Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?
Worried about how you'd pay for a long stay in a nursing home? These concerns aren't rare. The 2016 Insurance Barometer Study found that 58% of respondents worried they wouldn't have enough money to afford the costs of long-term care.
Fortunately, there is an insurance product that can help ease these concerns: long-term care insurance. It pays for services to help people who need assistance with daily activities, or who require supervision because of a disease such as Alzheimer's. People often use this insurance to cover stays in nursing homes.
The U.S. population is aging. The U.S. Census Bureau said that there were 46.2 million people 65 and older in 2014, or 14.5% of the country's population. These people are the prime target for long-term care insurance. But you may need it sooner if you have reason to believe you'll need such assistance earlier in life.
Is It Worth It?
Should you invest in long-term care insurance? That depends on a host of factors. Do diseases such as Alzheimer's run in your family? Did your parents and their parents die young, or did they live to an old age? Did they require long stays in nursing homes?
Unfortunately, there's no way to predict whether you will need long-term care in your life. You might be healthy today. You might eat well and exercise regularly. This doesn't mean that your health can't suddenly change.
Then there are other financial alternatives to consider. By the time you need long-term care, you might be eligible for the government's Medicaid program, which will pay most of the cost of any stays in critical-care facilities or nursing homes. This program is only open to consumers with few assets. Many senior citizens on fixed-incomes, though, will qualify.
Also, Medicare will often pay for the first 20 days that you spend in a nursing home. From the 21st to the 100th day, Medicare requires that you make a co-payment of $161 a day.
If you do want to invest in long-term care, know that the insurance can be costly. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance says that an insurance policy providing $164,000 in immediate coverage will cost a male age 55 in good health an average of $1,060 a year. A single female in good health would pay an average of $1,390 a year for the same coverage, according to the association.
A couple, both age 60 with standard health for that age, would pay an average of $2,710 a year — the combined cost for both members of the couple — for a long-term care insurance policy with $164,000 in immediate coverage.
Better policies will cost significantly more. The association says that a policy providing $164,000 in immediate coverage at age 60 and $365,000 at age 85 would cost a 55-year-old man in good health an average of $2,075 a year. It would cost a 55-year-old female also in good health an average of $2,411 a year.
Long-Term Care Costs Continue to Rise
According to the 2016 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the cost of long-term care is only getting more expensive. According to the survey, the national median cost of a month's stay in a semiprivate room in a nursing home is $6,844. That figure rises to $7,698 for a month's stay in a private room. The median cost for a stay in an assisted-living facility was $3,628 a month.
Other costs associated with long-term care are staggering, too. The Genworth survey found that the median cost for a month's worth of homemaker services was $3,813 and the median cost of a home health aide was $3,861 a month. The median cost of adult day health care services was $1,473 a month.
The odds are high that you, too, will need to some form of long-term care as you age. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control, more than 8.35 million people receive support from the five main types of long-term care services: home health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, residential care communities, and adult day service providers.
You can't predict today whether you will need such care or whether you'll ever need to use a long-term care insurance policy. But for some, the annual investment does provide peace of mind that if you are hit with a huge bill for a long stay in a nursing home, you won't have to bankrupt yourself to pay for it.
Have you considered long-term care insurance?
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