VA to Expand Long-Term Health Care Options for Eligible Vets

Like everyone else, our veterans are getting older. However, many more vets need long-term health care due to service-related issues, in addition to normal changes in health, body, and mind. Eligible vets will have expanded care options, according to the VA.

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VA to Expand Long-Term Health Care Options for Eligible Vets
3 Min Read January 28th, 2022

Qualified veterans will soon have access to extended care services outside of traditional nursing homes. A new plan through the VA will allow senior veterans to age in their homes or live in home-like settings as alternatives to elder care facilities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care is expanding its Home-Based Primary CareMedical Foster Home and Veteran-Directed Care programs to make them available at all VA medical centers by the end of the fiscal year 2026.  

The VA will add 58 medical foster homes and 70 Veteran-directed care programs across the nation and add 75 home-based primary care teams to areas with the highest unmet need. 

Aging in Place Beneficial

“These evidence-based programs allow Veterans to age-in-place, avoid or delay nursing home placement and choose the care environment that aligns most with their care needs, preferences and goals,” said Executive Director of VA Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care Scotte Hartronft, M.D.

Scotte R. Hartronft, MD, MBA, FACP - Executive Director, VA Office of Geriatrics & Extended Care

Veterans using these programs have experienced fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits, reduced hospital and nursing home days and fewer nursing home readmissions and inpatient complications,” Hartronft said.

According to VA’s Policy Analysis and Forecasting Office, the number of Veterans of all ages eligible for nursing home care is estimated to expand from approximately 2 million Veterans in 2019 to more than 4 million by 2039. As this population grows, VA remains steadfast in providing the highest levels of care to Veterans in the least-restrictive settings. 

These programs provide an in-home or smaller care setting than traditional institutionalized long-term care. Long-term health care in smaller settings reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection and other infectious diseases.

Avoiding Institutional Care

Many Veterans have chosen these programs instead of institutionalized care during the pandemic for more flexibility in care preferences and less risk of COVID transmission.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been required since 1999 to provide nursing home services to veterans who qualify. Vets can be eligible if they have a service-connected disability rating of 70% or higher or are considered unemployable and have a disability rating of 60% or higher.

The VA service-connected disability status and income are reviewed to determine VA long-term care services eligibility. Extended care services are provided through rehab and long-term nursing home facilities, respite care, VA community living centers, private assisted living facilities, state veteran’s homes, and the Medical Foster Home program.

Medical foster homes are places where veterans live full time in a home setting with a caregiver licensed to provide 24-hour support, including help with daily living activities and, if necessary, supervision, meals, companionship services, in addition to housing. Licensed caregivers provide the services.

VA Comprehensive LTC Benefits

The VA does offer comprehensive long-term health care benefits for those who are eligible. These services include:

  • Comfort care and help with managing pain
  • Help with daily tasks (like bathing, dressing, making meals, and taking medicine)
  • Support for caregivers who may need skilled help or a break so they can work, travel, or run errands
  • 24/7 nursing and medical care
  • Physical therapy

Services must be available where the veteran lives, or they may have to relocate to obtain the service. Vets who are not eligible for free coverage can still use the benefits by using Medicare (limited to skilled care for a short period of time), Medicaid (if eligible), or private Long-Term Care Insurance. 

Spouses Could Be Eligible

Surviving spouses of qualified veterans may also be eligible; however, there are income and asset limitations for both veterans (outside of service-related need) and their spouses.

A veteran or spouse must not have more than $138,489 in assets (2022 number). A home (and the land up to two acres) will not count as an asset even if they are in the nursing home.

Many veterans who do not have service-related health problems but have savings and investments elect to purchase private Long-Term Care Insurance, giving them access to a wide choice of care services.

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Editor's Note

If you are a veteran, or a spouse of a veteran, the VA might be an option if you have modest savings or a service-related injury. However, if you have income and assets to protect and didn't have a service-related health issue, private Long-Term Care Insurance will often be your best option to address the future costs and burdens of aging and declining health.

When you own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you remain in control. You will have your choice of care settings, including in-home care. These guaranteed tax-free resources keep you in control and allow your loved ones the time to remain family instead of becoming caregivers. 

Most people obtain coverage in their 50s when premiums are lower, and your health allows you the most options. Be sure to seek the help of a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options and save you money. Premiums vary over 100% between insurance companies, so using a specialist will help you find the best option that matches your age, health, and family history.

Planning Tools and Resources on LTC NEWS

You can find many tools and resources on LTC NEWS to assist you in your research for a planning solution or help your family find the appropriate care for a loved one at the time of crisis. 

To help you plan the costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Seek Professional Guidance

Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, premiums do vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage.

Experts suggest using a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options available to you and your family.

A specialist who works with the top companies can match your age, health, family history, and other factors and find you the best coverage at the best value. A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

Get Expert Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim

LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with your Long-Term Care Insurance policy. 

You can also get support in finding quality caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

Benefits of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.  

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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