When you think of long-term care insurance, what comes to mind?
Unfortunately, some people hold certain misconceptions or have an unfavorable opinion of long-term care insurance, largely stemming from issues related to its early days. But that was then. Today, there are more options focusing on straightforward and flexible long-term care solutions. Let’s take a look.
1. You decide where care is received. One of the most common myths is that long-term care insurance only provides nursing home care, and nothing is further from the truth. It provides home care for those who prefer to “age in place,” as well as care at adult day care, assisted living facilities and hospice centers. In fact, most newly opened long-term care insurance claims are for home care, according to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).
2. Benefits can be tremendously flexible. In addition to options for where care is received, most long-term care insurance policies offer greater flexibility in the types of services available, such as home modifications like installing grab bars or a wheelchair ramp to help you stay at home longer and safer; or other care-related products and personal supplies, like a lift chair or hospital bed.
3. It supports family caregivers. Long-term care insurance recognizes the important role family caregivers play in long-term care situations by offering options that can make it easier for families to care for the ones who cared for them. Most policies provide caregiver training for family members, which helps ensure care recipients are getting the best care possible. Other policies go the extra mile by recognizing family caregivers, and even family friends who provide care, as informal caregivers, making their time and services reimbursable under the policy.
4. It offers shareability for couples. Many long-term care insurance policies offer an optional benefit commonly known as “shared care,” which allows couples to share their coverage and maximize their benefits. Here’s how it works: if one spouse exhausts his or her benefits, he or she can begin using the other spouse’s benefits. This provides couples with peace of mind knowing that their coverage will be there if care is needed for longer than expected. It typically also includes a built-in protection to ensure a surviving spouse can still receive long-term care insurance benefits.
5. It’s not “just for older people.” While it’s a critical part of retirement planning and important protection for your later years, the younger you are when you apply for long-term care insurance, the better. Age and health are two of the most important factors when applying, so applying at a younger age will help make it more affordable, and you are likely more insurable from a health perspective. Additionally, accidents and illnesses can happen at any age and include the need for extended personal care. Planning ahead can really pay off.
6. Long-term care insurance carriers paid $7.8 billion in benefits last year. According to AALTCI, carriers paid a record $7.8 billion in claim benefits to 250,000 individuals in 2014, up from $7.5 billion the previous year. You can interpret this number a couple of ways: People are living longer and more care is needed, or the cost of care is increasing, which are both true. But it also shows that long-term care insurance is working. It’s helping families provide care for their loved ones in a setting that they prefer and protecting their finances.
I encourage you to learn more about long-term care insurance and why it’s a critical piece of retirement planning. Ask your financial advisor about these and other features and how it has helped their clients like it helped 250,000 families last year.
You can also check out this Real Life Stories video about the Mollicone family, which does a great job of showing how long-term care insurance can protect a family’s finances, provide peace of mind, and lessen the impact of long-term care when it is needed.