It’s Only A Small Claim: Long Term Care

I was speaking with an elder law attorney the other day and she said that, while she never recommends people get rid of a long term care insurance policy, she is always disappointed that they own one when it is small or didn’t grow over time with inflation.  I asked her why and she replied because that small amount of money can count against you when you are applying for Medicaid assistance.

Long term care insurance not just about the money

Small Things with Great Love

I had to think about that for a bit.  First, most of us don’t ever want to HAVE to have Medicaid assistance.  To qualify you have to have spent down all your assets (or dispensed with them  with the help of a lawyer and estate planning).  In other words you must go into poverty to qualify.  Secondly, you lose control over where your care happens once you are qualified for this financial assistance to the poor.

I had a long term care claim for a man who had one of these “small” policies.  It paid about half the cost of his care at a local assisted living community.  He didn’t have assets to speak of – no home left and very little in savings.  He could have qualified for Medicaid very quickly.  But the family opted not to do that.  They opted to let the long term care policy pay for as much of the care as it would pay, they used his income to cover most of the rest and they dipped a very small amount into his meager savings to cover any other costs.  He lived for a year and 3 months in this community before God called him home.  That long term care policy made ALL the difference!  The family was able to see him more often because he was nearby (instead of in the Medicaid approved place way across town).  They had control over where his care happened and he had dignity that he was still paying his own way out of his own resources.

I guess after having filed both large long term care claims that protected assets and small long term care claims like this one that protected dignity, I still believe that a long term care insurance policy of nearly any size is better than no policy at all. Insurance is so often about money only (repairing the house, fixing the car), but this type of a policy is more than money – it is about control, dignity and choice.

I disagree with my friend who is an elder law attorney.  Not everyone should go on Medicaid OR will even want to.  And a small long term care policy claim could be the difference maker for the policy owner and the family.

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