Many people will spend their twilight years in a care facility. As you age, simple daily tasks — such as bending over to put on a pair of pants or standing for hours to do chores — become more challenging. In the very least, we'll all likely need additional health care in addition to home assistance as our health deteriorates.
Unfortunately, health insurance, Medicare and employer benefits often only cover a small portion of the expense of a nursing facility or at-home assistance, which is why long-term care insurance is particularly important. A plan helps cover the cost of a nursing home, assisted living facility or other long-term care option.
Top 10 Best Rated Long Term Care Insurance Providers
MedAmerica focuses on ease of use and helping clients really understand their needs and policies instead of buying blindly. Account holders can also get access to their information and policy details quickly through the website.
|Read 7 Reviews|
ACSIA Partners focuses on informing customers and provides a variety of information to help them make a decision on the best type of insurance. Customers can also schedule a consultation to get personalized advice before buying.
|Read 5 Reviews|
GuideOne's agents are trained to find customers the best carrier for their long-term care insurance. The firm also provides additional types of insurance, so clients can streamline multiple insurance needs through one company.
|Read 11 Reviews|
MetLife provides insurance to people all around the world, and that means lots of options and easily obtainable quotes. For customers who value a personal connection, MetLife has in-person offices across the country.
|Read 134 Reviews|
Mutual of Omaha offers nationwide life and other types of insurance through its Omaha office. It is committed to Midwestern values, especially family, neighborliness and making sure that everybody is provided for adequately.
|Read 20 Reviews|
Transamerica helps clients understand the different long-term care options, so they can decide how much insurance they really need. Availability can vary based on area, so talking with an agent before buying is important.
|Read 33 Reviews|
John Hancock was founded in 1862, so it has an established reputation in the finance and insurance industries. It offers inflation protection, online tools such as a cost-of-care calculator, and a personal care coordinator.
|Read 74 Reviews|
Bankers Life and Casualty Company has an established reputation in the industry and offers several long-term care insurance packages. Customers can choose from comprehensive or facility-only, depending on their family situation.
|Read 44 Reviews|
Genworth shows clients a cost comparison for long-term care insurance and the predicted cost of care in their area, so they can be sure they're getting enough coverage. The firm also offers online bill payment for convenience.
|Read 181 Reviews|
Formerly Conseco, Inc., CNO Financial Group, Inc. serves over four million Americans. CNO serves its clients through subsidiaries like Bankers Life and Causality, Colonial Penn, Washington National and 40/86 Advisors.
|Read 129 Reviews|
What features matter most?
Understanding what long-term care insurance will pay for will help you ensure you use the coverage effectively. Not all nursing services are included, and there may be specific exclusions.
- Read the plan: Before choosing a policy, read all the documentation. One plan might include in-home care, while another only covers a nursing home.
- Check for exclusions: Some policies might exclude coverage in certain situations. For example, they might not cover nursing care for someone suffering from emphysema if the policy holder failed to disclose a smoking habit.
- Upgrade if necessary: With long-term care insurance, there may be maximum lifetime benefits or daily limits. It's important to determine the total amount of coverage needed and the cost of care in your area. If you may need additional coverage, ask about policy add-ons.
Insurance policies typically charge an annual premium, which may be based on several factors. The earlier you buy, the less you generally pay each year.
- Age: The earlier you buy in your life, the less you generally pay each year.
- Pay by the year: While most insurance companies offer monthly payments, you may get a better price by paying for the year upfront. Be sure to ask about possible discounts.
- Premium service comes with premium prices: Upgraded insurance levels come with a higher price tag, but the additional cost might be worth it. You'll need to sit down and figure out exactly what you get for the extra money, and whether your budget now, and in the future, will support it.
- Watch for premium increases: Long-term insurance are “guaranteed renewable” insurance policies, meaning that the insurance company cannot cancel your policy. It can, however, raise your premiums as part of a premium increase for a “class” of policies. This typically happens, so be prepared.
You'll probably need long-term care at a time when your income may be limited. You'll need to be careful to know what costs you will be responsible for before and after your insurance goes into effect.
- Policy trigger: Policies are typically triggered when someone is unable to do a stated number of activities of daily life (ADL), such as bathing and dressing. If you need long-term care but you haven’t triggered your policy yet, you could be footing all of the bill until that happens.
