Aging Seniors & Houston Homes – What Insurance and Medicare Covers for Care

In this interview, Brian Spitz interviews Scott Yokley, owner of BrightStar Care in Houston, regarding what insurance and medicare cover for aging seniors.

They also discuss long-term care options for aging seniors, preparing to pay for long-term care, seeking caregivers and evaluating the property home of the aging senior.


Yokley 10-4-13 What insurance and medicare covers and resources

Brian: Hello. This is Brian Spitz, president of Big State Home Buyers, and today we are talking with Scott Yokley, from BightStar Care, which is a home healthcare facility. And we’ve talked a little bit about how to make your home safe for elderly people. We also talked about what happens when people move out of the house and what they can do with the house, if they need to.

Like I mentioned, Big State Home Buyers is a house buying company. We buy houses for cash, as is, close fast, no repairs. So we get a lot of people who want the no-hassle sale and they come to us for that. And our biggest clientele are people who have either inherited a property or have aged out of the house. And so, and like we were talking about, a lot of times people will use or need the funds from the sale of the house, in order to help provide long-term care.

(0:00:51.2) What Does Insurance and Medicare Cover?

So what I wanted to ask you about today are some of the specifics about what insurance and Medicare covers and what kind of resources it takes for people to get long-term care and what people do to raise the money to do that.

Scott: Yeah, Brian. Thanks. At BrightStar, we provide home healthcare. So we’re providing caregivers and nurses to folks in their home. And we are a private pay enterprise, so basically, people are paying for our services. And what that leads to is that Medicare and private insurance, and I’ll just use the term Medicare, we’re not a Medicare agency.

Brian: Right.

Scott: We typically take care of the things that Medicare doesn’t. But Medicare covers a lot of services. Typically, medical skilled care in nature, and, like I said, I wouldn’t speak to everything it does, but I can tell you that people are often surprised when they get to Medicare age and they need services, the types of things Medicare covers and then what it doesn’t cover.

And the caregiving aspects and the long-term care is frequently what they get surprised with that it doesn’t cover. And that expense is not something people think about a lot. Now, some long-term care insurance is becoming more popular and that’s a great mechanism to pay for the types of services we provide, as well as long-term care facilities and skilled nursing facilities and things like that. But not everybody has long-term care insurance and it may be a while before that becomes that popular where everyone will.


(0:02:25.3) Long-term Care Insurance?

Brian: So tell us exactly what long-term care insurance is and when is a good time to buy that?

Scott: Well, long-term care insurance is just that. It’s insurance to covers the expenses of long-term care. Which is usually defined as when someone can’t do two or three Activities of Daily Living themselves. So you have to meet certain requirements and then it will pay some or all of that expense and there are many different carriers and many different types of policies that work differently. But the main idea being that it’s used to pay for the kind of services we provide in home healthcare or assisted living facilities, as well. Some of that expense, because it’s, once again, not everyone wants to use their savings. They may not have funds set aside for that.

As far as the right time, it’s like any other insurance. Buying it when you’re younger and healthier is going to be more affordable, than waiting until you. When you’re older, there’s a lot more underwriting. The expense is going to be higher and so you have to, it’s never too early to look at it. You make your decision based on the cost and what you’re able to do. But I, we don’t sell long-term care insurance, but I can tell you, I encourage people to really evaluate that.

Brian: Right. Yeah, that’s interesting. And, you know, people have different conceptions about, just like Medicare, what insurance will pay for. What insurance won’t pay for. And do you find long-term care insurance to be pretty effective? They pay well or it’s worth the investment?

Scott: Absolutely. I mean, the clients we deal with that have it, they certainly have a much better comfort level that they’re able to get what they need. And they’re able to get care in the home, which is typically what people would prefer to have. And they’re grateful that they have it. We deal with a lot of families, to be honest with you, we get calls from a lot of folks who wish they did have long-term care insurance. Because it’s really the only way they could provide the funds to pay for the services they would like to have.

(0:04:30.1) Liquidating a Assets to Pay for Long-term Care

Brian: Right. And we were talking about another option being to actually liquidate some assets that they family may own. One of which, one of the biggest of which is a house. We just bought a house last week from an individual who sold it so that they could afford the long-term care that they needed. And it’s, you know, it’s out there. It’s available to do that. And you can come to companies like Big State Home Buyers to do it. But, do you see that as a common scenario? Or what do you know about that?

