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Spring 2011
CAREGIVER'S CORNER

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Get Help Paying for Care

Financing Your Loved One’s Healthcare

By Paul Gada

A stroke affects even more than the mind and body; it can also impact someone’s finances. Just as the body needs care and rehabilitation, a stroke survivor’s finances also need tending to adjust to a loss of income and rise in healthcare costs. The following tips can help caregivers manage these financial and healthcare needs for their loved ones.

Apply for Disability from Social Security

If a survivor is no longer able to work after a stroke, and has paid FICA taxes, he or she may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI provides monthly income and makes it possible to get healthcare through Medicare. Individuals are eligible for Medicare 24 months after the date they qualify for SSDI. Also, they may be able to extend COBRA insurance coverage for 11 additional months if they receive SSDI benefits.

Because it can be a long process to apply for SSDI, consider getting help early on from an experienced SSDI representative. 

See If High-Risk Insurance is Available

Most states have high-risk insurance pools that offer insurance to people with health problems. These plans can be expensive, but they may be the best option if someone does not qualify for other insurance.

The new healthcare law has set up a Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). Plans may vary from state to state, but they should cost less than insurance from the high-risk pool. Someone must be uninsured for six months to qualify for these plans.

Each state also has a Medicaid program that offers health coverage to some people with low incomes, including people with disabilities. Find out about your state’s Medicaid program at healthcare.gov.

Choose the Best Medicare Plan

People who qualify for Medicare face a maze of options. The choices can be confusing, but it is important that you help the stroke survivor choose the plan that best meets his or her needs. The wrong plan could mean paying a lot more for care.

Look for a plan that will cover the special services needed for stroke care. For example, some Medigap plans cover more of the costs of skilled nursing care. Depending upon where you live, you may be able to get a Medicare Special Needs Plan (SNP) for stroke survivors. A plan like this tailors its benefits, doctors and drug coverage to best meet stroke care needs.

Lower the Cost of Care

Another place to save money is on prescription drugs. If a loved one is on Medicare, he or she may qualify for the Extra Help program. Some states have State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs that help people pay for prescriptions. Also, the company that makes a drug might have a program to help pay for it. Most stroke centers have a financial counselor to help find ways to pay for care, so do not be shy about asking for help.

Paul Gada is an attorney and personal financial planning director for Allsup.

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