An exploration of long-term care insurance

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 02, 2011

In many cases, seniors need the assistance of long-term health care. Many people are surprised to learn that Medicare and their private health insurance will not cover most of the costs of these types of services. While this is often an unfortunate situation, the fact is that there are long-term health coverage options that can help to make the issue a bit easier.  

How Do You Know You Need Long-Term Health Care?

Of course, similar to other types of insurance, you must purchase long-term health care insurance before you actually need it. Most financial experts recommend that those who are in their 50s and 60s strongly consider purchasing this policy.

People who qualify for coverage from these programs typically have trouble with the basic activities of daily life. For example, if you have trouble eating meals, getting dressed, shopping or walking, you can take advantage of long-term health coverage.

Two Types of Plans

There are two types of long-term care insurance policies. The first is a TQ or Tax qualified policy. This means that the benefits are non-taxable. In the case of TQ policies, the person will not be able to perform at least two activities necessary for daily living.

There are also NTQ or Non-tax qualified plans. In this case, the beneficiary only needs to not be able to perform one task necessary to daily living. Often the NTQ plans involve a “medical necessity trigger.” This trigger will serve to start up your benefits.

Does Medicaid Cover Anything?

If you need long-term care but do not have long-term care insurance, it is important to note that Medicaid does cover some of the benefits.  While they won’t cover the costs of home care or assisted living, they may provide services that are deemed medically necessary.

Long-term Health Coverage Options

When it comes to long-term health care options, you can find an array of choices. Of course, some of what will be available to you will be based on the types of services you want and also your age.  The coverage will extend to a variety of places including assistance at your home, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospice care and even special facilities for those with Alzheimer’s disease. If you are getting assistance at your home, your policy will pay for a live-in caregiver, therapist or nurse to help you round the clock.

Optional Benefits Under Long-term Health Care

There are also additional benefits that you choose when you are signing up for long-term health coverage. For example, there is inflation protection. Some policies will also provide assistance with the costs of devices that you will need at home such as mobility aids and medical alert systems.

Benefit Periods

Long-term health coverage policies will have a designated period up to which you can receive benefits. This can be a period between 2-5 years, though some policies also offer lifetime coverage.

Premiums for Long-term Health Coverage

Typically, you can pay for your long-term health coverage on a set schedule that can be monthly, annually or anything in between.  Once you start receiving benefits, you will no longer need to pay the premiums.

The Benefits

If you run into a situation where you need long-term care, needless to say, the costs can add up extremely quickly. In these situations, this type of insurance truly is invaluable. Most people would be unable to handle the enormous costs of long-term health care without this special type of insurance. In the end, you want to be able to focus on getting the best health care possible for your particular situation down the road.



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