The longer we live, the greater the chance is that we will need some type of long-term care, meaning that we will need to be taken care of due to a physical illness, a disability, or a mental impairment, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, or aphasia. Such care can be provided by family members, professional caregivers, an adult day care centers, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, or hospice. No one wants to need long-term care, but we should start to at least plan for how long-term care will be paid for, if we do indeed need it.
Long-term care can be incredibly expensive. In Texas, care costs on average $3,000 a month for assisted living and $190 a day for a private room in a nursing home. Your medical insurance policy does not cover long-term care, so you will have to look into other options for paying for long-term care. Medicaid and Medicare both offer the potential for paying your long-term care costs. If you qualify for Medicaid, then most of your expenses will be covered. Medicare will help cover some expenses, but not all expenses you can incur at a nursing home or in a assisted living facility. As a result, many people pay for long-term care out of their pockets until they qualify for Medicaid.
Another option is long-term care insurance, which can help protect any significant assets you have against the high costs of long-term care. If you do not own significant assets and you have to stretch your income to pay for living expenses as it is, then it’s most likely best that you pay for care yourself until you qualify for Medicaid.
Reasons to consider long-term care
The following factors can contribute to whether you will possibly need long-term care in the future:
- Long life expectancy – The longer you live, the more likely you will need long-term care.
- Gender – Women have been consistently shown to live longer than men.
- Family – If you have family who can take care of you, you may not need to look into long-term care.
- Health history – If chronic or debilitating conditions run in your genes, then your risk for needing long-term care greatly increases.
Purchasing long-term care insurance
Before you look into purchasing long-term care insurance, you may want to go over your financial situation with an advisor first. Also, remember that the younger you are, the less expensive an insurance policy will be.
If your financial advisor agrees that an insurance policy is best for your interests, there are four different avenues you can take to purchase a long-term care policy.
- Individual policy – Most long-term care policies are sold to individuals, and these policies can vary in coverage from company to company.
- Group policy – Some employers offer a group long-term insurance policy or discounts on individual policies.
- Government policy – Federal and state government employees and retirees can apply for coverage through the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. Please note, however, that this does not mean that the government pays for your insurance premiums.
- Association policy – Like some employers, some associations offer policies to its members. Be sure to review the terms of the policy coverage before signing, just in case you need to leave the Association. Doing so can cancel your coverage.
Long-term care insurance coverage
Long-term care policies can cover several different types of care, including the following:
- Nursing home care
- Assisted living care
- Home health care (physical therapy or a care-giver)
- Adult day care
- Other services, such as hospice care, respite care, or care-giver training for family members
The amount of coverage depends on the type of service. Be sure to understand your policy limits so you and your family will know up front how much of your care will be covered.
Long-term care policies, however, often do not cover the following:
- Preexisting conditions
- Mental and nervous disorders
- Care-giving by family members
To get a list of registered long-term care insurance companies, call the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) help line (800-252-2439) or visit their website.