Is Long-Term Care Insurance a Good Idea?

Orange City Iowa Estate Planning

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The value of long-term care insurance (LTCI) is an ongoing conundrum. There's no doubt we're living longer. According to LongTermCare.gov, a site provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 70 percent of people 65 and older will need long-term care services and support at some time in their lives.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “Is Long-Term Care Insurance Right For You?” says that a big drawback for many is the fact that LTCI is expensive. However, think about the costs of long-term care. For example, the current median annual cost for assisted living in Iowa is about $50,000, and for a private room in a nursing home, it’s more than $85,000.

Another issue is that there’s no way to accurately determine if you’ll even need long-term care. Much of it depends on your own health and family history. However, planning for the possibility is key.

Remember that Medicare and other types of health insurance don’t cover most of the cost of long-term care—what are known as “activities of daily living,” like bathing, dressing, eating, using the bathroom and moving. Medicare will only pay for medically necessary skilled nursing and home care, such as giving shots and changing dressings and not assisted-living costs, like bathing and eating. Supplemental insurance policies generally don’t pay for this type of care.

Those with a low net worth might qualify for long-term care provided under Medicaid.

Shop around, because policies and prices are different. Check the policy terms and be sure you understand:

  • The things that are covered, such as skilled nursing, custodial care, and assisted living
  • If Alzheimer’s disease is covered as it’s a leading reason for needing long-term care
  • If there are any limitations on pre-existing conditions.
  • The maximum payouts
  • If the payments are adjusted for inflation
  • The lag time until benefits begin
  • How long benefits will last
  • If there’s a waiver of premium benefit, which suspends premiums when you are collecting long-term care benefits
  • If there’s a non-forfeiture benefit, which offers limited coverage even if you cancel the policy
  • If the current premiums are guaranteed in future years, or if there are limits on future increases
  • How many times rates have increased in the past 10 years
  • If you purchase a group policy through an employer, see if it is portable (if you can take it with you if you change jobs).

Typically, when you are between 50 to 65 is the most cost-effective time to buy LTCI, if you’re in good health. The younger you buy, the lower the cost. However, you will be paying premiums longer. Premiums usually increase as you get older and less healthy. There’s a possibility that you’ll be denied coverage, if your health becomes poor. Therefore, while it’s not inexpensive, buying LTCI sooner rather than later may be the best move.

No matter what, you need to plan.  Check out our no-contact estate planning.

Reference: Forbes (April 17, 2020) “Is Long-Term Care Insurance Right For You?”

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