With advancements in medical technologies, people are increasingly living longer lives. This longer life, though allowing us to have greater life experiences, also increases the chances that we will experience long-term illnesses that require help in order to continue living safely in our homes. Activities of daily living (ADL's) is a term you might hear that refers to the things we do on a daily basis to take care of ourselves, including bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom. Individuals with many chronic, or long-term, diseases often have trouble performing some of these ADL's, and the need for assistance with these activities is a measure used to assess when an individual is eligible to use Long-term care insurance benefits.
Depending on your policy, you might have a waiting period before you can access your funds. Does your policy allow you to start collecting benefits on the day you begin receiving assistance, or are you subject to a waiting period of anywhere from 30 to 120 days? It is important to ask these questions and get advice from your broker when deciding which policy is best for you.
Likewise, you will want to seriously consider when is the right time to initiate your claim. The waiting period often corresponds to the benefit period, or the maximum amount of time that the insurance company will pay benefits. Often, the longer the waiting period before benefits begin, the longer the company will pay for your care. Benefit periods are typically three to five years, and correspond to the lifetime benefit cap, or the maximum dollars that will be paid by the insurance company on the policy; these figures are related in terms of the maximum daily benefit over the number of years in the benefit period.
You should discuss and weigh your options carefully with your broker and consider what your needs may be if you experience a stroke, are diagnosed with cancer or other situations where you have the potential to live a long time needing just a little bit of help to stay in your home. Long-term care insurance can help you pay for the home care you need as you age if you anticipate your needs and choose your policy accordingly.
It is important to know that the cost of long-term care is expected to grow significantly over the next few decades. In the next thirty years, the annual cost of long-term care is expected to increase over 330% to over $300,000 a year for a home care aide and even more for a nursing home or assisted living facility. For most of us, that means that the care we need as we age will be more than we are able to save through investments or other private sources, making Long-term care insurance a smart investment in our future independence and safety.
Today, home care services through an agency cost roughly $14 to $28 per hour. On average, individuals from the general population use twenty hours of home care each week for about six months. Those with Long-term care insurance use thirteen months of care, on average, at about twenty hours per week. Consider these averages as you and your broker design your policy.