What is a CCRC and How Does it Work? Part 3: Choosing a CRCC

In this three-part blog series, attorney Kelly Shovelin of Four Pillars Law Firm discusses Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs): What are CCRCs?  How do they work? How do you choose the right CCRC for your needs?

Learn the answers to these questions and more as she covers Understanding CCRCsPaying for a CCRC, and Choosing a CCRC.

In the last part, Kelly discusses Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs): Choosing a CCRC.

Choosing a CCRC

CCRC Regulation and Accreditation

As with assisted living facilities, the regulation of CCRCs is not always clear. These institutions are strictly regulated in some states, while not at all in others; there is no overarching federal watchdog agency for retirement communities. A private non-profit organization, the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC), accredits CCRCs. The CCAC accreditation process is voluntary. Its high cost and the length of time it takes to complete the application process mean that accreditation is a good indicator of a community’s quality. The CCAC’s Web site lists all CCRCs that have been accredited. Click here to visit the CCAC website.

Nevertheless, a CCRC’s lack of accreditation should not necessarily be taken as a bad sign. One of the most important considerations is the financial soundness of the facility. In selecting a community, experts recommend choosing a “mature” facility, one that has been in business a number of years. In addition, it is important to know who the CCRC’s sponsor is. The Society of Friends (Quakers), for example, has been in the CCRC business for quite some time and its facilities are reputed to be excellent. LeadingAge (formerly the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) is the national association for the non-profit CCRCs (most CCRCs are operated by non-profit groups). The group’s website includes tips on selecting a CCRC. Click here to visit the LeadingAge website.

CCRC Entry Requirements

Most CCRCs require that a resident be in good health, be able to live independently when entering the facility, and be within minimum and maximum age limits. As a prerequisite to admission, facilities may also require both Medicare Part A and Part B, and perhaps Medigap coverage as well. A few are now even requiring long-term care coverage as a way of keeping fees down. Some CCRCs are affiliated with specific religious groups, ethnic groups or fraternal orders, in which case, membership in these groups may be a requirement. Of course, applicants will also have to demonstrate that they have the means to meet the required fees. Because most CCRCs are highly sought after, don’t be surprised if you are placed on a waiting list.

CCRC residents usually fund their care out of their own pockets.  However, most CCRCs accept either Medicare and/or Medicaid, which, in some cases can be used to pay for certain services. Although Medicare does not generally cover long term nursing care, it often covers specific services that a CCRC resident might receive, such as physician services and hospitalization. Because the financial requirements for residence are fairly strict and the costs are relatively high, very few CCRC residents are eligible for Medicaid.

How to Evaluate a Facility and Contract

Deciding on a CCRC is a once-in-a-lifetime choice and it is a decision that should be made carefully. Many communities allow prospective residents to experience life at the facility. Each community has an agreement or contract that lays out the services provided. You should make sure you understand the contract before signing, and you would be well advised to seek legal or financial counsel before entering into any agreement.

Be sure to review the entire three-part blog series on CCRCs: Understanding CCRCsPaying for a CCRC, and Choosing a CCRC.

If you would like to discuss CCRCs and how to plan for long-term care options, please do not hesitate to call Four Pillars Law Firm for a consultation to evaluate your options.

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