When you care for an elderly parent you begin to think about your own relationship with your children.
I often hear phrases like, ‘I want my kids to remain independent and live their own lives.’ or ‘I don’t want them to be stuck taking care of me.’
THE FEAR OF BEING A BURDEN IS SIGNIFICANT. Underneath it all is a feeling of not wanting to impose on loved ones.
So what can you do to prevent yourself from being a burden?
What steps can you take now to get the care you may need without turning your children’s lives upside down?
How can you give them enough independence so they’ll be happy to see you? How can you make visits focused on love and grandchildren and not on caregiving or the latest news from the doctors?
As you know from caring for your loved one there is a time when outside care may be needed in the home. While it’s not always perfect, you’ve seen how massively helpful caregivers can be.
The step you can take now to prevent your kids from having to change their entire lives to care for you is to CONSIDER LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE.
You have likely heard of it or your elderly parents may even have it themselves. However you may still have questions like when should you consider it, what is the cost / benefit, what kind of care you can get?
We’ll go through each of those in this post.
By the end of this post you’ll know EXACTLY how LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE WORKS. You will feel INFORMED and EMPOWERED, knowing that there is something YOU CAN DO NOW TO PREVENT YOUR KIDS FROM SEEING YOU AS A BURDEN.
Decoding Long-Term Care Insurance
I often hear that people are familiar with long-term care insurance. They may have spoken about it with friends. Their loved one may have it. But they themselves haven’t bought it and are unfamiliar with how to evaluate if it’s a good idea.
I often hear:
‘What is it?’
‘How does it work?’
‘How can I trust an insurance company?’
The resources online often hard sell long-term care insurance. ‘You must get this insurance to protect yourself.’ They don’t even try to tell you what it is or what details are important.
The industry also makes you feel bad if you didn’t get it in advance for a loved one. You have a sick loved one and you’re suddenly in the position of needing to hire at home help to care for your Mom. The insurance industry’s response is often ‘You should have known to get long-term care insurance before this all happened’.
That is both 100% unhelpful and 100% rude.
So I want to review with you EXACTLY how long-term care insurance WORKS. I want to provide complete transparency into who should buy it and who shouldn’t. We’ll also go through the exact steps to research and buy long-term care insurance if you go down that path. Don’t worry, I’ll give you SIMPLE AND PRACTICAL STEPS TO SAVE YOU DOZENS OF HOURS OF TIME.
What Is Long-Term Care Insurance?
When you boil it all down long-term care insurance is SIMPLE. It is a guarantee that someone (the insurance company) will help you cover the costs of a private caregiver, nursing home or assisted living facility down the road.
Why is this important? Because as you know, this type of care is incredibly expensive. It can cost between $40,000 and $100,000 a YEAR depending upon where you live.
But we don’t need to get too far into the costs right now, I’ll go through that in detail later. The other reason is that YOUR KIDS WON’T NEED TO COORDINATE ALL OF YOUR CARE.
The insurance company will take care of all of this. They will set up the care, bring in evaluators for assessments, help you with transitions to different types of care and manage all the payment and benefits for caregivers.
This way your children can focus on SPENDING TIME WITH YOU. They won’t get burnt out from finding a last minute caregiver, interviewing people, having to take days off of work, shifting their schedule and going through the exhausting process of setting up care.
YOUR CHILDREN can PUT ALL OF THEIR ENERGY INTO CONNECTING WITH YOU and STILL HAVE A BALANCED AND INDEPENDENT LIFE.
What Exactly Does Long-Term Care Insurance Provide?
The long-term care insurance market evolved because care is so expensive and HEALTH INSURANCE and MEDICARE DO NOT COVER LONG-TERM CARE.
Let’s get into some specifics. So let’s say you sign up for long-term care insurance (don’t worry I’ll go through the concrete steps to that process later in the article). You pay the monthly installments. Years go by. You’re in your late 80’s and your health declines some. You need some help at home.
What exactly happens at that point?
You or a loved one will call the insurance company. They will send a care advisor within a couple days or hours if needed. (Depending upon your needs that person may be an occupational therapist, geriatric care manager, nurse, or insurance company representative.)
That person will come to your home and talk to you and your loved ones about your health situation. They will speak to you about how you are feeling, what type of help you think you need, and what feedback your doctors have given you.
If you have had a major health event that prevents you from fully participating they will speak directly with your family.
Now this can be scary. Having a stranger in your home to talk about how you may be getting weaker can be overwhelming. FEELING THIS FEAR IS NORMAL. The GREAT THING is that LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE GET’S YOU EXPERT HELP AND TAKES THE BURDEN OFF OF YOUR FAMILY.
