It’s still Elder Law month, so we are going to talk about another Elder Law related topic. Last week, we talked about Care Giver Agreements, and why you and your parent or elderly loved one should consider having one drafted by a professional before providing care and receiving compensation.
Earlier this week, I asked the following poll question on Facebook: How many of you have long-term care insurance? The majority said NO…. Yours truly included. (Don’t Judge Me. I still have a little bit of time.)
So, this week, we’re going to discuss why you may wish to consider a long-term care insurance policy sooner rather than later. So, should you purchase long-term care insurance? Is it really necessary? Is it worth it? Well, a lot of people don’t have a long-term care insurance policy because they think it’s just too expensive. The reality is, a lot of people don’t even think about long-term care insurance until they are in their 60’s or older. That’s the real reason it is deemed expensive. Studies show that approximately 70% of those over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care. The insurance companies are well aware of these statistics. While most of us have insured our homes and our cars, long-term care insurance is often overlooked. Unlike other estate planning tools, long-term care insurance is not something you need worry about in your 20’s or 30’s ( I’m far from 20, but that’s why I don’t have one yet…), but it certainly should be considered in your 40’s and 50’s, long before you would likely need to use it. You can technically purchase long-term care insurance as late as age 75, but you are more likely to be rejected. I preach proactive planning every day! This is one area you want to be proactive about, because the earlier you address the need, the easier it is to meet it and pay for it.
Before you start to plan for long-term care insurance, you have to know what it is and what it can be used for. Long-term care insurance is used to help those with physical and cognitive disabilities, who are unable to perform activities of daily living, get assistance for a short or extensive period of time. Whether the individual needs assistance bathing or a nurse to come to their home, long-term care insurance can help address those needs, without breaking the bank. Keep in mind, long-term care is not covered by traditional health insurance or Medicare. So, it’s important to have a long-term care plan.
Long-term care insurance isn’t something you can or want to purchase last minute. It takes time and proactive planning to use this tool the correct way. None of us know what will happen from one day to the next, so devising a plan as early as possible is essential, to enable the most flexible options. There are a variety of options available. Your long-term care coverage may include:
|Nursing Homes||Care Coordination|
|Assisted Living||Home Modification|
|Adult Day Care Services||Home Care|
So, where and how do you purchase long-term care insurance? Well, you have options there also:
|Individual Plans: May be purchased through an insurance agent or broker.|
|Employer-sponsored plans: May be offered at a discounted group rate to you and eligible family members. You may not have to meet medical requirements to qualify, but you may lose your coverage if you leave the employer or the employer stops providing the benefit.|
|Plans offered by organizations: May be offered by a professional or service organization you belong to, but you may lose your coverage if you leave the organization or the organization stops providing the benefit.|
|State partnership programs: You may be allowed to keep a certain amount of assets, and qualify for Medicaid If you purchase a qualifying long-term care insurance policy. Check with you insurance agent, and check with your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.|
|Joint policies: You may be allowed to purchase a single policy that covers more than one person. The policy may be used by spouses, partners, or two related adults. However, these plans usually have benefit cap for everyone insured under the policy.
I’m certainly not a long-term care insurance expert, but I know long-term care insurance is not intended to break the bank. In fact, it’s intended to allow you to plan for your future needs, without depleting your assets or forcing you into impoverishment. None of us know what the future holds except for the Man/Woman upstairs, so let’s make sure we take the necessary steps to plan for our long-term care needs, protect our loved ones, and preserve our legacy.