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Long-Term Care Glossary

Trouble understanding all the vocabulary in planning for long-term care? Our glossary can help.

MEDICARE – The national health insurance program for people age 65 and older and for some younger people with disabilities. Medicare Part A helps pay for care in a hospital or skilled care in a nursing home; limited home-health services; and hospice care. Medicare Part B helps pay for doctors’ services; outpatient hospital care; medication administered as an outpatient; and other medical services. Medicare Part D pays some of the cost of prescription drugs.

MEDICARE ADVANTAGE (MA) – An alternative to original Medicare and operated by private companies, these plans include Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), and Private-Fee-for-Service (PFFS). Plans differ in services and costs, but they must provide Medicare Part A and B services. Many also offer prescription drug coverage.

MEDICARE PART D EXTRA HELP – Financial help with paying the cost of Medicare Part D premiums, copays, and deductibles as well as continuous drug coverage throughout the year for people who have limited incomes and assets. Administered by the Social Security Administration.

MEDICARE SAVINGS PROGRAMS – Financial help with paying out-of-pocket Medicare costs for people who have limited incomes and assets. Depending on the person’s income level, the program can pay for some or all of Medicare’s premiums, deductibles, and copays.

MEDIGAP – Insurance designed to pay some of the health-care costs—such as copays and deductibles—that original Medicare doesn’t cover. People can purchase one of several standard plans offered through private insurance companies. Like Medicare, it does not provide coverage for the majority of long-term care expenses. Also known as Medicare supplemental insurance.

PALLIATIVE CARE – Professionally coordinated services that focus on the physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs of people with life-threatening illness as well as their families. It seeks to maintain the highest level of comfort.

PERSONAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE SYSTEM (PERS) – An electronic device often worn on a person that—when activated—calls for help in an emergency.

PERSONAL MEDICATION RECORD – A document that allows people to list all the medicines they take (including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements), the doses, and how they take them. Sharing with all of their doctors and pharmacies helps reduce medication risks.

RESPITE CARE – A service that provides temporary relief for people caring for someone who is ill, injured, or frail. Services can be provided in an adult day care center, the home of the person being cared for, or other settings and can be offered through home care agencies and community or volunteer organizations.

This article is part of a new AARP campaign to educate women about long-term care planning. AARP advocates nationally and at the state level to improve access to affordable long-term care options.


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