How to utilize long-term care insurance for in-home health care Featured

9:34pm EDT May 31, 2013
Marc McTeague, President, Best Hoovler McTeague Insurance Services, a member of SeibertKeck Marc McTeague, President, Best Hoovler McTeague Insurance Services, a member of SeibertKeck

Every day more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and during the next 15 years it’s expected that more than 1.3 million home health and personal care aides will be needed to accommodate them. In addition, in-home care can be costly. On average, a caregiver or client will spend $18,000 a year for 20 hours a week of care.

“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,” says Marc McTeague, president of Best Hoovler McTeague Insurance Services, a member of SeibertKeck.

Smart Business spoke with McTeague about how to maximize your long-term care insurance for home health care.

Do people mistakenly associate long-term care with nursing homes?

Yes, but the opposite is also true. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, 7.6 million individuals currently receive care at home because of long-term health conditions, permanent disability or terminal illness, but there are just 1.8 million individuals in nursing homes. Many buy long-term care insurance just so they can receive care in their own home.

Who typically uses home health care?

Every day, guardians, care managers and family members make long-term health care decisions for their clients and loved ones. Home health care can be an appropriate solution for those who wish to age at home.

However, it’s important to understand the differences in home care providers to make informed decisions. The Agency for Health Care Administration licenses home health care agencies following a comprehensive survey. A home health agency can assist with personal care and offer skilled nursing services including medication management. Certified nursing assistants or home health aides provide all personal care, and home health agencies are required to have a nurse available 24/7. A home health agency is a good choice when you desire nursing involvement or assistance with daily living.

What’s key to know when hiring a caregiver?

Here are some steps to follow:

  • Look for a home caregiver from a reputable agency, where he or she is licensed, bonded and insured. Also, check that the caregiver is covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
  • The caregiver should be supervised by a licensed professional who makes unannounced visits.
  • When hiring, review two to three references and require a recent criminal background check, as well as random drug tests, TB tests and a recent physical exam. The caregiver should have a minimum of two to three years of experience.
  • If the position involves driving, determine that the caregiver’s driver’s license and car insurance are current and valid.

How does long-term care insurance cover home health care?

Activities of daily living (ADL) refers to what we do on a daily basis to care for ourselves, including bathing, dressing and using the bathroom. Individuals with chronic diseases often have trouble performing some of these ADL, so the measure is used to assess long-term care insurance benefit eligibility.

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’s important to get advice from your broker when deciding which policy is best.

Also, seriously consider when you can initiate a claim. The waiting period often corresponds to the benefit period, or the maximum amount of time that the insurance company will pay benefits. The longer the waiting period before benefits begin, the longer the company may pay for care. Benefits typically last three to five years.

When is a good time to buy?

Many people don’t realize the significant benefits to purchasing long-term care insurance earlier in life. For the same policy, yearly premiums for policies purchased at age 50 are notably less than premiums at 70. Also, the earlier you purchase, the more likely your application will be approved. By planning ahead, you will be best prepared to secure an affordable policy that helps you stay at home when the time comes.

Marc McTeague is president of Best Hoovler McTeague Insurance Services, a member of SeibertKeck. Reach him at (614) 246-RISK or

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