When you’re young, you can’t wait to grow up. It’s like a fantasy world where you get mail, people take you seriously, and bedtime is after the Tonight Show. But when you do grow up, you’re hit with the harsh reality of how many more responsibilities you have. What? You have to pay for the phone?

The older you get, the more responsibilities are bestowed upon you. Just when you think you’re starting to get a hang for things like health insurance and Medicare, you’re given another option: long-term care insurance.

 

What is long-term care insurance? Do you need it? How much does it cost?

What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-term care insurance covers elderly adults who need “long-term care.” That means individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses, disabilities, or other debilitating conditions that require help every day for an extended period of time.

Why would you need long-term care? If you have health insurance from your employer, it does not cover daily care over a long period of time. Medicare only covers limited at-home care and very short stays in a nursing home. But if you have a condition that requires constant attention from a trained professional, you’ll need long-term care insurance.

How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?

Like with any health insurance options, the cost depends on what your needs are. Different policies cover different options. But since it’s usually difficult to predict what your future health care needs will be, it’s best that you find a policy that offers some flexibility.

Determine if your long-term care policy will pay for services like in-home care or an assisted living/nursing home situation. Adult day care is another service to look into for your policy. Some plans might even offer benefits that include modifying your home for safety.

To really get a grasp of how much long-term health care costs or what benefits you might need, it’s best to speak to a health insurance agent.

Considerations Before Choosing a Policy

  • Current Age/Health – Policies that are purchases when you’re younger and in better health, the cheaper the plan will be. If you’re older and in poor health, it could be really difficult to obtain a policy.
  • Premium – Like your current health insurance plan, you’ll need to pay monthly premiums. This cost might increase as you age, at a time when your income will stabilize or decrease. So it’s important to know what your premium will look like over the course of the plan.
  • Financial Situation – Conduct a personal audit of your financial situation. Consider your income, savings, and investments. If your income is low, you might qualify for Medicaid, which can cover a nursing home or some in-home care. But this is a last resort option.
  • Friends and Family Support – Some people might not even need long-term health care if they feel that their support system can help them. But if you don’t have a wide network or if your friends and family aren’t in a position to help, then you should consider long-term care coverage.

Potential Services That Could Be Covered

Each policy will be different, but here are the different care arrangements your policy could cover.

  • Nursing Home – Facility that provides 24/7 care
  • Assisted Living – Apartment-style living with care and services available.
  • Adult Day Care Services – Outside program that offers health, social, support services for adults during the day.
  • Home Care – Outside agency that comes into your home to help with day-to-day life.
  • Home Modification – Make changes to your existing home to make it safer.
  • Care Coordination – Trained professional helps you determine best care needed and helps arrange for the proper service accommodations.
  • Future Service Options – Plan gives you flexibility in the event new care is created after plan is purchased.

Looking towards the future is exciting when you’re thinking about getting your driver’s license, turning 21, getting married, and having children. It’s not as fun when you have to think about what happens when you can no longer take care of yourself. But it’s important that you don’t ignore this. Take care of your long-term care options while you’re still healthy and can choose the services you’d prefer. If you need help determining what options are available to you, speak with an insurance agent who can better assist you.

Image Courtesy of Moyan Brenn

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