This winter has wreaked havoc in most parts of the country. Record snow and ice in the Northeast, Midwest and the Southeast brought all means of transportation to a standstill with the exception of pedestrian traffic. Watching individuals attempt to unsuccessfully navigate ice covered sidewalks can serve as a reminder of a little publicized component of health care reform: The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program.
Long term care has traditionally been purchased directly through an insurance company or as an employee benefit at the workplace. More recently, some individuals have obtained longevity insurance to pay for future care. Although it has been available since the ‘80s, long term care insurance often does not cover the expenses incurred. Many people own neither form of long term care, leaving themselves open to difficulties down the road.
CLASS will serve as a different form of benefit, available both at the workplace and individually. Participants will need to be 18, and actively employed to enroll. In order to receive benefits, a participant must contribute for at least five years and have a disability that is expected to last at least 90 days. Much of what would be considered eligible for benefits includes assistance with routine daily activities among other actions that may require help. They may also be used for transportation, wheelchairs and household modifications. The minimum benefit is $50 per day. A more substantial benefit can be built up.
This program is scheduled to begin in 2012. Health and Human Services is expected to prepare final guidelines shortly, though there are many outstanding issues to resolve. Regardless of CLASS, planning for future care is critical.
To explore how you can fund future care, contact Ellen at EAB HealthWorks.