We don’t necessarily need to be “sick” in order to require medical care. Long term care insurance is a coverage option for those who require assistance because they are unable to perform the day to day activities necessary to live.
These activities including dressing, bathing, eating, using the toilet, traveling, getting in and out of bed and generally “moving” around. Day-to-day assistance with these types of daily living activities are not covered (long term) by health insurance.
What Are the Costs of Care?
According to the National Clearing House for Long Term Care, the costs for this type of care can be quite high. Here are some average costs (2010) for specific care according to their website:
• $205 per day or $6,235 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home
• $229 per day or $6,965 per month for a private room in a nursing home
• $3,293 per month for care in an assisted living facility (for a one-bedroom unit)
• $21 per hour for a home health aide
• $19 per hour for homemaker services
• $67 per day for services in an adult day health care center
As you can see from the figures above, it can be financially devastating to cover the costs associated with this type of care out-of-pocket. Additionally, it may not be a viable solution to leave a job in order to care for a family member who requires this level of assistance.
If you’re on Medicaid, you may be entitled to long term care services, but they could be subject to further eligibility requirements. And Medicare only covers certain long term care services, not everyday care-taking basics like bathing and dressing.
That said, the best option to ensure long term care costs do not break you financially is to purchase a long term care insurance policy…before you need one. Doing so may allow you to be more independent should the need for care arise in the future.
What Care is Covered?
You may be familiar with more than a few of the following examples of what long term care insurance is designed to cover:
• Home Care
• Assisted Living
• Hospice Care
• Assisted Living
• Adult Daycare
• Alzheimer’s Care (at a facility)
What Are the First Steps for Planning?
As discussed above, it is a good idea to begin the planning process before care becomes necessary. Your coverage options may be reduced if you wait too long and the costs for insurance coverage may increase significantly if care is required at the time you apply for coverage.
This is similar to trying to purchase health insurance when you are already sick or buying life insurance when you are elderly. It may sound negative, but insurers are in business to make money and are certainly more restrictive and expensive if they know they will be paying out benefits of coverage immediately. Long story short, insurance premiums for this type of coverage will rise as you age and your health declines.
When determining how much and what type of long term care insurance coverage to purchase, it is recommended that you consider your age, personal finances, general health, and family dynamic.
Don’t “go it” alone. Be sure to contact a long term care health insurance specialist to help guide your decision. They can compare long term care insurance companies’ rates and plans to determine which is best for you in your unique situation.