Although the need for long-term care is on the rise in the United States, the percentage of people purchasing long-term care insurance policies is relatively low. Often this is a result of the price of long-term care premiums. Having a long-term care policy in place offers more choices and more control in long-term care decisions. Knowing what to look for in a long-term policy and buying the policy at the right time keeps premium prices low.
The Need for Long-Term Care
Determining the likelihood for the need for long-term care is the first place to start when choosing a long-term care policy. Your current health or the health of your loved one and what things you are doing now for certain conditions all factor in to your need for long-term care. Individuals with diseases causing deterioration over time, like diabetes, dementia or Alzheimer’s, will likely need long-term care services more than those with fewer issues.
The emotional health and availability of family members to care for loved ones should also be analyzed. If there is a strong network of capable family members to help in the event that long-term care is needed, the decision to get a long-term care policy is less crucial than for those with no close family available.
The financial situation of you and your loved one should also be a primary consideration when looking at long-term care policies. If your financial situation is such that you can pay for long-term care without such a policy, than the need for long-term care insurance is greatly reduced. However, if your ability to pay out-of-pocket for long-term care services is small, then a long-term care policy may be right for you.
Long-Term Care Policy Choices
When comparing long-term care policies, there are several factors to consider. Long-term care policies have limits like other insurance policies, and it’s important to know these limits before making a choice. Some things that should influence your choice are:
- Basic care coverage. Since most long-term care needs come under the umbrella of basic care and not skilled nursing, your policy should include this area. Any policy should provide of list of exactly what basic care needs are covered.
- How much will the policy pay? Long-term care insurance policies are set up on a daily pay system. So you need to know how much long-term care typically costs on a daily basis and how much a particular policy will pay before making a final choice.
- Exclusions to care coverage. Many long-term care policies have a list of covered services that are excluded. Make sure you understand what is excluded from the policy you choose.
- Coverage for home care. Most patients needing long-term care would prefer to remain in their own home if possible. Look for long-term care policies that include coverage for home care, and are not limited to assisted living and nursing home care. In addition, be sure the policy has adequate coverage for home care services. Home care is on the rise, and the industry is constantly changing to meet demand.
- Coverage for certain conditions. Some long-term care policies exclude coverage for certain conditions. Look carefully at the policies your are comparing and make sure your are fully covered for any health condition.
- Allowance for cost of care increases. The cost of health care is continually on the rise and the long-term care policy you choose needs to have yearly cost of care analysis and increases available. If your care policy doesn’t provide for these increases, you won’t be adequately covered.
- Miscellaneous expenses. A quality long-term care policy will include coverage for miscellaneous expenses that are likely to arise when long-term care is needed. Check for inclusion of miscellaneous expenses when comparing long-term care policies.
The Right Time to Buy a Long-Term Care Policy
Long-term care insurance policies, much like life insurance policies, are less expensive when they are purchased early. This is especially true when purchased before certain health conditions arise. If you are considering purchasing a long-term care policy, doing so long before it is needed will save you and your loved ones both time and money.