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How to shop for long-term care insurance

Buying long-term care insurance can be complex. Keep these tips in mind as you begin your search:

Be open. Talk with family and loved ones about your wishes. If you're no longer able to take care of yourself in the future, what type of long-term care do you want?

Do your homework. Talk to a financial adviser or insurance broker who can help you fully understand the many different long-term care insurance policies on the market. Discuss your family history and what your health might be like when you're older. And don't forget to ask about inflation.

Start early. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop health problems that will increase your insurance premiums. Experts recommend purchasing a policy by age 45, when rates will be cheaper and you're more likely to be healthier.

Ask about discounts. If you're fairly healthy, married or your family has a plan with a specific insurance company, you may receive cheaper rates.

Never shop on impulse. Don't sign a policy without reading it through carefully on your own time. Be sure all your questions have been answered and the policy matches what plans you have for the future.


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When to get long-term care insurance

It is never too early to start thinking about a long-term care insurance policy. Getting an early start on this process can ensure that you will be able to stay in one of the best nursing homes in Denver when the time comes.

Comments

I have helped several families secure LTCi coverage, and it always surprises me what kind of things they "have heard" about LTCi coverage. I am very pleased that New York Life has not had a rate increase in 20 years, and that our policies pay a dividend as well. Trevor Leffingwell, Agent New York Life Insurance Co. Kingfisher, OK

Bankers Life is now allowing newly purchased LTC policies to be applied to either home or facility care. Why were we holders of older policies not allowed to be grandfathered in to have the same option?

Several commented on inflation protection and it sounds like policies were purchased without any. There are several options that all reputable carriers offer with the most comprehensive being 5% automatic compound inflation benefit. You can buy inflation protection on a guaranteed purchase options basis (later) or buy it from the beginning. It's important to know the choices and differences. Additionally, carriers like Met Life have stopped writing new business but will certainly honor their current contracts. Always buy from the most highly rated carriers and protect yourself by purchasing a non-forfeiture option. LTCi is guaranteed renewable but carriers can raise rates across board if deemed necessary. Rate increase history is included in the application process.

Like Alexandria, my company had Prudential give a seminar on LTC insurance. It was pretty close if not exact to what Alexandria said about the insurance. Of course, when these rate differences were brought to the attention of the representative, they were unable to give an answer as to how a person is able to preserve their lifetime earnings, even WITH a LTC insurance policy in place. I'm 57, but still thinking about this before I make any type of commitment.

Buying a Long Term Care policy was the best thing that I did in my life. I purchased my policy from UNUM. My only regret is that I didn't take a life time benefit. It would have been more expensive but I have had several unexpected health problems and life changing surgeries which required me to start using it at age 62. I agree that you have to read and understand what the policy pays for so take your time and do a lot of research before you commit.

- One of the MOST important things about long-term care insurance is that consumers need to truly understand what the policy actually pays for. My parents recently had an insurance representative visit them and provide information on long-term care insurance. My parents reviewed the plan(s) with me. After I reviewed the plan(s), there was no benefit for my parents to pay for a policy because the plan only paid at maximum like $150 per day for nursing home care. My parents are very healthy with no chronic health conditions in their late to mid 60's. If they need nursing home care in 20 years, or lets say even 10 years from now.....nursing home per day fees now can be as much as $200 + per day. Depending on your state, states like NY run on average $300 per day. My question to my parents was whether they could afford to pay the remainder of the daily rate which the long-term care insurance plan would NOT cover. The answer would be no in our case. Ten years from now, even five years from now nursing home rates are going to increase, however, the long-term care policy only had a set amount they would pay. As long-term care, specifically nursing homes evolve.....in 10 years, nursing homes will not be what they are today. People are choosing alternatives to nursing home facilities (i.e. staying at home). I know someone who was a caregiver for her aunt who had a long term care policy. The policy would not allow the aunt to pay her niece for the in-home care she provided. The policy required that she had to go through an approve home health agency. The hourly rates for the home health agency for a nurse-aid to cook, clean, etc was astronomical and not feasible for the aunt to pay the remaining balance the policy would not cover. The policy did not benefit her aunt, and she probably paid into this plan almost $60,000 and never used it.

The recommendation to not sign a policy until it has been thoroughly reviewed is misleading. Policies are only delivered to insurance customers after an application has been signed and money exchanged. Most often though, the policy will come with a free look period of 30 days that will allow that type of close inspection. Rhonda Wright Bankers Life and Casualty Insurance Agent

Shoppers need to be aware of how secure the company offering the policy is in terms of financial strength. Several major players (MetLife, Guardian, among others) have left the business. Many others have raised rates several times in the past and may have filed to increase rates again. Before you sign with anyone, make sure that your agent can show IN DETAIL the financial strength and the rate increase history of the companies you are comparing. LTCi is a promise that might be kept 30-40 years from when you buy the product. Rate increases during your retirement might cause you to drop your policy when you are least able to afford the additional premiums.

There’s a new type of long-term care policy that can protect your assets from Medicaid even after the policy runs out of benefits. These government-approved policies are like a traditional long-term care policy “on steroids”. Here’s an explanation of how these policies work: http://bit.ly/How-Partnership-Policies-Protect-Assets Scott

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