Long term care insurance
Have you ever worried about unexpected medical expenses consuming your savings? Rising medical costs and longer life expectancies are making this a concern for many. About 70 percent of people over age 65 will need some type of long-term care during their lifetime.
With long-term care insurance, you will be in a better position to get the care and services you need. You will have a greater opportunity to choose the type of care you want. You can protect your other assets and be in a better position to leave assets to heirs. And you will be more in control of your financial future.
The costs of long-term care
Several studies have found that a year's stay in a nursing home can cost over $65,000. For in- home care in Minnesota, the average cost to have a licensed home health aid is approximately $59,000 per year. While life expectancies are increasing, the amount of care we need (and its cost) seems to be increasing even faster.
Paying for long-term care
Neither Medicare nor private medical insurance covers most long-term care costs. Medicare will pay for some special services, but most people receiving long-term care need help with things which are not covered, like bathing, dressing and eating. In most cases, Medicare does not cover these.
Medicaid will cover nursing home care, but it functions like a safety-net type program. To get Medicaid help, you must meet federal and state guidelines for income and assets. Many people start paying for care out of their personal assets and then qualify for Medicaid when their personal assets are depleted. While some assets and income can be protected, by the time you qualify for Medicaid, you will probably have used up most of the assets you had hoped to pass on to surviving family members.
Another drawback to relying on Medicaid is that nursing home facilities only accept a limited number of Medicaid patients, which may mean that you cannot choose where you receive your care.
Relying on family members for care
Often, people assume that their spouse or child will care for them if they are facing a long term care need. Unfortunately, these individuals often don't realize the potential burden their loved ones could face in becoming their caregivers, not to mention the financial consequences. It is important to consider that the level of care needed may include around the clock care, and involve things such as dressing, bathing and toileting. At the age where you may require care, your spouse may not be physically capable of caring for you. Children who work, or have family responsibilities may not be able to manage the time or financial burden.
You may feel that you have sufficient retirement assets to pay for your long term care needs. An important thing to consider, however, is how the rising cost of health care may affect this plan. While you may have sufficient assets to pay for your care, there may not be sufficient assets remaining for your spouse to live comfortably. Many individuals choose insurance to protect their savings for their heirs.
- Usually, the time to consider a long-term care policy is between the ages of 55-70.Younger than that, you probably do not need it and older than that, you may have a condition that could prevent you from qualifying or result in higher premiums. The earlier you buy the coverage, the lower the premiums could be.
- Review what types of expenses are covered by the policy. Some policies provide coverage for only some services, a limited period of time or only up to a certain total dollar limit. As you would expect, the more services covered, the higher the premium.
- Get the coverage you need. Many experts suggest at least three years' coverage. While three years in a nursing home today may cost $195,000, be sure the policy you are considering protects you against medical cost inflation, as long-term care costs are increasing rapidly.
- Review the elimination period. This refers to the amount of time between when you start receiving care and when your insurance starts paying.
- Be sure to understand what makes you eligible for benefits.
- Make sure the policy is guaranteed renewable. This does not necessarily mean that your premiums will not rise. It does mean you can still get the coverage.
Creating a long-term care insurance plan can help to keep you safe at home, while preserving and protecting the emotional, physical, and financial well-being of those you love.
We can help
If you'd like to discuss your long-term care plans, visit one of our branches or call us at 1-800-288-3425.
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