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Does long--term care insurance cover technology in the home?

November is National Caregivers Awareness Month -- and with those 85+ turning out to be the fastest growing population in the US, we know there are many stressed caregivers out there. And more to come, with 65% of those over 65 will require some long-term care during their lives. So author and AgeWave founder Ken Dychtwald wrote a Huffington Post column,that is really an argument that in order to help your frail and illness-plagued aging parents in their own homes, buy long-term care insurance now before they become frail and ill (or for yourself, before you become frail and ill).

Long-term care insurance seems like such a smart strategy -- his parents bought it in their 70's -- and it has given them flexibility and care: In their late 80's now, they are in Florida (thousands of miles from either of their sons) with good care coordination and an aide caring for them 6 days a week.**  I am not here to argue the benefits of long-term care insurance or of types of long-term care.

I do want to point out, however, that LTC insurance is not a guarantee of a thriving situation for aging in place. First of all, your own home can be a terribly isolated place with only the aide, the television and perhaps a non-communicative spouse in the home. Even in the described situation, what happens on day 7 in terms of meals, bathing, safe navigation around the home? And it depends on the home -- which can be a frightening place if there are obstacles, unsafe bathrooms, stairs, etc. I particularly worry about this in Florida, where such a large percentage of the aging population resides with no family members within thousands of miles.

Second, monitoring and managing the service for in-home care is a stressful long-distance challenge for family members. Like any service, it can be done well or...not so well. So in considering Ken's words, let's also consider checking to see if the insurance plan covers home monitoring technology (motion sensor-based, web camera, environmental). Does it include the post-Medicare coverage for telehealth monitoring?  Does it include communications technology (video phone, PC and an internet plan?)  I am going to bet that it doesn't.  So how will adult children monitor the caregiving, communicate with their family member, and help make a determination that the home continues to be a great place for safety, socialization, or obtaining care expertise?

It's certainly great when it happens that 100 is the new 65.  But vision decline, stroke, Parkinson's,  or Alzheimer's diagnoses can turn a home into an obstacle course and make 65 (or 80) seem like the new 100. So let's make sure that those with long term care insurance and home care also are linked in to family or friends. Let's also remember that Internet access can help fight depression -- and that 9-year-old grandchildren may be the proper market for Skype, cameras, and smart phones to chat with their grandparents to see how they're doing.


** See the Kiplinger has an explanatory video on various types of long-term care and costs (big).





The lesson is "caveat emptor." When purchasing long term care policies, one must consider what that policy will cover. The coverage varies but generally, the policies cover help with ADL. That could include assistive technology as well. In fact, use of assistive technology such as iPERS (intelligent PERS) can lower the overall cost of in-home care by having monitoring during the night which would stretch your LTC dollars.

All the more reasons to purchase a ltci product that has an idemnity rider.... as long as some kind of qualified ltc is being received and indemnity product would allow the remaining daily benefit to be spent on things like a monitoring system or some other kind of assistive technology.

This is a real can of worms with lack of consistency between plans and terms.

We just went through it with my father and mother. They have had a plan for at least 15 years and in the last 2 or 3 years the price started jumping up 20%/year and they are starting to outlive resources as they are 90(my father died back in April and didn't use a penny of his plan and my mother is still doing fine despite many of the normal old age maladies).

My wife and I have plans which we bought through my company with a large carrier. Every 3 years I can buy additional coverage that used to keep up with costs. This last time the additional coverage wouldn't bring us up to the current level of coverage in a mid level facility. I went to buy more and found out my wife and I would have to undergo physicals to buy more than the offered amount.

As you can image, we were nice and healthy when we started but now we both have conditions that will either run the costs way up or possibly now allow us to renew coverage. We're assuming we will have to supplement the coverage we have on our own or try to buy some additional coverage someplace.

I wonder how LTC coverage will change if and when the new medical coverage passes Congress and is signed by President Obama.

There are some long term care insurance covers medical equipment such as medical alerts and monitoring tools that can secure the safety or your loved ones at home. Long term care insurance premiums need not be that expensive because there are multiple ways these days that allow you to bring the cost down. Study each type of the policy first before making a purchase in order to make sure that you're buying something that is beneficial on your part.