Long-term care insurance is a type of policy that provides services that aren’t covered by regular health insurance. It can help cover costs associated with nursing home care, in-home care, personal or adult care for individuals older than 65 or care for those with a chronic or disabling condition.
Long-term care insurance can help you tackle the often debilitating costs associated with continuous long-term care. Our guide will help you learn more about long-term care insurance, why it’s important and how you can select a policy.
What is Long-Term Care Insurance?
Long-term care insurance is insurance for those who are unable to perform 2 of the 6 major “activities of daily living.” Activities of daily living, sometimes simply referred to as ADLs, include bathing, dressing, moving (transferring out of a bed or out of a chair), eating, using the toilet and continence, which is the ability to control movement of the bowels and bladder.
Long-term care insurance helps fund the care needed to aid in these daily activities, whether they take place in the home, in a nursing home, in an assisted-living facility or at an adult day care center. The cost of this type of care can become a financial burden on the individual and his or her family members, which is why having additional insurance coverage for these needs is so important.
The process to get long-term care insurance is similar to that of other types of insurance. You’ll fill out an application, which will mainly consist of questions about your health, habits, hobbies and employment.
Insurers can gain access to your medical records, and an interview can be conducted over the phone or in person. You then choose the amount of coverage you want. After you are approved, your policy is issued, and you begin paying premiums.
Long-term care insurance can be difficult to understand. Most people don’t consider this type of insurance because they think it is solely related to nursing homes and older men and women.
In reality, some care that is provided with long-term care insurance is needed long before you need to be in a nursing home. Even if you aren’t a senior citizen, you can benefit from long-term care insurance if you’re severely injured or require a great deal of medical assistance.
Some employers provide long-term care insurance options. These policies are usually optional, and you can opt in or out for an additional fee. An employer plan typically comes at a lower cost for you in terms of premiums and coverage.
However, the downside is that you usually have fewer options when it comes to plan providers. An individual policy can offer more coverage that you may feel you need. If your employer does not offer long-term care insurance, your only option is an individual policy.
Who Benefits From Long-Term Care Insurance?
Everyone can benefit from long-term care insurance because you never know when something might happen or when you might need to use it. You could be entirely healthy and in your 50s — then suddenly break your hip and find yourself unable to work or complete basic daily tasks without extensive assistance from a medical professional.
Getting long-term care insurance could mean you are taking a major burden off your loved ones, who may be left taking care of you one day if you’re suddenly injured and require care not covered by your health insurance plan.
You might even want to consider including your family members in your insurance and care planning so they are aware how much coverage you have before you need to use your insurance.
Long-term care insurance could also provide you with tax benefits. If your policy qualifies, you can deduct the cost of your premiums from your federal taxes so long as the deductible and other unreimbursed medical expenses exceed a certain amount of the policyholder’s gross income.
There are 2 types of long term-care insurance:
- Traditional: Traditional policies offer direct and affordable coverage. Most traditional policies reimburse the entire cost of care.
- Combination or hybrid: These types of policies are not individual long-term care coverage but a combination of 2 types of coverage under one policy. For example, you can usually add a long-term care insurance rider onto your life insurance policy. The benefit of getting a hybrid policy is that if the policyholder dies before needing to use long-term care insurance, the beneficiaries receive a death benefit. The downside is that these types of policies are more expensive than traditional options.
People generally buy long-term care insurance for 2 major reasons: to protect retirement funds and to get more choices for care. The cost of long-term care can quickly cause your retirement funds, or any kind of savings you have, to dwindle. If you don’t have long-term care insurance, you don’t have as many options when it comes to the actual care you are receiving either.
When Should You Get Long-Term Care Insurance?
There is no perfect or right time to buy long-term care insurance. Choosing to buy a long-term care insurance policy when you’re younger could help you secure a lower rate, while waiting too long to buy a policy could leave you with limited coverage options.
As reported by AARP, 95% of the people who file long term-care insurance claims are older than 70. If you wait too long to buy a policy, you may no longer qualify due to health reasons.
Similar to most insurance rates, the cost of long-term care insurance will increase as you get older and risks to your health become more probable. Other factors that contribute to the cost of your long-term care insurance policy can include gender, marital status and the amount of coverage you sign on for.
The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance concluded that in 2019, 76.4% of new long-term care insurance buyers were between the ages of 50 and 59. While this is around the age range that the AALTCI recommends you take out a policy, you may want to consider a policy when you undergo a major life change.
Taking on a new job, adding a member to your family or making a major move can all be excellent times to consider long-term care insurance. Don’t wait until it’s too late — begin comparing coverage choices before your options are limited.
Benzinga’s Best Long-Term Care Insurance Carriers
Now that you understand the importance of having long term-care insurance, you’ll want to begin comparing insurance providers. Start by taking a look at the insurance options offered by your employer. If your employer doesn’t offer long-term care insurance or if you aren’t satisfied with the options available to you, you’ll want to begin comparing individual policies outside of your place of employment.
Like most types of insurance, every insurance provider uses its own unique formula to determine what you’ll pay for coverage. This means that, theoretically, it’s possible to find the exact same level of coverage from 10 different insurance providers at 10 completely different rates.
Not sure where to begin your search for the right insurance provider? Consider a few of our favorite long-term life insurance providers below:
Do You Really Need Long-Term Care Insurance?
As healthcare costs continue to rise, the costs associated with long-term care also are likely to continue to become more expensive each year. If you’re young and healthy, you might assume that you won’t need to begin thinking about long-term care insurance until you reach retirement age.
However, it’s important to remember that a major accident can occur at any time — and that most commercial health insurance and Medicare plans don’t cover the costs associated with long-term care.
As long-term insurance plans are usually relatively affordable, you might want to consider adding this coverage when making a major change in your life. You never know when you might need additional medical support.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is long-term care insurance worth it?
Commercial health insurance and Medicare plans do not cover costs associated with assisted living facilities or nursing home care. This can make long term-care insurance an invaluable supplement to a full range of care support.
When should I buy long term care insurance?
Though the best time to buy long-term care insurance will vary depending on your situation, major life changes like adding a child to your family or moving, can be an excellent time to consider adding supplementary long-term care insurance to your health insurance plan.