The insurance rule of thumb “buy it before you need it” is never more applicable than when it comes to our health. We protect our homes, cars, property and even vacations. All those things come and go, but the only thing that sticks around is our body. It’s common to take out dental and medical insurance to cover short work or hospital stays, but giving thought to long-term care insurance is definitely worth your time.
Long-term care insurance exists to help people dealing with issues like cardiovascular complications, diabetes and other chronic (lasting from three months to lifelong) conditions. June 2017 figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that over 177 million Americans have one or more chronic health conditions. Such health problems may require sufferers to receive specialized medical care or require day to day help with core activities like meal times or bathing.
If you have trouble performing such tasks (often referred to as ADLs or Activities of Daily Living) then long-term care could be required. If your health is sound, now may be the time to think ahead.
To plan for the future, where are you now?
Here are some factors to think over.
Consider your current health: do you have any conditions which may worsen over time? Has either parent passed along a hereditary condition or is a family history of illness present elsewhere?
How strong is your current support group? If you’re in the position where family and friends are scarce, this would favor the pro-insurance argument. Should you fall ill you’ll have limited physical and outside financial support, if any at all. You could stand to lose any savings and property you own to pay for expenses. If you’re lucky enough to have a wider circle of family and friends, you can consider how much they will be able to help in caring for you if long-term problems arise. Long-term care is stressful and expensive so you should seriously consider who you can count on to shoulder that responsibility.
Does your employer offer long-term care policies for employees? If so, you could benefit from reduced group rates. It’s possible you’d also be able to retain your policy even if you change employers.
Perhaps you could share a joint long-term care policy with your spouse. Remember if you do that what one uses, the other loses when it comes to available funds.
Where Medicare and Medicaid come in
LongTermCare.gov breaks down the different coverage offered by both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare contributes money toward the following:
• For medically necessary or acute care in hospitals or doctor’s offices
• Physical therapy or rehabilitation (for a limited number of days)
• For some medical devices, such as wheelchairs and walkers
However, Medicaid is the more helpful of the two for individuals requiring long-term care if:
• They have very low income and few assets
• Are eligible in their state for state-dependent variable coverage
Prevention can be better than policy
While we all may face a medical problem sooner or later, it’s heartening to know that the CDC views chronic conditions as being among the most preventable health problems. Good diet, healthy habits and exercise can keep you on the right side of the fitness fence well into the sweet spot of buying a long-term care policy: your 50’s and 60’s. Long-term care will be needed by 70% of people over 65.
Policies won’t be as expensive if you purchase them in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. However, you do run the risk of paying premiums over decades when they’re not required. Loss of work and income before retirement age could mean you may have to abandon a policy and receive little in return.
On the other hand, playing the long game could be in your best interest. If you wait until later life then become ill, your insurance costs could leap upwards and eat into personal savings and retirement funds. Worse, you may be unable to qualify for insurance at all. Buying early can also act as a safeguard against inflation, so if that’s a route you find attractive then look for a policy that factors in inflation protection.
If you’re on the fence, consider consulting with an insurance professional. Your health is a very important issue. It can be easy to become either overly careful or complacent. There are many different options to cover varying types and locations of care. A qualified insurance provider will be able to treat the question of long-term care insurance in a way that fits you individually.
Whatever your insurance needs or concerns, we’re here to help. Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated insurance agency providing an array of insurance services to meet individual needs. If you’d like to know more, you can call us at 305-648-7070, request an insurance quoteor contact uswith any questions or comments.