We could spout the statistics about the growing need for nursing home care and outliving your resources, but you probably get enough of that other places. Besides, long-term care isn?t just about nursing homes. It’s about getting the assistance you or someone you care for needs at home as well. Furthermore, you know as well as we do that people seem to be living longer than ever, and health care costs are climbing higher every year.
You could live to 100 and never need long-term care, you could end up needing assistance in daily living long before retirement, or you could fit somewhere in between. Maybe your knees go. Or your eyes. Or you become a little too forgetful. No one likes to think about it, but none of us is built to live forever, except the Million Dollar Man, and even he needed replacement parts (before his show was cancelled altogether). We don’t want you to freak out over big numbers and worst-case scenarios. We merely want you to become informed about long-term care insurance–its benefits, costs and options–so you are better prepared to make a decision about it for yourself and those you love.
Why You Want to Be Prepared
Long-term care insurance usually covers the costs for care that isn’t picked up by regular health insurance or Medicare, the government health program for people over age 65. If you need assistance to properly feed, clothe or bathe yourself, long-term care insurance could pay the bill, depending on the type and amount of coverage you buy. If you plan on growing old, you could be a candidate for long-term care insurance, especially if you’re living a middle-income or upper-income lifestyle. Because it’s expensive, long-term care insurance isn’t typically a product lower-income individuals are able to buy.
- If you’re middle-class, you’re likely to be hit the hardest by the high cost of long-term care, because you’re likely to spend most of your assets if you required extended long-term assistance. You may not qualify for Medicaid assistance, yet paying your own bills for long-term care could break you.
- If you’ve got a lot of dough (assets of $1 million or more), you probably can pay for your own long-term care, although you might want insurance anyway to preserve your estate for your kids or grandkids (or that favorite charity if the kids don’t deserve it). This is also the reason some people buy long-term care insurance for their parents–to preserve the inheritance they might receive one day.
Insurance Isn’t Your Only Long-term Option
Long-term care insurance can be a pretty pricey proposition. You will likely pay dearly over several years for coverage you may or may not ever use. That’s the gist of insurance, after all. If don’t think there’s any way that you?ll be able to afford the premiums, all is not lost. Perhaps some of these options will work in your particular situation to help you fund your long term care needs:
- Save enough money during working years to pay for your care (and probably forgo the next century of vacations).
- Hope you remain healthy enough so as not to require outside care (if that’s a risk you?re willing to take).
- Ask family and friends to help pay for care (not easy but feasible).
- Pay to live in a continuing care community, which may include some personal assistance along with room and board.
- Look for other sources of funding such as life insurance riders or reverse mortgages.