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Health Insurance vs. Long Term Care Insurance

Health Insurance vs. Long Term Care Insurance
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The relationship between long-term care (LTC) and medical care covered by TRICARE, Medicare, or employer health care can be confusing.

Health insurance. Examples of health insurance include your health plan at work, TRICARE or TRICARE for Life, and Medicare. These cover medical bills related to the treatment of a sickness or injury. Health insurance pays for your doctors, hospitals, office visits, and medical procedures; aspects involving skilled medical personnel and facilities to treat your condition. After treatment, recuperation or recovery is not covered.

LTC insurance. It’s about the need for assistance — when you can’t perform normal activities of life and you need help to function. LTC is maintenance, not treatment. At this point, medical professionals have done all they can, and all that’s left is recuperation or living with a disability that makes you require daily assistance. LTC insurance pays for assistance to come to your home or for you to stay in an assisted living or nursing facility.

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LTC pays when you need help with eating, toileting, dressing, bathing, transferring, continence, or cognitive impairments. Many people think of LTC as nursing home care. A better description would be stay-at-home care. More people use LTC for in-home care or assisted living than for nursing homes.

If you are VA-eligible and find you need LTC, check with your VA representative for VA LTC options. Be sure to check with your state VA office for LTC options; each state’s coverage is unique.

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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP® retired from the Air Force in 2000 and joined the MOAA team in 2006. His responsibilities include researching and answering member inquiries regarding military benefits, health care, survivor issues, and financial concerns.