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Long-Term Care Insurance: What You and Your Loved Ones Need to Know

[fa icon="calendar"] Oct 4, 2017 12:00:00 AM / by Jack Maloney

Employer-based insurance and Medicare often aren’t enough to fund patient's’ long-term care needs

More seniors rely on long-term care each year, but many Americans may not be realistic about whether they’ll need it or not. Just 25% of Americans believe that they’ll eventually require long-term care, but the truth is starkly different – 70% of individuals 65 and older will eventually need some form of it. Given the odds, it’s important to be prepared.

Part of this planning involves recognition that long-term care options can be costly for those who have not planned in advance. Many private insurance policies won’t pay for long term care. Other options, like Medicare, only pay for short-term stays in nursing facilities, and only under extremely specific conditions. Many Americans are unprepared; one recent survey showed that only 35% of Americans 40 or older have set aside any money for any long-term care. One proactive step to address this gap is to consider purchasing insurance.

Buying the right long-term care insurance is essential

There are a lot of considerations when purchasing a long-term care policy, and it’s important to do your research before making any decisions. Rushing a choice and purchasing the wrong policy could cost a lot down the line, especially if it doesn’t cover the type and amount of care you actually need. Here are some of the factors you may want to consider before making a final decision about long-term care insurance:

  • Age and health: The younger and healthier an individual, the less (on average) the premium. If you're relatively young and healthy, you may want to purchase now instead of a few years down the road. 
  • Pre-existing conditions: Pre-existing conditions can greatly complicate a search for long-term care insurance. Most insurers will not pay for treatment involving a pre-existing health problem. Some insurers may deny coverage outright, while others may permit the purchase a policy that does not cover care related to one or more specific conditions. Failing to tell an insurer about a pre-existing condition could void the policy, so it’s important to be truthful. 
  • Flexibility: The more flexible the policy, the more room there is to reduce, increase, or change the kind of coverage needed as time goes on. It can be hard to know what you’ll need in the future, so this can be especially helpful if an individual purchases a policy that likely won’t be needed for decades. 
  • Affordability: Make sure to purchase a policy that you can afford, both now and in the future. Many long-term care policy premiums increase over time, so you’ll want to make sure you can keep paying, even during a short-term financial emergency. 
  • Type of care: Different policies pay for different kinds of care options, so make sure that the policy you’re purchasing covers the type of care you’ll want and need in the future. Options include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day care, home health care, and home modifications, among others. 

What if you didn’t buy long-term care insurance when you were young? 

Even if you didn’t buy long-term care insurance when you were young, you still may have a variety of financial options. Even if you’re retired, it may not be too late for insurance; if there is still 10-20 years until you think you’ll need long-term care, some long-term care insurance options may still be relatively affordable. However, if you’re a senior who needs care now, not to worry; you might be able to fund your long-term care via riders in life insurance and/or annuities. In addition to helping fund at-home care, it can also help you pay for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day-care, and hospice. 

To learn more about different insurance options, you may want to visit www.nahu.org. The National Association of Insurance Underwriters (NAHU) offers fantastic, free information that can help you and your family make smart decisions when it comes to insurance. 

Plan ahead to make sure you and your loved ones can afford the long-term care they need 

Getting older can be scary at times, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re financially prepared to afford the kinds of medical care that you’ll likely need in the future, you can rest easy knowing that you have a smart plan in place. For many, long-term care insurance is an essential part of that plan. 

If you’re looking for home health care here in South Florida, FirstLantic serves Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Martin Counties. With nearly two decades of experience providing the highest level of care to our patients, we offer flexible options including hourly, daily, and nightly care plans. Call us anytime at 877-618-3624 or fill out our online contact form to learn more. 

Topics: Long-Term Care Insurance

Written by Jack Maloney

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