Understanding the Differences Between Continuing Care Retirement Communities

A Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC, is generally a senior community which offers housing, services and nursing care, usually all in one location.

In order to attain a CCRC certificate, an organization applies to the PA Department of Insurance for a “certificate of authority.” If granted, the organization is able to use the title of continuing care retirement community and qualifies for certain tax benefits.

Mark Bondi, President and CEO of Sherwood Oaks, advises seniors to be very well informed when selecting a CCRC for their retirement living. “The tax benefits have spurred a marked increase in the number of communities applying for CCRC certifications during the past five years. Simply having a certification and calling yourself a CCRC doesn’t really mean much,” Bondi cautions. “The CCRC certification does not demand any set of standard services or amenities.”

So, how can seniors be sure which continuing care retirement community is right for them? “The key is knowing that the services that will be rendered to you are governed by the written agreement between the community and the resident. These agreements must be read carefully to determine exactly what is—or isn’t included,” says Bondi.

When John and Harriet Burress began researching retirement communities, they prepared to meet the challenge.  “We determined our priorities, and set out to find a community that met them. We visited five different facilities at least four times each,” said Harriet. “Selecting a place to retire is a very big decision and an important financial investment. We did our research accordingly before selecting Sherwood Oaks,” said John.

CCRCs offer many different types of agreements. Sherwood Oaks is a Type A community. The most commonly offered CCRC agreements are:

  • Type A (Extensive) Agreement – includes housing, residential services, amenities and unlimited, specific health-related services with little or no increase in monthly payments except to cover normal operating costs and inflation adjustments.
  • Type B (Modified) Agreement – like A above, except that a specified amount of health care services are included. After the specified amount of health care is used, a discounted rate or full per day rates for required health services will be charged.
  • Type C (Fee-for-Service) – Includes housing, residential services and amenities for the fees stated in the agreement. Access to health care is guaranteed, but it may be required at full fee-for-service rates.
  • Rental Agreement – Allows residents the opportunity to rent their housing and provides, but does not guarantee, access to health care services paid on a fee-for-service basis.

Bondi describes an example to illustrate the big differences between CCRC agreements. “If a resident becomes ill at Sherwood Oaks, our Type A agreement offers multiple levels of care at no additional cost allowing the residents’ needs to be met on campus as they change. Other types of agreements do not. Residents who fall ill at other CCRCs will need to find a health provider and arrange for payment of health services on their own. And these payments may be significant—costs for one year of skilled nursing services can exceed $70,000.”

John and Harriet Buress gathered information about various CCRCs and evaluated health services, living spaces, staffing, security features and spoke with residents on their visits. “We selected Sherwood Oaks because it best provided for our needs. The agreement was clear and understandable and we have been overwhelmed with friendly faces and the professional and helpful staff,” the Buresses said.

After only two months, John and Harriet Buress are happy to say that they already feel at home at Sherwood Oaks. “It’s so comforting to know that our healthcare, including assisted living are here on campus and guaranteed. We’re glad we came to Sherwood Oaks when we’re healthy enough to enjoy life, friendships and fun.”