Short Term Care Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

short term care insurance

A new study reveals that more than half of Americans will need nursing home care at least some point in their lives. While some will enter into a long term program, others will stay for only a set amount of time, primarily for rehabilitation and physical therapy.

From there, they may choose to work with at-home care providers or assisted living facilities to help them navigate the aging process.

If you’re a caregiver or decision maker for an aging adult, you might be looking for this type of short term care solution. The only caveat? While the stays might be temporary, they can result in a long term financial strain if not budgeted for properly.

Thankfully, short term care insurance is available to help offset some of the cost. Today, we’re discussing this form of insurance in detail to help answer any questions or clear up any confusion you may have.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

What is Short Term Care?

Before we delve into what the insurance policies will cover, let’s review a few short term care facts.

Put simply, this is care that your loved one will receive for one year or less. The timeline is often a few weeks to a few months. It’s often provided through the aforementioned nursing facilities, though it can be administered in their home.

There’s a reason this kind of support is also known as recovery care. These medical services are usually provided to help individuals recover from an accident, fall, illness, surgery or another setback.

Short term care can also help patients navigate a new diagnosis, such as that of diabetes or heart disease. While these conditions don’t normally require long term care, they do directly affect one’s lifestyle. Through short term care, those affected can learn how to navigate their new normal and embrace a different routine.


At its core, short term care is oriented around specific goals. It is expected that the patient will improve over time and meet certain objectives. For instance, a goal for a patient in a rehabilitation program might be to return to at-home independent living within a few months.

Therapy services provided can be both physical and occupational. The former is designed to help restore functions, improve strength and relieve pain. The latter helps individuals accomplish basic self-care tasks, including brushing their teeth and bathing. Speech therapy may be another component within a personal treatment plan if required.

Both Medical and Custodial

On the medical side, some of the services that patients in a short term care program can expect to receive include:

  • Medications dispensed
  • Wounds dressed
  • Therapy provided (physical, occupational, speech)

In addition to physical therapy, healthcare professionals will also offer custodial support. This can include helping the patient shower, get dressed, eat and use the restroom. The intent is to encourage steady self-reliance until the individual can perform these tasks independently.

Short term care providers may also provide family education resources to help loved ones understand the process and what to expect along the way. Medical jargon can be complex and the paperwork can be overwhelming. Having a trained expert on staff to help simplify the process can be a major relief to some family members.

How is Long Term Care Different?

When it comes to comparing short term vs long term care, the two primary distinctions are how long the care lasts and which services are included. Let’s take a look at these two main differences.

Longer Timeline

Long term care is indefinite. It is designed to support persons who have a chronic or progressive medical condition that is not expected to improve with short term care.

From permanent disabilities to strokes or debilitating illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, there are myriad health issues that may require long term care. In these instances, even the most dedicated loved ones may not be able to provide the level of medical attention that is required.

A long term nursing facility will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with care provided around the clock. On the homefront, long term care describes someone who receives daily medication attention at home from a healthcare professional or team, with services often provided around the clock.

Range of Services

Like short term care, long term care also includes both physical and occupational therapy in addition to direct medical care. This is included because, though the patient’s condition may not become markedly improved over time, such therapy is often required to improve their mobility and overall quality of life.

One thing that sets long term care facilities apart is their inclusion of other amenities, such as social activities, on-site salons, post offices and more. These services are designed to make the facility, such as a nursing home, feel as comfortable as possible for residents.

In some cases, the price of residency in a long term care facility will increase with the addition of these amenities. Others may have a more “all-inclusive” model wherein they’re factored into the price per day. Before moving yourself or your loved one into one, it’s critical to ensure you understand what you’re paying for and what is to be expected.

Why Get Short Term Care Insurance?

Although the time of coverage is relatively small, the reality is that even short term care can add up quickly.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that a semi-private room located in a nursing home can cost around $225 per day. That equals out to more than $6,800 per month.

Those figures only climb when as you upgrade the living conditions. For instance, a private room runs around $253 per day.

Though it’s relatively less expensive to stay in an assisted living facility for less than a year, you’re still looking at paying around $120 per day there, or more than $3,628 monthly.

