It is possible to purchase life insurance for your parents, assuming they are on board and qualify if they do not have long-term care insurance or the funds to pay for their own care in their later years.
It can be challenging to support aging parents until they pass away, and long-term care insurance could help you to recover some of the costs you incurred while providing for them or to pay for their final arrangements, such as their funeral. Certain conditions must be met for the policy’s benefits to be utilized before death.
You will need to consult them to find the right coverage for your parents. This article will discuss everything you need to know about obtaining long-term care insurance for your parents.
The basics of Long-term care insurance
Long-term care pertains to a range of services and supports provided to people who cannot care for themselves due to age-related medical conditions and impairments. Depending on the individual’s needs, this care option can be provided at home, in a nursing home, in an assisted living facility, or in an adult day care facility.
A long-term care insurance policy (LTCI) is designed to cover care costs. This program reimburses seniors who have lost the ability to care for themselves for non-medical and medical care provided in these settings.
The high cost of long-term care services can quickly deplete a person’s retirement savings. For this reason, industry experts recommend that those who can afford it purchase long-term care insurance. As well as protecting seniors’ retirement funds, this type of coverage allows them to receive the best possible health care.
What does Long-term care insurance cover?
Many long-term care insurance policies cover in-home care, adult day care, assisted living facilities (resident care), and nursing facility care. In addition to professional nursing services, occupational therapy, or rehabilitation services, long-term care insurance may also cover these costs. It is also possible to receive assistance with daily activities like washing or brushing teeth.
Those with long-term care insurance may also be covered for short-term hospice care when terminally ill. Hospice care focuses on assisting terminally ill patients in managing their pain and providing them with emotional, physical, and mental support. Policyholders can receive treatment at home, in a hospice facility, or in a nursing home, depending on their insurance policy. It is important to note that hospice care is not considered long-term care so Medicare may cover some types of hospice care.
Long-term care insurance may also cover respite care or short-term care. Regular caregivers can take advantage of these policy extensions to take time off. Caregivers typically receive respite for 14 to 21 days a year. Depending on the patient’s needs, this care may be provided at home, in a nursing home, or an adult daycare center.
What does Long-term care insurance not cover?
The exclusion period may prevent you from receiving long-term care if you have a preexisting medical condition. Several months may pass after you purchase the policy before it becomes exempt. In addition, your policy may not cover the costs of in-home care provided by a family member.
Medical care costs will not be covered by long-term care coverage. Many of your medical bills will be covered if you are eligible for Medicare.
Do your parents need Long-term care insurance?
No one can predict whether they will need long-term care during their lifetime, and it may be hard to gauge. Long-term care may be necessary for your parents for a variety of reasons, including:
- Chronic illnesses: Chronic conditions such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease can lead to the need for long-term care.
- Physical limitations: As people age, they may experience physical limitations that make it difficult for them to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating, on their own.
- Cognitive impairments: Conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s can lead to cognitive impairments that make it necessary for individuals to receive long-term care.
- Mobility issues: People with mobility issues, such as those caused by a stroke or a spinal cord injury, may require assistance with movement and transportation.
- Recovery from injury or illness: People recovering from a severe illness or injury may require long-term care to help them regain strength and independence.
- Disability: People with disabilities may require long-term care to help them manage their condition and perform daily tasks.
Can I buy long-term care insurance for my parents?
Purchasing long-term care insurance for your parents is an option if they are qualified. The cost of long-term care for individuals who need assistance bathing, dressing, or eating is covered by long-term care insurance. There are certain age and health requirements for your parents to qualify. Most long-term care insurance plans are available to healthy individuals under 85. However, eligibility criteria vary by insurer.
Before purchasing long-term care insurance, several factors should be considered, including the cost, benefits, and underwriting. To determine which insurance company best suits your parents’ needs and budget, you might consider comparing policies from different companies. Contact a long-term care insurance agent like Policy Solver or financial planner to ensure you’re making an informed decision.
It is best to purchase long-term care insurance between the ages of 40 and 65 to ensure your parents have the best coverage. Purchase their insurance as soon as possible to increase their cost-effectiveness; however, do not purchase too soon and pay premiums unnecessarily.
