The value of long-term care insurance is being widely touted in the senior living industry, especially after the CLASS Act implemented a voluntary long-term care savings account that can be made available through employers. However, few businesses have signed up to participate in the program, and other news in the long-term care insurance biz is spelling potential trouble for Baby Boomers and future generations.
MetLife, a major insurance carrier, announced earlier this month that they’ll no longer be offering long-term care insurance. Why? It turns out that selling long-term care insurance isn’t very profitable, so many other carriers are likely to follow suit after evaluating the bottom line. Long-term care insurance is meant to save families money when the need for long-term care arises by charging monthly premiums throughout a person’s lifetime; in exchange, the insurance provider pays all or part of the costs of assisted living, nursing homes, home health care, and sometimes respite care, adult day care, and hospice care.
Not only does long-term care insurance save families money, but it reduces strain on the Medicaid system, which picks up the slack to pay for care when an individual’s assets have been depleted. Currently, Medicaid accounts for nearly half (43%) of all nursing home funding, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (as reported by USA Today). But the same factors that make long-term care insurance so important are the very things that make it unprofitable for insurers: An aging population, rapid inflation of health-care costs, and increased longevity.
Boomers worry that they won’t be able to rely on an already strained Medicaid system to pay for care as they age, and Medicaid places limits on long-term care options anyway. According to USA Today, most Boomers say they’d prefer to age in place, but Medicaid typically doesn’t cover home health care. Furthermore, Medicaid doesn’t come into play until after a person’s assets are depleted — meaning many Boomers would have to spend down their hard-earned savings, leaving little to nothing to leave to their families.
The good news: It doesn’t appear that long-term care insurance is heading off the map just yet, as many carriers are still offering options, including hybrid plans that can be cashed out if the need for long-term care never arises. Still, Boomers — and anyone purchasing a long-term care insurance plan — should choose wisely, plan for what they can afford, and consult an expert, if possible. For more information and tips on choosing long-term care insurance, visit Long Term Care Insurance and Long-Term Insurance: Planning for Your Future.
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