5 surprising facts to know about long-term care insurance (2024)

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MoneyWatch: Managing Your Money

By Angelica Leicht

Edited By Matt Richardson

/ CBS News

5 surprising facts to know about long-term care insurance (2)

When it comes to planning for your retirement finances, the focus tends to be on saving and investing — and for good reason. Without enough money put away, it can be tough to cover all of the expenses that arise after you're done working. And, the type of investing and saving you do can vary depending on your financial goals during retirement, which can put further emphasis on that part of retirement planning.

But building a solid financial foundation for retirement extends well outside of your savings and investments. Other parts of your retirement finances are equally as important to prepare for, too — and that includes the medical expenses you could face in your later years. And while Medicare can help cover some of those costs, it may not cover everything — including the long-term care you may need in the future.

That's where long-term care insurance comes in. This type of coverage is used to pay for the cost of certain types of long-term care, which can put a big strain on your retirement budget if you have to pay them out of pocket. In turn, it can be a vital component of a well-rounded retirement plan — and if you're considering a policy, there are a few other surprising facts about long-term care insurance that you may want to know.

Find your best long-term care insurance options online here.

5 surprising facts to know about long-term care insurance

If you're considering a long-term care insurance policy, there are a few surprising facts to consider, including:

It can cover more than nursing home expenses

One common misconception about long-term care insurance is that it only covers expenses related to nursing homes. However, the coverage from this type of policy extends to various settings, including assisted living facilities, home care, adult daycares and even hospice care. It may also cover the costs associated with aging in place.

This flexibility allows policyholders to receive care in a setting that aligns with their preferences, providing a sense of control over their healthcare decisions.

Understanding the diverse coverage options can help you tailor your long-term care insurance to match your specific needs and preferences. For instance, if you value the comfort of receiving care at home, you can structure your long-term care insurance policy to cover home-based services, allowing for a more personalized and comfortable experience.

Compare long-term care insurance policies to find the right option for you.

Hybrid policies combine life insurance and long-term care coverage

Another surprising fact worth noting about long-term care insurance is the emergence of hybrid policies, which combine life insurance with long-term care coverage. These policies offer a dual benefit, providing a death benefit to beneficiaries if the policyholder passes away without needing long-term care. If long-term care becomes necessary, the policy's cash value can be used to cover those expenses.

The main benefit of hybrid policies is that they address the concern that traditional long-term care insurance can be a "use it or lose it" proposition, as premiums are paid but may not be utilized if the policyholder never requires extended care. This innovative approach provides a more comprehensive solution, adding an extra layer of financial security for both the policyholder and their loved ones.

Health issues can impact eligibility

While it's common knowledge that health plays a role in determining eligibility for long-term care insurance — just as it does with several other types of insurance coverage — many people are surprised to learn the specificsof how health changes can impact their long-term care coverage. In particular, pre-existing conditions, especially those related to cognitive decline, can significantly affect eligibility, and insurers may conduct thorough medical underwriting to assess an applicant's health status before issuing a policy.

However, some policies offer more lenient underwriting standards, making it crucial that you secure coverage before any significant health changes occur. Waiting until health issues arise can limit your options and result in higher premiums or even denial of coverage — which underscores the importance of planning ahead and obtaining long-term care insurance while still in good health.

Some policies offer shared spousal benefits

Long-term care insurance often comes with the option for shared spousal benefits, allowing married couples to maximize their coverage. In a shared benefit arrangement, spouses have access to a pool of benefits that can be used by either partner. This provides a level of flexibility and financial support, ensuring that both people can receive the care they need without being limited by individual benefit amounts.

Shared spousal benefits address the reality that long-term care needs can vary between spouses. By pooling resources, couples can navigate potential healthcare challenges more effectively, offering peace of mind at a time when support and care are paramount.

There may be tax advantages

You may also be surprised to discover that long-term care insurance can offer tax advantages. The premiums paid for long-term care insurance coverage are often tax-deductible, subject to certain limitations. This can be particularly beneficial for business owners seeking ways to manage their tax liability while ensuring comprehensive coverage for potential long-term care needs.

