What Is Long Term Care Insurance?Updated October 21, 2022 Insurance
Long term care insurance is an important topic to consider as you age. Having a long term care policy in place can help you prevent a financial crisis should you or a spouse need special care.
Long term care insurance is available from many providers, and it’s wise to compare policies and costs before making a decision. We’ve identified some of the most reputable companies for long term care insurance to help give you a head start on choosing a long term care policy.
Top 5 Long Term Care Insurance Companies
- Mutual of Omaha
- Northwestern Mutual
- Lincoln Financial
- New York Life
Choosing a long term care insurance provider is a very personal decision. With the National Association of Insurance Commissioners estimating that 70% of people who live to age 65 will need at least one form of long term care, it makes sense to take your time and consider all the pros and cons when choosing both a provider and your coverage.
When choosing a long term care insurance provider, you want to make sure you’re working with a company you trust and that has a solid reputation for customer service. In addition, you’ll need to consider factors such as types of coverage available, ability to customize your coverage, available discounts, and any applicable exclusions or waiting periods. The last thing you want to do is invest in an insurance policy that doesn’t provide the coverage you actually need most or with a benefit you can’t access when you need them. In addition, make sure you research individual coverage costs, payment due dates, and acceptable forms of payment. If it’s important to you, you also should find out whether you can manage your coverage or file claims through a website or mobile app.
What Is Long Term Care Insurance?
Long term care insurance is a special kind of supplemental insurance coverage designed to help you cover costs typically incurred by patients who need long term care to help with daily living – the kind of care usually associated with living to an advanced age. This kind of care may include LTC services like treatment given while in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility care, long term care services provided in-home, hospice care, and treatment for chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Long term care costs can add up quickly – by some estimates, families can expect to pay between $64,000 and $108,000 per year, with long term care expenses continuing to rise.
Long term care insurance policies come in two different types: traditional and hybrid. With traditional coverage, if you never need long term care, you lose any potential benefit of having paid the premiums associated with the policy. With a hybrid policy, you’re actually purchasing a combination of long term care insurance and life insurance. If you end up not using your LTC benefit, any beneficiaries will receive a benefit upon your death. But if you do use the long term care benefits, the death benefit will be either negated or paid at a much lower amount – sometimes between only 5 and 20% of its original face value.
Top 5 Long Term Care Insurance Companies
Below we’ve outlined some of the most reputable names in the business when it comes to long term care insurance. Let’s take a closer look at these trusted companies.
Mutual of Omaha
Mutual of Omaha has been in business since 1909. The company offers a single standard long term care insurance policy – though it also offers three different types of discounts that could mean savings of up to 15%. Inflation protection is available, though at an extra cost, as are premium refunds.
With Mutual of Omaha’s standard plan, enrollees have access to a cash benefit instead of reimbursements. Members can access an assigned care coordinator who can help develop a personalized plan for meeting individual needs. Mutual of Omaha also offers LTC coverage for alternative types of care that may not even exist today, along with a waiver of premiums during any period of long term care.
Couples can save 15% on their premium amounts if both spouses sign up for benefits with Mutual of Omaha. If only one partner in a marriage or long-term relationship signs up for benefits, they can save 5%. And customers in good health, regardless of their relationship status, also can save 15% on their premiums.
Nationwide offers stand-alone long term care insurance policies that feature flexibility and access to a death benefit that members can use if they need to pay for long-term care. The Nationwide website also features a helpful guide to long term care insurance that enrollees may find helpful.
With Nationwide, you’ll need to purchase your long term care insurance policy through an insurance agent, and all policies require a waiting period.
Northwestern Mutual offers long term care insurance policies administered by Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, which is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Northwestern Mutual is a good option for high-risk individuals, who can still be granted LTC coverage with Northwestern Mutual with the additional requirement of health exams.
