If you’re just getting started in your efforts to research retirement communities, you might not have a clear picture in your mind of what the differences are between a Life Plan community and a Life Care community—or what sets them apart from other types of senior living communities. How many financial benefits of Life Care do you know about?
Each has its advantages, and “Type A” Life Care communities like Emerald Heights have additional financial benefits beyond what you’d get in a “Type B” Life Plan community.
First, let’s talk about the key distinction between the terms “Life Plan” and “Life Care.”
A Life Plan community, which used to be referred to as a continuing care retirement community, or a CCRC in industry parlance, offers an active lifestyle that allows residents to live life to the fullest, along with on-site advanced health care services, should they be needed. Those advanced health care services will vary among Life Plan communities, but in general, they include assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care.
A Life Care community is a specific type of Life Plan community, also called a “Type A” Life Plan community. In a Life Care community such as Emerald Heights, residents have unlimited, lifetime access to those advanced health care services without any increase in their monthly service fee for those services. *For people who don’t have long-term care insurance, living in a Life Care community can eliminate a lot of concern about paying for advanced health care services if they become necessary in the future.
As we noted above, Type B Life Plan communities do offer advanced health care services, but residents would see an increase in monthly service fees if they were to transition into assisted living, for example. Depending on the specific community and the services required, additional charges could be as high as $8,000 to $15,000 per month.
So, just to be clear, all Life Care communities are also Life Plan communities. But not all Life Plan communities are Life Care communities.
*At Emerald Heights, because of the unique way we’ve set up our meal program, residents in our Corwin Center, which includes assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care, do have an additional expense for meals. We’ll explain that more fully below.
So now you know that you can secure your future health care plans by living in a Life Care community. Having that predictability with regard to your health care expenses can be extremely helpful when mapping out your financial needs for the years ahead.
And there are additional financial benefits available to those who live in a Life Care community—benefits that aren’t tied to a future need for advanced care. For instance, if you were to move to Emerald Heights, there’s a high possibility that you could write off a portion of your entrance fee on your income tax return in the year you pay the fee. (Last year, the percentage was between 33% and 36%.) That can help to offset any capital gains you might realize on the sale of your house.
Additionally, each year you would most likely be able to write off a percentage of your monthly service fees as well, since it’s considered a health care expense. For the 2020 tax year, most Emerald Heights residents will be able to write off approximately $15,000 per individual—so for a couple, it would be about $30,000.
We always advise residents to consult their financial planner or tax adviser on such matters, but you can see that these benefits are substantial.
We alluded to one of these benefits earlier: the stability of knowing what your future healthcare needs will cost. The security of knowing that you will have complete access to whatever level of care you might need later on, without having to pay an extra amount each month for those services, is invaluable.
You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that your family members won’t have to worry about what your next move will be if your physical or mental health changes. More than one prospective resident has said to us when signing their contract, “This is a gift to our children.” By pre-planning your future, you’re maintaining control over those decisions because you’re the one who’s making them.
While we’re talking about priceless benefits, let’s not forget about the maintenance-free lifestyle that Life Care (and Life Plan) communities offer. At Emerald Heights, residents can enjoy an abundance of services and amenities that are all part of their monthly service fee. Having us take care of your home maintenance, inside and out, frees up more of your time and energy to devote to activities you want to do.
Even beyond all of that, and maybe most important of all, is the benefit of having a sense of belonging to a community in the figurative, rather than the geographical, sense of the word. Being around like-minded people who care for one another, with opportunities to be more involved and make new friendships, is a tremendously positive experience. Some residents have said they didn’t realize how isolated they had become while living in their house until they moved to their new community.
“To have those social connections and be surrounded by a community of people who care for one another, that’s not something you can put a price tag on,” said Kay Wallin, vice president of marketing and public relations for Emerald Communities. “But it is something that comes with moving into a community like Emerald Heights.”
“I’ve been here about three years,” said Jackie Claessens, marketing and sales director, “and to see all the friendships that have happened just since I’ve been here, the connections, and the collaborations between staff and residents, it’s really quite remarkable, and it’s a beautiful thing to be part of.”
The idea of creating Emerald Heights came to Whitney Corwin back in 1987. He and his wife were aware of the CCRC concept and believed it represented the best choice for their future, but there was no true “Life Care” type of retirement community in this area at the time. He talked about it with several friends he knew from Bellevue First Presbyterian Church, and they decided to move forward with plans to build such a community. By 1990, they had secured the land and financing they needed, and construction began. Our community opened to its first residents in 1992 and has continued to evolve to meet the needs of those who live here.
One of our core sets of values is choice, and we reflect that in our entrance fees and monthly service fees. Entrance fees start at $264,000 for one-bedroom apartments. The average entrance fee for one of our smaller two-bedroom apartments ranges from about $400,000 to $500,000. Larger homes are available and have a higher entrance fee.
Most people who decide to move to Emerald Heights find that the equity in their house is more than enough to cover their entrance fee.
Another choice residents have is the refundability option associated with their entrance fee. We offer anywhere from a “zero return” to the resident’s estate, up to 90% refundability of the entrance fee to the estate.
Monthly service fees are based on the size of the home and the number of occupants.
Another choice that makes Emerald Heights unique within our market, as Kay and Jackie point out, is that residents don’t have to pay for a meal plan they might not use.
“Our apartments all have full kitchens, so residents can choose each day whether to prepare their meals at home or use our restaurants,” Kay said. “There’s no meal plan built into the monthly fee. Instead, they simply pay as they go.”
In addition to convenience, there may also be a financial incentive for using the restaurants at Emerald Heights. Kay noted that you can’t go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients for the same reasonable prices you’ll find on our menus, and gratuities are not permitted in our community, so using the restaurants here truly is a bargain compared with cooking at home or going to a restaurant outside of the community.
As we noted earlier, residents who live in The Corwin Center do need to pay for three meals a day. There are no kitchens in The Corwin Center residences.
We could keep going on and on about the many benefits of living in our community, but one of the best ways to get a true appreciation for all that we offer is to discover Emerald Heights on your own terms and at your convenience by taking a virtual tour. You can also use our financial fit calculator to determine which of our floor plans might best suit your needs and budget.
And as always, you can set up a time for a personal tour by calling (866) 553-4576 or sending us a message. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.