August 26, 2010
Many financial issues arise when you are responsible for a loved one’s care. These may be new to you and can often be confusing. In this section, we will provide you with information that will help you understand your options in paying for healthcare and negotiating the government programs that are available to help.
Government Benefits Programs-
Medicare: Medicare is a government health insurance program that is available to people over the age of 65 or under age 65 if you have a certain disability or illness. There are 4 different “Parts” to Medicare that offer different benefits.
Medicaid: Medicaid is a government health insurance program that is available to people of all ages who have a limited income.
Forms of Private Insurance-
Medigap: Medigap, also called Medicare Supplemental Insurance, is designed to pay for medical care that is not covered, or is only partially covered, by Medicare. Medigap policies, available to most Medicare beneficiaries, are sold by private insurance companies and regulated by state and federal authorities.
Life Insurance: Life insurance policies can help pay for expenses that a family may incur after the passing of a loved one or may be cashed in to cover medical and care expenses if the person has a life-threatening illness, such as Alzheimer’s.
Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is an insurance policy purchased from a private company that helps pay for long-term care, whether the care consists of home-based services, assisted living, or residence in a nursing home.
Social Security: Social Security is a mandated government program that taxes your income over your lifetime and offers you supplemental income when you retire or become disabled.
Cash Settlements and Supplemental Income: In some cases, it may be necessary to find other ways to pay for care; cash settlements may provide an answer. Two options are reverse mortgages and viatical benefits, sometimes described as “cashing out” of life insurance policies.
Understanding What’s Available to You:
Understanding the various state and federal government benefits programs that you or your loved one may be eligible for can be challenging. To help make it easier, the National Council on the Aging has developed BenefitsCheckUp.org (will open in a new window), a free, online service that helps seniors identify assistance programs that can help improve their quality of life. This confidential service contains a simple, straightforward questionnaire that takes no longer than 15 minutes to complete. Within minutes you get a report detailing programs and services for which you qualify.
BenefitsCheckUp.org has helped more than 2 million older Americans find these and other government programs, providing the information you need to access services such as education, employment and volunteer opportunities, financial assistance, health care, home care or housing assistance, and food programs. More than 1,000 different programs are included in the database from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia.
A good elder law attorney or a geriatric care manager can help guide you through the myriad benefit programs, but it is important to have a basic understanding of these programs. To find these resources in your area, use our Resource Locator. You can search by specific address, city, state, or ZIP code.