Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating and frightening disease. Knowing that someday you or one of your loved ones can lose the mental capacity to function day to day, unable to recognize loved ones, and unable to care for oneself is scary. The care for someone affected by Alzheimer’s disease, can be long term, overwhelming, and costly. From doctors visits, hospitalizations, various therapists – including speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and psychologists, the expenses can be high. Therefore, it is a good idea to think about having insurance to cover Alzheimer’s care. It is one less thing to worry about should you or a loved one be stricken with Alzheimer’s disease.
There are a variety of health insurance options that cover expenses related to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Medicare – Medicare is government sponsored health care that is available for most individuals when they reach age 65. Once enrolled in a Medicare plan, individuals typically have about 80% of non-hospital related expenses paid for, and 100% of in hospital care covered. However, this is after deductibles and co-payments. If there are frequent doctors visits and/or many therapists working with the patient, this can get costly.
- Medigap – Medigap health insurance coverage is supplemental health insurance that can be purchased to go with a Medicare plan. Medigap is sold by private insurance companies and typically covers the additional costs that Medicare does not cover, including deductibles.
- Private Insurance – Most people have health insurance through their employers. Alzheimer’s related expenses are usually covered through these insurance plans. It is best to research each plan that an employer offers and chose the one that has the best coverage. Private insurance can also be purchased by those not eligible for Medicare.
Long-term Care Insurance
People with Alzheimer’s disease can live a very long time with the illness. The disease progression can be very slow. Because the disease effects brain function, if a patient is otherwise healthy, they can live a very long time in a diminished capacity. This can mean that they will need care for a number of years, perhaps in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Having insurance to help pay for this care can be a tremendous help. Most individuals wait until around retirement age to think about purchasing long-term care insurance. But it is something many people should consider at an earlier age. With early onset Alzheimer’s having this insurance coverage in place already can be very valuable.
One might not think of life insurance as a way to pay for health care expenses. However, a policy that has been in effect for many years can have a significant value. Being able to draw funds from a life insurance policy to help pay for the expenses related to Alzheimer’s care is an option that can help an individual facing these expenses. While it will leave less for beneficiaries, the benefit of not leaving medical debt could far outweigh the benefit of leaving money in the policy for survivors.