Extended-care options growing, advises expert

Health conditions that naturally accompany aging used to mean mom and dad’s eventual move to a nursing home. Not necessarily any more.

With extended-care policies now providing coverage under a much broader range of circumstances, elders in need of assisted living often can receive it right in their own homes—at lower cost.

Even better, says insurance expert Channing Schoneberger, it’s no longer necessary for people with substantial financial resources to “spend down” their savings to qualify for state aid.

Schoneberger, a certified broker with the Kyrene Corridor-based firm of Campbell Schoneberger Associates Ltd., addressed members of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce at a meeting Aug. 10.

“We have even seen the evolution of policies that will pay for ‘family’ caregivers,” said Schoneberger, allowing relatives to provide home-based services without risking financial disaster.

Without insurance coverage several years ago, he said, home caregivers—usually women—often found that the demands of such duties required them to miss work, be passed over for promotions or even lose their jobs.

“Not to mention what it did to their stress level,” Schoneberger said.

Today’s insurance policies also can provide a way for people of financial means to avoid meeting the requirements of a federally mandated income cap by selling off their assets.

Although some people who are concerned about potential health risks sometimes try to shift their assets to relatives, Schoneberger said, the government imposes time limits.

“There is a three-year lookback, so if you transfer assets they want to know where that money went.”

Longterm care policies, however, don’t care how much an individual is worth.

Schoneberger, whose firm has been locally prominent in the insurance and investment fields for more than 40 years, says it is important to consult with a knowledgeable agent before considering any of the numerous extended-care options currently available.

“Someone we worked with had a father he loved dearly, but his father couldn’t use the bathroom without assistance,” Schoneberger said. “For the family to have to take care of dad in that condition made the father feel so humiliated that he spent his money to put himself into a nursing facility.”

Those are the kinds of issues that differ from family to family, he said, and that require professional guidance.

Schoneberger can be reached at (480) 967-7535.