There is a huge demand for retirement and active adult retirement communities in Pennsylvania due in large part to a senior population ranked in the top five nationally. The state is popular with retirees due to the diversity of things to do and see along the way in booming urban areas, quaint small towns and picturesque landscapes which stretch from the shores of Lake Erie, along the Appalachian Mountains down to a southern border with the Mason Dixon line.
Seniors in search of history will find national parks, battlefields and museums dedicated to our nation’s early story such as Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Gettysburg National Park and other major Revolutionary and Civil War era landmarks spread throughout the state. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy golfing, fishing, hunting, hiking, water, and snow activities in a diverse landscape which encompasses mountains, rolling farmlands and shorelines. Pennsylvania has over 100 miles of shoreline along Lake Erie in the north and the Delaware River in the east. The Pocono Mountain area is home to 150 lakes accompanied by related resorts and attractions. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail cuts through the state and southeastern PA highlights the Amish, Mennonite and Quaker cultures collectively known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Other popular places to visit are the nation’s first zoo in Philadelphia, the National Aviary, Zoo and Aquarium in Pittsburgh and Hershey Chocolate World and Park. Baseball fans can cheer on their team at the Little League World Series in Williamsport or the major league games of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. Other professional sports include the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles, NHL Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, the NBA Philadelphia 76ers and professional soccer Philadelphia Union. There is also a multitude of baseball, hockey, soccer and arena football minor league and semi-pro teams scattered throughout the state as well as major collegiate sports representing the BIG 10, ACC and AAC Conferences. The state hosts two NASCAR and IndyCar Series races and two PGA events annually along with other events at numerous horse and vehicle racing venues. Casino gambling is also available throughout the state.
Active retirees will find different climates in various areas of the state due to the diverse geography. Most of the state, except for the southeastern corner, averages winter temperatures in the low-to-mid 30s and summer temperatures in the low 80s. Pennsylvania’s southeastern quadrant, which includes Philadelphia, has a humid subtropical climate and averages winters in the low 40s and summers around 85.
Taxes in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania state sales tax rate is currently 6.0% with additional local surtaxes bringing the average state sales tax rate to 6.34%. Retirees will appreciate that clothing, groceries, prescription, and non-prescription drugs are exempt from state sales tax. The current Pennsylvania income tax rate is a flat 3.07% with local government and municipal assessments averaging up to an additional 1.00%. Social security and retirement income is exempt from state income tax. Local governments and school districts levy real estate tax assessments with no exceptions except for low income subsidies. State Inheritance tax rates are 0.0% for spouses and charities, 4.5% for direct descendants, 12.0% for siblings and 15.0% for all others.
CCRCs in Pennsylvania
Deciding where to live is one of the most important decisions a senior will make. There are many housing options for today’s retirees. Planning for the later phases of retirement can help you and your loved ones avoid upcoming difficult, and often costly, situations.
For seniors age 55+ who would like a residence that allows them to be independent and active but are equipped to provide for all future healthcare needs should consider CCRCs, also known as life plan communities.
What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community?
Pennsylvania statutes define continuing care in the following manner: The furnishing of board and lodging together with nursing services, medical services, or other health-related services, regardless of whether or not the lodging and services are provided at the same location and pursuant to an agreement effective for the life of the individual or for a period in excess of one year, including mutually terminable contracts and in consideration of the payment of an entrance fee.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) generally cover a full spectrum of independent living options including apartments, attached cottages, townhomes, and free-standing houses along with common areas such as restaurant style dining rooms, a library, craft rooms, fitness center, swimming pool and outdoor space with walking trails. Other amenities often include beauty and barber shops, banking services, convenience stores, concierge services and guest accommodations. Priority access to healthcare facilities is provided for in the resident agreements and minimally includes personal care and skilled nursing facilities however a fuller range of care is usually offered such as assisted living, memory care, home health services and supportive medical services such as physical therapy, health checks and convalescent care. CCRC healthcare facilities are normally located on the same campus as the independent living area however, in Pennsylvania, healthcare facilities do not have to be located with independent living services to qualify as continuing care.
Regulating Pennsylvania’s CCRCs
Nationally, there are currently thirty-eight states that regulate CCRCs through various agencies such as insurance, public health, finance, social services or aging and elder affairs. State regulations vary widely and should be evaluated on a state by state basis.
There are over 200 continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) in Pennsylvania. The responsibility for regulating overall operations and financial management falls under the purview of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID). The PID annually reviews the community’s current disclosure statement, resident agreements, audited financial statements and other financial documents to determine if the community is on firm financial footing and is operating in a fiscally responsible manner. Pennsylvania has strict statutory cash reserve and escrow requirements and mandates CPA certification of financial documents annually. CCRCs are also required to report any adverse financial changes as they occur to state regulators.
Healthcare facilities located on a CCRC campus or associated by license with a CCRC in Pennsylvania are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) however these agencies only oversee the healthcare facility under their authority and do not share responsibility for the overall operations and financial oversight with the PID. Personal care and assisted living facilities are regulated by the DPW and skilled care facilities and home care agencies are licensed by the DOH.
Pennsylvania Life Plan Communities Common Entrance Requirements
Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Pennsylvania have a variety of entry requirements and can vary by location but also include some of the following:
- Minimum age for entry allowed by the Housing for Older Persons Act.
- Entry fee to cover the housing unit’s cost and other specific services and amenities. This could include contractually provided access to health care and the ability to help keep monthly services fees lower than they might be at a comparable rental community.
- Medicare and a Medicare supplement policy, or a similar private-pay plan.
- Detailed Medical reviews. Providers often request medical records, talk with a prospective resident’s primary care physician, or request a health exam. The specific type of contract offered by the community will determine the degree of emphasis placed on this requirement.
- Wills, healthcare power of attorney, and durable power of attorney.
- Assets and savings equal to the entry fee. A typical range is between 2-4 times the entry fee, but this can vary depending on the CCRC.
- Monthly income equal to a multiple of the monthly service fee. The range can be similar to that required for assets and savings.
Why Do Some Retirement Communities Require Entry Fees?
The majority of Pennsylvania CCRCs will require an entry fee. The entry fee for Life Plan communities serves several purposes. The most important commitment is that it secures a resident’s contractual and priority access to a continuum of care. A CCRC uses the money received from entry fees to help limit or pay down, the amount of debt required for development, expansion, or long-term capital projects, which keep the community appealing and competitive in similar marketplaces. Lastly, many Life Plan communities- particularly non-profit providers- offer financial assistance or an endowment fund to help ensure that if a resident can’t afford the fees due to a longer than average stay in the healthcare facility, or some other unforeseen circumstance, they will not be required to leave the community.
Additional Information On CCRC Retirement Communities In Pennsylvania
MyLifeSite is a valuable resource for obtaining detailed information on specific CCRCs in Pennsylvania. MyLifeSite offers a wide variety of tools in researching CCRCs along with reports on all the top-rated CCRCs and Lifecare communities in our continuing care retirement community directory and propriety database. These tools within in myLifeSite will allow you to gain the knowledge you need and information to ask the right questions as you begin contacting retirement communities directly. Our independent reports provide everything you need to make an informed decision including important contract details, healthcare aspects, retirement community pricing, and much more.