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Health Reform to Support Aging in Place

For Hawaii residents looking to soften the impact of high long-term care costs down the road, the new health care law has something to consider.

The law creates a Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) provision that will provide cash benefits to you if you have a qualifying disability that limits your day-to-day living. You can use this insurance to help pay for non-medical services and supports such as home modification, assistive technology, transportation, and personal care. You can also use it to pay part of the cost of living in nursing home care.

CLASS is welcome news in Hawaii, where our elderly population is increasing, the cost of nursing care is prohibitively expensive, and nursing home facilities are nearly full. Under the new law, money could be used to pay family caregivers who enable many of us to stay independent in our homes as we get older.

If you’re 18 or older, employed, and your employer participates in the program, you’ll be enrolled in the CLASS Independence Benefit Plan automatically unless you or your employer choose not to participate. The program begins as soon as January 2010, with premiums paid through payroll deduction.

CLASS provides a cash benefit averaging not less than $50 per day for eligible participants with qualifying disabilities. Once you’ve paid the premiums for five years and have worked at least three of those years, you’ll be eligible for benefits.

Over the next several months, federal officials will provide additional details about the program, including premium costs and the amount of cash benefits. AARP is closely monitoring how health insurance reform is implemented to protect our members.

Check www.aarp.org/getthefacts for updates as details become available.

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