Long term care insurance fills an important gap in the coverage of many individuals. Health insurance covers many medical expenses. Life insurance provides benefits to your loved ones in the event of your passing. Elderly car insurance covers the most that is possible because of the increased risk. But how do you cover expenses for your care if you become unable to care for yourself? That’s where long term care insurance comes in.
What Is Long Term Care?
Long term care insurance is often associated with elderly care insurance, and the elderly are certainly people who can benefit from having long term care insurance. But younger individuals may also find themselves in need of long term care at some point in their lives. Injuries and debilitating illnesses can leave anyone in need of long term assistance in their daily lives.
Nursing homes are one kind of long term care available. But long term care can also include:
- assisted living facilities
- adult daycare centers
- health aides and nurses visiting your home
- meal delivery to your home
- household chore assistance
- physical therapy
Long term care may be needed as long as the individual is living. It may also be needed for shorter periods of time, such as during recovery and rehabilitation following a major injury.
How Much Does Long Term Care Cost?
Long term care costs will depend on the amount of help you need as well as the length of time the services are needed. Home health care services generally cost less than nursing home stays, but cutting costs by choosing the less expensive option isn’t always a good idea. If your condition requires care in a nursing home, occasional visits from aides won’t be enough to provide for your needs. Family members can often help with home care, but they can become overwhelmed if heavy care is needed.
According to a United States government pamphlet published in 2004, estimated costs are as follows:
- One year in a nursing home: $50,000 or more
- Assisted living facilities: about $2000 a month, or $24,000 a year
- Health care aides visiting your home 6 to 9 hours a week: $1000 or more a month, or $12,000 a year
Any of these costs can easily be higher if more care is needed.
The same government pamphlet mentioned above suggests that a policy that would pay out $150 a day for four years, with a 90-day deductible, would cost a 50-year-old an average of $564 per year. The annual price for a policy increases with your age when you first buy the policy. Those who purchase long term care insurance policies earlier in their lives will generally pay lower premiums throughout their lives.
You can also buy policies with inflation protection. The annual premiums for these are higher, but the payouts are adjusted for inflation. As an example, the same policy described previously would cost $1134 annually with inflation protection.
How Do Long Term Care Insurance Premiums Compare to Nursing Home Stays?
Using the information from the government pamphlet, the payout from long term care insurance would cover about four years in a nursing home. The expense of paying premiums for 30 years is less than one year’s nursing home stay. Actual numbers will vary with the policy, nursing home, and the age at which you purchase the policy.
What Is Not Protected by Long Term Care Insurance?
Exactly what conditions are covered or excluded will vary with each policy. In general, the following conditions are excluded from long term care coverage:
- Care needed as a result of alcoholism or drug abuse
- Care needed as a result of an intentional self-inflicted injury
- Care needed due to some mental disorders
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Long Term Care Policy?
- Understand the terms and conditions of any policy before purchasing.
- Consider the premiums as compared to the expected benefits.
- Learn which illnesses and situations are excluded from coverage under the policy. If something is excluded that you feel could be important, such as a disease that runs in your family, you might look at other policies.
- Make sure that the conditions for payout are reasonable and aren’t limited to narrow circumstances.
- Ensure that the payout amount will be adequate for your anticipated needs.
- Consider the duration of coverage in terms of time and maximum payout. Benefits may expire sooner than you realize.
Is Long Term Care Insurance Right for You?
Not everyone will need long term care insurance in their lifetime but what questions should you ask yourself when buying long term care insurance? But whether you ultimately need it is not something you can plan. Many people prefer to have a long term care insurance policy in place so that it’s there if it is needed. If you do need long term care, you and your loved ones will be glad that resource is available to cover costs. For some families it can mean all the difference in the world to them financially.