Traditional Long Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance (LTC or LTCI) is an insurance product, sold in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, that helps pay for the cost of long-term care. Long-term care insurance covers care generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

How much long term care insurance do you need?

A number of considerations go into how much long-term care insurance any consumer should buy. The average cost of a private room in a nursing home is nearly $250 a day, and the average monthly base rate in an assisted living facility is $3,550, according to MetLife's 2012 survey. In New York $330 per day is the going rate.

How much is assisted living insurance?

The national median monthly rate for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility is $3,500, according to the 2014 Cost of Care Survey released in April by Genworth Financial Inc. of Richmond, Virginia. That's $42,000 per year, an increase of 1.45 percent over 2013. In New York $75,000 is the going rate.

How much is insurance for nursing home?

The average costs of nursing home insurance: Today, the average cost of a nursing home facility is around $70,000-$100,000 every year. Computed daily, these costs around $192 per day.The amount of course varies depending on the area. In New York $125,000 is the going rate.

What services are covered by long term care insurance?

Long-term care insurance generally covers home care, assisted living, adult daycare, respite care, hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer's facilities. If home care coverage is purchased, long-term care insurance can pay for home care, often from the first day it is needed.

When should you buy long term care insurance?

Costs increase on your birthday. The annual rate increases are generally 2-4 percent in your 50s but start to be 6 to 8 percent per-year in your 60s. In 2009, new buyers of individual long-term care insurance were the following ages: Under age 54 (26.5%). Between 55 and 64 (54%).

What kind of insurance covers assisted living?

If you have a Long-Term Care insurance policy, it should cover assisted living as well. If there is a policy designated for home care, it should be able to be used forassisted living too. There are "facility-only" policies which covers care only in a licensed assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility.

Many long-term care insurance customers in Pennsylvania got a shock when their renewal notices arrived this year. Premiums were increasing by as much as 130 percent, and annual rates are on track to reportedly exceed $8,000 for some policies.

The increases have spurred outrage from policyholders and an inquiry by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Those familiar with the long-term care industry say the problem isn't isolated to Pennsylvania and dramatically increasing rates may be expected nationwide in the years to come.

Factors pushing insurance rates higher.

There are a number of factors contributing to the explosive growth in long-term care insurance premiums. "When [long-term care insurance] came out in the 80s and 90s, it was priced wrong," says Larry Rosenthal, a certified financial planner and president of Rosenthal Wealth Management Group in Manassas, Virginia. Carriers assumed people would drop policies as they got older. However, that didn't happen in many cases. What's more, people are living longer and aren't necessarily living healthier. As a result, Rosenthal says many insurance companies have fled the market and those that remain have increased premiums significantly to keep up with costs.

Compounding the problem is the fact that many people wait too long before buying a policy. "No one buys it at a young enough age for it to be inexpensive," says Kevin Boyles, vice president of retirement and college-savings-services provider Ascensus. The ideal time to start planning is between 52 and 64, according to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance. Those who wait longer face higher premiums and an increased possibility of being denied coverage.

7 Alternate Ways to Pay for Long-Term Care

People are often confused about how to pay for long-term care. "Resources they think exist don't exist," says Laura Troyani who founded the website Most notably, many seniors expect Medicare will cover costs when, in fact, the program does not pay for ongoing long-term care. While Medicare isn't an option, here are seven alternatives that are.

Short-term care insurance. These plans are similar to long-term care insurance policies, but benefits are typically capped at one year. Not only are they less expensive, but they may also be available to older seniors or those who aren't otherwise eligible for long-term coverage.

Life/long-term care insurance. Rosenthal is a fan of combining long-term care coverage with life insurance. Specialty policies, often known as life-LTC hybrids, feature fixed premiums that help consumers avoid the type of rate increases currently being experienced in Pennsylvania.

Long-term care annuities. Trovanl says long-term care annuities are a frequently overlooked option for covering home health, assisted living and nursing home care costs. These annuities require a hefty upfront payment, but if you need long-term care, your overall cost may be lower than what you'd spend on insurance premiums. However, don't expect much in the way of interest. "If you're looking at it from an investment standpoint, it's not so awesome," Troyani says.

Health savings accounts. For those who have an eligible high-deductible health insurance plan, a health savings account offers a way to put money aside tax-free for medical costs, such as long-term care. Boyles calls them health IRAs and notes that those who have long-term care insurance can pay their premiums with money from a HSA.

Home equity. Retirees without significant investments may still own a valuable asset: their house. Tapping into home equity through a line of credit, taking out a reverse mortgage or selling a house outright are some of the ways people can use their property to pay for long-term care.

Pensions or Social Security. Depending on the size of your monthly payments and the amount of care you need, paying for services monthly out of a pension or Social Security benefit may be option.

Medicaid. When all other options have been exhausted and a person's income and assets have been depleted, the government will step in to pay for care. Medicaid won't pay for assisted living, but it will cover nursing home care and many states also pay for home health care services for eligible people. However, states are required by the federal government to recover the cost of long-term care from estates whenever possible. That means, for example, if a parent's home is sold after his or her death, the proceeds could go to the state instead of heirs.

Other Options

Relying on family for long-term care is the one option most experts don't recommend. "It looks free, but there are huge, huge tolls," Troyani says. Caregiving can be physically and financially draining, and it may lead to resentment and broken relationships within a family.

Long-term care insurance is expensive, but it's not the only way to pay for elder care services. Weigh your options to find the right solution for your family, but don't wait too long. The earlier you start saving, the more secure you'll be later in life.

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