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Long Term Care

The Aging Face Of America

As we approach another year, a national crisis is being played out in the homes of average families all across America. You are contributing to the crisis if you watch your cholesterol, take vitamins, exercise and see your doctor regularly, because you are increasing the odds that you will live longer. In America, seniors will represent the largest demographic group in the country. Life expectancy has increased to nearly 85 years old and the longer we live the more we become susceptible to frailties and illnesses that increase the possible need for long term care.

The Need For Care

Most Americans usually have two major misconceptions about long term care. The first thought, "It will never happen to me", borders on wishful. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a staggering 43 percent will enter a nursing home at some time before they die. Of these, 55 percent will stay at least a year and 21 percent will stay at least five years, with the average stay lasting two and a half years. Plus, many more will need care at home.

The second misconception is that if care is needed, government programs will protect them from financial devastation. Unfortunately, the average cost of a year in a nursing home, nationwide, is about $95,000. Although Medicare serves the acute needs of older Americans, it was not intended to cover chronic long term needs.

Long term care is a leading cause of catastrophic out-of-pocket health care costs for the elderly.

The Solution: Long Term Care Insurance Another method of paying for long term care, that you or a family member may need, is the purchase of private long term care insurance. Long term care insurance pays a certain dollar amount per day for a set number of months or years of skilled, intermediate or custodial care. It will pay for the service and support required for day-to-day living when frailty, prolonged illness or disability prevents you from caring for yourself. Depending on the policy you purchase, care can be provided not only in a nursing or assisted living facility, but in your own home or in an adult day care center.

Under age 65, your risk of disability is greater than your risk of death.

The policies are age related and health underwritten. So, the earlier one purchases a policy, the lower the premiums. Many persons assume that only senior adults may need long term care because they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own such as bathing or dressing. But the fact is that anyone at any age may suddenly require long term care services. Surprisingly, almost 40% of those receiving long term care are under 65 due to accidents, mental conditions, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, etc.

The decision to purchase a long term care insurance policy and the type of policy selected depends on many factors. For example, significant differences exist among policy features, benefit options and eligibility criteria. Choosing among these options can present you with a significant challenge and requires your careful consideration of a number of factors related to long term care risks and your individual needs.

Considering your own families' health history can be a starting point. If your relatives are long-lived, there's a good chance that you may have a greater life expectancy and will someday need assistance. Another concern would be if your family has a history of stroke, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, ailments that typically require long term care.

Policy Choices and Benefit Options The importance of looking for a flexible plan that allows you to design a policy that not only addresses your budget, but also assists you in maintaining maximum independence when care is needed, cannot be emphasized enough.

COMPREHENSIVE LONG TERM CARE:     These policies pay for long term care provided at home or in the community as well as nursing facility care.

Choosing Your Daily Benefit Amount
Insurance companies offer policyholders a choice of daily benefits, usually $50 to $500 a day for care. Before deciding on a daily benefit amount, you should consider how much nursing facilities in your area charge. If home care is covered as part of your policy, the benefit for those services should be at least one-half of that for nursing facility care.

Choosing Your Deductible Period
With all long term care policies, you'll need to choose a specific deductible period or elimination period. This is the number of days you must pay out-of-pocket for either nursing home or home health care before your insurance policy takes over paying the daily benefit you have chosen. These deductibles typically range from zero day deductible up to a 365-day deductible. Since longer deductibles lower insurance premiums, you'll need to weigh the savings to determine what is best for you.

Choosing Your Benefit Period
Another choice you will be asked to make is the length of time your benefits will last. Benefit periods may run for one year, two years, three years, four years, five years and lifetime. many nursing facility stays can be as short as three months or as long as several years. Keep in mind, that, even if you are able to leave the nursing home, you may still require home care services.

Call 1-800-764-6585 to explore your options now, or fill out the form below to be sent an enrollment kit.

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