Q&A Topics

Friday, March 11, 2011 2:35:24 PM

My mother is 70 years old and is in great health. Should I be thinking about long-term care insurance for her? What should I know about long-term care insurance?

The key to planning for your mother’s future, or even your own future, is to start planning early and wisely. Always make sure that you understand all of your options and then make educated and informed choices.

No matter how good someone's health is, now is the time to think about long-term care insurance. As the population ages and the possibility of living longer is becoming more of a reality, long-term planning needs to be thought out and realistically considered. We all need to prepare for the phenomenon of potentially living longer than our parents or grandparents did.

The average cost of a nursing home room now tops $83,000 a year, or $230 a day; an assisted living center costs $39,000 a year, or $3,200 a month. Of course, costs vary from state to state. Knowing the average cost of services in your area will help you better gauge future needs.

Within long-term care insurance plans there can be flexibility, so the key is knowing what you want, what you can afford and what the full breadth of options are, as well as what limitations you may have.

It's also important to understand what the Medicare, Medicaid and Medigap programs have to offer. At your workplace, you can ask your HR department or labor union whether a group long-term care policy or plan is available. Your local agency on aging may be able to help as well.

When investigating long-term care insurance, you always should compare costs and benefits from different insurance companies. You want the best policy you can afford from a reliable company. It’s best to find a company that has been around a long time that will continue to be in business.

Concepts to consider and questions to ask include:

• Costs will vary due to the age of the person. The younger you are when you start a policy, the lower the cost will be.

• How much can you afford to spend now, as well as later in your retirement years?

• How much coverage do you want or need?

• What are the areas you want to cover? Nursing home stay? Assisted living facility? Community services, like adult day care or home care? A combination of the above services?

• Would you want to hire a geriatric care manager?

• What will be the length of coverage? This can vary from three to five years or more.

• Are there specific genetic considerations in your family health history for you to consider?

• What will be the policy's daily payout amount?

• Will the policy have some form of automatic inflation protection?

Ask friends and family about their experiences with long-term care insurance. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions; this is a big investment in your mother’s future. In my experience, there has been an enormous feeling of comfort in knowing that you have done all you can to take care of your health, and to protect yourself and your family financially. Having a long-term care insurance policy to take care of the many unpredictable events that happen in life is a big part of this.