For those looking to hire an at-home aide to help their loved one through a short term recovery process, the average hiring rate is $20 per hour.

This is where short term care insurance comes in. It can help relieve the financial burden of that short term care cost and help caregivers find the medical support they need. Let’s take a look at the basics of how this kind of insurance works.

Basics to Expect

Depending on your specific requirements, you’ll receive a set amount of money from your short term care insurance provider, designed to expenses on a daily basis. This may be as little as $50 or as much as $300, commonly spread out over $10 increments.

You can also receive this insurance money in addition to Medicare payments. This money is significant and sets this kind of care apart from long term care insurance, which does not allow the two programs to be in use at the same time. To this end, many people use short term care insurance to help cover any gaps in their Medicare coverage

Added Perks

Another perk of a short term care insurance plan is that patients can be approved to begin receiving payments without a medical exam. Often, a short, 10-question survey on your general health is all that’s required to get the ball rolling. This survey makes the application process quicker and more straightforward.

How much so? If you can confidently and accurately answer “no” to the questions on the survey, the underwriting process is already 95% completed.

Another benefit is that there is also a larger window of time that individuals can access short term care insurance. While most long term care policies cut out at around age 75, you can purchase a short term care policy until you’re 89. Though your premium will be higher the later in age you apply, this added flexibility is a major plus for seniors.

What to Expect with a Short Term Care Policy

When you’re ready to apply for short term care insurance, you’ll begin by selecting the daily benefit amount you require.

Then, you’ll set the number of days that you intend to receive that amount of money. Your limit will be 360 days. Take a look at the therapy calendar and speak to your current healthcare providers to determine the exact timeline.

In most cases, the policy will immediately go into effect. That means as soon as you qualify, you could start receiving policy payments. This policy payment is another way that short term care insurance differs from its long term counterpart. Long term care insurance usually requires that patients complete a 90-day deductible before they start receiving their payouts. This is known as an elimination period.

Wondering if you qualify? Most short term care insurance providers will determine your benefit eligibility based on one of two factors: whether or not you have a cognitive impairment and your inability to perform more than two necessary, daily tasks. These may include bathing, cooking, walking, dressing or more.

Who is Buying Short Term Care Insurance?

Many people turn to short term care insurance because it’s an ideal way to supplement long term care insurance. This is especially ideal when you need care but have to meet that 90-day deductible period first. The policies are designed to cover a range of provided services, from nursing home support to at-home care.

On the younger end, buyers can be around 40 to 50 years old depending on the plan. However, most buyers are between 65 and 74 years old.

Its affordability also makes the plan an appropriate solution for those who waited too long to seek long-term care insurance and were out-priced in the meantime. It’s also a way to receive at least some level of healthcare coverage, even when a long term policy is not in the cards due to financial stress.

Others who may be interested in pursuing a short term care policy include those who are:

  • Denied long term care insurance coverage
  • Looking for a more cost-effective solution
  • Over the age of 80 years old
  • Seeking coverage during the elimination period of their other policy

How to Find a Short Term Care Insurance Provider

As with any type of insurance, it’s important to do your due diligence while you’re researching providers.

Start by asking your friends and family members for their personal recommendations. Then, research any complaints filed against the companies in question. Ideally, you’re looking for one that can process claims quickly and doesn’t blur the lines between what is covered and what is not.

You should understand the fine print and specifics of your plan before signing on the dotted line. If you’re paying yourself to provide the care in question, consider that figure when determining the overall amount of coverage you need and can afford.

Find the Short Term Care You Need Today

Are you or a loved one looking for a short term care provider? We know you have plenty of options at your fingertips, and that the search for the right one can be exhausting.

Our comprehensive short term care program is designed to take the guesswork, confusion and stress out of the process. From fall management to physical and occupational therapy, we cover it all.

Should you require long term care now or in the future, we provide that as well. We have full-week physician coverage and offer 24-hour skilled nursing care.

We’re confident that our team of healthcare experts is the right fit for your family. As you narrow down your options to find the right short term care insurance provider, we’ll help you take care of the rest.

Feel free to schedule a private tour of our facilities today and see firsthand how our community can work for you.

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