- Waiting period: Also known as an elimination period, this is the amount of time you’ll have between when you’re policy triggered and when benefits kick in.
- Extra expenses: If your room has a phone, charges may be associated with using it. Cable television may not be included in the cost of your stay. Before you turn on the TV, find out if the service is provided at no charge or if you're looking at a daily or weekly bill.
Every insurance policy has limitations on the total coverage available to a policyholder. The limit may be daily, monthly, annual or lifetime, depending on the type of service.
- Medical conditions: Most long-term care insurance policies exclude coverage related to long-term illness or injuries caused by such things as alcoholism or drug abuse, war, self-inflicted wounds or mental disorders.
- Per condition: Some policies have daily or policy limitations per service—such as a certain amount total for home modifications, or $100 per day for home care.
- Total spending limits: Is the spending limit on a long-term care policy figured daily or monthly? Or are benefits limited by how many years total that the insurer will pay out—for instance, a policy that will only pay for five years of benefits after being triggered?
Like most insurance, long-term care can pay for different things, and these are usually spelled out clearly in a policy.
- Skilled care and assisted care: When most people think of long-term care, they think of nursing homes, but insurance often can pay for assisted living centers, where people live relatively independently in close proximity to medical care.
- At-home and community care: Some of us do not want to leave home, no matter how infirm we are. In these cases, insurance can pay for assistance at home, or for services such as adult day care at a local community or health care setting. Insurance can also pay for modifications at home to make it safer and easier for someone to continue to live there.
- Care coordination: Individuals and their families often need help to make sense of requirements for someone with long-term care needs. Professionals can come to their rescue, and these services can be included in policies.
What are different types of long term care insurance?
Purchased directly through an insurance agent or broker, these plans are some of the most common.
Negotiated by your employer, these plans are either group plans or individual plans offered at a group discount.
Service and professional organizations may offer group rates that beat anything available on the individual market.
State partnership programs
Most states have programs working with long-term care insurance providers to allow policyholders to maintain assets and still use Medicaid.
These policies allow a single purchase to cover more than one person, typically a married couple. Be aware that the total coverage amount is then split between the two people named on the policy.
Who's it for?
Lost productivity is a problem for employers when an employee is injured on the job or at home. Depending on the circumstance, the employer might be liable for some or all of the expenses associated with an employee's care.
After retiring, many people have severely limited incomes, leaving them with a small cushion for health-related costs. If they need long-term care and don't have a policy, they could wind up losing savings and their homes.
As people move into their golden years, many things become more difficult and dangerous. A simple slip in the shower could result in a hospital stay that lasts months. At this time, you must start to consider alternatives to living alone.
It is important for parents to minimize their financial impact on their adult children. They want to leave something behind, not be a financial burden. When facing the possibility of a nursing home, seek out alternative options and financing.
A nationwide distributor of long-term care insurance products, ACSIA Partners works with individuals, employers and insurance companies to create comprehensive coverage packages.
- Best for Employers, retirees, the elderly and parents.
Since 1947, GuideOne insurance has focused on niche insurance markets. The company is a leading provider for a variety of insurance products for markets like churches, schools and home care.
- Best for Employers
Transamerica offers a range of services that go well beyond insurance products. The company is a leading financial services company and offers everything from investment advice to insurance.
- Best for Parents, retirees and the elderly.
Doing business since 1879, Bankers Life and Casualty has long been a trusted name in life insurance. With a core value of creating affordable insurance, it is no surprise that this company has branched out to include long-term care insurance and Medicare supplemental plans.
- Best for Parents, retirees and the elderly.
John Hancock insures more than 3.5 million policyholders, paying out $2.3 billion each year in claims. The company's A+ rating from A.M. Best lets consumers buy with confidence, as it shows John Hancock's ability to meet its financial obligations.
- Best for Employers, parents, retirees and the elderly.
Serving policyholders since 1909, Mutual of Omaha offers a comprehensive package of insurance products, including life, disability and Medicare supplement insurance.
- Best for Employers, parents, retirees and the elderly.
Founded in 1979, this New York- and Florida-based company has paid out more than $614 million in claims.
- Best for Employers, the elderly and retirees.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.