Long Term Care

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Main reason to buy Long Term Care insurance is the fact that 70% of people over the age of 65 will require some Long Term Care during their life! 

Long Term Care is very expensive and could wipe out your entire retirement savings unless you prepare in advance. Buying Long Term Care Insurance now, while still healthy, puts the majority of the Long Term Care expense burden later in life on the insurance company.

“Living longer may increase the likelihood of needing some kind of long term care along the way – and 8 out of 10 people say they’d prefer to receive that care in the comfort of their home. To give you the most choice in where you receive care, it’s best to plan aheadNothing is better than the comfort of home. Except the comfort of knowing you have a plan that could help you stay there.” 1

Experts say that you should think about Long Term Care Insurance while you are young. 

One big myth about Long Term Care is that it affects senior citizens only. However the need for Long Term Care can happen at any age. Nearly 40% of people using Long Term Care services are under the age of 65! Strokes, diabetes, car accidents, ladder falls, and other chronic conditions are just some of the major causes that require Long Term Care among younger populations.

Another important reason to address your potential long term care needs sooner rather than later: Since the cost of LTC insurance is typically based on your age and health when you apply, the older you are when you apply, the higher your costs may be.

The 3 Top Reasons That People Will Plan For Long Term Care:

1. Not to be a burden on their families.

2. Want to be able to afford quality care in the setting they choose.

3. To protect their spouse's / loved one's quality of life and future security.

What is Long Term Care Insurance?

“Someone with a prolonged physical illness, a disability or a cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s disease) often needs long-term care. Many different services help people with chronic conditions overcome limitations that keep them from being independent. Long-term care is different from traditional medical care. Long-term care helps one live as he or she is now; it may not help to improve or correct medical problems. Long-term care services may include help with activities of daily living, home health care, respite care, hospice care, adult day care, care in a nursing home, or care in an assisted living facility. Long-term care may also include care management services, which will evaluate your needs and coordinate and monitor the delivery of long-term care services. Someone with a physical illness or disability often needs hands-on or stand-by assistance with activities of daily living. People with cognitive impairments usually need supervision, protection or verbal reminders to do everyday activities. The way long-term care services are provided is changing. Skilled care and personal care are still the terms used most often to describe long-term care and the type or level of care you may need. People usually need skilled care for medical conditions that require care by medical personnel such as registered nurses or professional therapists. This care is usually needed 24 hours a day, a physician must order it, and it must follow a plan. Individuals usually get skilled care in a nursing home but may also receive it in other places. For example, you might get skilled care in your home with help from visiting nurses or therapists. Skilled care includes physical therapy, caring for a wound, or supervising the administration of intravenous medication.

NOTE: Medicare and Medicaid have their own definitions of skilled care. Please refer to The Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare or The Medicare Handbook to find out how Medicare defines skilled care. Contact your local social services office for questions about Medicaid’s definition of skilled care. For copies of these publications, contact your state insurance department or State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

Personal care (sometimes called custodial care) helps one with activities of daily living (ADLs.) These activities include bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence and transferring. Personal care is less involved than skilled care, and it may be given in many settings.”2

Who Needs Long Term Care Insurance?

Whether or not you should buy a long-term care insurance policy depends on your age, health status, overall retirement goals, income and assets. For instance, if your only source of income is a Social Security benefit or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you probably shouldn’t buy long-term care insurance. On the other hand, if you have a large amount of assets but don’t want to use them to pay for long-term care, you may want to buy a long-term care insurance policy. Many people buy a policy because they want to stay independent of government aid or the help of family. However, you should not buy a policy if you can’t afford the premium or aren’t sure you can pay the premium for the rest of your life.3

How should I plan for Long Term Care Insurance?

"Once you understand the risks associated with needing long-term care, you’re ready to start the planning process.