The care advisor has six primary roles which you can expect them to fulfill or connect you to the right experts to complete.
- Home assessment: In-home health evaluation by a nurse
- Caregiving plan: Custom caregiving plan (needs, services, costs)
- Finding a home caregiver: Home care providers and specific candidates, provider reviews, coordination of start of care
- Finding a nursing home or assisted living facility (if needed): Nursing home or assisted living candidates, Provider reviews, coordination of start of care
- Cost coverage: Coverage of all or some of the cost
- General advice: Expert counsel about caregiving challenges
As you know, caring for a loved one often comes as the result of health crisis. Thinking seriously about long-term care insurance can HELP LESSON THE BLOW TO YOUR CHILDREN of what will already be a difficult time.
How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?
One of the largest concerns people have is the cost of long-term care insurance. I share that concern. It’s not cheap. But let’s get into the specifics. I still think it’s worth it.
Long-term care insurance costs between $1,000 and $3,000 a year depending upon your age and current health condition. If you are married and both of you buy a policy it can be cheaper.
So what does this mean?
Let’s say you’re sixty years old today. You likely won’t need care until you’re in your 80’s or later.
Let’s assume 25 years of paying $2,000 a year. That’s $50,000. With inflation over time and price increases on premium payments to the insurance company let’s be conservative and say $75,000 for the year.
Now $75,000 is a significant amount of money. But if at home care or a nursing home stay is $75,000 to $100,000 a YEAR when you’re 80 it’s likely worth the trade-off.
Today you may be approaching retirement or in retirement already. You may be struggling to think if you’ll outlive your retirement money.
These fears are common. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Millions of Americans are trying to understand how to extend their retirement dollars.
I UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN LOOKING AT A BLEAK RETIREMENT FUTURE AN EXTRA $2,000 A YEAR CAN SEEM INSANE. Your first reaction may be ‘No way!’
There’s two things I would propose that you consider:
#1 Think About Your Children
When you are in your 80’s your children will be sending your grandchildren to college. Then you unexpectedly need at home care your children will need to divert time, energy and potentially significant financial resources to help you.
And to be candid, your long-term care needs could FINANCIALLY DERAIL YOUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE. It is not uncommon for families to SELL HOMES and APPRAOCH BANKRUPTCY because an elderly loved one is in an extended care facility or needs at home care for years. It doesn’t happen to every family, but it does happen to millions of families around the country.
You have direct experience with this with your own parents. Yes, there are weaknesses to long-term care insurance and we’ll get into exactly what those are late on. But think about what has worked well and what hasn’t in caring for your parent.
Getting help matters.
#2 Split The Cost
Long-term care insurance is a partnership between you and your children to have sufficient coverage when it’s needed down the road.
If you’re financially stable and able to pay for the care yourself, fantastic! It’s an amazing gift to give to your children.
If the cost is a little more challenging to bear you can speak to your children about splitting up the cost. Maybe you CAN SPLIT THE PAYMENTS 50/50 WITH YOUR CHILDREN and revisit the decision once every three years. In the lucky case that you have a strong family network you may be able to spread the costs among more people too.
One of the effective ways that you can navigate this discussion with your children is to OFEER TO ADJUST THEIR INHERITANCE if they can help you with the costs now. I know this can be a touchy subject and this may not be the right time. But you can always keep it in the back of your mind.
When Should You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?
I often hear, ‘When should I buy long-term care insurance?’ or ‘I’m considering long-term care insurance but I don’t know how late in life I can get it.’
These are EXCELLENT and COMMON questions. Most people should consider getting long-term care insurance between their MID-FIFTIES and MID-SIXTIES.
Why? The primary driver is because if you get a major illness (the chances of increases with age) many long-term care insurance companies will not insure you.
Long-term care services are NOT COVERD BY OBAMA CARE. Obama Care attempted to change this with a policy called the Class Act, which would have provided caregiving services to all Americans. Sadly, this legislation failed in October 2011.
This is one large part of healthcare services where pre-existing conditions are still relevant. So take the time now to consider getting the insurance before it’s too late.
Who Should Not Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?
I often hear the guilt trip ‘You should buy long term care insurance’ from INSURANCE COMANIES. I’m always skeptical when anyone uses the word “should”. For me it’s a telltale sign that someone is try to PUSH SOMETHING ON ME who DOESN’T HAVE MY BEST INTEREST IN MIND.
I am a big fan of long-term care insurance but there are some people that shouldn’t get it. The first group is people who are really struggling financially.
IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK THIS PRODUCT IS NOT FOR THEM. They need to anchor their financial lives in the basics:
- Get 3 months of savings into an emergency fund
- Start contributing to a retirement fund
- Lower expenses ruthlessly
- Bring in more income through part time work
You may not personally be in this position yourself but there are large parts of America that are. If you recommend long-term care insurance to someone and they have a strong emotional reaction it may be because they are financially struggling far more than you know.