But understanding the tax implications of long-term care insurance can be a valuable component of financial planning, whether or not you're a business owner. And, consulting with a tax professional or financial advisor can help navigate the complexities and leverage potential tax benefits associated with long-term care insurance.

The bottom line

Long-term care insurance is a vital tool when preparing for the uncertainties that come with aging. By understanding these surprising facts, you can make informed decisions about your long-term care coverage, tailoring it to your unique circumstances. From flexible coverage options to innovative hybrid policies, long-term care insurance offers a range of solutions that go beyond traditional expectations, providing financial security and peace of mind for the future.

Angelica Leicht

Angelica Leicht is senior editor for CBS' Moneywatch: Managing Your Money, where she writes and edits articles on a range of personal finance topics. Angelica previously held editing roles at The Simple Dollar, Interest, HousingWire and other financial publications.

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As a seasoned financial expert and enthusiast with an in-depth understanding of retirement planning, I've delved into the intricacies of managing retirement finances, and I can attest to the critical role that factors beyond savings and investments play in securing a solid financial foundation for one's later years. Now, let's dissect the concepts embedded in the article by Angelica Leicht, "MoneyWatch: Managing Your Money," dated January 23, 2024.

1. Retirement Planning Focus: The primary focus in retirement planning typically revolves around saving and investing, given their paramount importance in ensuring financial security post-retirement. Without adequate savings, covering expenses after leaving the workforce becomes challenging.

2. Importance of Comprehensive Retirement Planning: The article emphasizes that building a robust financial foundation for retirement extends well beyond saving and investing. It highlights the significance of considering other aspects of retirement finances, with a specific mention of medical expenses that may be incurred in later years.

3. Role of Medicare and Limitations: While Medicare is acknowledged for helping cover certain medical costs, the article points out its limitations. Notably, it may not cover all expenses, especially those related to long-term care, which can pose a significant financial burden.

4. Introduction to Long-Term Care Insurance: The article introduces long-term care insurance as a vital component of a comprehensive retirement plan, addressing the potential financial strain associated with long-term care expenses that may not be covered by Medicare.

5. Surprising Facts about Long-Term Care Insurance: The main content of the article centers around revealing five surprising facts about long-term care insurance:

a. Diverse Coverage Options:

  • Long-term care insurance is not limited to nursing home expenses; it extends to various settings, including assisted living facilities, home care, adult daycares, and hospice care.
  • Policyholders can tailor coverage to align with their preferences, providing control over healthcare decisions.

    b. Hybrid Policies:

  • The emergence of hybrid policies that combine life insurance with long-term care coverage.
  • Dual benefits: a death benefit for beneficiaries if long-term care is not needed and the ability to use the policy's cash value for long-term care expenses.

    c. Impact of Health Issues on Eligibility:

  • Health conditions, particularly pre-existing conditions, can significantly impact eligibility for long-term care insurance.
  • Some policies offer more lenient underwriting standards, emphasizing the importance of securing coverage before significant health changes occur.

    d. Shared Spousal Benefits:

  • Long-term care insurance may offer shared spousal benefits, allowing married couples to maximize their coverage.
  • Shared benefit arrangements provide flexibility and financial support, addressing variations in long-term care needs between spouses.

    e. Tax Advantages:

  • Long-term care insurance premiums are often tax-deductible, subject to certain limitations.
  • This can be particularly beneficial for business owners managing their tax liability while ensuring comprehensive coverage.

6. The Bottom Line: The article concludes by reinforcing the importance of long-term care insurance in preparing for uncertainties in aging. It emphasizes informed decision-making based on an understanding of surprising facts, ranging from flexible coverage options to innovative hybrid policies, ultimately offering financial security and peace of mind for the future.

In summary, Angelica Leicht's article provides valuable insights into the multifaceted aspects of retirement planning, with a specific focus on the often-overlooked considerations related to long-term care insurance.

5 surprising facts to know about long-term care insurance (2024)
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