When you decide to purchase long-term care insurance, health plays a significant role. If your parents are in good physical health and can choose an appropriate plan before requiring long-term care assistance, you should consider purchasing when they are in their late 50s.
How does it work?
Various factors influence the premiums for long-term care insurance policies. Among them are:
- Age: Insurers who take out policies when they are young can expect to pay lower premiums, but their policies will last longer.
- Health status: The longer you wait before buying health insurance, the more expensive your premiums will be, or even worse, you will be denied coverage altogether.
- Gender: Insurers charge more to women because of their longer lifespans, which makes them more likely to file a claim.
- Marital status: Single individuals typically pay higher premiums than married couples. As well as purchasing shared benefits, they can also purchase individual benefits.
- The level of coverage: The insurance cost can be increased if you choose higher daily and lifetime limits and take advantage of additional features, such as inflation protection and shorter elimination periods.
The policy would name your parents as the insured and you as the payer. You can make payments by having a bill sent directly to your inbox each month or automatically taking a debit from your bank account. When your parents need care, they will receive long-term care insurance benefits without financial worry.
Signing up your parents for long-term care insurance
Long-term care insurance is easy to obtain for your parents. Here are some steps you can follow to get started:
Discuss coverage with your parents
Before buying long-term insurance for your parents, have a difficult conversation.
Contact a qualified agent
Working with a qualified LTCI agent or financial planner specializing in long-term care insurance is always a good choice. Make sure that your parents attend the discussion so they can better understand the coverage and the process and have any questions answered about any concerns they may have.
Fill out an application
Your parents should answer the questions in the application completely and accurately. Incorrect answers on the application could deny your claim if you file a claim later on.
Maintain a safe place for the policy
Once the long-term care insurance policy has been issued, you must keep it in a safe place. When filing a claim with the insurance company, you will need the actual policy on hand.
Types of Long-term care insurance
There are two types of long-term care insurance, each addressing your needs and budget. Before buying long-term care insurance for your parents, a firm understanding of your options is important.
Traditional Long-term care insurance
Traditional long-term care insurance is an inexpensive, easy-to-understand stand-alone policy. This insurance will cover long-term care costs if you ever need it.
Traditionally written long-term care insurance may be your best option if all you need is long-term care insurance. If your parents cannot perform two or more of the six activities of daily living, the conventional LTCI policy will become effective.
- Getting dressed.
- Taking a bath.
- Using the restroom.
Your policy may also begin if one or both of your parents have severe cognitive impairments. Before an insurance policy begins to pay out, there is typically a waiting period of 30 to 90 days. It is, therefore, essential to budget for three months’ worth of out-of-pocket expenses even if you have long-term care insurance.
How it works
A traditional long-term care insurance policy offers policyholders a variety of coverage options. You choose a policy’s benefits at the time of its inception.
Among the key areas where policyholders can alter their long-term care coverage are:
- The dollar value of the benefits included in the policy.
- Whether the benefit cap is for a day or a month.
- At the outset, there is a lifetime benefit cap.
- A policy’s benefits determine its price and coverage.
When you add more benefits to your policy, the cost will increase. You can save on premiums if you choose the bare minimum of coverage and benefits.
Hybrid Long-term care insurance
There is also the option of combining life insurance and long-term care insurance. Hybrid policies enable you to use the death benefit to cover long-term care expenses while alive.
A full payout is also paid to the beneficiaries if your parents do not need to be cared for. It means that lifetime premiums are fixed, which is why the term interminable is used for rates.
Prepare yourself to spend thousands more on a hybrid policy than a traditional long-term care insurance policy. This is because long-term care insurance is also purchased with life insurance, which may not even be necessary. Hybrid policies do not offer tax deductions for premiums as opposed to traditional long-term care insurance.
As with whole life insurance, hybrid policies are managed by the insurance company. The cost of hybrid long-term care insurance could be the most expensive option. It is therefore recommended that hybrid policies be used only last resort.
Hybrid long-term care insurance is only recommended if your parents’ health prevents you from purchasing traditional long-term care insurance for them.
This policy uses the death benefit to pay for Long-Term Care Insurance. If the death benefit of a policyholder expires, long-term care coverage won’t be available to the policyholder.
