Long Term Care
Long-term care refers to the many services beyond medical care and nursing care used by people who have disabilities or chronic (long-lasting) illnesses. Long-term care insurance helps you pay for these services, which can be very expensive. A policy also ensures that you can make your own choices about what long-term care services you receive and where you receive them.
Long-term care insurance typically covers the cost of:
- Help in your home with daily activities like bathing, dressing, eating and cleaning.
- Community programs, such as adult day care.
- Assisted living services that are provided in a special residential setting other than your own home. These services may include meals, health monitoring, and help with daily activities.
- Visiting nurses.
- Care in a nursing home.
Be sure you consider each of these issues:
- Coverage. You can choose long-term care policies that pay only for nursing home care, or only for home care. Or, you can opt to purchase coverage for a mixture of care options that includes nursing home, assisted living, and adult day care. Some will pay for a family member or friend to care for you in your home.
- Daily or Monthly Benefit. The daily or monthly benefit is the amount of money the insurance company will pay for each day or month you are covered by a long-term care policy. If the cost of care is more than your daily or monthly benefit, you will need to pay the balance out of your own pocket.
- Benefit Period. Your benefit period determines the length of time you will receive benefits from your policy. You can choose a benefit period that spans from two to six years, or the rest of your life.
- Elimination or Waiting Period. During this period, you must pay all of your long-term care expenses out of your own pocket. This period could last anywhere from 0 to 100 days. The longer the waiting period is, the lower your premiums will be.
- Inflation Protection. With health care costs rising to new heights every year, buying a policy without inflation protection is probably buying a policy that won’t cover much of your expenses. There are two main kinds of inflation protection: the right to add coverage at a later date; and automatic coverage increases.
- Non-Forfeiture Benefit. Policies with this benefit will continue to pay for your care even if you stop paying premiums. This policy feature can add 10 percent to 100 percent to your premium.