Determining the Need for Long-Term Care
Insurance (LTCI): How Much Is Enough?
To determine the need for long-term care insurance (LTCI) depends on your financial ability, age, health status, retirement objectives, and whether you have assets you want to protect. Once you’ve made the decision to buy, you’ll need to decide how much coverage is enough. Insurance protects against an event that may (or may not) occur in the future. Buying sufficient protection is important, but the insurance must also be affordable. When considering the purchase of LTCI, pay particular attention to the benefit amount and to the benefit period.
The Daily Benefit Amount if You Need Long-Term Care Insurance
Most policies let you select the amount of coverage, typically running anywhere from $40 to $150 or more per day. Benefit amounts are usually offered in $10 increments, although a few companies only offer a fixed amount (e.g., $50 per day). The cost of nursing home care varies tremendously from one metro area to another. It’s important to research and consider the location where you plan to retire.
Local variations in long-term care costs make it difficult to recommend one specific dollar amount appropriate for all persons. In general buy enough insurance to cover 50 to 100 percent of nursing home costs in your community of choice. Fifty percent of the current nursing home cost is appropriate for persons of means who expect to use some income to pay for care. If you are unable to supplement the cost of care, you should buy closer to 100 percent of nursing home costs. Be aware policies usually differentiate between the benefit amount per day for institutional or facility care and the amount per day for home care.
The daily benefit of the policy usually refers to the amount to be paid for nursing home care. Some policies offer less than the daily benefit (usually one-half) for home care. However, certain policies now offer an optional rider for home care to be covered at 80 percent or 100 percent instead of at the base contract amount of (typically) 50 percent.
It may be wise to purchase an optional inflation rider. Although the average daily cost of nursing homes in your locale maybe $200 today, it could significantly rise five years from now. And the younger you are when you buy an LTCI policy, the more important inflation protection is. An inflation rider can be very expensive, sometimes increasing the cost of a policy by as much as 40 percent.
The length of the benefit period
When purchasing LTCI, you’ll be asked to select a benefit period. Benefit periods generally range from one to six years, with some policies offering a lifetime benefit. You’ll want to choose the longest benefit period you can afford. If you can’t afford a lifetime benefit, consider choosing a benefit period that coordinates with the look-back period for Medicaid (five years). For more information about Medicaid, see Medicaid.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 gave all states the option of enacting long-term care partnership programs that combine private LTCI with Medicaid coverage. Partnership programs enable individuals to pay for long-term care and preserve some of their wealth. Although state programs vary, individuals who purchase partnership-approved LTCI policies, and then exhaust policy benefits on long-term care services, will generally qualify for Medicaid without having to first spend down all or part of their assets (assuming they meet income and other eligibility requirements). Although partnership programs are currently available in just a few states, it’s likely that many more states will offer them in the future.
What is it? Long-term care insurance (LTCI) In return for your payment of premiums, a long-term care insurance (LTCI) policy will pay a selected dollar amount per day (for a selected period of time) for your skilled, intermediate, or custodial care in nursing homes and,
What is long-term care? Learn more about the types of long-term care below. In general, long-term care refers to a broad range of medical and personal services designed to assist individuals who have lost their ability to function independently. The need for this ongoing care
Am I prepared for long-term care expenses? In general, Americans are not sufficiently prepared to pay for long-term care expenses. Many of them go through their lives simply hoping that they won’t ever need it. Unfortunately, in the event that you or a loved one
Determining the Need for Long-Term CareInsurance (LTCI): How Much Is Enough? To determine the need for long-term care insurance (LTCI) depends on your financial ability, age, health status, retirement objectives, and whether you have assets you want to protect. Once you’ve made the decision to