The Importance of Understanding Long-Term Care Insurance
Most people are familiar with various types of insurance, such as auto, life, and homeowners or renters insurance. However, many are not familiar with long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance can be very beneficial for you as you age and may need additional care.
It is important to understand what this type of coverage is, what it covers, and how to hold your plan responsible for covering care as agreed, as with any insurance coverage. These things may be especially important to understand in the context of long-term care insurance given the manner in which insurance companies issued long-term care policies in the 1990s and 2000s that they are now struggling with, as explained here [LINK TO
What Is Long-Term Care Insurance?
Long-term care insurance pays for long-term care, typically in health care facilities, not covered by your other insurance policies. Traditional disability and health insurance policies have limits and do not always cover the care you may need, for example, if you have a chronic condition or serious injury that prevents you from performing your activities of daily living. Long-term care insurance can cover things such as in-home care or staying in an assisted living facility.
Why People Buy Long-Term Care Coverage
One reason people buy long-term care coverage, as with other types of insurance, is for peace of mind. Purchasing long-term care coverage will likely instill a sense of confidence that you will have access to care in the future, if and when you need it. This can be especially helpful for those in or approaching old age, as the aging process makes long-term care needs more likely.
Another reason people buy long-term care insurance is to protect their future assets. The type of care you might require as you age, especially if you have a chronic health condition and need regular care, will likely be costly. For example, without long-term care coverage, you may pay out-of-pocket costs of $100,000 – $200,000 or more in a year for long-term care that you need.
If you unexpectedly have to pay for in-home care, assisted living facility services, or other long-term care options, you may have to dip into your retirement funds, which can require you to completely alter your finances and retirement plan. These expenses can also decimate other savings or cause you to have to sell off assets to pay for care — all of which reduce your quality of life and your ability to pass assets to loved ones in the future. Long-term care insurance that reduces your out-of-pocket costs for care can mitigate these concerns.
Types of Long-Term Care Insurance
As with almost any type of insurance, there are different types of long-term care insurance. Some policies only cover care in a specific place, such as your home or a qualified nursing home or assisted living facility. Others limit coverage by care, type of service, or by the length of time it pays benefits.
You may be able to purchase a long-term care policy that offers a per diem amount to cover whatever care you need or, you might opt for a policy that only covers certain services based on what you think will be the most likely solutions you may need later in life.
One popular option is comprehensive coverage, which provides a daily benefit that you can use in multiple settings, so you have the flexibility to meet changing care needs.
What Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cover?
A comprehensive long-term care policy may help pay for medical and care services provided in your home, an adult day care center, an assisted living facility, a hospice or respite facility; and in a nursing home. The services covered will partially depend on where the coverage is being used. For example, you might have a plan that covers skilled nursing services, help with personal care, and a variety of therapies, but only as long as they are provided in your home. This is because these in-home services may not be covered by other insurance types. However, the same plan may only cover personal care services in a nursing home setting because skilled nursing services and options like physical therapy are typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other payers when they occur in a nursing home setting.
Aside from medical, clinical, and wellness services, long-term care policies may also cover other assistance such as housekeeping and cooking. However, it is important to understand that such services likely need to be provided in coordination with other services covered by your policy.
Under most policies, to be covered, you must be unable to perform certain activities of daily living. A common insuring provision provides coverage if the insured is “unable to perform, without substantial assistance, at least two activities of daily living.” Substantial assistance means “the physical assistance of another person without which you would not be able to perform an activity of daily living.” Policies often then list the relevant activities of daily living as:
- Bathing – washing oneself by sponge bath, or in either a tub or shower, including the task of getting into or out of the tub or shower;
- Continence – the ability to maintain control of bowel and bladder function; or, when unable to maintain control of bowel and bladder function, the ability to perform associated personal hygiene (including caring for catheter or colostomy bag);
- Dressing – putting on and taking off all items of clothing and any necessary braces, fasteners or artificial limbs;
- Eating – feeding oneself by getting food into the body from a receptacle (such as a plate, cup or table) or by feeding tube or intravenously;
- Toileting – getting to and from the toilet, getting on and off the toilet, and performing associated personal hygiene;
- Transferring – sufficient mobility to move into or out of a bed, chair or wheelchair or to move from place to place, either by walking, using a wheelchair or by other means.
How Much Does Long-Term Care Coverage Cost?
The cost of long-term care insurance depends on a variety of factors, including your age and health when you purchase it. As with many other insurance types, buying a plan early when you do not need it often saves you money.
Other factors in the cost of long-term care insurance relate to the benefits you select, such as how much your daily benefit for in-home care will be or how much you will receive while in an assisted living facility, and how long you may receive such benefits. For instance, a policy that pays a high daily amount for up to five total years will be more expensive than a policy that pays a lower daily amount for up to two total years.
What If Your Plan Has Denied Your Long-Term Care Claim?
The insurance companies that provide long-term care policies are for-profit businesses, so they have profit margins to attend to, stakeholders to satisfy, and many other concerns that have little to do with approving or paying your claims. Therefore, monetary issues that have nothing to do with coverage under a policy often come into play to influence claims decision making. For example, your insurer might pay benefits that are less than you expected or it may outright deny a claim for coverage, or your benefits might be cut off before the maximum period listed in your policy.
If you are facing any of these types of issues or feel that your long-term care insurance company is not acting in good faith, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney with expertise in the area of long-term care insurance. The attorneys at the McKennon Law Group PC have the knowledge and experience to help you get the benefits to which you are entitled under your long-term care policy. Reach out to the McKennon Law Group PC for a free consultation now.