National Elder Law Month: 3 Factors When Considering Long-Term Care Insurance

As part of National Elder Law Month our North Carolina elder law attorneys are providing a series of posts to help educate senior citizens and their caregivers. Learn about why an elderly person may want to disclaim an inheritance, how senior citizens’ voting rights may be compromised in North Carolina, and what Medicare covers in nursing homes in our previous posts.

Covering the expenses of long-term care on a fixed retirement income often compromises a senior’s financial independence. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover all costs. The burden of care costs might be displaced to family members who also may not be able to afford necessary care. Long-term care insurance policies help cover medical costs for seniors when they begin needing assistance with daily activities. What should one look for when choosing a long-term care insurance policy?
  1. Where will you be receiving long-term care? Long-term care insurance allows individuals to customize their policy. Policy holders may select where services are covered and the types of services covered. Do you anticipate you will need home-based assistance or care in a nursing home or assisted living center? You have the ability to choose a policy that covers all places, and one of the greatest benefits of long-term care insurance is that it can cover care received in the senior’s own home.
  2. How much long-term care will you need? Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how long you may need to receive long-term care services, or whether you will need a nursing or personal care assistant for a few hours per day or round-the-clock. While policies are available for lifetime coverage, many policies cover 3 years or 5 years at a set daily maximum benefit rate. A North Carolina elder law attorney can review and compare long-term care insurance policies with you to help guide you in choosing the right policy and benefits for your situation.
  3. Ask about inflation protection. Not all long-term care insurance policies come with inflations protection, but often an inflation rider is available for an extra premium. Typically, medical and long-term care costs rise faster than the actual rate of inflation, and you may have a choice of percentages, e.g., 3% or 5%, when selecting how much your benefit limit will increase year to year. Inflation protection is a very important factor in whether the benefit limits you select today will be sufficient for your care needs 20 or 30 years from now. 
Along with long-term care insurance, ask for information about Medicaid Trusts and Special Needs Trusts. These are important tools that individuals and families can combine with long-term care insurance to help pay for the costs of care later in life.
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