You’re a healthy older adult. Then, one day you’re struck with a chronic illness that requires you to receive long-term care in a nursing home. Because you’re not living at your home, your assets — like your home or your car — aren’t of use to you. To help you pay for the costs of long-term nursing home care, you and your family sell these assets.
As you’ve aged, you probably have considered purchasing a long-term care insurance policy. Maybe your job offered a policy as part of your pension or perhaps your family or friends have encouraged you to get one. It seems like a smart financial investment. After all, long-term care insurance is designed to help you cover the costs of a nursing home stay or skilled nursing care if you need it.
However, much is often misunderstood about long-term care insurance. Before making a purchase, here are three long-term care insurance myths you should know.
Myth No. 1: I Won’t Need Care
No matter the state of your health, chances are at some point during your life you’ll need long-term care because conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and stroke tend to strike later in life.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70 percent of people turning 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. To make sure you get the services you need when you need them without enduring financial hardship, the U.S. agency recommends you start planning for any care you might need when you’re between 51 and 64.
Myth No. 2: Medicare or Private Insurance Will Cover What I Need
While a number of state programs may help cover some long-term care services, you must meet certain circumstances to become eligible. If you think Medicare will help cover what you need, be aware that it only covers medically necessary acute care or short-term care services for conditions that are expected to improve. Medicare and most private insurances won’t pay for a large part of long-term care or personal care services, continuing care retirement communities or adult day services.
Myth No. 3: If I Have Long-term Care Insurance and Need Help, I Can Get Assistance Right Away
If you’ve made the investment in a long-term care policy, you might feel secure knowing you will have coverage for care when you need it. But you might be surprised to learn that many long-term care insurance policies require you to go through an elimination period before your claim will be considered.
If you suffered an injury, for example, you would have to go through an elimination period, typically ranging from 30 to 180 days either without assistance or by paying for assistance from your own pocket. This could severely impact your quality of life if your injury prevented you from caring for yourself or leaving your home. And not only that, it’s entirely possible that once the elimination period has passed that your injury could be healed, leaving you without a need for services.
Whether you decide to purchase a long-term care insurance policy, or to choose another option that covers you and gives you services right away, start planning now for the future. Doing so helps protect your assets and gives you peace of mind.