Contrary to popular belief, long-term care insurance is not nursing home insurance. Think of it this way, if you have a chronic illness or become disabled and can no longer care for yourself for an extended period of time, you’ll need long-term care services. Long-term care insurance can help you pay for the care you need, in the setting you’d prefer, such as your home. Here are some tips on getting coverage:
1. Buy with your spouse or partner. Long-term care insurance companies offer discounts to couples who are married or living together. You could save up to 30% if you apply with your partner. Most carriers will still give a partial discount even if only one of you is approved. The discount applies to married couples and domestic partners.
2. Consider shared care. One helpful feature of long-term care insurance policies is shared care. This is an extra feature you can purchase that allows a couple to share the benefits of each other’s policies. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Smith each purchase $200,000 in benefits. Mr. Smith becomes ill and uses all of his $200,000. Mrs. Smith’s policy is untouched. Because they have shared care, he can tap into her benefits for additional coverage. Shared care can be valuable for any couple, but particularly in cases where there is a large age difference.
3. Watch inflation coverage. Inflation coverage is a rider added to a policy that helps the benefit amount keep up with inflation. This is needed because the amount of coverage you buy today might not be adequate to cover your care when you are in your 80s, the average age of people who file claims. But inflation coverage can double the cost of your policy, so it’s important to choose wisely. An advisor who specializes in long-term care insurance can walk you through the various options that are available.
4. Buy before your birthday. You’ll save money if you buy before your next birthday because long-term care insurance rates are based on age. Another reason to avoid putting it off is that if you wait too long, your health could decline and you might not qualify for the insurance.
5. Find out about any possible tax write-off. Long-term care insurance premiums are tax deductible if you are a business owner or have high health care costs. If you have a part-time business, such as tutoring, you might be able to receive a write-off. Consult your tax advisor.
6. Know what an average plan looks like. If you’re like most consumers, you may be unsure of how much coverage to buy. An average plan might provide $5,000 per month in benefits up to a maximum of $180,000. A 55-year old couple might pay $185 per month for their coverage. Your needs may be different and an advisor can help design a plan based on your individual circumstances.
7. Seek expert advice. Most insurance agents sell very little long-term care insurance. Often they don’t have the expertise in this product to help you modify it to best meet your needs. After you’ve done your research, you will want to work with a long-term care specialist who will customize a plan for you.