It’s Never Too Early to Prepare for the Future
It’s impossible to predict if you will need long-term care. Long-term care refers to the services beyond medical and nursing care used by people with disabilities or chronic injuries. As life expectancies continue to increase, the likelihood that more people will need some kind of long-term care assistance also increases. In fact, research shows that at least 6.4 million people age 65 or older need long-term care, with half of people over age 85 requiring long-term care.*
Costs Can Be Devastating
The cost of services provided by a nursing facility can exceed $50,000 annually, or more than $4,000 per month.** It can cost an average of $24,000 annually to reside in an assisted living facility.** Many people mistakenly assume that Medicare or their regular health insurance will cover long-term care expenses like these. However, Medicare only covers long-term care under narrowly defined circumstances, and only for a short period. Supplemental policies or standard health insurance policies may not cover long-term care expenses. Long-term care insurance may help you defray some of these costs.
On the other hand, you may not need long-term care insurance if you have sufficient funds cover the costs without seriously depleting your assets, or if you have very few assets and qualify for Medi-Cal (in California).
What Is Covered?
Long-term care insurance typically covers the cost of:
- Help in your home with daily activities, such as bathing, toileting, dressing, eating and housecleaning.
- Community programs, including adult day care.
- Assisted living services that are provided in a special residential setting other than your own home. These services include meals, health monitoring and help with daily activities.
- Visiting nurses.
- Nursing home care.
Key Long-Term Care Definitions
Knowing these terms can make it easier to communicate when discussing long-term care options.
Long-term care – Services provided for people who need help over an extended period due to an accident, illness or chronic condition. These services may be provided in a person’s home, an assisted living facility or a nursing home.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – ADLs include bathing, dressing, toileting (including getting to the bathroom safely), eating and transferring (such as moving from a bed to a chair). People who need help with two or more ADLs are usually considered severely impaired.
Cognitive impairments – They affect reasoning, memory and judgment. People with a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease, often need supervision to help them remember to do daily activities, take medications and to keep them from getting hurt or lost.
Caregivers – They provide assistance to people who need long-term care. They offer many different levels of service, from everyday household chores, to personal care (such as help with eating or bathing) and complex medical care. Professional caregivers can work in your home or in other settings, such as an adult day care center, assisted living facility or nursing home.
Buy Sooner, Rather Than Later
Long-term care insurance premiums are based on age at the time of purchase. The younger you are when you purchase a policy, the less expensive it will be. If you wait until you are older, there’s a chance you may be deemed too high risk for an insurer to cover you, or the premiums may be beyond your budget.
Long-term care calls for financial planning for your health needs, especially as you approach retirement. Talk to an insurance agent about long-term care insurance today.
The Long Term Care Insurance National Advisory Center at www.longtermcareinsurance.org***
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners at http://www.naic.org/index_ltc_section.htm***.
* Source: United Seniors Health Council (now The National Council on the Aging), www.ncoa.org.
** Source: American Health Care Association, National Center for Assisted Living, www.longtermcareliving.com***.
*** Web site is provided for information only. No endorsement is implied.