What is Long-term Care Insurance?
Given the high costs associated with long-term care, more and more people are planning ahead and purchasing long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies that cover the costs of elder care services, such as:
- Assisted Living residences where aides are available to help with personal care, managing medications, meals, housekeeping, and laundry
- Medical care provided in the home by visiting nurses, as well as care in a nursing home
- Home visits by a home health aide who helps with daily tasks such as shopping, driving, preparing meals, dressing and bathing
Many people don’t realize that traditional medical insurance and Medicare often do not cover the expenses associated with the long-term care housing and service options listed above. Medicaid will only pay for long-term care insurance when an individual has drained savings and other assets – LTCI can help protect these in addition to families and lifestyles.
With rising healthcare costs and the need to stretch retirement savings for a greater number of years, LTCI is worth looking into. It can help you avoid the potential depletion of life savings and allows continued control over where and how you receive long-term care services.
Experts recommend that women in particular strongly consider investing in Long Term Care Insurance. On average, women live longer than men, have smaller retirement accounts, and are more likely to “outlive” their savings, so LTCI can be especially helpful down the road.
Long-term Care Insurance Isn’t For Everyone.
It may not be the appropriate choice for someone who:
- Already qualifies for Medicaid payment of long-term care services or would quickly spend down assets to qualify for Medicaid
- Cannot afford the premiums
- Feels they can afford to pay for long-term care expenses out-of-pocket.
The biggest mistake you can make when investing in long-term care insurance is to wait. The younger you are when you “buy into” long-term care insurance, the less expensive the premiums. The best time to buy long-term care insurance is when you are middle-aged. If you wait until your 70’s or 80’s, when health begins to fail, it may be too late. Either the risk factors might be too high to get insurance, or the premiums might be higher.
Contact your insurance provider or financial advisor today to learn more about the many long-term care insurance options available to you.
- American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance: 818-597-3227; www.aaltci.org
- The Kaiser Family Foundation: www.kff.org
- AARP fact sheet. Which long-term care insurance option best meets your needs? AARP offers an overview of the basics of what you need to know to make an informed decision.
- The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides counselors to advise you about LTCI. Find the nearest program by visiting www.medicare.gov.