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Glossary of Common Long-Term Care Expressions

Frequently used terms in long-term care

Accelerated Death Benefit

A feature of a life insurance policy that permits the use of some of the policy’s death benefit prior to death. Certain policies may allow this benefit to pay for long-term care services.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) Everyday functions and activities individuals usually do without help. ADL functions include bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring.

Adult Day Care Social or dementia Day Care for adults, usually at senior or community centers.

Adult Day Health Nursing, educational and rehabilitative services provided by a program approved by the Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance or by a program meeting the requirements of the state in which adult day health services are provided.

Alternate Care Provision Feature required in individual long-term care insurance policies that may cover unspecified treatments or services if agreed to by the insured, the insurer and the insured’s health care practitioner.

Alzheimer’s Disease A progressive, degenerative form of dementia that causes severe intellectual deterioration.

Assisted Living Facility A residential living arrangement that provides individualized personal care and health services for people who require assistance with activities of daily living. In Massachusetts, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs certifies Assisted Living Residences.

Benefit Triggers Term used by insurance companies to describe when the policy will begin to pay benefits.

Care Management Services A service in which a professional, typically a nurse or social worker, may arrange, monitor or coordinate long-term care services. Cash Surrender Value The amount of money available from an insurance company when an insured person terminates a whole life or universal life insurance policy or cancels an annuity contract. The amount of cash value will be determined as stated in the policy or contract.

Chore Care Non-medical services that are provided in the insured’s home and are designed to maintain the insured’s home so that it remains habitable, including at a minimum: vacuuming (including the moving of furniture), washing floors and walls, defrosting freezers, cleaning ovens, cleaning  attics and basements to remove fire and health hazards, changing storm windows, performing heavy yardwork, shoveling snow, and making minor home repairs (such as replacing windows, door/window locks, handrails and safety rails, making minor repairs to stairs or floors and weatherizing the home).

Chronic Illness An illness with one or more of the following characteristics: permanency, residual disability, requiring rehabilitation training or a long period of supervision, observation, or care.

Cognitive Impairment A deficiency in a person’s short or long-term memory, orientation as to person, place and time, deductive or abstract reasoning or judgment as it relates to safety awareness.

Community-Based Services Services designed to help older people stay independent and in their own homes.

Custodial Care (Personal Care) Care to help individuals meet personal needs such as bathing, dressing and eating. Custodial Care is not medical care and may be provided by someone without professional training.

Daily Benefit The amount of insurance benefit in dollars per day that a person chooses to buy for covered expenses.

Deductible A flat dollar amount that an individual must pay for covered services before the insurance company will begin to make payments.

Dementia Deterioration of intellectual faculties due to a disorder of the brain.

Elimination Period A type of deductible. It is the length of time an individual must pay for covered services before the insurance company will begin to make payments.

Group Policy A policy sold through an employment-based group, association or special group insurance trust. Individuals receive certificates of coverage from the group policy. These policies are not subject to most state insurance requirements.

Guaranteed Renewable Policy feature guaranteeing the insured’s right to continue a policy. The company cannot change the coverage or refuse to renew the coverage for other than nonpayment of premiums (including health conditions and/or marital or employment status); however, the company can revise the rate subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Insurance. 

Home Care Services Household services done by someone other than yourself because you’re unable to do them. Services include, but are not limited to, shopping, planning menus, preparing meals, home delivered meals, laundry, and light house cleaning and maintenance, including vacuuming, dusting, dry mopping, dishwashing, cleaning the kitchen/bathroom and changing beds.

Home Health Care Services for occupational, physical, respiratory, speech therapy or nursing care. Also included are medical, social worker and home health aide services.

Hospice Care Services to ease the pain of terminally ill individuals provided by an agency or program licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health or an agency or program meeting the requirements of the state in which hospice services are provided.

Individual Policy A policy sold directly by a company to an individual without requiring the individual to be a member of an employment-based group, association or special group insurance trust. These policies are usually sold by insurance agents but sometimes through direct mail or phone solicitations.

Inflation Protection A policy option that provides for increases in benefit levels to help pay for expected increases in the costs of long-term care services. Applicants usually have the choice of automatic increases or periodic special offers to increase plan benefits.

Lapse Termination of a policy when a renewal premium is not paid.

Lifetime maximum dollar amount Maximum dollar amount, as chosen by the insured, which the carrier shall pay for covered benefits after the satisfaction of any elimination period or deductible.

MassHealth (Medicaid) The joint federal/state program that pays for health care services in Massachusetts for those with low incomes or very high medical bills relative to income and assets.

Medicare The federal program providing hospital and medical insurance to people aged 65 or older and to certain ill or disabled persons.

Medicare Supplement Insurance A private insurance policy that covers many of the gaps in Medicare coverage. 

Noncancelable Policy An insurance contract that guarantees the insured’s right to continue the in-force insurance policy at the same premium level by the timely payment of premiums. A carrier cannot cancel, cannot decline to renew, cannot make any unilateral change in any provision of coverage, and cannot revise premium rates for a noncancelable policy without the agreement of the insured.

Nonforfeiture Benefits A policy feature that provides a specified paid-up benefit or returns at least part of the premiums to you if you cancel your policy or let it lapse.

Nursing Home Facility that is primarily engaged in providing nursing care and related services on an inpatient basis under a license issued by the Department of Public Health or the appropriate licensing agency of the state in which it is located.

Personal Care See Custodial Care. Services provided by a personal care provider include, but are not limited to, assistance with bathing, bedpan routines, foot care, dressing and care of dentures; shaving and grooming; assistance with eating; and assistance with ambulating and transfers.

Pre-existing Conditions Illnesses or disability for which treatment or a diagnosis was received within a 24-month period before long-term care insurance becomes effective.

Rescind To void (cancel) a policy.

Respite Care Services to temporarily relieve family caregivers of the stresses and demands of caring for a person with a chronic illness or cognitive impairment. In addition to home care, personal care and home health care, respite care services may include but are not limited to short-term placements in adult foster care, nursing facilities or rest homes.

Rider Addition to the insurance policy that changes or adds to the provisions or coverage of the insurance policy.

Social Day Care Training, counseling, and social services as defined by standards issued by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. This includes assistance with walking, grooming, and eating and planned recreational and social activities suited to the needs of the participants and designed to encourage physical and mental exercise and stimulate social interaction.

Substantial Assistance Hands-on or stand-by help required to do ADLs.

Substantial Supervision The presence of a person directing and watching over another who has a cognitive impairment.

Tax-Qualified Long-Term Care Insurance Policy A policy that conforms to certain standards in federal law and offers certain federal tax advantages.

Third Party Notice A policy feature enabling an applicant for long-term care insurance to name someone whom the insurance company would notify if coverage is about to lapse due to lack of premium payment. This can be a relative, friend or professional such as a lawyer or accountant.

Underwriting The process of examining, accepting or rejecting insurance risks, and classifying those selected, in order to charge the proper premium for each.

Universal Life Insurance A kind of flexible policy that permits an insured to vary premium payments and adjust the face amount of coverage.

Waiver of Premium A provision in an insurance policy that relieves the insured of paying the premiums while receiving benefits.

Whole Life Insurance Policies that build a cash value and cover a person for as long as he or she lives if premiums continue to be paid.