Q&A Topics

Friday, February 10, 2012 11:20:42 AM

What is the outlook for long-term care insurance in 2012? Also, are there are new long-term care laws or regulations that I should be aware of?

Long-term care insurance enjoys a promising future as actuaries keep up with changing demographics. The senior population is growing; 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some time in their lives. According to a Prudential Financial survey, 74 percent of consumers 55 to 65 are aware of this and are actively exploring some kind of long-term care.

As this awareness grows, people are seeking ways to protect themselves and their families. Reality has a way of sneaking up on us if we are not prepared or have not educated ourselves about our available options. In this search, many people are finding comfort in purchasing long-term care insurance as a hedge against future needs.

Medicaid and other social service programs are not going to completely cover our ever-expanding health care needs. Medicaid is predominately for those who are impoverished. Self-funding for long-term care works well for the wealthy.

For most of us, the expenses of nursing facilities, assisted living or even home health care go beyond our personal savings and combined assets. These costs could wipe out a lifetime of savings. The best time to investigate a long-term care insurance policy is while you are healthy. Also, remember that the younger you are, the lower the price.

As the population ages, demand for long-term care supports and service is growing. A huge percentage of care is provided at home, much of it by family members and friends. When someone in the family becomes a caregiver, he or she needs as much support as possible.

When a family has the foresight to get long-term care insurance, it helps lift the burden of caregiving. The caregiver can fully devote time, energy and expertise to the person who needs care, instead of worrying about how to pay the bills. Less than 10 percent of long-term care costs are financed by private long-term care insurance, and much of the remainder is paid out of pocket by families.

The long-term care insurance industry is constantly working with government officials to provide the best services to the public. As of now, it is too early in 2012 to speak of new laws and regulations. But as these changes happen or as potential changes arise, I will be happy to post this information.