It typically takes two to five years for death benefits to be repaid. There is little chance that a policy’s LTC Insurance benefits will expire. Policyholders can choose higher death benefit amounts if this is a concern, and higher amounts result in longer-lasting benefits.
Understanding the underwriting process
Long-term care insurance applicants must undergo underwriting to get approved. When your medical information is obtained, interviews are conducted, and a decision is made, this process can usually take six to eight weeks.
When you apply for long-term care insurance, here is what to expect from the underwriting process.
Medical Records Review
Your insurance company will likely ask your primary care doctor for medical records, including those of your specialists from the previous three to five years. As part of the underwriting process, your records will be reviewed and compared with the information provided on your application.
Underwriting decisions can be delayed when your doctor’s office fails to send your medical records promptly. If you have applied for long term care insurance, inform your doctor and ask them to provide medical records promptly.
Drug Screening for Prescriptions
LTC carriers use state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program drug screens to verify prescription medications. In this way, applicants are verified that they are being truthful on their applications and that they are not taking any medications that might impact their ability to qualify for coverage.
A telephonic health interview
Insurance companies or their vendors may require you to complete a phone health interview, and they may conduct a standard cognitive test during this call to verify your medical information.
It is common for calls to last between 30 and 45 minutes, and you can schedule them in advance. If you haven’t seen your doctor in the last five years, make sure you have a list of your prescriptions, dosages, and contact information.
To ensure your full attention, schedule your phone interview as soon as possible and choose a time and place where you won’t be distracted.
Interview in person
Your nurse may contact you for an in-person interview based on your parents’ age and health status. Typically, these interviews take place in the comfort of your own home.
In addition to measuring your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse, a nurse will take your vitals during the appointment. A medical history review and a standard cognitive test may be conducted along with a review of your medical history.
The underwriting process can be delayed if you do not schedule your interview as soon as possible. A carrier can make an underwriting decision quicker if they quickly get your medical records and interview results.
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Who becomes the beneficiary of my parents’ long-term care insurance?
Your parents would receive the benefits of the long-term care insurance if and when they needed it. If your parents consent, you can only be listed as a beneficiary on an insurance policy with a long-term care benefit rider.
With this rider, life insurance can provide death and long-term care benefits.
How does an LTC rider work?
It is possible to use part or all of the death benefit of your life insurance policy to pay for long-term care while you are still alive with the addition of a long-term care life insurance rider.
With this rider, you can cover long-term care expenses that traditional health insurance does not cover, such as those associated with home health care workers, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes. Health insurance policies do not cover expenses such as doctor visits, hospital stays, or prescriptions covered by LTC riders.
Most life insurance policies offer long-term care riders, and you can usually add one to a permanent policy, such as universal life insurance or whole life insurance. It is not typically possible to add long-term care riders to term life insurance policies, but you should check with your insurer to find out what options are available.
Depending on your preference, your life insurer may pay you up to the LTC benefit limit if your LTC rider determines that you qualify for the long-term care benefit. It is possible for your monthly allowed amounts to range from 1% to 4%, depending on the amount of your death benefit. Under most policies, you typically must wait 90 days to receive your benefit.
Your death benefit may be paid in a lump sum or in a monthly percentage, usually between 1 and 4%, if you receive long-term qualifying care.
What is the process of getting long-term care payments?
You may receive indemnity or reimbursement as a payout. You receive a predetermined amount each month if your insurance policy offers indemnity payments. Upon submission of receipts for your regular monthly bills, your insurer will reimburse you for covered expenses.
The requirements and waiting times for LTC riders.
Knowing there is a waiting period before you can use your long-term care benefit is important. You must satisfy your policy’s waiting period each day from the date of diagnosis if your LTC rider is based on calendar days. Only days of LTC services count toward meeting the waiting period if the waiting period is based on days of service.
Understanding the full details of your life insurance policy is important since every company has a different policy rider. The waiting period might only kick in if two things happen:
- You must be diagnosed with a chronic health condition by a licensed healthcare professional.
- An individual must be unable to complete certain daily living activities independently, including eating, bathing, keeping a clean appearance, dressing and undressing, moving freely, and maintaining continence.
