Planning ahead means preparing for the unexpected and the expenses that will be involved. While you can’t know exactly what the future will hold, one thing to consider is that you or your spouse may need long-term care. For military-affiliated patients, there are four possible sources of long-term care funding that might apply to covering these costs, including VA (Veterans Affairs) benefits, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, and self-pay. One or more of these options might apply based on the kinds of services you need. Keep in mind that TRICARE does not cover long-term care expenses and Medicare covers very few, so your financial plan must incorporate one of the many options available.
VA Benefits for Long-Term Care
Setting up your long-term care through the Department of Veterans Affairs can be complex. Long-term care services offered through the VA include comfort care, physical therapy, around-the-clock nursing or medical care, caregiver support, and daily task assistance. However, this is only available if you are covered by a VA plan and your VA medical team has determined you need one or more of these services.
Your ability to receive VA long-term care is also contingent on whether there’s space in a nearby facility or a service provider in the local area capable of providing it. Community living centers run by the VA, non-VA community nursing homes, and state Veterans’ homes are all popular service centers for this kind of care.
One of the most important factors considered in the provision of long-term care through the VA is your service-related disability status. There are some benefits that don’t require you to have a percentage of disability, but they have income and asset limits. If you do qualify for VA benefits, you must use them before tapping into Medicaid.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Coverage through private or military-related long-term care insurance policies can be very expensive. The long-term care insurance market has withstood higher-than-normal usage of many of these policies and several of these companies have folded or been acquired. Also, premiums have been going up each year on average. As of 2021, the average private long-term care insurance premium for a 60-year-old couple is $283 a month.
Military employees or retirees and their spouses can potentially access long-term care insurance benefits through the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program. Qualified relatives can also apply, including domestic partners, parents, parents-in-law and adult children.
Anyone who does not yet qualify for Medicaid and who do not have access to VA benefits or long-term care insurance might use their savings to cover long-term care. This can be a major disruption to your regular financial plan or your retirement savings, particularly if you or your spouse has a substantial need for extensive long-term care.
AAFMAA Long Term Care Settlement Option
Besides insurance, other ways of paying for long term care include personal savings, investments and accelerated death benefits included in some life insurance policies. Regarding the latter, every AAFMAA whole life policy includes a Long Term Care Settlement Option (LTCSO) at no additional cost. Our LTCSO gives the AAFMAA policy owner the option of converting the death benefit on an eligible insured life — normally payable only upon the death of the insured — into regular periodic payments prior to death, specifically to defray the cost of nursing home, custodial or home health care for the insured.
Get the Support You Need
Take the time now to understand your options. Planning for long-term care expenses should be part of your financial plan. If you have questions about securing your future, reach out to an AAFMAA Member Benefits Coordinator at [email protected] or contact your financial advisor.