As you age the financial and medical areas of life start to become closely tied to one another. The amount of money you have set aside for items like long-term care (LTC), and even funeral expenses can greatly affect your quality of life and your family’s experience.
According to the Administration for Community Living, up to 70% of people turning 65 years old today will need long-term care at some point in their lives. The average length of time most people will need LTC for is about 3 years.
Ideally, you’ll want to get an LTC insurance policy before you reach the age of 65. The younger you are when signing up for a LTC policy the better because your premiums will also be lower too. Of course, there is an art to getting good long-term care insurance quotes and understanding them. Let’s take a look at some things to keep in mind:
- What is Long-Term Care Insurance?
- How Insurance Companies Calculate a Long-Term Care Insurance Quote
- Understanding a Hybrid Long-Term Care Insurance Quote
- Understanding a Traditional Long-Term Care Insurance Quote
- What to Pay Attention to in a Long-Term Care Insurance Quote
What is Long-Term Care Insurance?
If you think you’ll need long term care at any point in your life, it’s important to start thinking about how that care will be covered. Many states offer LTC programs, but most only kick in for people who have spent all of their savings. A LTC insurance policy helps you avoid the possibility of spending all of your money by paying for the costs associated with long-term care. This can include both in-home care and living in a nursing home on a temporary or permanent basis.
There aren’t many companies that offer LTC insurance these days, but you can still find it if you look around. Hybrid insurance plans are more popular and offer a death benefit in addition to LTC benefits. Learn more about the pros and cons of hybrid long-term care insurance.
How Insurance Companies Calculate a Long-Term Care Insurance Quote
Insurance companies calculate quotes for LTC insurance using several different factors. This information will be gathered from you during the initial application process.
Data that is used in calculating your LTC insurance quote:
- Health Conditions
- Premium Payments
- Relationship Status
- Monthly Benefit Amount
- Specified Benefit Period
If you are looking at how to get a good long-term care insurance quote, you’ll want to make sure you play around with the premium amount you can pay, maximum benefits, and benefit period. These can all alter the quote. The more you can pay per month the shorter your payment schedule too.
Understanding a Hybrid Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance Quote
Like any other insurance plan, hybrid insurance plans have a set number of premium payments paid over an agreed amount of time. However, the total benefit amount paid out in case you need LTC is the same from day one of coverage. Benefit amounts can vary but are usually based on a quoted monthly benefit times the specified benefit period. Paid out benefits can also detract from your death benefit too.
For instance, a 65-year-old woman can get the Nationwide CareMatters II hybrid LTC policy with a 36 mth. (3 year) benefit period paying up to $6,000 a month. Her total benefit amount would be 36 times $6,000, which equals about $216,000.
Her hybrid insurance plan also offers a guaranteed minimum death benefit of $10,000 even if she uses up her total benefit amount. However, the death benefit can be higher if she doesn’t use all or any of her LTC benefits. The maximum amount of the death benefit is usually equal to the total benefit amount, which in her case would be $216,000.
Such policy requires an annual premium of $11,811, pay for 10 years. Total premiums would be $118,110.
For similar hybrid long-term care benefits, you can also get another quote from Securian’s SecureCare product. However, it is a bit more expensive with annual premiums of $14,365, also pay for 10 years.
The best way to compare quotes from 3-5 companies is to work with a national broker specializing in long-term care insurance. They will help you get several quotes and select the best one for your situation.
Understanding a Traditional (or Stand-alone) Long-Term Care Insurance Quote
Unlike hybrid long-term care insurance, traditional (or stand-alone) long-term care insurance offers long-term care coverage only. If you pay premiums, but do not need long-term care, you’ll get nothing from your traditional long-term care policy. For that reason, traditional long-term care insurance policy is a lot cheaper.
However, due to increasing healthcare cost, more and more insurance companies have exited the long-term care market and/or increased annual premiums significantly, such as Genworth, CalPERS, John Hancock, etc. Only a few companies still offer traditional long-term care insurance policy.
We got a quote from one of those, National Guardian Life. For daily long-term care benefit of $200 and benefit period of 3 years, the maximum long-term care benefits are $219,000, the annual premium is $5,926, also pay for 10 years. Total premiums are $59,260, less than half compared to hybrid long-term care insurance for the same benefits.
Of course, the premiums will decrease if you choose to decrease the daily long-term care benefit, shorten the benefit period, or choose to pay premiums longer.
You can also get quotes from another 2 companies that still operate in the traditional long-term care market: Mutual of Omaha and Transamerica by working with a national broker focused on long-term care insurance.
Also see our comparison of these 3 companies in the Best 3 Traditional Long-Term Care Insurance Companies
What to Pay Attention to in a Long-Term Care Insurance Quote
Every insurer provides unique policies with slightly different coverage and rider options. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for when comparing insurance quotes:
Indemnity or Reimbursement
There are two types of payout methods that LTC insurance providers offer, indemnity or reimbursement. The reimbursement plan policy requires policy holders to record all expenses and keep their receipts which they submit to the insurer each month for reimbursement. An indemnity policy simply gives the policy holder a check for the maximum benefit amount every month that they can use on expenses as needed.
Daily or Monthly Benefit Amount
Most LTC policies offer about $100 to $200 a day in benefits. This equals between $3,000 to $6,000 per month in benefits. That amount is a lot but it’s still less than the median cost of $7,756 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. So, you’ll want to pay close attention to these numbers as they will impact your savings in the future.
Many insurance policies also offer inflation protection options that increase the benefit amount at a set rate of usually 3 or 5 percent per year. This can help protect your benefits from deflation over the decades.
Insurance policies don’t automatically provide coverage when you move out of the country. Check whether this is the case or not. If not, the insurer may offer an overseas coverage rider that provides 50 percent or 100 percent of benefits if you need LTC in another country.
Ask the insurance provider about potential discounts you can have applied to the policy. Most insurers offer military discounts and discounts for couples who get a shared policy.
Guaranteed Death Benefit
If you get a hybrid policy, check that the guaranteed death benefit will provide enough for your funeral plans. Most policies have a minimum death benefit of about $10,000 to cover basic expenses for your family after death.
Some insurers provide additional supportive services to help policy holders connect with resources like caregivers, home care, nursing facilities, transportation, meal delivery services, and end-of-life care.
Long-term care insurance is different from health insurance or a life insurance policy in that it only covers certain expenses, like a stay in a nursing home or in-home nursing. Hybrid policies are available with guaranteed death benefits so you can also plan for funeral expenses and possibly leave an inheritance for loved ones. Overall, LTC coverage plans are a good way to set money aside for unexpected needs as you get older.