Long Term Care Insurance
Growing older is a time when our health can become the focus of our lives; along with making sure we plan for the future of our well-being. It may be that you are completely healthy, even in your elderly years, however, it’s likely that even the most physically fit people will eventually need some kind of long-term care.
Because life is uncertain at times, the earlier you plan for your long-term care the easier, and cheaper the transition will be. Although there are several methods of covering the costs of senior care, one of the most efficient and reliable choices is to buy a long-term care insurance policy.
Long-term care insurance was developed specifically to guarantee that seniors receive care at their choice of a nursing home, assisted living facility, home health care option, or other long-term services not covered by traditional health insurance.
Long Term Care Insurance Policies
The vast majority of policies sold today are comprehensive policies, typically providing coverage for various services found within each senior care option. These services can include:
- Occupational, speech, or physical therapies
- Rehabilitation therapies
- Personal care
- Homemaker services
- Adult day health care centers
- Hospice care
- Respite care
- Alzheimer’s or memory care
- Skilled nursing care
As is the case with most insurance policies, long-term care policies have specific exclusions. State regulations often dictate which exclusions are allowed, varying in different parts of the U.S. Generally, long-term care policies exclude:
- Care provided by family members
- Care outside the United State (although a growing number of policies do have international care benefits)
- Care as a result of war or acts of war
- Care resulting from attempted suicide or self-harm
- Drug or alcohol treatment
- Treatment in a government facility
- Medicare, government programs, or worker’s compensation services
When Should You Buy Long Term Care Insurance?
Considering that old age brings a higher probability of encountering health issues, long-term insurance policies are cheaper the earlier they are purchased. People don’t often think about their future care needs when they are healthy, yet waiting to buy a policy can leave fewer options and be more financially draining.
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 70% of people over age 65 will need some form of long-term care. Without insurance, the later years of life can be financially devastating for seniors and their families. Typically, long-term care costs breakdown to:
- Nursing homes: $79,935 a year for a private room
- Assisted living: $39,519 a year
- Home health aids: $21 an hour
The most appropriate time for most people to buy long-term care insurance is around 50 years of age. During this time in life, it is more probable that an individual will have both the funds and foresight to make a proper investment in a long-term care policy.
Generally, the best rates and services are available when a person is still healthy because insurance companies have fewer liabilities to consider.
Other Options and Considerations
Before purchasing a long-term care insurance policy, there are numerous other items to consider. To start, you’ll want to decide what amount of money is needed for the type of care you are planning for. Certain policies will allow you to choose anywhere from $50 a day to as much as $500. During this step, it is important to decide on the other benefits and services you may need for each type of facility you plan to utilize.
Another key feature to consider is inflation protection for your policy. After taking into account the estimated amount of the coverage you may need, you may find that the rates for senior care have increased (which is very likely) between the time of your purchase and the need for care.
Joint or Share-care
For married couples, there is also the option to buy joint long-term care, or “share-care” as it is sometimes known. These policies pool the total amount of coverage between two people to provide reasonable rates and services. If a spouse passes on, the remaining policyholder will get those unused benefits added to the remainder of their coverage.
Overall, long-term care insurance can be a very wise investment, especially when you’re already in good health. Should you remain independent without any drastic changes to your health, it may be possible to sell these policies back to the company. However, there is something to be said about the peace of mind and financial stability that comes with a solid plan for your long-term care.