Have you made provisions for long-term care in your financial plan? Many people don't believe they'll ever need this type of care, but it is estimated that individuals age 65 and over face a 43% chance of entering a nursing home. And approximately 21% of those entering a nursing home will remain there for at least five years (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2004). The average annual cost of a nursing home is $66,153 (Source: SmartMoney, 2004).
If you're trying to decide whether you should obtain long-term-care insurance, consider these factors:
- How do you feel about public assistance?
Medicaid funds a significant portion of nursing home costs, but those benefits are typically only available after exhausting most of your assets. You may not like the idea of relying on public assistance or may not want to exhaust your assets if your spouse is still alive.
- Can you obtain a policy at a reasonable cost?
Individuals in their 50s or early 60s can typically obtain a policy at a reasonable cost. After that, the cost can become prohibitive and most insurers won't insure individuals over age 79.
- Did members of your family require long-term care?
If your parents or other family members needed long-term care, you are more likely to need care.
- Do you have family members who could care for you?
You may not need long-term-care insurance if you can count on other family members for this care. However, before relying on this alternative, consider whether you want to risk having your family provide years of assistance. The physical, emotional, and financial strain of caring for an elderly family member can be enormous.
- Do you want to ensure an estate for your heirs?
The costs of nursing homes are so high that many years of those costs can deplete your estate. Insurance can make sure assets will be left for heirs, even if you need nursing home care.
If you decide to purchase long-term-care insurance, there are a number of features to consider, including requirements for care, services covered, impairments and illnesses covered, renew-ability provisions, benefit periods, waiting periods, and inflation provisions.