Dane A. Petchul
CLTC , LTCP
Long-Term Care Financing & Planning is What we Do!
Nothing is more preventable
than the swift and total financial
devastation that comes from a
long term care
"In You've Earned It,
Don't Lose It."
Long Term Care Insurance Pros was able to insure me and my wife after previously being declined. We are so thankful that he is such an advocate for every individual and thoroughly knows all the carriers and plans available.
Toni & Mel H.
I was convinced that I should not buy Long-Term care insurance until I was in my 60’s. LongTermCareInsuranceProsshowed me that I would actually pay less if I started at age 50.” It was easy, only an application, a phone interview and I was approved.
I’ll bet you’re not considering the prospect that you might need nursing home or skilled home health care. But the unthinkable can happen. Just as Superman -- actor Christopher Reeve. Reeve was paralyzed in a 1995 horse-riding accident, joined millions of Americans who require nursing care at home or who now reside in nursing facilities.
You insure your home against fire and your car against an accident -- and never complain if that money is wasted. Why not insure against one of the most expensive realities of life -- long-term care? As our lives lengthen and new treatments are developed, you -- or your parents -- are more likely to require some type of care with your advancing years.
With a little planning, you can buy long-term care insurance -- either for yourself, or as an annual gift for your now-healthy parents. Without a long-term care plan in place, you may become one of the 7 million Americans who, according to the National Council on the Aging, now provide or manage care for a friend or relative aged 55 or older and not living with them.
Long-term care insurance is a product that catches the attention of seniors, but the ideal time to buy it is actually when you’re in your early 50s and in good health. At that point, premium costs are lower, and you’re less likely to have a pre-existing condition that disqualifies you. But a society that values a youthful appearance seems unwilling to recognize these expensive facts of life.
The costs of long-term care are staggering today and should soar higher in the coming years when baby boomers retire. Even the GenXers won’t escape the impact. Your parents will either spend your inheritance on nursing home care, or you may find yourself taking care of your elderly parents out of your own retirement funds.
The national average annual cost of a private nursing home is now about $74,000, or $200 per day. Those costs can add up quickly, and Medicare does NOT cover them -- except for a few days in a skilled nursing facility after a hospital stay.
And no Medicare supplement policy covers custodial nursing care in a nursing home. Yes, state Medicaid programs cover nursing care for the indigent -- but that means almost all assets and income must be spent down before the state will pick up the tab.
Medicaid spend-down planning has received attention as a way to deal with the nursing-care costs. Financial advisers counsel seniors to transfer assets to younger family members -- a process that must be completed at least three to five years before asking Medicaid to pay nursing home costs. But these state nursing home programs for the impoverished generally do not cover home-health-care costs. So, with Medicaid the only option is to be in a nursing home.
Isn’t it everyone’s goal to stay at home as long as possible where you are most comfortable.
If you’re thinking about buying long-term care insurance, here’s what you should know before you buy.
The cost of a long-term care policy depends primarily on three basic factors: your current age, your current state of health, and the location of your residence. Unless you move, you can’t control any of these. But you can control such questions as the amount and length of coverage, the elimination period (deductible), and whether you’ve chosen an inflation rider.
Buying early pays. A healthy 50-year-old could purchase more than adequate coverage for $1,365 a year. For a 73-year-old, the same policy might cost $6,300 a year. This four-year coverage would include a 90-day deductible or elimination period, $200 per day in coverage (for home health care or nursing home care), and a simple inflation rider -- all on a policy from a top-rated company. Premiums double approximately every 5 years.
Good health now pays off later. Once you’ve locked in an annual premium, it can’t be raised if your health changes. But insurance companies can ask state regulators to raise premiums for an entire age group, depending on claims experience. Unfortunately, many companies have raised premiums in recent years, once they realized they under priced their policies.
Benefit payments and triggers: A qualified physician must certify to the insurance company that you need the benefits -- and those benefits will be paid only to qualified caregivers.
Most policies require the inability to perform at least two activities of daily living to trigger the benefits. The activities include being able to dress yourself, bathe yourself, move from a bed to a chair, use toilet facilities or eat unassisted. Policies will also pay out if you can’t pass certain mental function tests. (Look for a policy that specifically includes coverage for mental or cognitive impairment.) Most policies no longer require a hospitalization before benefits start, but check the wording anyway.
Insurance companies may pay benefits using one of two methods:
Expense-incurred benefits: These are paid either to you or to your provider up to the limits in your policy.
A daily benefit or indemnity: This will be paid directly to you. But be sure your policy offers a pool of benefits on a daily or weekly basis allowing you to pay for covered services as needed, as well as nursing home care.
Tax-deductibility: You may be able to deduct part of your annual premium as part of a medical deduction. But remember, you can only deduct medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. The size of a deduction depends on age. People over age 61 can deduct $2,510 (assuming they meet the 7.5% threshold). Almost all policies sold before Jan. 1, 1997 were grandfathered and are considered qualified. Benefits paid by a qualified policy aren’t generally considered taxable income -- even if your employer paid the premiums. .
Where to look for more information
An independent agent, one who is a Long-term care insurance specialist is the best place to go to get a long-term care insurance plan that is designed for your own specific needs, lifestyle and affordability.
You can visit LongTermCareInsurancePros for more information, you can down download a free e-book “Solving the Long-Term care Puzzle” or Call 949-854-3001 for immediate answers to your questions.