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How can one make long-term care insurance more affordable?

Long-term care planning is essential if a person wants to ensure they will be able to afford the help they'll need in their old age. Some people will need in-home care. Others might live in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. While some may be relying on Medicaid and their retirement savings to afford such care, there are other means for paying for elder care.

For example, many baby boomers in New Jersey may have purchased long-term care insurance while they were still working. Now, those who have retired and are living off their retirement savings may have concerns about those long-term care insurance policies they bought years ago. Will there be enough coverage under their policy to meet their future needs? Or, if their premiums are ever-increasing, will they even be able to continue to afford long-term care insurance?

If a person has a long-term care insurance policy but is having trouble meeting the premiums, they may have options. One option that might be available to some is to decrease their future inflation protection or choose a shorter benefit period in exchange for lowering the rate increase. Another option might be to look at long-term care insurance not as the primary means for affording elder care, but instead as a way to fill in the gaps that one's retirement savings or Medicaid won't cover.

Long-term care insurance may be an option for some who anticipate needing elder care, but do not want to deplete their savings paying for it. Of course, it is not the only option. Medicaid may be available to those who qualify, and there may be other public benefits available as well. Some may also choose to fund their elder care with investments or a home equity loan. These self-help measures can be very useful to those who are looking for ways to pay for long-term care.

Source: The Union Democrat, "The long-term-care insurance dilemma," Kimberly Lankford, April 19, 2018

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