Long term care can refer to a variety of needs and care settings, such as living independently at home, adult day programs and other community resources, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. Our publications Maximizing Independence: A Guide to Planning for Changing MS Care Needs and Caring for Loved Ones with Advanced MS: A Guide for Families may help guide you in making these choices and being aware of your options.
It can be helpful to ask questions to determine whether your current living situation can meet your needs, or if it may be a good idea to explore other settings. Seeking Services: Questions to Ask can help you begin. Self-Advocacy for Medical Care and Long-Term Care is a guide intended to help individuals living with MS engage in self advocacy to better understand and manage both medical and long-term care.
Some individuals may look to different types of insurance policies to be part of their long-term care plan. Applying for life, disability, or long-term care insurance typically requires a medical exam and answers to questions about your past and current health. Known as “medical underwriting” this is the process insurers use to determine whether the applicant is a good enough risk to sell them a policy and how much to charge them in premium. Failure to disclose information about your health on applications for life, disability, or long-term care insurance is considered fraud and can jeopardize future access to insurance for you and your dependents. The best advice is to answer any questions that are specifically asked, but do not worry about disclosing anything else.
Long-term care insurance is rarely available for purchase on the private market by an individual with MS after their diagnosis. Some employers, however, offer disability, life, and long-term care insurance as a benefit of employment to their employees, and some do not require medical underwriting the first time they are offered to new employees. For that reason, it is wise to consider enrolling in any employer-based life, disability, or long-term care insurance plan offered by an employer as soon as possible.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Community Living’s website provides a basic overview of things to consider when preparing for your (or your loved one’s) future needs. Information on costs and ways to pay for care are provided here. Additional information about costs may be found from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice as well as Genworth Financial. Click here for information on long term care costs and public programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs benefits.
Long-term care planning makes sense for most individuals while they are still fairly young and have options. Once an individual has been diagnosed with MS, there still may be options to help plan for care, especially if the symptoms are minimal. For more information, please call 1-800-789-5191 and ask for Matt Sussman or visit American Insurance Planners online.
If you cannot get affordable long-term care insurance, or if you are wondering about other options for planning for long term care needs, there might be other options:
- Financial Education Partners can help you look at solutions that involve financial planning for a life with MS. Learn more here, and call an MS Navigator to request a referral: 1-800-344-4867.
- Elder Law Attorneys help individuals consider different ways of managing assets to help ensure that long term care needs will be met. Organizations that can help you find qualified elder law attorneys include the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the National Elder Law Foundation.
- Every state is responsible for regulating insurance products sold to citizens and businesses located in their states, and these regulatory authorities are overseen by the State Commissioner of Insurance. Your state department of insurance is often a good resource regarding the availability of health, life, disability, or long-term care insurance for people with chronic conditions or disabilities, and for finding an insurance broker or agent who specializes in ‘Impaired risk’. Remember that it is always best to make insurance brokers or others aware if you have a diagnosis of MS first, as this is considered a specialized area.
If you need assistance, contact an MS Navigator at 1-800-344-4867 or online today.