Long-term care refers to the many services used by people who have disabilities or chronic (long-lasting) illnesses. Long-term care insurance helps you pay for these services, which can be very expensive. A policy also ensures that you can make your own choices about what long-term care services you receive and where you receive them.
What You Should Know
Ordinary health insurance policies and Medicare usually do not pay for long-term care expenses. Medicaid, a federal/state health insurance program, will only pay for long-term care if you have already spent most of your savings or other assets. Long-term care insurance should cover the cost of:
- Help in your home with daily activities like bathing and dressing.
- Community programs, such as adult day care.
- Assisted living services that are provided in a special residential setting other than your own home. These services can include meals, health monitoring, and help with daily activities.
- Care in a nursing home.
|Deciding Whether to Buy a Policy|
|Long-term care insurance is not for everyone. Learn as much as you can about the various policy options before you buy a policy. Call your state agency on aging to get free or very low-cost help in deciding whether to buy long-term care insurance. Keep the following in mind:|
|Deciding When to Buy a Policy|
|Middle age is the best time to consider whether to buy long-term care insurance. That’s when you’re most likely to be eligible for a policy, and when premiums costs will be at their lowest.
Many people don’t think about long-term care until they get into their 70s and 80s and their health begins to fail. At this age, it may be too late to purchase insurance. Some long-term care insurance policies have restrictions on the age and health status of potential buyers. Even if you can obtain long-term care insurance in old age, it will be more expensive than if you bought a policy when you were younger.
For More Information
|State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)|
|SHIP is a free program that counsels older adults about health insurance-related topics. SHIP counselors can help you decide if you need long-term care insurance. They can also help you read and understand the insurance policy you are thinking about buying. For the SHIP program nearest you, call the Eldercare Locator, 800-677-1116. In addition, the New York State Office on Aging Web site lists contact information for SHIP programs throughout the country.|
|The National Center on Women and Aging|
|This center, located at Brandeis University, focuses attention on the special concerns of women as they age. The center recently published a guide to long-term care insurance in its “Women and Aging” newsletter. View the report on the Administration on Aging Web site.|