A Reality Check Concerning Long-Term Care
Despite all of the words written about longevity increasing the possibility of more people needing long-term care, there remain a number of myths surrounding the subject. The issue is so emotionally charged, that most people prefer to create their own reality about long-term care rather than face the truth. It is painful to admit that parents or other loved ones could someday have senile dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another debilitating disease that will change them from the person we know into someone vastly different.
In the event of a long-term care need, it’s important that the family stays focused on the emotional and physical needs of the person needing care. Having properly planned for this eventuality with insurance coverage allows them to do so. Many families assume that they will be able to handle the demands of long-term care on their own. What they don’t realize is that having the responsibility of being a caregiver has a major impact on your life. The demands often cause people to give up jobs in order to devote the necessary amount of time needed to provide care. It can also drive a wedge between family members if a spouse becomes an absentee parent because they are spending most of their time providing care for their own parent.
That’s why it is so important to have long-term care insurance to provide suitable care without placing undue stress on the family of the person requiring the care. While this makes sense in theory, many people are reluctant to purchase long-term care insurance because they believe certain fallacies about this type of coverage. The first is that you can pay for long-term care costs from your own assets. Many people believe that a reverse mortgage or stock portfolio can take the place of a policy. However, the cost of caring for an extended illness can easily wipe out one’s assets and bring a family to bankruptcy.
Many people also falsely believe that long-term care is only administered in nursing homes. In fact, the majority of people receive long-term care today in their own homes or community based facilities, not nursing homes. Depending on the policy, long-term care insurance can cover nursing home stays, home health care and community-based services.
When you are comparing policies, there are several factors to consider before making your decision:
· The financial strength of the insurance company underwriting the policy.
· The current cost of care in your area so that you can choose a daily benefit that will cover the needs of the person receiving the care.
· The length of the benefit period. Since it is difficult to determine how long a person may require care, many people choose policies with lifetime benefits.
· The number of days the policyholder will be responsible for paying out-of-pocket before coverage begins. This is known as the elimination or waiting period.
· The inflation protection provided by the policy. This feature ensures that benefits provided by the policy will be adequate to cover future needs.
And finally, many people believe they can rely on Medicaid for long-term care. The policy changes to the Medicare program mandated by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 have made fewer people eligible to receive benefits. The safest course of action is not to wait and learn that your family member cannot qualify, but rather prepare for the future with a long-term care policy.