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Long Term Care FAQ

Long term care insurance can be confusing.  The long term care insurance FAQs will help you become more informed about long term care and long term care insurance.

Q. What is long term care?

A. Thanks to advanced medical technology and healthier lifestyles, people are living longer today than at any time in history. However, as people age, they suffer from chronic health conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, stroke and memory loss. Long term care is the help needed to cope — and sometimes survive — when this type of chronic disability impairs your capacity to perform the basic activities of daily living. Today, it includes a broad range of supportive medical, personal and social services which can be provided in a nursing home, in your own home, in an adult day care facility, or in an assisted living/residential care facility. There are three levels of care: skilled (or acute) care; intermediate care; and custodial (or personal) care.

Q. How much does long term care cost?

A. In  2015, the cost of a year in a private room in a nursing home averaged $91,250, according to the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care survey. A semi private room on average costs $79,640.  Residence in an assisted living facility averages $43,200 per year according to the survey.  Prices are up about 4% over past years.These are averages so prices can vary a lot by the location.

Q. If the risks are so high, why don’t more Americans have long term care insurance?

A. There are a number of reasons consumers give for not having long term care insurance. For example, many Americans believe they're already covered, either by Medicare, Medicare Supplement insurance or health insurance. Others cling to the hope that the federal government will eventually pay their long term care bills. Others believe their family, even though they may be geographically dispersed and raising families of their own, will take care of them. Others simply believe it will never happen to them. And even if it does, their personal savings will cover the expense. In most cases, these are misconceptions and following them can threaten your retirement security.

Q. Does Medicare Supplement insurance or major medical insurance pay for long term care?

A. Unfortunately, long term care is generally not covered by Medicare or private insurance.  Some long term care necessary after a hospital stay may be covered (usually up to 100 days). Medicare Supplement plans only pay if Medicare pays.  Some Medicare Advantage plans may have limited long term care assistance, but it is generally related to care needed after a hospital stay.  So if you are in need of extended long term care assistance, you will be paying for that service from your own funds.  Medicaid is available for those with low income and very limited assets.  But state programs that provide Medicaid services are feeling the pressure of budget cuts so the level of care and choice of facilities may not be at all what you would like for yourself.

Q. How much does long term care insurance cost?

A. It depends on several factors:  your age when you buy; your health condition; and the amount of coverage you purchase and for how many years.  It can cost $1,000 per year to much more if you are older and less healthy. Learn more about long term care insurance costs today.

Q. How do I know if long term care insurance is right for me?

A. The best thing to do is to speak with a long term care insurance specialist.  But one rule of thumb is, generally if you have assets of less than $100,000, long term care insurance may not be right for you.  It is important to understand that when you purchase long term care insurance you will be paying premiums until you use the benefit.  So it is very important that you determine whether you have the income now and in retirement to continue paying long term care insurance premiums and can handle premium increases, if there are any.

Q. How do I know how much long term care insurance to buy?

A. You’ll want to think about how much of the cost of care you are willing to pay and how much you want to shift to an insurance company.  If you have funds to pay part of the costs yourself, then you can purchase a less extensive policy that covers maybe half the cost of care, while you pay the rest.  This makes long term care affordable for more people.  We recommend you speak with a long term care specialist to help you customize a policy to fit your needs before buying long term care insurance.

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