According to the National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information, long-term care (also called long-term services and supports) is “a range of services and supports you may need to meet your health or personal needs over a long period of time.”
As is evident from that definition, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to planning for one’s future needs.
A SCAN Foundation report, Overview of Current Long-Term Care Financing Options, by Eileen J. Tell, summarizes consumer options for financing long-term services and supports.
Options listed in the report include:
- Family Caregiving–unpaid care provided by friends or family members.
- Medicaid-federal-state program pays for LTC for individuals with low incomes.
- Long-Term Care Insurance-private insurance product.
- Hybrid Life/LTC and Annuity LTC Products-blends long-term care insurance with an annuity or life insurance.
- Health Savings Accounts-tax-advantaged savings account available to people enrolled in a high-deductable health plan.
- Personal Savings-individuals place sums of money aside with the intent of paying for possible future LTC expenses.
- Home Equity-equity built up in an individual’s home. The home can either be sold or used to obtain a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) -pays for some long-term services and supports for eligible veterans.
As the author acknowledges, there’s no easy answer for financing LTC. Furthermore, there are many misconceptions about what programs and products cover long-term care expenses.
Whether on behalf of a family member, or for ourselves, most of us will have to grapple with the challenge of paying for long-term services and supports — even if only for a short period of time.
To further explore this topic, consider reading the SCAN Foundation report and check out the following related resources:
- CMS.gov (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
- National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information (Department of Health and Human Services)
- NIH Senior Health
- Robyn Stone on PBS: Who Will Pay for Care?