Should You Get Long-Term Care Insurance?Should You Get Long-Term Care Insurance

Did you know? It’s Long-Term Care Planning Month. That’s why we’re bringing you a post each week throughout October to help you learn everything you need to know about long-term care (LTC) insurance.

If you’re already paying for health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance and who knows what all other types of insurance, you’d probably balk at the idea of adding one more monthly payment to the list. It adds up! You want something left over for savings, vacations and all those little indulgences that make life nice.

That’s understandable, of course, but a growing number of people are facing the difficult and expensive positions of needing to care for an ailing loved one. Many of these families find themselves facing the choice between paying more than they can afford for professional care or risking stress, health, and career to provide that same level of care themselves. Either way, money’s lost, and members of the next generation coming up will find themselves with less to cover the costs of their own care needs as they age.

One way to offset some of this cost and stress is investing in long-term care insurance.

What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-term care insurance typically provides coverage for the costs of different types of care such as nursing homes, assisted living communities, or in-home health care. Many plans will cover part of the costs or only cover certain types of long-term care, but the goal is to help families more comfortably afford the type of care that many seniors will need at some point and that can be very expensive.

Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It?

Admittedly, experts have fairly mixed opinions on this. There have been recent instances of people who purchased long-term care insurance only to find their premiums go up unexpectedly years later. It’s a hard decision to make if you don’t know how much to budget for it long term.

Even with that concern though, the families that have it are often very relieved when the time comes to take advantage of it, as long-term care costs can get burdensomely high without it. A 2015 study found that assisted living costs over $43,000 a year on average, home health care nearly $46,000, and a nursing home over $80,000.

Medicare can help with some of those costs, but a lot of it still ends up on the shoulders of family members, unless a senior has set aside ample savings.

Factors to Consider When Shopping for LTC Insurance

Whether or not purchasing long-term care insurance makes sense for you or your loved one depends a lot of on your particular circumstances and the type of plan you get. To make the most informed decision, research your options and consider:

Are there family members willing and able to help with care?

This isn’t something anyone should make assumptions about. Becoming a caregiver for an ailing loved one is a huge time commitment and can cause problems in terms of stress, family, career, and financial costs. If you have a large enough family where responsibilities can be spread around, it might be an option, but the whole family should have a serious discussion about what’s involved and expected if that’s the plan.

What illnesses are common in your family history? 

If Alzheimer’s and dementia run in your family than there’s a good chance you’ll be facing hefty care costs down the line. Many other serious and terminal illnesses can come with long-term care needs as well, so consider carefully what you’re at risk for.

What are the preferences of both the senior and family?

Many seniors will need to move into an assisted living facility or nursing home at some point, but many hope to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Families should discuss the associated costs of both options to gain a clear idea of what they’ll be dealing with when the time comes.

How does the monthly cost compare to your savings and income?

What you can afford to pay for insurance will of course make a difference and looking at how your savings compare to the likely long-term costs is an important consideration.

Do you qualify for Medicaid?

Medicaid does help with some long-term care costs, so you’ll want to consider how much that contribution will help as well.

As you can see, the decision is a complicated one. It’s worth getting multiple quotes and reading the details of each plan available carefully. If your loved one is insistent on aging in place as long as possible, make sure any plan you get has an in-home care option. And look into which senior living facilities in your area are covered by the different plans – you want to know your loved one will be able to stay somewhere close when the time comes for them to move into a senior living home.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.

7 Comments

  1. Edna E Cook October 15, 2015 Reply

    Be careful what you buy. When I bought mine , I was ignorant what they cover. The things that most of us need, is not in there. I am very unhappy with mine, and it cst me over #$300.00 a month

    • Peggy October 16, 2015 Reply

      I paid $10,000.00 in 10 years for PENN TREATY LONG TERM, now they are bankrupt, for years now in court. I wish I had the $10,000.00 now, I would take a vacation before I go broke paying for health insurance, car, home, etc. etc. etc. A dollar in the hand is better than being broke paying for all this crap!

  2. Gina Lecca October 17, 2015 Reply

    If you have Long Term Health Care insurance and you move to another state make sure you contact someone from that company and get a listing of the prices of the state you are living in. I was paying Maryland their price for ten years before I knew I could reduce my payments to fit Texas prices for home care and musing care. I wasted money for ten years. When I had called the company when I first arrived I was told I could cancel my contract and take one out in Texas. This was miss information and was not what I could have done. I could have done what I am doing now, opting for Texas prices over Maryland’s.

  3. Scott A. Olson November 5, 2015 Reply

    To help the middle-class plan for long-term care, 43 states have passed special legislation creating a “public-private” partnership. These “Long-Term Care Partnership Programs” encourage the middle-class to purchase long-term care insurance policies with benefits equal to their net worth. If their long-term care insurance policy runs out of benefits they can apply for Medicaid to pay for their care and all of their assets will be protected from Medicaid “spend down” and Medicaid “estate recovery”.

    For example, a healthy, married couple, both age 61, could share $300,000 of long-term care insurance benefits for about $110 per month per spouse. If they used all $300,000 of benefits, they would be able to apply for Medicaid benefits and still protect $300,000 of their countable assets from Medicaid. Everyone can buy more or less coverage. You should buy a coverage amount that is equal to the amount of assets you want to protect.

    It is true that most of the older long-term care insurance policies have had large premium increases. To protect consumers purchasing policies today, 41 states have passed strict pricing regulations. Consumers purchasing policies today are protected from the pricing mistakes of older policies.

  4. Nanci C September 29, 2016 Reply

    I advise everyone to be very careful with the plan you pick for your longterm care insurance. My in-laws have been paying for 25 years on their longterm care, they have paid about $250,000 total in annual payments each. Last year they each had $452,000 in insurance coverage and my mother-in-law decided she wanted to die at home, so we got caretakers but it took so many back and forth correspondence and phone calls to find out they would only cover $250 a day. She ended up using only $16,000 of her $452,000 coverage that she paid $250,000 for before she died. She just lost the rest. My father-in-law has the same identical long term plan and has just gone into a nursing home. The cost is $383 a day, but he is only eligible for $300 a day coverage so it is costing him out of pocket $83 a day or $2573 a month or $30,876 a year out of pocket even with the coverage. And to top it off, he has to pay the nursing home the whole monthly amount out of his own money, and after he proves to the insurance company he paid for the months bill at the nursing home, the long term care will pay the $300 a day or $9300 per month back to him. And they are very slow in paying claims, so we have to keep two months worth of nursing home coverage in my father-in-laws bank account because the long term care company is so slow in reimbursing him. He also pays $6444 a year for his long term care insurance. He is 91 and not in great health so I doubt he will ever get his worth of coverage. So, people, read your contract very, very carefully and ask all kinds of questions or you will be royally ripped like this. They thought they were totally covered and had no worries. ha.

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