensive experience in Long Term Care, and can provide helpful resources and offer input for care options. They may advocate for individuals in ways an informal proxy cannot and can translate complicated documents and legal procedures into understandable language that can help families become insurance experts. Additionally, they review the individual’s status as conditions change, ensuring individuals are always receiving appropriate care. The FLTCIP Care Coordinators help bridge the gap between insurance and ongoing care, which can make all the difference for federal workers in need.

Take, for example, this hypothetical situation. A 48-year-old federal worker, Fred, suffered a stroke with complications and needed physical and occupational therapies at home due to continued weakness. He hired an agency to assist him, applied for a claim for long term care insurance and was found benefit eligible beginning the day he had his stroke. Fred utilized his policy’s stay-at-home benefits to modify his home to meet his new mobility needs. In time, Fred was able to care for himself again, and closed his long term care claim. At age 72, Fred suffered a fall and was hospitalized. Fred’s family decided to admit him to a nursing home facility and opened up a new long term care insurance claim. Because he had satisfied his waiting period 24 years earlier, Fred did not need to meet the waiting period again and was determined to be eligible for his plan’s benefits. His daily benefit amount more than covered the nursing home expenses.

By the time Fred passed away at age 75, he had almost exhausted his policy benefits and had no out-of-pocket long term care costs, since he had been on claim. The impact Fred’s long term care coverage had on his and his family’s well-being and finances was substantial. Over the years, nearly $400,000 was reimbursed to Fred and his family for care, significantly more than the total cost of his premium. Most importantly, because of this care, Fred was able to live comfortably at home for more than two decades after his stroke.

Long term care insurance can provide one with financial and emotional reassurance, help ensure their independence, and reduce their reliance on friends and family. With a long term care plan in place, individuals can be assured that they will have the ability to age in place without draining the savings they worked hard for and without burdening family or friends. At the same time, individuals and their families know that they will have access to the resources and expertise required to help their loved one in a time of need. The FLTCIP can help individuals remain independent in the care setting of their choice, offer financial and emotional reassurance, as well as maintain quality of life and positive relationships with family members and friends, should the need for long term care arise. With a long term care plan in place, federal workers can have peace of mind in knowing their future is secure.

Resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information, https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/ (accessed October 2017).

Georgetown University Long-Term Care Financing Project. “Long-Term Care Financing Policy Options for the Future,” June 2007.

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