Scott: Yes. We see that frequently. That once the family, an individual gets to a point where they’re not likely coming home and they made that decision that they’re going to, maybe they’re in a skilled nursing facility and if they improve they may go to assisted living. But they’re just not going to be able to take care of themselves in the home. And 24/7 home healthcare is not an option they’re going to be able to do. That, yes, selling the home. We see that process happen and, once again, when they’re able to work with somebody and be able to do that effectively, give them the funds, it creates a much easier time for them to realize, put the details away and just focus on caring for their loved one, and moving on for that.

(0:05:45.7) Preparing to Pay for Long-term Care

Brian: Anything else you’d like to add about how people can prepare for the time when they need to pay for long-term care?

Scott: Like everything else, you know, it starts with a conversation. Many children, for example, really don’t know their parents’ full financial situation. It’s not comfortable always for the parents. It’s not something that was ever polite to ask about, but starting that conversation well before it ever is needed is the best step. You know, do your parents have a plan? Do they have long-term care insurance? Do they have, what would they like to do? Do they, would they like to use all their assets and savings towards staying in their home? Do they want to go to an assisted living facility? What kind?

These are all conversations that parents, sometimes you don’t want to talk about it with their children, don’t realize always that they’re really going to be doing a great benefit for the children by easing their mind. Kids don’t like to guess at what their parents would have liked.

(0:06:48.3) Caregivers

Brian: Right. No, and it’s a lot of work to care, you know, and that’s something that we haven’t touched on before, but it’s, there’s a lot of articles and studies out there about caregivers. And so, you know, having this home healthcare really helps the family because if one of the children or family members tries to do 24-hour care or even 40-hours-a-week care, they’re really not taking care of themselves. So, it’s really an essential service for people that can take advantage of it.

Scott: Absolutely. I mean, we’re frequently brought in because the family is just completely overwhelmed. The thought of taking care of a parent who needs a lot of attention and help is usually a little easier than the actual reality. Because you have to go to work. You have to conduct your life. You may have children of your own. It can be very overwhelming and it can sometimes be difficult because you’re dealing with your parent in a way that you’re not used to dealing with them. Taking care of them. So, yeah. I would say that having that conversation and looking at the options before you need to is critical. We can, because companies like BrightStar can come in and do very minimal service for a few hours a week, to even get started. They can provide a lot of benefit. A lot of respite. It’s amazing how a four hour break from caregiving can really provide a lot of comfort.


(0:08:14.1) Evaluating the property

Brian: Yeah. I mean, it’s important to be able to take care of yourself. And as far as, from the real estate aspect, you know, as a parent or as a person who’s looking out for someone who’s going to need long-term care, you know, you can get an appraisal on the house and get an idea of what it’s worth. Get an idea of what it’s worth in the condition that it’s already in. A lot of people come to us and want to look at what they, they have an emotional attachment to the house, which is, of course, understandable. Or they think that the house should be worth x amount of money, but it’s real important to get educated on what your property’s worth and what the options are. So call a company like Big State Home Buyers to see what you can get without doing anything to the house to sell it quickly. Call a local agent to find out what the options are for listing and selling the house that way. Maybe the parent wants to keep the house and, you know, maybe a family member wants to move into it.

So there’s lots of options, but dealing with the real estate is an important part of it, because, you know, when you’ve got to take care of a house for a loved one or a vacant house, you have expenses, insurance and utilities and maintenance and, you know, and houses deteriorate quickly when they’re empty.

And, so, just like you can go to BrightStar Care and get a lot of information about how to prepare your home and what to do to prevent falls and you can call them out to see what they can do for you. You can go to and also get a lot of information and have one of our associates out to give you an evaluation. And we encourage people to get multiple opinions, as I’m sure you do. It’s important to know what your options are.

Scott: Absolutely. I mean, one of the key advantages to reaching out to an agency, such as BrightStar, or any agency, before the need is upon you is that you have the time to really have a conversation, understand who you’d be working with, what is their team like. You know, in our industry, for example, are you Joint Commission accredited or how do you screen your caregivers? Those are conversations a lot easier to have in a calm moment than in one where you need someone out there today because you just can’t take it anymore. And I can also attest that some of our clients are in homes that have not been touched in 30 or 40 year, and I would imagine not being my business, that it’s not as simple as what neighborhood is the house in.

Brian: Right.

Scott: That there’s a lot more that goes into it.

Brian: Absolutely. There is. And the same with our business. It’s a lot easier to get your options before you need the option today. You know, it’s always good to have information and that’s what Big State Home Buyers and BrightStar Care, both of our companies really care that our clients have information that can help them make wise decisions.

So, again, Scott, I appreciate you being here with us today and you can look us up at and …

Scott: You can find information about our services and about us.

Brian: Great. Thanks so much.

Scott: Thank you for having me.

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