Planning for retirement requires a great deal of thought, but one of the biggest questions is: How will you pay for it?
One solution that many seniors consider to help cover their long-term care costs during their financial planning process is a long-term care insurance policy. Like other insurance policies, long-term care insurance is an option that many consider in their 50s and beyond based on their situation, preferences, and projected needs.
Whether or not you already have a long-term care insurance policy, you may be surprised to learn that its benefits (depending on your coverage) can often be put toward the goal of residing in an independent living community. This article explores some of the considerations that having long-term care insurance requires, and how you may be able to put your benefits toward a community that fits your vision for your retirement.
What Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cover
Long-term care insurance is one of many tools that adults and seniors can use to prepare for their future. In this case, long-term care refers to the types of services and support that you may need as you get older that are not usually covered by regular health insurance, such as assistance with daily activities like dressing, bathing, and handling basic chores around your home. Long-term care insurance can also help to cover costs relating to care for a medical condition, disability, or disorder such as Alzheimer’s.
Though long-term care insurance policies vary, in most cases regular health insurance and Medicare will not cover the support that you may need in this area of your life. Furthermore, standard health insurance may also only cover short inpatient or recovery visits as well as limited amounts of in-home health care or support for rehabilitation. This is where taking out a long-term care insurance policy can step in and provide coverage for the services that you need over, well, the long term.
Using Your Long-Term Insurance at an Independent Living Community
Regardless of state or region, most holders of long-term care insurance policies are eligible for benefits when they cannot perform two out of six “activities of daily living” without help, or if they are diagnosed with a cognitive impairment. These daily living activities include:
- Caring for incontinence
- Toileting (getting on or off the toilet)
- Transferring (i.e., getting in or out of a bed)
However, understanding your long-term care insurance’s coverage and benefits policies is key. Though independent living communities are often set up to accept long-term care insurance payments, the insurance provider itself may have specific requirements, such as conformity to certain state regulations or licenses or other levels of care standards. This could include the size and type of living community and the type of staff available at certain periods of time.
Therefore, it is important to take the time to understand the requirements of your current or potential long-term care insurance policy and use that information when selecting the right community for you. Some questions to guide your research can include:
- Is there a maximum daily benefit and/or benefit period?
- Does your provided benefit amount adjust with inflation?
- Is there an elimination period before benefits are available, and if so, how long is it? Are there other requirements for a benefit trigger?
- Does the long-term care insurance policy reimburse for actual expenses or does it provide a certain allowance to cover costs?
Long-Term Care Insurance Resources
Understandably, the process of reviewing certain long-term care insurance coverage levels, benefits, and other conditions can be difficult. In these cases, it may be helpful to consult with experts or trusted advisers such as financial planners or insurance professionals.
For more information and assistance, other options include the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Another option is to contact the team at Arbor Terrace, which includes experienced professionals who are well versed in the long-term care insurance community and the various policies that seniors must adhere to during their retirement.
Ultimately, the decision to purchase and use a long-term care insurance policy is a personal decision. But if you already have one or plan to use one as part of your retirement planning, a long-term care insurance policy could be a huge benefit to pay for your future care needs.