Purchasing long-term care insurance early is among the best decisions to prepare for one’s retirement years. Policies are more affordable, and applicants are more likely to obtain coverage. But choosing the right long-term care insurance requires answers to some common questions.
What is long-term care insurance?
Custodial and personal care are long-term supports that many seniors turn to when they are no longer able to remain fully functional without assistance. Help with bathing, grooming, getting around and eating are examples of common types of custodial care.
These long-term supports may be received in a variety of settings, such as in the senior’s home, in a community setting or in a residential facility. The elderly receive personal support in these environments to accomplish the activities of daily living.
Along with long-term assistance is the financial cost. Long-term care insurance helps to cover the cost of custodial or personal care services. The cost of policies depends on a number of varying scenarios. The applicant’s age, optional benefits and health affect the price of premiums.
What is the ideal age to apply?
Waiting too long to apply for long-term care insurance will end up poorly. Age is considered in applications, since increasing age is strongly correlated with health. For better chances of acceptance, seniors should begin to apply for policies while they are between the ages of 55 and 65.
Are prospective insurers highly rated?
Considering highly rated long-term care insurers is recommended. The last thing seniors want is for the insurance company to no longer exist when benefits are required. Look for companies with financial ratings that are no lower than an “A” grade or its equivalent.
Reputable rating companies within the insurance industry include AM Best, Standards & Poors, Duff & Phelps and Moodys. Additionally, seniors who already work with a trusted insurance agent are advised to ask for recommendations for appropriate long-term care insurance companies.
Insurance companies with an established track record in the long-term care insurance niche are more likely to remain operative when insurance benefits are most needed. Rather than be taken off guard in the future, request the history of rate hikes from prospective long-term care insurers.
Once a handful of long-term care insurance companies are selected, it’s time to narrow down the choices. Ideal insurers are those that offer diverse policies. Evaluate the various types of coverage, including individual, joint and family. Consider partnership plans, if applicable.
How strongly is health considered?
Applicants who are in poor health are unlikely to qualify for long-term care insurance. This is because a large number of policies require medical underwriting. Keep in mind that while some insurance companies will deny coverage, others will offer acceptance.
An applicant’s health is considered. Consequently, seniors may be unable to purchase long-term care insurance if they currently need help with the activities of daily living. Similarly, seniors who already receive long-term care may not qualify for long-term care insurance.
However, some long-term care insurance policies allow seniors to buy a limited amount of coverage. Consider policies that permit policy holders to receive coverage at a higher, non-standard rate. Additionally, applicants may want to choose a group policy that does not require underwriting.
Does the policy offer too little or too much coverage?
Also important is to choose a comprehensive policy. Seniors who purchase too little insurance will be forced to use their own income to pay for care. Increasing coverage when one’s health declines is a difficult endeavor. Decreasing coverage, however, is more readily done.
On the other hand, buying too much insurance is not advised. Seniors may have the advantage of helpful family members who will contribute to the financial costs of personal care. The elderly with enough income may require only a small policy to pay for the remainder of care.
How long do applicants expect coverage?
Some policies enforce limits on how long they will continue to pay or how much they will pay. Few companies have zero limits on coverage. When choosing a policy, consider whether it will pay long-term care costs for two to five years or for as long as the senior lives.
Many policies have a waiting period of 0 to 90 days before coverage begins. The insured will have to pay expenses during this waiting period, making it important to select a time period that can be adequately paid for. A lower premium usually coincides with a longer waiting period.
Complicating the situation even further, some insurance companies base the waiting period on calendar days, while others base it on days of reimbursable service. Home health care and nursing home care also may have varying waiting periods. The waiting period may even be waived with home health care.
Remember that a long-term care insurance policy can never be one-size-fits-all. Each policy offers benefits that appeal to different individuals. Seniors should carefully deliberate their selection to ensure that it provides the right coverage, an acceptable waiting period and affordable premiums.
When your elderly loved one starts to require long-term care, turn to Assisting Hands Home Care. Not only do our professional caregivers provide personal care in the comfort of the senior’s home, we also help them discover area programs and guidance for critical elder issues.
Our care recipients receive help finding professional services in regard to estate planning, reverse mortgages, power of attorney assignments and advanced directives. Assisting Hands Home Care also assists seniors with Medicare benefits and Medicaid waiver options. We work with the Area Agency on Aging and local senior centers.
Whether the senior in your life requires long-term care or respite care, 24-hour home care or live-in care, Assisting Hands Home Care will customize a suitable care plan. We offer flexible arrangements and comprehensive care services so that your loved one is fully supported at home.
Assisting Hands Home Care is available to seniors living in DuPage and Cook Counties, including the surrounding communities of Naperville, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn and Lisle, Illinois. When compassionate elder care is necessary, consult the most trusted home care agency in the area, Assisting Hands Home Care.