Unlike traditional health insurance, long-term care insurance is designed to cover long-term services and supports, including personal and custodial care in a variety of settings such as your home, a community organization, or other facility. Long-term care insurance policies reimburse policyholders a daily amount (up to a pre-selected limit) for services to assist them with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or eating. You can select a range of care options and benefits that allow you to get the services you need, where you need them. Yet faced with the coverage costs, many long-term care insurance shoppers get sticker shock and give up. Here’s how to keep the price affordable.
- Buy sooner rather than later
The key to long-term care insurance is to apply early while it’s inexpensive. You can buy long-term care insurance up to age 75 from most companies, but you’ll pay more at older ages and if you have health conditions. Don’t give up if you’ve passed the half-century mark. Apply at least 60 days before your next birthday to get a price based on your current age.
- Start with a budget
Decide what you’re comfortable spending for coverage. Avoid buying a policy if you’ll struggle to pay the premium. Work with a financial advisor to review other options if you can’t qualify or pay for long-term care insurance. Medicaid, the federal and state insurance program for people with low incomes, will pay for nursing home care, but to qualify, you have to spend down most of your money first.
- Plan realistically
Among 65-year-olds, nearly 70% will require long-term care services, according to 2020 data from the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Research indicates the average lifetime cost of long-term care is $172,000. But few folks want to think about that.
First of all, what pops into people’s minds is the dreaded nursing home. Yet most long-term care is provided at home. Buy enough coverage to pay for home health care for a few years. The average annual cost of a full-time home health aide is $54,912, compared with $93,072 for a semiprivate nursing home room. Most long-term care insurance policies reimburse you for care at home or in assisted living or a nursing home. So, if you buy enough to pay for home health care but instead go to a nursing home, the policy will pay at least some of the nursing home costs. Look at costs of care in your area to estimate how much coverage to buy.
- Go for a simple vs. souped-up policy
Ask for quotes for good, better and best coverage to see costs at different levels. Avoid adding features, called riders, that you don’t need. Keep it a good, simple long-term care policy without all the bells and whistles. An example is a “restoration of benefits” rider: If you need long-term care but then get better, the benefits you used are restored for a later date. But once people start to need long-term care, they usually continue to need it.
Avoid an all-or-nothing approach when buying long-term care insurance. Sometimes people look to insuring 100% of the cost of the care. Instead, think about the costs you can handle and what you want to insure. Don’t buy more than what you need.
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Source: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/affordable-long-term-care-tips/ and https://www.ncdoi.gov/consumers/medicare-and-seniors-health-insurance-information-program-shiip/long-term-care-information