As the population gets older, it seems that more companies are offering long term care insurance for seniors. Yet, is it really necessary? There are many assumptions around long term care insurance, specifically that you or a loved one will one day become sick enough to need the kind of care, such as assisted living or nursing home, that long term care insurance provides.
Yet, many experts agree that unless you have substantial assets, long-term care insurance is a must. After all, Medicare and health insurance do not cover the long term custodial care (i.e. assistance with activities of daily living) that most seniors need after a serious illness. According to an article on Forbes.com, there are things to consider before signing up for long-term care insurance, since not all companies offering long-term care insurance are created equal.
Find a broker who is a long-term care specialist
All insurance is not the same. Do you, a spouse or parent have a pre-existing condition? That will affect the kind of insurance you can get, so make sure you are dealing with someone who knows the ins and outs of long-term care insurance.
What is standard with one company is deluxe with another, so it very important to compare what different plans and different prices provide you.
Find out about the “elimination period”
The elimination period is the length of time between the occurrence of injury and the payout of benefits. Most companies offer an elimination period of three months. Can you afford to pay for care during those three months? Is there a possibility that the condition of you or a loved one is such that you can’t wait that long? If you can’t afford to pay for care or can’t afford to wait, then aim for a shorter elimination period or no elimination period at all.
Ask about the insurer’s claims history and if the company has been on the receiving end of a “bad faith” lawsuit
Since the boomers are aging and a huge market, many companies have just started offering long-term care insurance. So, many new companies don’t have a track record of paying out benefits. Also, there are companies that have been around for many years, but for one reason or other, they are very tight fisted when it comes to paying benefits. Therefore the beneficiaries are forced to take legal action in order to get the benefits they paid for and are entitled to. If you don’t want this to happen to you, do the due diligence beforehand.
Ask yourself how much risk you are willing to take on
Just because you or a loved one is healthy and can perform the tasks of daily living doesn’t mean life will always be that way. What about conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure? If anything should happen to you or a loved one, like a stroke or a broken hip, getting care, let alone recovering will be difficult. Of course, no one can predict the future, so you are left making assumptions based on current conditions. Can you afford one type of plan over another? Can you not only afford a long elimination period, but will you or your loved one’s health hold out while you are waiting for benefits to kick in? As you research which plan is right for you, consider how life may be after a stroke or broken hip and plan accordingly.
With longer life spans, people are more likely to need some sort of care if any serious illness should occur. This care does not come cheap and that is where long-term care insurance comes in. Like many things in life if you get long-term care insurance before a crisis, you and your loved ones will get the care that they need and you’ll have peace of mind, which is priceless.
If you would like to know if long term care insurance is right for someone in your life, contact the elder law attorneys at Newman Elder Law to speak with us about your situation. We can offer advice and guidance to ensure that you or your loved one is taken care of during their golden years.