I have spent 30 years working in health care and have never seen a greater challenge for society than the one we face today when it comes to addressing the future of long-term care for seniors. This challenge first came to my attention when I was taking care of my own aging parents. They wanted to be cared for at home, but their conditions made that wish difficult to manage. Even with my deep knowledge of the industry, my sisters and I faced enormous struggles navigating the system. Trying to find the right custodial care and figure out what Medicare covered and when was confusing to say the least. We had no trusted source to advise us and felt lost and overwhelmed in the system. I know that many others share these feelings and worry about how to manage as they move into retirement.
The current system – one that roughly two-thirds of individuals will rely on – is confusing and expensive, with a fragmented system of benefits and services. Notable gaps in care expose seniors to the high costs of aging at home for services not covered by Medicare. The amount people will have to spend out of pocket on health care needs in retirement will be significant – about $50,000 on average.
There is also limited guidance available for seniors and their families as they navigate the system, and many face fears about how they will manage financially, who will care for them, and whether they will be able to find the help they need in their communities. The unstable and expensive long-term care insurance market has traditionally focused on nursing home care rather than looking out for the many needs seniors will have as they transition into retirement, but before their health declines.
The idea came to me to fill this gap with a new kind of insurance product coupled with navigation help. Our new product is designed to help seniors get the security they need for home care, combined with the services necessary to age at home, as well as access to interventions to delay the need for facility-based long-term care. I brought a team together with the expertise and the commitment to make this happen, and this collaboration has become Home Care Genie – a program to help people fulfill their health care wishes in retirement – and the creation of our insurance product, Home Care Secure.
This initial offering takes the form of a unique membership program, combining the social mission of a non-profit with innovative insurance coverage with a set cash benefit to help pay for future care. All of this will come at price points which are much less expensive than traditional long-term care insurance. It is included as part of membership in the Aging at Home Association, which is a non-profit association providing access to a range of tools, resources, and special values to help make informed plans to age at home while supporting overall well-being.
My hope is that what we’re doing with Home Care Secure, and other products to follow, will prevent others from having to go through the ordeal that I went through finding care for my parents. I strongly believe that Home Care Secure can give people the confidence they need to make wise, informed choices for aging at home – and the peace of mind the financial support will be there when they need it.