The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, signed by President Obama in March, authorizes establishing a voluntary insurance program to provide financial assistance for at-home care needs. Employers will offer it to cover insured workers’ future needs for nonmedical services and support.  These will include home modifications, assistive technology, accessible transportation, homemaker services, respite care, personal assistance services and home-care aides.

Congress is expected to approve, sometime in 2012, regulations defining policy costs, entitlement standards and appeals processes. Although a government program, CLASS’ budget will reflect contributions from its insured. Like Social Security and Medicare, automatic enrollment may apply, but coverage will never be mandatory. Anyone may waive enrollment at any time.

Policyholders’ monthly premiums will reflect their ages at enrollment; pre-existing medical conditions will not impact the cost. While few young employees will need such coverage, signing on early will allow them to secure a lifetime monthly premium. CLASS premiums will not increase without congressional approval.

Before receiving benefits, policyholders must pay monthly premiums for at least five years and, during three of those years, must be gainfully employed.  Should premium payments stop for more than three months, coverage will cease. Re-enrollment will always be available. However, since premiums will be adjusted by age and inflation, newer coverage will probably cost more.

CLASS benefits will begin when a medical provider authorized by a state disability determination center – and not an insurance underwriter – confirms that the policyholder either needs full supervision or is unable to perform two or three activities of daily living or ADLs.  ADL examples include eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing and continence. The medical provider must also confirm that the insured’s functional limitation is expected to last for at least 90 days.

Unlike private long-term care policies, CLASS will not limit years of coverage. Coverage reimbursement rates, which have not yet been set, will reflect multiple benefit levels. Should policyholders’ needs increase with time, greater coverage benefits will apply.

By making at-home assistance services affordable, CLASS will provide many people with a simple alternative to nursing home care. Since coverage cannot commence before an insured has paid premiums for at least five years, no one will receive CLASS benefits before 2017.

For more information on CLASS’ continuing status, visit Families USA, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, at familiesusa.org.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, signed by President Obama in March, authorizes establishing a voluntary insurance program to provide financial assistance for at-home care needs. Employers will offer it to cover insured workers’ future needs for nonmedical services and support.  These will include home modifications, assistive technology, accessible transportation, homemaker services, respite care, personal assistance services and home-care aides.

Congress is expected to approve, sometime in 2012, regulations defining policy costs, entitlement standards and appeals processes. Although a government program, CLASS’ budget will reflect contributions from its insured. Like Social Security and Medicare, automatic enrollment may apply, but coverage will never be mandatory. Anyone may waive enrollment at any time.

Policyholders’ monthly premiums will reflect their ages at enrollment; pre-existing medical conditions will not impact the cost. While few young employees will need such coverage, signing on early will allow them to secure a lifetime monthly premium. CLASS premiums will not increase without congressional approval.

Before receiving benefits, policyholders must pay monthly premiums for at least five years and, during three of those years, must be gainfully employed.  Should premium payments stop for more than three months, coverage will cease. Re-enrollment will always be available. However, since premiums will be adjusted by age and inflation, newer coverage will probably cost more.

CLASS benefits will begin when a medical provider authorized by a state disability determination center – and not an insurance underwriter – confirms that the policyholder either needs full supervision or is unable to perform two or three activities of daily living or ADLs.  ADL examples include eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing and continence. The medical provider must also confirm that the insured’s functional limitation is expected to last for at least 90 days.

Unlike private long-term care policies, CLASS will not limit years of coverage. Coverage reimbursement rates, which have not yet been set, will reflect multiple benefit levels. Should policyholders’ needs increase with time, greater coverage benefits will apply.

By making at-home assistance services affordable, CLASS will provide many people with a simple alternative to nursing home care. Since coverage cannot commence before an insured has paid premiums for at least five years, no one will receive CLASS benefits before 2017.

For more information on CLASS’ continuing status, visit Families USA, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, at familiesusa.org.