Financial Planning for Caregivers
As a caregiver, you will need to evaluate the long-term care needs of your loved one. In making this evaluation, it is important to consider financial options. Long-term financial planning is important for everyone, but it is essential when you are coping with the expense of chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
Developing a Financial Plan
If you wish to handle your loved one's finances, you must receive written authorization to do so. This authorization can be obtained through documents such as a power of attorney. When considering a financial plan, you may contact professional financial managers or medical lawyers who deal with financial planning for people facing chronic or progressive illnesses. You also may want to talk to a social worker and investigate other resources, such as those available on the Internet. Ask your loved one's doctor for a referral, or speak with a national association or support group to find reputable professionals in your region.
Understanding Medical Coverage
- If your loved one is insured, either through his or her employer or through a retirement policy, read all of the policy sections that pertain to chronic and progressive illnesses. If you are unsure about the language or terms, contact the personnel department or talk with your financial planner.
- If your loved one is unemployed and does not have coverage, look for health care plans with the highest level of coverage you can afford.
- If your loved one is 65 or over, he or she qualifies for Medicare. This insurance can be supplemented with a "Medigap" policy available through a private insurer to cover a portion of the health care costs not paid for by Medicare. Many states also have prescription assistance and reimbursement programs for low-income senior citizens.
- If your loved one is disabled but does not qualify for Social Security, he or she may be eligible to receive a form of Medicare for the disabled. See the section on Medicare below, or check on line at www.medicare.gov for more information.
- If your loved one cannot get insurance and his or her income is low, he or she may qualify for Medicaid, a government "safety net" program that pays for medical costs that exceed a person's ability to pay. See the section on Medicaid below.