It is also possible that your insurer has rules regarding which diagnoses activate LTC coverage. The following are examples of conditions that require long-term care:
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
Factors to consider when taking out long-term care insurance
Different companies offer different policies in your country, but here are some things to consider when selecting a policy:
Benefits: The benefit amount is determined by what type of care a person will receive and how much it will cost each day. Long-term care costs can vary significantly depending on the quality of care a person gets and where they live. Compared to at-home care, private nursing facilities cost more.
Term of payment: A policy usually lasts between two years and a lifetime, depending on the insurance company. There are many factors to consider, including a person’s medical history. If there is a history of a debilitating illness in the family, it may be best to choose a longer benefit period.
Waiting or elimination period: As mentioned before, the waiting period for benefits typically ranges from 30 to 60 to 90 days before the benefits begin. A certain period of time must be spent out of pocket by policyholders paying medical expenses. There is a correlation between the lower premiums and the longer elimination period.
Protection against inflation: Inflation has caused medical expenses to soar over the past few years. Every year, an average of 5% has been added to nursing home rates. Insurance providers often increase a daily benefit yearly due to riders protecting against inflation.
Impact on taxes: Insurers usually offer tax-qualified policies, which include premiums that are deductible and provide tax-free benefits. Depending on the taxpayer’s age, however, the deductions may differ.
The reputation of insurers: Customers should pick a financially stable insurer committed to providing the best care to their policyholders, given that many providers have exited the market in recent years.
Choosing a long-term care option
It is common for people to be unaware of or under-informed about long-term care options. Long-term care can be summed up as follows:
Home Health Aides
Friends, family, or neighbors can provide the care you receive at home in addition to paid professionals. These types of care include shopping assistance and nursing care. At home, patients can receive health care from nurses or therapists and hospice care for the terminally ill.
Community Care Services
In addition to adult day care, meal programs, senior centers, transportation, and other services, community services can also include adult day care. People who receive home care and their families can benefit from these services. Adult day care center, for instance, provides health, social, and related support services during the day in a protective environment. Continuing to live in the community can benefit adults with impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the caregiver can take a well-deserved break.
Supportive housing programs
Supportive housing programs are available to older people with low-to-moderate incomes. State and local governments often develop these housing programs in conjunction with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There are also shopping and laundry facilities available at these facilities. Most apartments are owned by their residents.
Assisted living facilities
Residents at an assisted living facility are provided 24-hour supervision, assistance, meals, and health care in a home-like environment. A variety of help is available, such as assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, taking medicines, transportation, laundry, housekeeping, and laundry services. Recreational and social activities are also provided.
Continuing care retirement communities
A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) provides residents with various services and care based on their needs as they age. Assistive living, skilled nursing, and independent living are the three phases of care provided.
Nursing home care
In nursing homes, patients who cannot receive care at home or in their communities receive care. Their services include skilled nursing, rehabilitation, meals, activities, assistance with daily living, and supervision. Many nursing homes also offer temporary or periodic care. Care can be provided instead of hospitalization, after hospitalization, or for caregivers to have some time off (“respite care”).
Do long-term care policies differ from other types of health insurance?
As long-term care insurance policies offer health-related coverage, they are often mistaken for other forms of health insurance. However, it is important to note that the coverage is vastly different, helping you make the right choice when choosing insurance coverage for your parents.
Medications, hospital stays, and emergencies are covered under this plan. Services such as long-term care are not covered.
Critical illness insurance policy
In the event of a severe illness, this covers the costs of treatment and recovery. Policyholders are typically offered a lump sum that they can use to replace lost wages or cover treatment-related expenses, such as mortgage payments and grocery expenses.
Upon becoming unable to work due to injury or illness, this policy pays out a portion of a person with disabilities income.
When a policyholder dies, the policyholder’s family receives a tax-free lump-sum payment.
The Medicare program
Medicare provides limited benefits for nursing home stays following hospitalization, usually only covering acute or temporary illnesses for seniors and disabled individuals. Chronic medical conditions or long-term custodial care are not covered.
