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Senior Finances

What Caregivers and Seniors Should Know About Long-Term Care Insurance

If you’re planning ahead for your senior years, or you’re thinking about taking care of a loved one, you’re wise to also think about how you’ll pay for care during that time. All of us hope to stay relatively healthy and able to care for ourselves as we age, but the reality is that at some point, we may need help accomplishing tasks associated with daily living, as eating, bathing, and getting to the restroom may become increasingly difficult.

As you could imagine, this type of care doesn’t come cheap: an extended stay in a skilled nursing facility can quickly drain assets that were intended to keep your loved one financially afloat for the remainder of their life. One option to consider as you plan for retirement is to obtain long-term care insurance. But do you really need a policy? When is the best time to buy one? How does Medicare impact your long-term care needs? Here’s what you need to know when it comes to long-term care insurance.

Compared to women, men make only half as many preventive care visits to the doctor and are significantly more likely to suffer from things like heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Visits to the doctor are crucial once you hit the age of 50 to ensure there is nothing wrong with your health. Check out this list of five key tests that health experts recommend for men after age 50.

health checks after 50

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Planning ahead for costly care is a smart move

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), 70 percent of people turning 65 years old should anticipate needing some form of long-term care during their lives. Having a private nurse for regular home visits or round-the-clock care in a skilled nursing facility is expensive, and costs are only predicted to increase: HHS reports that in 2010, the average cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility was $6,235 a month, or nearly $75,000 a year. When it comes to long-term care, chances are it’s something you or your loved one will need, so it’s important to explore your options and plan ahead.

Buying younger has its benefits

Purchasing a long-term care policy when you’re younger and relatively healthy is your best bet. When you buy a long-term care policy, you’re locking in a rate for the duration of the policy. Many experts recommend that you begin looking around for a long-term care policy when you reach middle-age, or in your early 50s.

Buying a policy when you’re in your 50s also gives you the time and freedom to shop around with different insurers, so you can be certain you’re choosing the plan that will best suit your needs and preferences. There are plenty of choices available, so you may want to ask for help from a licensed insurance agent who can help you sort through the plans and determine which is the best fit for you and your family.

Don’t rely on Medicare

If you think Medicare will handle most or all of the costs associated with long-term care for you or a loved one, think again. Medicare does offer you some skilled nursing coverage, but it does so only for a maximum of 100 days — and it doesn’t cover the cost of daily living assistance, which makes up the vast majority of long-term care services. You and your family are responsible for paying the costs for any services that aren’t covered by Medicare, which can add up quickly.

As you plan for your future or the future of a loved one, it’s important to understand the costs you can expect Medicare to cover, and which costs will fall on your shoulders. It’s also important to explore expenses related to skilled nursing facilities and home health care services in your geographic area, as they may vary from the national average. By understanding cost of care and how much help you can expect from Medicare, you’ll be better equipped to buy the amount of long-term care coverage you’ll really need.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away

No one wants to imagine a time when we may not be able to care for ourselves, but ignoring the possibility doesn’t make it go away. Instead, take the time to plan ahead for the care that you or your loved one may need. Explore your long-term care insurance options to see which plan may best meet your needs and your budget, and consider buying a policy when you’re in your 50s to lock in a lower rate. Finally, ensure that you have a clear idea of the kinds of care that Medicare will and won’t cover, so you procure the level of private coverage you need. By following these tips, you’ll be creating the opportunity for a better future for you and those you love.

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  • About Brandon Cruz:

    Brandon Cruz is the President of GoHealth Insurance. GoHealth powers one of the nation’s leading private health insurance exchanges for individuals and families.