Lifecare vs. Continuing Care

Lifecare. Continuing care retirement community (CCRC). Continuum of care. These terms can be confusing for retirees searching for the best retirement living options. Here’s what you need to know.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) 

A CCRC is a senior housing option that offers a full or partial continuum of care designed to meet residents’ healthcare needs as they change over time. CCRCs usually offer some combination of independent residences, assisted living, and/or a licensed nursing home. 

There are three types of community within the CCRC designation. The communities are differentiated by the type of contract they offer to their residents.

Type A contract

The communities that offer this contract are all-inclusive. Your living costs are covered (e.g. apartment) – as are any assisted living, nursing care, or memory care needs you may require for as long as you live. Should you need to move to assisted living or require skilled nursing, the monthly fee you pay will remain the same save for the costs of additional meals or any special supplies needed.

Type B contract

The Type B contract allows you to pre-purchase the cost of assisted living or skilled nursing for a limited amount of time (e.g. 120 days) without any increase in your monthly fee. The downside is that if you require care beyond that time (e.g. longer than those 120 days), then your costs for care will be higher than your normal monthly service fee.

Type C contract

This type of contract is usually called a “fee-for-services” agreement. While entrance fees and monthly service fees are usually lower, they will rise significantly should you require assisted living, skilled nursing, or memory care because you’ll pay the normal costs with little or no discounts.

Lifecare Retirement Community 

A lifecare community, like Piper Shores, is a type of CCRC that uses the most comprehensive Type A contract to provide a full continuum of care designed to meet residents’ healthcare needs as they change over time. This is paid for through monthly fees that are fixed and subject only to annual increases established for all residents. 

Continuing care agreements in Maine

There are only two kinds of retirement communities that qualify for certification as a CCRC or continuing care retirement community in Maine– a lifecare retirement community and a continuing care retirement community. Both provide a “continuing care agreement,” but certification as a lifecare community is the more stringent of the two. 

The Maine Bureau of Insurance regulates Lifecare Retirement Communities in Maine. Only communities that receive a certificate of authority issued by the Maine Superintendent of Insurance can use the names “lifecare community”.

To qualify as a lifecare retirement community in Maine, the retirement community offers a continuing care agreement that provides for the following services:

  • Full and lifetime prepaid health care, prepaid supportive services and shelter that include a true continuum of care from independent living through nursing home care;
  • A maintenance fee that may not increase (excepting annual increases applicable to all members of the community and increases resulting from the selection of optional services offered by the community) regardless of the level of services provided the retiree or change in the retiree’s accommodations;
  • Neither the retiree nor any third party (excepting the retiree’s insurer) is liable for the cost of health care or supportive services, other than optional services, provided by the retirement community;
  • The retirement community provides full and lifetime health care, supportive services and shelter without reduction so long as a retiree has not intentionally depleted the community’s resources.

Retirement communities that do not meet all of these requirements may not refer to themselves as lifecare retirement communities. 

By meeting some of these requirements and following the strict statutes of Maine law governing continuing care retirement communities, a community may offer a less comprehensive continuing care agreement and still be considered a continuing care retirement community.

The difference in a nutshell

A lifecare community is a type of continuing care retirement community (CCRC) that has earned the more stringent certification by adhering to the Type A contract.

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