The Medicaid program
Applicants must meet strict eligibility criteria to qualify for this public health program. A state’s Medicaid spend-down program may require beneficiaries to liquidate their assets or spend a portion of their benefits out of pocket to qualify.
How to pay for your parent’s long-term care
Long-term care can be paid for in several ways besides long-term care insurance, depending on the situation and assets of your parents:
A life insurance policy
The first thing you should do is review the life insurance policies owned by your parents. There are two kinds of accelerated death benefits:
- Accumulated cash value and accelerated death benefits. Your parents can borrow against or withdraw money from their whole life insurance policy. As long as the premiums have been paid, withdrawals are not taxed.
- A portion of a policyholder’s death benefit can be accessed while alive through accelerated death benefits. A death benefit is subtracted from the policyholder’s death benefit when these cash advances are not repaid. Policyholders typically make this choice only under limited circumstances, such as when diagnosed with a terminal illness.
A viatical settlement or a life settlementis another way for your parents to raise money. By contrast, a viatical settlement is used if the policyholder’s life expectancy is shorter than 24 months, while a life settlement is used when the policyholder’s life expectancy is longer than 24 months. Your parents’ age and the policy’s value must exceed $100,000 for them to qualify for a viatical or life settlement.
Tax deductions from the IRS
The difference between the unreimbursed medical costs and your parent’s adjusted gross income is deductible. In some cases, you might be able to deduct those bills if you are paying them. Depending on the rules involved, either one of your parents must be listed as a dependent, and the IRS dependency test will tell you whether your situation qualifies.
Medically necessary long-term care costs can be deducted if your parents are listed as dependents. In addition, you must have taken out a deduction of more than 10% of your adjusted gross income since you are the one taking the deduction. Nursing home costs may be eligible if your parent has a chronic illness and requires full-time medical attention.
In addition to not having to move, your parents may be able to receive cash from their home’s equity. A reverse mortgage will pay back the loan against the home’s value when a homeowner dies. Your parents can choose between a single upfront payment, a regular monthly payment, or a line of credit for a percentage of the home’s value.
Reverse mortgages are subject to strict regulations that protect seniors. The bank cannot forcibly remove an older adult from their home or try to collect the money that the house is worth. You will not have to pay back the loan until both of your parents have passed away or parted ways. This is the case if both of your parents agree to the loan. One parent may need assisted living, while the other would like to stay home. Such loans might be the best option for both parents.
Home equity credit line
Your parents can also withdraw equity from their home using a home equity line of credit. This might be a better option in the short term due to the low-interest rates and minimal closing costs associated with these facilities. A disadvantage of this type of loan is the requirement to make consistent repayments, at least to cover the interest. It can be a viable option, albeit short-term, if you are in a pinch and need quick cash.
The benefits of long-term care insurance
Long-term care insurance offers several advantages:
Your parent’s assets will be protected.
Savings and investments have been the focus of your entire life. You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on long-term care in your later years. As your parents’ age, you want to ensure their retirement savings are not depleted. In some cases, however, you may be able to self-insure if their retirement savings are sufficient.
You can protect your nest egg and your parents’ retirement savings by purchasing long-term care insurance.
Your parents can age in place
There is a common misconception that long-term care insurance only covers nursing home stays. In addition to covering in-home care costs, long-term care insurance also covers a large portion.
You can also benefit from in-home caretakers if you are dealing with health issues such as lower mobility.
Premiums are tax-deductible.
There is a limit to the number of tax deductions for long-term care insurance premiums. As a result, you’ll be able to save more money. Additionally, you may be able to pay your premiums with a tax-free Health Savings Account. Home modifications and medical equipment will allow your parents to live in their own homes longer.
You won’t have to shoulder all the care.
When you or a loved one need care, your spouse or family member may feel significant stress. Getting through trying times can be challenging, but long-term care insurance can help. There may also be times when a spouse or family member cannot provide all the care needed.
As an additional benefit, your children won’t be required to contribute substantially to your care. Care management services will reduce the stress you and your family experience. LTC insurance covers more than just in-home care or nursing home care stays.
Care coordination or management can also benefit from it. An advocate can come in and find the necessary support, set it up, and supervise it, so you are well cared for. Families are often physically and emotionally exhausted during these times, so this extra support is a huge blessing.
