Should you purchase long term care insurance?
Most people start thinking about the possibility of needing nursing care as they hit middle age. Many have family or friends who needed home health care, assisted living, or a nursing home. At this time, when a loved one needs extra help, people learn about the high cost of long term care, and they wonder how it gets paid for.
Consider this. Full time nursing homes can cost $50,000 a year or more. Home health care may not be that much less, depending upon the amount of services needed. Assisted living facilities cost less, but may still be a lot more than it costs to live on your own. And the government estimates that 40% of people who turn 65 will need some sort of nursing care during retirement years.
How does this get paid for? Medicare, the federal health insurance for seniors and disabled people, only pays for short term care. Medicaid does pay for nursing homes, and in fact pays for half of all of thee costs in the US. But in order to qualify for Medicaid, a person has to deplete most of their assets.
So some people purchase a long term care insurance (LTCi) policy because they want to protect their savings in case they need to go to a nursing home. There are also alternative ways to plan for this which other choose. And many people have not done any planning at all.
What are the disadvantages of long term care insurance?
Who do some people choose LTCi alternatives? Why do many people do nothing? Look at some things that they may consider.
Insurance exists to manage risks. When you purchase an auto insurance policy, you hope you will not have to use it. With most LTC policies, it is the same. You could pay premiums for years, never need it, and get nothing out of your policy except the security of knowing you have it. Some LTC policies may have a return of premium feature but it is not common.
LTCi policies are complicated, and there are many different types. Some are more useful and flexible than others. So some types of coverage may not help you for the particular situation you are in. For instance, you may have purchased a policy that only covers a nursing home. But an illness may only require adult day care or home health care. Again, some policies will cover different types of care so you, or your family, can make a choice when the time comes.
Premiums are lower for younger and healthier people, but can go up over time. If you cannot afford to pay premiums when you get older, it will not do you any good if you have to discontinue coverage. You have to make sure that you can afford the policy.
What are the advantages of long term care insurance?
Of course, a lot of people do think LTCi is a great choice to make sure they have protected their assets.. And some features may even help them before they ever need to use it.
Some policies are tax deductible. Tax qualified plans can be deducted when you file taxes now. This makes the real cost of premiums lower than the price a company charges.
Assets are protected. If you want to preserve a lifetime of savings for yourself, your spouse, or your heirs, long term care is one obvious way to do this. With the right policy, you will not be forced to spend down your entire estate before you qualify for Medicaid.
You will have choices. Not every nursing facility or provider accepts Medicaid. You will be able to choose your private nursing home, assisted living facility, or home health care provider without worrying if they accept Medicaid payments. Some policies even offset the cost of care that is provided by family members.
How can you shop for various poliices?
It is important to understand how various policies work, how much they will cost, and which one will be the best plan for you. An experienced insurance agent can help you. You can also start looking by using a convenient online long term care insurance quote form. This will allow you to see competitive policies that are sold in your own local area.