Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It?
Many of us take independence for granted, which is why it can be hard to plan ahead for the days when we may need help getting dressed, cooking or even getting out of bed. But when those days come, paying for care services can be costly. Long-term care insurance can help, but many ask: Is it worth it?
Most of us are likely to need long-term care. Nearly seven out of 10 people will require help with basic daily living skills for an average of three years at some point in their lives, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In many places across the Pacific Northwest, the average yearly cost of nursing home care (in a private room) exceeds $140,000, and that amount increases every year. The mother-in-law of one of our regional sales managers needed 10 years of nursing home care at a total cost to the family of nearly $1 million, and their story isn’t an outlier.
Long-term care insurance can help with these costs. It covers expenses for assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and even in-home care — none of which are typically covered by health insurance.
Because of the frequency and size of claims, this coverage isn’t inexpensive, but there are things you can do to shop smart. Buy your coverage early: When you’re 45 and healthy, rates can be reasonable; when you’re 65 or older, rates may be expensive. There also are significant discounts for couples who apply and purchase coverage together, and AAA can provide a 5 percent premium discount for members. Note that the state is now funding some long-term care coverage for taxpayers, but it’s not enough on its own.
So, is it worth it? Long-term care insurance is vital, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. This coverage is one piece of a comprehensive retirement plan. So, talk with your insurance agent and find out if it’s the right coverage for you. The goal is to ensure you’re adequately prepared for whatever your golden years bring.
Keep in mind, as of January 1, 2022, Washington state workers will be required to pay a payroll tax of 0.58 percent, which will go to a fund that pays up to $100 a day with a lifetime maximum of $36,500, based on meeting eligibility requirements. But you can claim an exemption from this tax if you have your policy active before November 1, 2021. This is one reason to consider looking into this coverage now.
—Michael Riley, Director of Sales of AAA Washington Insurance Agency, has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry and is a guest lecturer at Washington State University.