Get only enough Long Term Care Insurance to Protect your Life Savings

Today’s blog post continues the series about buying long term care insurance as a strategy for planning ahead for long term care.  My post of May 22, 2014 discussed whether to buy long term care insurance at all.  My post of May 29, 2014 suggested looking for a stable, proven insurer.  My post of June 5, 2014 described how to identify a proven, stable Long Term Care insurance company.  My post of June 12, 2014 discussed the importance of protection against inflation. My post of June 19, 2014 suggested planning to use insurance to pay for four or five years of long term care.  My post of June 22, 2014 suggested a daily rate to choose when purchasing long term care insurance.  My post of July 10, 2014 advised to look carefully at the list of Activities of Daily Living that can trigger coverage from the long term care insurance policy.  My post of July 17, 2014 described the differences between a “period of time” kind of coverage and a “pile of money” kind of coverage.  My post of July 25, 2014 advised to make sure that the long term care insurance includes coverage for cognitive impairment.  My post of July 30, 2014 described the differences between tax-qualified and non-qualified policies.  My post of August 5, 2014 discussed the value of long term care insurance policies that qualify for the Partnership program.    My post of August 14, 2014 discussed hybrid policies that combine long term care insurance with life insurance.  My post of August 21, 2014 described how a long term care insurance policy with a return of premium rider can be used to construct a “hybrid” life insurance/long term care insurance policy.  The introductory post in the series on planning ahead for long term care costs appeared on May 15, 2014.

Today’s post discusses how much long term care insurance to buy as it relates to the size of your life savings.

As discussed in my post of August 5, 2014, a Partnership long term care insurance policy allows the policyholder to keep an amount of money equal to the payout from the insurance.  For example, Medicaid normally allows a person receiving long term care benefits to have only $1,500 in assets.   A person whose Partnership long term care policy paid $100,000 before the person used Medicaid benefits would be allowed to keep $101,500 and still receive Medicaid coverage.

That ability to keep an amount of money equal to the insurance payout suggests a possible strategy to buy long term care insurance at a manageable cost to protect smaller nest eggs.  A person who knows (or can predict) how large his or her life savings is (or will be) can buy a Partnership policy for just that amount.

If someone wanted to buy a long term care policy to cover 5 years (today’s look-back period) at a common nursing home private pay rate in northeast Ohio (where I practice,) the policy would need to have an expected payout of about $450,000 over 5 years.  (This calculation assumes that the insured has no income that he or she will contribute to the cost of care, an unlikely assumption.)  For people who expect that their life savings will be smaller than $450,000, a lower-priced insurance alternative may be available.

Say, for example, that your life savings is $250,000.  A Partnership long term care policy with a projected payout of $250,000 would allow the entire savings amount to be kept when your insurance runs out and you need Medicaid to pay for your long term care.  A policy structured to pay out $250,000 should cost significantly less than one structured to pay out $450,000.  This approach to long term care insurance can be used for any size of nest egg below $450,000.

Now, this strategy is not appropriate for everyone.  For example, the younger you are when purchasing the long term care policy, the less likely you are to be able to predict the value of your savings at retirement time.  Similarly, people invested in assets which fluctuate in value (such as stocks and real estate) may not be able to predict the value of their savings at the time they’d need long term care.

For others, however, this strategy would make long term care insurance much more affordable and would give them insurance that could cover their entire life savings) or to cover a specific amount of their savings that they choose to protect.)

Not long ago, I met with a healthy, retired widow whose husband died after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease.  After that experience, she is concerned that her possible future need for long term care might bankrupt her.  (“Bankrupt” was her word.)  She knows how much her life savings is worth (and it’s less than $450,000.)  She could, at a manageable price, get a Partnership policy that would cover her entire life savings.

For more information, visit Jim’s website.

Jim Koewler’s mission is
“Protecting Seniors and People with Special Needs.”

For help with long term care or with planning for someone with special needs,
call Jim, or contact him through his website.

© 2014 The Koewler Law Firm.  All rights reserved.

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