Charles Crutchfield

Long-term care insurance — is it right for you?

long term careWhen it comes to long-term care insurance, the sooner you consider it the better!
As you age, if you were to become unable to care for yourself, instead of being placed into a nursing home, would you prefer to stay in your home with a private nursing assistant and 24-hour care? If you answered “yes,” then long-term care insurance may be worth considering.
Long-term care insurance covers the cost of being cared for that is generally not covered by traditional health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. About 50 percent of all people will need some form of long-term care.

Long-term care candidates include people with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or other conditions that need assistance, on a daily basis, over a long period of time. The type of help needed can range from assistance with simple “activities of daily living” such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, getting in and out of a bed and chairs, and walking to skilled care that’s provided by nurses, therapists or other professionals.

The benefits of long-term care insurance include the provision of in-home care, assisted living, respite care, adult daycare, private-room nursing home care, home modification, caregiver coordination, hospice care, and Alzheimer’s care facilities. If the policy covers “in-home” care, it may cover care from the very first day and will provide a live-in caregiver or companion, housekeeper, therapist, and private duty nurse around the clock and every day of the week, depending on the policy.
Long-term care insurance will also take the social and financial burden off of children, family and friends if you should ever need long-term care. It may also keep your savings intact so you don’t have to use it for your care.

Points to consider with respect to long-term care insurance:
• Make sure you carefully explain to your insurance agent the exact amount and type of long-term care coverage you want, and find out what type and terms of long-term care insurance is available so they can make sure they match you with the appropriate policy.
• Some types of long-term care may be covered by Medicare and Medicaid, so make sure to discuss it with your insurance agent so you are not paying for coverage you won’t need.
• There are significant tax considerations if you elect to have long-term care, so make sure you discuss this with your accountant or tax advisor or preparer before purchasing the insurance. They may need to communicate with your insurance agent to review any details and make sure your long-term financial goals and tax preparations are correct.
• If you purchase long-term care insurance when you are younger, it may be very affordable. Conversely, if you purchase it later in life the premiums may be cost-prohibitive or may not be available at all. The sooner you consider it, the better.
• Meet with your insurance agent every one or two years to review and make sure all your policies are up-to-date and providing you with the exact coverages you need. Give a copy of this information to your accountant, financial planner or tax advisor.
• Establish a plan with your insurance agent so that if something were to happen to you and you could not speak for yourself, your insurance policies would still become known to the appropriate people and protect you with the insurance coverage you paid for.
• Teach your children and younger members of your family about this often overlooked insurance so that they can consider it when they are younger and the policies are most affordable.
Long-term care insurance is not for everyone, but it is right for some. The sooner you consider it, the better off you may be.

Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He has been selected as one of the top 10 dermatologists in the United States by Black Enterprise magazine and one of the top 21 African American physicians in the U.S. by the Atlanta Post. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Black Physicians, MABP.org.