As Americans are now living longer lives, the need for long-term care planning has never been more important. While many may enjoy good health for years to come, it is almost impossible to predict if or when long-term care services may become necessary. Therefore, an essential part of comprehensive retirement planning is looking at long-term care and financing options. For those individuals who served in the armed forces, many benefits are available from the government. Veterans benefits include: disability compensation, pension programs, free or low-cost medical care and health services through U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and medical facilities, and education programs. Veterans health services include domiciliary, nursing home and community-based residential care provided by VA hospitals and medical facilities. These benefits and services can be vital when it comes to long-term care planning.
Veterans homes are funded by the government and are designed to meet the long-term health care needs of veterans. Long-term care programs offered by VA medical centers include home and community-based outpatient care services such as:
- Geriatric evaluation—provides either an inpatient or outpatient evaluation of a veteran’s ability to care for him- or herself.
- Adult day health care—a therapeutic day care program that provides medical and rehabilitation services to veterans.
- Respite care—provides either inpatient or outpatient supportive care for veterans to allow caregivers a break.
- Home care—nursing, physical therapy and other services provided in the veteran’s home.
- Hospice/palliative care—provides services for terminally ill veterans and their families.
VA nursing homes, community nursing homes, state veterans homes, and domicilaries also provide long-term care. Home and community-based programs desire to provide services to veterans in their homes and communities, and help veterans maintain their independence. VA nursing homes and community nursing homes provide long-term care to veterans eligible for nursing care benefits. Services provided include hospice care, long-term rehabilitation, and care for those who are no longer able to remain in a community-based placement. State veterans homes also provide health care and support to veterans who can no longer properly and adequately care for themselves. Domiciliary care is more concerned with long-term health maintenance, and many veterans who utilize these services are able to return to the community. Both domiciliary care and state veterans home services have financial guidelines veterans must meet in order to be eligible for services.
Veterans are not required to pay monthly premiums for long-term veterans benefits. However, depending on income, co-payments may be required for some long-term health care services such as nursing home, domiciliary, and adult day care services. Insurance may pay the required co-pays.