Northwestern’s coverage is all traditional long term care insurance, without any hybrid options, and policies are sold only through an insurance agent. In addition, Northwestern Mutual provides some options for inflation protection. Northwestern Mutual’s policies are known for being pricey in comparison with some other options, and their benefits range from $1500 to $12,000 per month.
Lincoln Financial offers four different long term care plans, all with no waiting period, with an LTC coverage limit of $500,000. Lincoln also makes its benefits available to enrollees who are living or traveling internationally. Benefits are available through its network of agents, and some plans offer protection against inflation.
Lincoln Financial also offers a terminal illness rider that allows for a one-time claim of 25% to 75% of the death benefit up to $250,000 in the event of a diagnosed terminal medical condition.
New York Life
New York Life is a trusted name when it comes to long term care insurance. Founded in 1845, it is the largest mutual life insurance company in the U.S. The company offers two different types of long term care policies and covers up to $400 per day for care – plus a money-back guarantee.
You can choose long term care as a stand-alone product or you can combine long-term care and life insurance policies. New York Life’s premiums offer protection against inflation. Long term care coverage is available in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia through a network of national agents. Each New York Life policy has a waiting period that ranges from 90 to 365 days. New York Life also offers a money-back guarantee for any unused long term care benefit.
What Is the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program?
The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) is a specialized program that provides long term care insurance plans for eligible federal and U.S. Postal Service employees, plus both active and retired military service members. The program extends to some qualifying relatives as well. For the most part, federal employees, including postal employees, who hold positions that are eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program also are eligible for FLTCIP, regardless of whether they are enrolled in FEHB. In addition, federal employees who retired on immediate annuity or for disability under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), or any other retirement system designated for federal employees also typically are eligible for FLTCIP.
What Does Long Term Care Insurance Cover?
Long term care insurance policies typically reimburse members a daily amount for LTC services such as eating and drinking, using the toilet, dressing and bathing, along with care provided through nursing homes, assisted living facilities, in-home health care, and adult day care. Coverage also may extend to transferring, incontinence, housekeeping, taking medications, grocery shopping, and even pet care.
Without a long term care insurance policy, the expense of this type of care can be dramatic – by some estimates, long term care can cost up to $20,000 for adult day care; $52,000 for assisted living care; $55,000 for home health care, and between $95,000 and $107,000 for care in a nursing home facility.
How Much Does Long Term Care Insurance Cost?
On average, a long term care insurance policy runs around $2,800 per year, or $230 each month, which may be cost-prohibitive for many. Factors like age, geographic location, plan features, and maximum long term care benefit also will affect the overall cost of your policy.
It’s important to understand that these premium costs only increase with age, which is why it may be wise to purchase a policy early that locks in your rate and protects your premium from inflation effects.
Many financial experts recommend signing up for long term care insurance between the ages of 60 and 65 to get the most value. On the other hand, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, your mid-50s is the ideal time to sign up, when you’re in good health and can qualify for a lower premium. Talk with your financial advisor about your specific situation and the timing that makes the most sense for you.
Do I Need Long Term Care Insurance?
The choice to invest in long term care insurance is a highly personal one. When thinking it over, be sure to consider your current and projected medical needs. Find out whether your current health insurance will cover long-term care costs including in-home healthcare, nursing home costs, and adult daycare.
Financial experts recommend considering long term care insurance if any of the following apply:
- You have a high income or significant assets you’d like to protect
- You can afford to pay the premiums, which include their gradual increase (or the cost of locking in your premium)
- You do not want your accrued assets to go toward long term care
- You want to be able to choose where you receive long term care
- You don’t want to burden family and friends
It’s important to bear in mind that typically neither Medicaid nor private insurance carriers cover long term care expenses or any LTC-related costs. This makes a specific long term care policy a good idea if you think you may need help covering long term care expenses in the future.
As always, you should consult your financial adviser on any major decision about your long-term health care and financial needs. But knowing the ins and outs of long term care insurance is a big step in the right direction.