Aging seniors deserve to enjoy their golden years in comfort, and the majority of them want to do so in their own homes. For some, aging in place may mean getting help with daily tasks as they become more challenging. Navigating steps, remembering to take medications, getting to a doctor’s appointment… everyday activities can become more difficult as we age. That’s why non-medical home care services are so important.
While home care can provide many benefits for our aging heroes, from improving overall comfort to managing chronic symptoms, there is a hurdle that must be addressed: the cost. But, before looking at the funding models available for home care services, it’s important to distinguish between non-medical home care and home health care services.
Non-medical home care vs. home health care
Understandably, there is some confusion between these two types of care. Non-medical home care is provided by home care specialists. The services included in this type of care fall under activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).
ADLs: bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, ambulating, and transferring
IADLs: companionship, transportation, household management and communication, meal preparation, and medication reminders
Home health care, on the other hand, is provided by a skilled health care professional and includes services relating to an injury or life event such as a stroke, or a hip or knee replacement. That might mean wound care, injections, or monitoring of health from a patient’s home. Those seeking home health care should consult their physician. For those seeking non-medical home care, this article sheds light on the various ways to pay for these services.
Home Care Funding
Many Americans believe that they have a home care payment solution. But the most common misconception is that Medicare will cover the costs when necessary. While this federal program does cover these services, it is only a short-term solution— coverage lasts no longer than approximately 100 days. Many seniors in need of home care find they require ongoing assistance—often times for the remainder of their lives. Fortunately, there are a few options to help manage this expense.
The most common long-term home care funding solutions fall into one of two categories: government assistance or existing assets. Let’s take a look at both.
Aging at home can be easier for seniors who have help with ADLs and IADLs. Still, the most pressing question for many Veterans and their families is likely how to pay for these services. The good news is that there are assistance models that may be available to help pay for home care.
Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides coverage for those with very low incomes. Each state offers a Medicaid State Plan, also called “Regular Medicaid.” Medicaid Waivers (also called Home and Community Based Services, HCBS Waivers or 1915 Waivers) are available to those who meet certain eligibility requirements. Each state’s Aging Services Division is dedicated to providing seniors in need of care with home and community-based services. State-funded chore workers can provide assistance with many non-medical home care services, such as delivering meals, helping with household chores, and providing transportation. Your state’s Department of Social Services can provide additional information.
VA Pension with Aid and Attendance
For eligible wartime Veterans who have limited income, the US Department of Veterans Affairs offers pension funds that can help pay for home care. These funds can be added to other funding resources for those who are eligible.
Wartime Veterans who need help with daily activities of living may be eligible for the Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit. These funds can be used to help offset the costs of services such as navigating steps, dressing and undressing, basic hygiene, meal preparation, and transportation. Veterans, surviving spouses of Veterans, and dependent children of deceased Veterans are all eligible to apply for these VA pension funds.
The Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit should not be confused with the VA Housebound Pension. This is a lesser known, and more difficult to quality for, VA fund.
Often, families are surprised to discover they don’t qualify for assistance through the government for home care or haven’t been advised to seek it out. In those situations, their best option may be using existing assets to pay for home care. If a family member would benefit from home care services, there are several possible options for finding the money necessary to receive care.
Life insurance policy conversions
Seniors may sell their life insurance policy to a third party in exchange for a defined amount of long-term care services, such as assisted living or home care services. These conversions might also be referred to as a Long-Term Care Benefit Plan, a Medicaid Life Settlement, or Life Care Funding.
Long-term care insurance
Long-term care insurance can be used to cover the cost of home care services. This is often an excellent solution and an opportunity to take advantage of insurance you’ve been paying into for just this scenario. But, keep in mind that if you don’t already have long-term care insurance in place, purchasing it at an advanced age may not be cost effective, due to the fact that premiums continue to rise each year.
Many Americans spend much of their working lives putting money away for their retirement years. Using a “nest egg” to help older seniors age in place so that they can enjoy their golden years in the comfort of their own home is an ideal way to spend that hard-earned savings.
A reverse mortgage is a cash loan that seniors take against their home’s equity. While there are several types of reverse mortgages, only the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), is relevant to aging seniors who want to pay for home care. This reverse mortgage is insured by the United States Federal Government and is only accessible through an FHA-approved lender.
Home care services can help Veterans live more safely and comfortably in their own homes as they age. Choosing the right funding options, and finding assistance where available, can make this type of care as affordable and accessible as possible.
If you are a Veteran or the surviving spouse of a Veteran, you may be interested in learning more about the Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit. This VA pension fund can be used alone or added to other resources to help ease the financial burden of paying for home care.
Veterans Care Coordination’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Veterans and their families. We partner with quality home care providers to help navigate the VA’s process of applying for pension funds, and help to maximize VA pension funds and get care started as quickly as possible. For more information click here or call 855-380-4400.
If you’re a home care provider interested in partnering with VCC in our mission, click here.