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8 Factors to Consider Before Buying Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance can be a financial lifesaver when an elderly parent requires long-term care in a facility such as assisted living or a nursing home. However, selecting the right policy is crucial, as a policy with poor terms and limited coverage can be a waste of money. Here are eight important factors to consider when buying long-term care insurance to ensure you get the best coverage possible.

1. Daily / Monthly Benefit Amount

The daily or monthly benefit amount is the amount your policy will cover for long-term care expenses. Policies typically offer a range from $50 a day to as much as $500 a day. Given that assisted living costs average $40,000 per year, and a private room in a nursing home costs nearly $80,000 annually, it’s essential to choose a benefit amount that aligns with the fees charged by senior care facilities. Otherwise, your out-of-pocket expenses could be significant.

2. Inflation Protection

As healthcare costs continue to rise, it’s important to ensure your long-term care insurance keeps pace. Inflation protection adjusts your benefits over time to account for increases in the cost of care. This feature ensures that the amount of coverage you purchase today will be sufficient to cover the expected costs when you need to use the policy in the future.

3. Type of Coverage

There are two main types of long-term care insurance policies: comprehensive and facility care only. Comprehensive policies cover a wide range of healthcare settings and services, including home health care, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Facility-only policies, on the other hand, limit coverage to care received in specific facilities. A comprehensive policy offers more flexibility and broader coverage.

4. Elimination Period

The elimination period, similar to a deductible, is the amount of time you must wait before your long-term care benefits kick in. During this period, you are responsible for paying the costs of care. Elimination periods can range from 30 to 365 days. Choosing a longer elimination period can lower your premium, but it also means you'll have to cover care costs for a longer period before benefits begin.

5. Maximum Lifetime Benefit

The maximum lifetime benefit is the total amount of money the policy will pay out over the policyholder’s lifetime. Policies typically offer various options, such as $100,000 or $300,000 in total benefits. Some policies provide unlimited coverage, meaning they will continue to pay benefits for as long as you need care, without a cap on the total amount paid.

6. Pre-Existing Conditions

Many policies include clauses that exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, which could significantly affect your benefits. Conditions such as drug or alcohol abuse, HIV-related illnesses, and diabetes might be excluded either temporarily or permanently. It's crucial to carefully review the exclusions in any policy you are considering to understand what is and isn't covered.

7. Joint Long-Term Care

Couples might benefit from purchasing joint long-term care insurance, also known as "share-care" policies. These policies pool the total amount of coverage between the two insured individuals. If one person passes away without having used their benefits, the surviving partner can access the remaining benefits.

8. Tax Deductible

Some long-term care insurance policies are "Tax-Qualified" (TQ policies), meaning the premiums paid for these policies can be deducted from your Federal income taxes. This can provide a significant financial advantage, so it’s worth considering whether a TQ policy is right for you.

Selecting the right long-term care insurance policy requires careful consideration of various factors. From the benefit amount and inflation protection to the type of coverage and elimination period, each aspect plays a crucial role in ensuring you or your loved ones receive adequate care without facing financial hardship.

Always thoroughly review the terms and exclusions of any policy you’re considering, and consult with a financial advisor if needed, to make the best decision for your family's future.


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What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-term care insurance is specifically designed to cover the costs of services such as nursing homes, assisted living, and home health car


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