No one ever likes to think about it, but long-term care can be a necessity for some — whether it's due to a disability, old age, etc. And according to recent stats about long-term care, it ain't cheap at all — over $100,000/year as of 2018. While you may have an existing health insurance policy, long-term coverage usually isn't included under most policies. And Medicaid’s coverage can sometimes limit your future care options (like only cover certain nursing homes). Boooooo. Plus, sometimes you're even required to liquidate certain assets. But there is a solution that's better for some that's called long-term care (LTC) insurance that you can explore with an independent insurance agent.
Independent insurance agents know all about long-term care insurance and can help you find the perfect coverage for your exact needs, all at a price you can feel good about. And if you're just not sure LTC insurance is right for you, have a look below for answers to some of your biggest questions. When you're done, go ahead and follow up with an independent insurance agent for more for help on the next step — because don't you deserve it?
What is Traditional Long-Term Care Insurance?
Simply put, long-term care (LTC) insurance is a policy that helps individuals who can no longer care for themselves afford the services they need. Individuals who use LTC insurance can expect coverage for daily activities like driving, medication management, and more. LTC coverage can also help with things like home health care, respite services, hospice care, adult daycare, and extended stays in nursing homes/assisted living facilities. Because most healthcare insurance policies don’t cover many activities in the long-term world of needs, LTC insurance can be a must-have for those who expect their needs to grow in the future.
The average LTC benefit period lasts three years, which begins when the individual or a family member contacts the insurer to indicate that the beneficiary is no longer able to care for their basic needs at home. Next, the insured undergoes a nurse's evaluation of cognitive and medical status, current medications, and functionality in their residence.
And just to be totally clear here, there's another form of long-term care insurance out there, too — called hybrid long-term insurance. Hybrid policies include the same coverage as traditional long-term care policies while also extending a death benefit in case the person never has to use their policy. This is a lot like how life insurance policies work, but with care options attached in case the individual needs them.
To figure out if long-term care insurance is right for you, speak with an independent insurance agent. With their extensive expertise and experience, you can get answers to the long-term care questions you need and find the right policy.
How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?
Because of the added risk and costs that come with long-term healthcare, LTC policies are typically a bit pricier than other policies. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance:
- The average annual premium for a 60-year-old couple is almost $3,500 for a plan with an initial benefit of $150 per day for up to three years.
- A single 55-year-old male could expect to pay $1,870 annually for the same benefits, while a single 55-year-old female would pay $2,965 annually for similar coverage.
Because the policy costs are high, it may not be worth the expense for folks who don’t have a sizeable income or bulked-up savings account. This may include those who receive income via Social Security or live on fixed incomes. Long-term care policies are best considered as a protection against the loss of both savings and care options near the end of life.
Another factor that influences the cost of long-term care insurance is when the policy is first started. To get your hands on a reasonably priced policy, it's best to start early in life before health problems develop. Some insurers will not allow individuals to qualify for long-term care insurance policies if they already have significant health problems or risk factors.
Bear in mind, too, that the cost of long-term care varies by state. And states like Florida and New York have costs that far outweigh those in states with lower costs of living, like Utah or Georgia. With higher costs here, and lower costs over there, you can expect LTC insurance premiums to reflect that.
Pros and Cons of Traditional Long-Term Care Insurance
- Almost 70% of individuals need some type of medical care and services in their later years. Because of this high likelihood, having long-term care insurance gives individuals peace of mind and protects their assets later in life.
- LTC insurance serves as a favorable alternative to Medicaid, providing many more care options like home visits, better nursing home facilities, and so on.
- If you want to take advantage of traditional long-term care insurance, the best time to start is right now. If you wait much longer after retirement age, premiums could skyrocket, and policies have rules against preexisting conditions. Experts suggest purchasing a policy in your 50s, which can limit some finances for investing or living expenses. Considering most claims occur when people are in their 70s or 80s, this may reduce the amount of funds available for investments, emergency purchases, and so on.
- You may not need long-term care insurance if you have sizeable savings or family members that are willing to provide caregiving.
- The elimination period needs to be met before an individual can tap into their insurance policy. This means that you have to pay for benefits out-of-pocket during the elimination period. If you need long-term care before this period elapses, you will have to pay for it plus the insurance coverage.
Questions to Ask about LTC Insurance
Now there's no chance every single question was answered here, but why would you want to read that much about long-term care insurance anyway? Give an independent insurance agent a call and they'll help you from here. Here are a few questions to ask so you know you're getting exactly what's best for you:
- What is the financial rating of the insurance company?
- What is the insurance company’s history of raising premiums? And can I still afford a policy if premiums are raised? (This is especially important if your income is fixed.)
- How often are benefits paid, to either you or to a care provider?
- Does the policy adjust for inflation?
- Do you prefer coverage in terms of dollar limits or time limits?
- How much of your personal savings/investments can you put toward the cost of long-term care to reduce the cost of the LTC policy?
- Can the company cancel my coverage if I regularly make my payments?
- What is the elimination period between needing and receiving benefits?
- How long do you want to guarantee coverage once you receive benefits?
Now that you have an understanding of long-term care insurance, you may be wondering what the next step is. Independent insurance agents can guide you in your decision-making for the best long-term care options. They can help you find a company that fits your needs, saving you money, and providing peace of mind.
What's So Great About Independent Insurance Agents?
Tired of researching about long-term care insurance, or any other insurance for that matter? That’s why independent insurance agents were invented — to help you navigate the world of insurance.
An independent insurance agent is a licensed pro who knows how to find exactly what you want for the best possible price. They find you the best carriers with the best coverage and pricing to fit your budget.
So go on, give your local independent insurance agent a call. They're all geared up to help and they know a thing or two about what you need.