As you weigh your decision to purchase LTC insurance, there are a variety of factors to consider. These include:

1.    Where do you plan to live when you retire?

2.    In which setting would you prefer to receive care? (For many people, it’s in their home.)

3.    How much of your long-term care expenses are you willing, or able, to pay out of your own pocket?

Below are a few common mistakes to avoid:

Waiting Too Long to Address the Issue

There are important reasons to address your potential long-term care needs sooner rather than later. Since the cost of LTC insurance is typically based on your age and health when you apply, the older you are when you apply, the higher your costs may be. The annual premium for a person who purchases a policy at age 50 can be significantly less expensive than the same policy purchased at age 60. While some employers offer LTC insurance coverage with few or no health questions, you’ll typically have to go through an underwriting process when you apply for an individual policy. Through this process, the insurance company will classify you in one of up to 3 or 4 “risk” categories. The longer you wait to apply for coverage, the greater the likelihood that health issues may arise, and increase the cost of your policy, or even disqualify you from obtaining coverage in some cases.

Insuring One Spouse/Partner, But Not the Other

Today, a little over half of LTC insurance buyers are couples – representing 54% of the new policies sold. It is true that women are more likely to need long-term care. Thus, some couples look to insure just the greater risk. However, this approach creates a far greater financial risk and emotional toll should a husband need care prior to his spouse. Regardless of which one is not covered, the risk of needing care – and the subsequent care-giving and financial responsibilities that follow – will impact the couple’s quality of life and financial situation.

Assuming You Can Cover the Cost of Care

Without a long-term care insurance policy, you are essentially “self-insuring” your risk of paying for care. While wealthy individuals may have the financial means to cover their costs for care, this is not a viable strategy for the majority of people. Whether people overestimate their ability to pay for care over an extended period, or convince themselves that they’ll never need care, the risk of needing and paying for care remains. Whether you are wealthy or not, paying a reasonable insurance premium to transfer one of the biggest financial threats you may face can be a smart move towards protecting assets and loved ones.” 4

What is the best age to start planning for Long Term Care Insurance?

"Long term care insurers will only issue policies to those in relatively good health. Since you'll probably never be healthier than you are today, this is the right time to start thinking about it. Most people start long term care planning between ages 52 and 64.

Each year the Association surveys insurers to determine ages for those purchasing coverage. For individuals purchasing coverage in 2010, some 3.1% did so between ages 35 and 44. Some 20.9% between ages 45 and 54. Some 56% between ages 55 and 64. The rest, 19.3% were age 65 or older. Costs increase based on your age. But the ability to health-qualify is what matters most.” 5

Creative Alternatives vs. Traditional Long Term Care Insurance

There are some creative alternatives for traditional Long Term Care insurance that many people don't know about or bother to research. Some of the newer hybrid type life insurance policies can include Long Term Care Riders that provide a "Fixed" premium that cannot increase throughout the entire policy, unlike traditional Long Term Care Insurance which can increase, and most likely will increase your premium payments over time. With this hybrid type policy, some optional policy riders can include inflation protection. Some hybrid type policies also allow you the option to cover “both” spouses in the same policy. The policy premiums can also even be paid monthly or annually. In other words, the premium does not have to be a single (one-pay) premium for the entire policy premium in advance. Some policy types can even guarantee to allow you to get all your premium money you paid into the policy returned to you at a later time down the road, if you decide you don't want the policy any longer. The gist is that the hybrid policy covers you while you are living, has a death benefit if you die (for the people most important to you), and sometimes even allows you can get all your premium money paid into the policy back, if you choose not to continue the policy at a later date. So in other words, you don't have to lose all your money paid into the policy, like you would with a traditional Long Term Care Insurance Policy, if you never get to use the Long Term Care benefits!

Long Term Care Video from Kiplinger's

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Some Final Notes:

The alternative to Long Term Care insurance is to self-insure and that could prove to be a very expensive mistake, since it won't take long for your Long Term Care costs to exceed your total Long Term Care insurance premiums. So just because Long Term Care Insurance may seem expensive at first glance, you shouldn't go without coverage if you are still healthy enough to qualify for approval. Similarly you wouldn't wait to purchase Homeowner's insurance or Auto insurance until you had an accident or other claim, well same thing with Long Term Care insurance. Long Term Care insurance is health insurance. You don't buy health insurance because you will need it, you buy it because you might need it!

Lastly, some or all of your Long Term Care Insurance premiums may be income tax deductible. However, check with your accountant first for your individual situation to be sure.

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 1. Source: Genworth

2. Source: A Shopper’s Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance - National Association of Insurance Commissioners

3. Source:  National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Long Term Care Insurance Fact Sheet

4. Source: A special planning guide for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance readers presented by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance

5. Source: The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance www.aaltic.org