Your Insurance Matters: How will you pay for long-term health care?

Your Insurance Matters
How will you pay for long-term health care?
by Shirley R. Lamdan, CLU, Hagerstown, MD

How will you pay for long-term health care? Many seniors aren't aware of the crisis they might face without an insurance plan.
Long-term care insurance can help protect your assets and help pay for your care as you get older. How can shoppers become more informed consumers?
To learn about long-term care and about long term care insurance, there are a couple of super-helpful government websites and publications. "A Shopper's Guide to Long Term Care Insurance" is available from your insurance professional and at www.naic.org. And, a wonderfully helpful government website is www.longtermcare.gov.
You'll find out about the costs of care, the types of care, where care is provided, what medical insurance and government will pay and will not pay, and much more.
Let's highlight some trends. We are living longer than ever. The number of people who are 100 years old and older in the United States has climbed to over 50,000! The Journal of the American Medical Association published an article about 100 year olds and their healthy aging!
About 70% of today's 65 year olds will need some form of care. Their care will be provided in their own home or at an assisted living center, nursing home, or at community-based day care centers.
Family members can help when all that's needed is simple assistance. In fact, family involvement will help seniors continue to live independently. It's when family support isn't available or is not sufficient, that seniors may use day care services, professional at-home services or enter a facility.
Will Medicare or Medicaid pay for long-term care? Medicare pays for only certain types of care and only for limited benefit periods. Medicaid, on the other hand, pays only after people have used up most of their financial resources.
Take some time to sit down with an experienced, caring, independent insurance professional. A discussion will help your insurance agent understand your particular needs and objectives. You'll want to compare insurance plans from several major insurers.
Some features in a long-term care insurance plan are vital to your financial security. First, you'll want to consider an inflation provision. You might purchase a plan today but not need it for years. When that time arrives, you'll want your plan to keep pace with the rising costs of care. That's what an inflation feature can do for you.
You'll want to consider as short a waiting period before benefits kick in as you can afford. Savings can be used up if insurance benefits don't start early enough.
Try to pay off your premiums before you retire.
Before you select benefit amounts, call and visit local senior care providers and consult www.longtermcare.gov. That way, you can learn the actual costs of care in your area and you'll know how much care you'll need to buy.
Quality matters, too, so visiting care sites will definitely reveal which care centers will offer the best services.
Shopping for long term care insurance will take some time, some information, and some planning with a caring, independent insurance professional. Studies show that people who are financially most successful are those who have planned ahead.

By Shirley R. Lamdan CLU. Since 1982, Shirley Lamdan, of Hagerstown, Maryland, has been serving individuals, corporations, and non-profits with independent retirement and insurance services. Contact her at 301-791-9427 or 800-628-3449. The website is www.lamdanselect.com. Her e-mail is slamdan@lamdanselect.com.