The second group who should not consider getting long-term care insurance is PEOPLE WHO ARE WELL OFF. If you have millions of dollars in a retirement account right now you likely don’t need to buy long-term care insurance.
The reason is because the average stay in a nursing home in America is three years. Assuming prices for a nursing home raise to about $150,000 a year by the time you’re 80 that’s $450,000.
As we talked about earlier the cost of long-term insurance will be about $75,000 if you’re 60 today and don’t need to use it until you’re 80.
So you might think a $75,000 payment to avoid $450,000 is a good deal right? If you need care it absolutely is. However you might never need care. Then you’ve lost $75,000 that you’ll never get back.
What are the chances of that?
According to the Federal Government 30% of Americans will never need long-term care. This is why some people with significant retirement funds don’t buy long-term care insurance. They’re betting that they may never need it, but if the case comes up where they do need care, they have the funds available to pay.
The Long-Term Care Insurance Roadmap
By now you have a better idea of why long-term care insurance is helpful for your family. You know how it can LIGHTEN THE BURDEN FOR YOUR CHILDREN.
Next I would like to show you the EXACT STEPS to EFFECTIVELY get the BEST LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE POLICY.
I’ve worked in insurance for close to ten years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that people don’t like to talk about insurance.
Insurance is overwhelming and confusing. I often hear ‘I don’t know how it works’ or ‘I’m not sure where to start.’
The result of this is bad. People QUIT BEFORE TAKING ANY STEPS.
So I want to DEMISTIFY this process for you. YOU CAN DO THIS. Together we’ll turn you into a KNOWLEDGEABLE AND CONFIDENT person who knows exactly what type of insurance to consider, how to get it and how to make sure no one cheats you during the process.
Right now it probably feels like a lot. That feeling is NORMAL.
I’ll break down the language and walk you through CLEAR and EASY TO UNDERSTAND STEPS.
Below I am going to review 5 simple steps to identify the long-term care insurance that is best for you.
Step #1: Identify Insurance Companies
It can be challenging to find an insurance company that is a good fit, particularly if you don’t know the players in the space. The key thing is you need to choose a firm that will be around in thirty years when you may need the care.
To SAVE YOU HOURS AND HOURS of time researching I want to provide you with my recommendations. I don’t receive any compensation from these organizations for making these recommendations. I just recommend them to you because I think they’re the best players in the space.
I recommend three companies:
- Genworth Financial – 1-888-436-9678 (Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 8:00pm EST)
- Prudential – 1-800-732-0416 (Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 6:00pm EST)
- John Hancock – 1800-525-4361 (Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 6:00pm EST)
Step #2: Call Companies For Quotes
I know this can feel intimidating. You may feel insecure. You may feel like you don’t know what to say. All of THESE FEELINGS ARE NORMAL.
I want to provide you with IMMEDIATE VALUE by giving you the EXACT SCRIPTS of what to say while you’re on the phone. That way you don’t have to think about it. Just follow the scripts and you’ll do well.
The key thing to remember is that the insurance agent will try to drive you in different directions. You ARE NOT BUYING A POLICY AT THIS STAGE. Instead, you’re JUST LEARNING. Buying will come later (and only if you choose to). At this stage you are having a conversation to learn about pricing.
You: Hi, I was wondering if you could help me get a quote for long-term care insurance.
Agent Bob: Sure, I would be happy to help with that. Can I tell you a bit about my company’s program first?
You: Thank you for the offer, but I’m already familiar with your company and the product in general. Can you please help me with generating a quote?
DRIVE THE AGENT TOWARD PROVIDING A QUOTE. THEY CAN SEND YOU GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMPANY BY MAIL, OR YOU CAN FIND IT ON THEIR WEBSITE.
Agent Bob: Yes, but I’ll need some information first, and we don’t give final quotes until we’re able to give the candidate a full medical exam. I can’t give you final quote at this time.
You: I completely understand and I am more than happy to share information about my health and living habits. I’ve talked to other insurance companies, and they’ve been able to give me an initial quote over the phone. Is that something you can do?
DON’T BACK DOWN IF THE INSURANCE AGENT INITIALLY SAYS HE/SHE CAN’T DO SOMETHING. ASK CLARIFYING QUESTIONS, REMAIN CONGENIAL AND PUSH THE CONVERSATION FORWARD.
Agent Bob: Well, I’ll tell you that we have the best product on the market and have extremely high ratings for our customer service and claims process. But yes, I think I can give you a quote over the phone. It may be a range, is that ok?
