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Long Term Health Insurance

It is never too soon to start thinking about long term health insurance and how you are going to provide for yourself when you retire.  The earlier you plan and start putting money away the better off you will be. 

When you start thinking about long term health insurance for your old age, you automatically think Medicare, mostly because we hear about Medicare every day.  There are many things that Medicare does not cover and you will want to be prepared for them.  That is why there are long term health insurance policies. 

A long term care health insurance policy is an important addition to a regular individual health insurance plan when one begins to reach their 40's and 50's.

The Definition Of Long Term Health Insurance

Long term health insurance is basically a plan that will cover medical costs related to nursing home care and stay, and even in-home care for people who need it and do not need to leave their homes yet.  This includes adult day care, home health caregivers, hospice care and respite care.  The American Association of Retired Persons has reported that most elderly people believe that Medicare will cover these costs.  Medicare will not.  Currently nursing home care costs $181 a day or $66,000 a year for a private room and that cost is expected to rise.

The average stay in a nursing home is 2 ½ years.  Consider this when purchasing your policy.  Someone that requires 24 hour nursing home care for a cardiac problem is likely to stay is 16 months where someone with Alzheimer’s Disease is likely to stay 8 years.  You don’t want to pay for more than you need but at the same time you want to make sure you are covered.  A good medium is picking a four year policy.  This isn’t too long and it gives you and your family time to make arrangements after that time period. 

Long Term Health Insurance: Types Of Long Term Health Care

Depending on your policy it will cover all or some of the following

  • Home Care – Home health care is given in your home by family members, friends, volunteers and/or paid health care professionals.  This also includes in home hospice care for the terminally ill, as well as short term care that needs to be provided by a nurse or therapist.

  • Community Services – These are support systems like adult day care, having meals delivered, senior centers, and transportation services.

  • Assisted Living Centers – Assisted living centers provide 24 hour assistance for things like bathing or housekeeping, supervision, meals and health care.

  • Continuing Care Retirement Centers – Continuing Care Retirement Centers run the gambit of providing care based on the individuals needs over time.  This care is provided in stages, independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing.  The upside to this set up is it allows a slow and smooth transition for someone who is used to being independent to get used to needing help.

  • Nursing Homes – Nursing homes offer care for those people who can not be cared for at home.  They provide 24 hour supervision, medical care, meals, rehabilitation care and assistance in daily living such as bathing and dressing.

Long Term Health Insurance: Choosing Long Term Health Care Policies

  1. Look for plans that offer flexibility.  A lot of long term health plans specify that you have to be unable to carry out three activities of daily living (bathing, eating, dressing, moving from bed to chair and back, going to the bathroom and maintaining continence) without assistance before you can use it.  Others state two activities.  These are the policies that are ideal.  You also want to make sure that one of those activities is bathing because that is one of the first things that people need help with.

  1. Look for a strong reliable company.  Remember, you are buying a policy for ten to twenty years or so into the future and you don’t want to purchase your policy with someone that may be financially shaky, who will be out of business in five years.  You can find the ratings of insurance companies by checking out the Weiss Rating Database or other independent insurance ratings companies.  Look for a company with a B+ rating or higher.

  1. Make sure you have a policy that covers assisted living, home and hospice care, adult day care and respite as well as nursing homes.  Not all polices cover all of these things.

  1. Call around to health care facilities in your area to find out what their costs are and what it covers and what is extra.  That way you can get an idea of how much coverage you should buy and for what.  It’s difficult to predict what you are going to need down the road.  At the very least you want the basics covered and you want to know what those are.

  1. Sit down with an independent health insurance broker or agent to help you decide what you do and do not need, and find the best price and policy.

Companies That Offer Long Term Health Insurance

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America

Genworth Life Insurance Company

John Hancock Life Insurance Company

Massachusetts Mutual Life

MedAmerica

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Mutual of Omaha

Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company

Prudential

State Life Insurance Company

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