Long Term Care

As widows we don’t have the benefit of growing old with someone to support and care for us.  As we age bathing, dressing, shopping, driving, housekeeping etc. may become difficult to do.

After the age of sixty-five, we start to feel ourselves aging with all our aches and pains.  Those of us that end up spending time in a nursing home will stay an average of 2.9 years.

Women in particular are more prone to be destined for long term care as we live longer than men and tend to develop more chronic ailments.

Nursing Homes have a cost of care average from $30,000 to $100,000 a year and it is increasing.  In-home care can vary in costs but is estimated to range from $8,500 to $70,000 a year depending on what is needed.

Unfortunately, most of us will pay for this care from our savings – the money you and your husband worked for and saved during your lifetime.

One final avenue available for help with long term care needs is your family.  But few families today are prepared financially and emotionally to maintain a high level of support for an extended period of time.

I’m no expert on this but one way to avoid becoming a financial burden on your family is to purchase long term care insurance but it’s not cheap.

Long Term Care Policy (LTC)

Statistics show one of three will use their long term care insurance policy (LTC).  Policies generally offer up to $240 a day for nursing care and $40 to $150 a day for home care.

Benefit period is the length of time benefits will be paid – range from two years to lifetime.

Average stay is 2.9 years so consider a four year to lifetime benefit.

Inflation options to keep pace with rising long term care costs.

Elimination period is the time during initial confinement before benefits will start.  This period could go from zero to ninety days.  The shorter the elimination period the higher the premium.  You should have only one elimination period no matter how many times you may need care.

A rider that if you don’t use the benefits you or your beneficiaries can get some money back but this can increase your premium cost up an extra 35 percent.

Home Health Care (HHC) – care at home that covers at least two years or 730 visits is often recommended.  Be sure to check out all your options- care at home as well as in an institution.

Guaranteed renewable every year for the rest of your life.

A pre-condition – It should not require a stay in a hospital  for benefits to begin.

Does not require that the home health care be done by a professional health care worker

Personal care” is covered as well as intermediate care.

Adult day care is covered.

Offers a grace period to keep your policy in case you forget to make a premium payment.

Outline of Coverage” document from your agent that summarizes important features.

Gatekeepers” that you must meet before you qualify for benefits.  The most common of these are Medical Physician saying you need the care, cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s or activities of daily living (ADL).  When you cannot perform two of the six ADL’s you may qualify – bathing, feeding, dressing, transferring, continence and going to the toilet.

“Restoration of benefits” – If it’s not a lifetime benefit make sure your policy has this feature so if you recover and leave the nursing home and are not re-admitted for at least 180 consecutive days  the company will restore your original full benefit period.

Premium is based on your age and health at the time of purchase.  In most cases the earlier you buy a policy the better.  Once you begin receiving benefits you no longer have to pay premiums.  In most cases, the total cost of a LTC policy is far less expensive than the cost of one year in a nursing home.

A good guideline is to not spend more than 5 percent of your monthly income on premiums. Be sure you don’t purchase a LTC policy if you can’t afford the premiums for the rest of your life.  Example: at the healthy age of 60 the yearly premiums could be between $2,000 and $3,000 a year.

Above is a list of points for reference only.  It you are interested in this it’s important that you consult your financial advisor or insurance agent for more details.


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