You: I’d like to get as close as possible to a specific number, but yes, a range is ok.
Agent Bob: Great, what elements of coverage would you like to have?
DRIVE THE CONVERSATION TOWARD TYPES OF COVERAGE.
Answer health questions over the phone
To provide you with an initial quote, an insurance company will need to ask you questions about your health. They’re usually broad and brief. The questions might include:
- How is your health?
- Do you take any medications?
- Do you have any serious medical conditions?
- What is the history of x disease in your family?
The insurance company is trying to pinpoint any red flags (like cancer or dementia). Later on, you will need to participate in a more detailed medical exam by a nurse or doctor.
Step #3: Determine Types of Coverage
Long-term care insurance has a large number of features. In insurance lingo they are often referred to as “riders”.
Insurance agents will TRY AND FOOL YOU with these riders to lower the price so you buy their product. They are very focused on closing the deal and getting their commission.
Remember, you DON’T NEED TO BUY UNTIL YOU ARE 100% SURE it’s the right decision for you.
I want to give you something special. I want to give you a FULL CHEAT SHEET of all the important riders (a.k.a. features). I want to ensure that when you talk to the insurance agent you are 100% PREPARED and FULLY CONFIDENT that you know what you’re signing up for.
Below is a list of my recommendations for what you should choose for each rider. I also provide a briefly explanation for why. This is a good place for you to start. You should feel free to change them as you see fit for your situation.
However I want to SAVE YOU DOZENS OF HOURS AND GIVE YOU A STRONG PLACE TO START.
Coverage Cheat Sheet
|Category & Definition||Coverage You Want|
|Daily Benefit – The percentage of nursing home or home care costs to policy will cover||50% -75%
(refer to “Finding a Nursing Home” (include link) for average costs)
|Inflation Protection – The amount of protection against inflation offered by the policy
|Parent in 60s: 3% compound
Parent in 70s: 2% compound
Parent in 80s: 1% compound
|Elimination Period – Number of days the individual needs to cover costs before the insurance company begins paying||90 days|
|Components of Care – The types of care covered by the policy||All (including home)|
|Coverage Area – The geographical area in which the policy will be active||Across all states|
|Coverage Length – The number of years the policy will pay for costs||3 – 5 years
|Alternative Payment Options – Other types of care (such as by a family member) the policy will pay for||Able to pay a family caregiver|
As you’re speaking with the insurance agent don’t be afraid to adjust or change some of the coverage listed above. EXPERIMENT! SEE HOW IT CHANGES THE PRICE.
I know this can feel like a lot. YOU’RE DOING GREAT! Feel free to take a break. Take one day and make the initial set of calls. Then reflect and call them back later in the week. There’s NO RUSH.
The key thing is once you get to the coverage amounts that you want, WRITE THEM DOWN. Write out the category and the coverage you want.
The reason is because you want to take the EXACT SAME COVERAGE DETAILS to the next insurance company. This is the only way to effectively compare pricing.
Step 4: Arrange For A Medical Exam
The final step to get a physical exam from a nurse or doctor. The insurance company will ask you to do this to confirm your physical health.
This can come in many forms. You can go see a doctor that they recommend in your area. Some insurance companies also send a nurse to your home.
In the end the process will be painless. It’s very similar to a normal physical checkup. Be 100% honest. If the insurance company finds later on that you were dishonest about your health they can remove all coverage and cancel your policy.
One word of caution. THIS IS WHERE MANY PEOPLE QUIT because they’re ‘TOO BUSY’ or ‘FORGOT’.
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN. STICK WITH IT. You care greatly about not being a burden and YOU’RE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO WILL PUT IN THE EXTRA EFFORT when it’s needed to help care for the people you love. You’re doing great.
Step 5: Purchase The Policy
Once you compare prices across several insurance companies you’ve reached a major milestone. Congratulations! At this point you should feel comfortable with the different coverage types and options.
Before you pull the trigger ask your insurance agent to walk you through the policy. Ask them to explain in regular language the options you chose and the options you did not choose.
I know this can feel like a lot. I know at this stage YOU PROBABLY WANT TO GET THE WHOLE PROCESS OVER WITH.
But this step is incredibly important. You will thank me years down the road. It’s CRITICAL THAT YOU GET THE TYPE OF INSURANCE THAT YOU WANT.
You want a policy that prevents your children from having to change their entire lives to help you. You want rapid assistance so your children don’t see you as a burden.
You want your children to spend their time living their own lives. You want them to happily visit you and bring along your grandchildren.
CONGRATULATIONS! You have done a fantastic job. You’re ready to make an educated and informed decision on if long-term care insurance is a good fit for you.
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February 22, 2015
By: JP Adams