Discussing long-term care insurance with your parents
There might be a reluctance on the part of your parents to bring up long-term care insurance because it might seem like a stark reminder that you are getting older.
Preparation is key
having an open discussion with your parents about long-term care insurance is crucial. In case they have any questions about it later on, give them some information regarding it. Finances, such as increased regular payments, insurance costs, budgeting realistically for long-term care, medical background, and expectations around caregiving, are among them. You might want to consider applying for long-term care insurance.
Long-term care costs
Long-term care costs are not typically covered by Medicare or their health insurance, unfortunately. When they are aware of the costs and available financial aid, they may be more willing to discuss it.
Out-of-pocket healthcare costs most people a significant amount of money. According to a Genworth study, the following are some examples of average median costs for different types of care:
- $1.674 per month for adult daycare.
- $4,517 per month for a home health aide.
- $4,173 per month for living assistance
- $4,957 per month for homemaker services
- $7,738 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home.
- $8,773 per month for a private nursing home room.
The costs of nursing homes may prevent a family from affording even a brief stay.
Caregiver burnout should be considered.
Most people become uneasy when discussing long-term care costs and seek assistance from family and friends. Supporting a family member often means sacrificing one’s own well-being, which can be challenging for caregivers.
Caregiving for a parent requires open-mindedness and compassion, regardless of your viewpoint. Discuss any expectations they might have with you about your abilities as a caregiver.
You might want to discuss this with your siblings if you have any other siblings. When you listen to your parent’s concerns and voice your concerns, you will be able to reach a compromise more quickly.
There are medical requirements
You can better prepare for potential situations down the road by discussing your parents’ medical needs now and any anticipated medical issues down the road.
They might discuss potential future medical issues with their primary care physician. Consider their fears, worries, and possible objections about their health. A better understanding of long-term care insurance can be gained by knowing their fears.
Medicare may cover long-term care services provided at home if specific criteria are met. For your parents to qualify for skilled nursing or skilled therapy, they must be confined to their home, and their doctors must routinely approve their care plan. Medicare will then cover the cost of bathing, dressing, and toileting services provided by home health aides for a certain number of hours each week. There is no coverage for housekeeping services.
Veterans Administration programs can benefit veterans and their spouses. Veterans can receive assistance with the cost of nursing home care, assisted living, and in-home care through VA programs. To qualify, a veteran must meet the income restrictions set by the Veterans Administration.
Medicaid offers long-term care and health insurance for people with limited financial resources. Before applying for Medicaid, seniors must endure a 60-month “look back” period in which Medicaid examines their finances and spending patterns.
The majority of older adults spend their assets to qualify for Medicaid. As the application is complex, particularly concerning the look-back period and any gifts that may have been made, you must consult with an elder law attorney in the state where your parents reside for assistance.
Are long-term care policies worth it?
It is worthwhile to buy long-term care insurance since it prevents your finances from depleting by nursing home care, custodial care, or assisted living costs. According to Genworth’s cost of care survey, it can cost you $54,000 per year for a nursing home to keep you and $108,400 for a private skilled nursing facility.
Why do people not plan for long-term care?
There is a common misconception that Medicare and Medigap coverage will cover long-term care. Some people believe they are unlikely to need long-term care services in the future, and many cannot afford the coverage and prioritize urgent expenses first.
Who is the best candidate for long-term care insurance?
LTC insurance premiums are determined by your age when you apply, and your birthday increases your costs. When you’re in your 50s, rate increases are usually 2-4 percent, but once you’re in your 60s, they increase by 6 to 8 percent.
How do you know when it’s time for long-term care?
A decline in personal hygiene and care can indicate that long-term care may be necessary. Your parents’ personal care is being neglected if they do not regularly bathe, brush their teeth, brush their hair, or use the restroom.
It’s not the same as giving a surprise gift to your parents when you buy them long-term care insurance. An LTC insurance policy can only be taken out with the insured’s consent. As a result, your parents will have to consent to you becoming insured, and they will have to undergo an insurance medical test during the application process. Regardless of who pays the premiums, their policy won’t cost them more. Your first and most important step should be to sit down and have a conversation.