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Latest Smart Ways Women Can Reduce Long-Term Care Insurance Costs
So much of the information found online that relates to long-term care insurance is old, outdated and frankly completely irrelevant. That is especially true if you are what I refer to as an older woman on your own. That is someone who is in her late 50s or older, is currently single, divorced or widowed. Perhaps worst of all, little information offers valuable insight into ways to reduce the cost of this important form of future protection.
Women on their own have a special need to consider long-term care planning. Note that I didn’t say long-term care insurance here – just emphasized the planning aspect. This is why.
First, it is a commonly known fact that women are much more likely to live long lives. The latest life expectancy for women is 84 (2018 statistics). But this is actually a bit misleading. A 65-year-old woman today can expect to live, on average, to 86.7. Make it to your 80s and you have a greater chance of making it to 90, 100 or even more.
Living a long life brings various consequences. Perhaps the biggest is the very real risk of needing long-term care services at some point toward the end of your life.
The second reason that women on their own face a very real need to plan is that unlike their counterparts who are married or have partners, women on their own do not have what many call that built-in caregiver. Contrary to what most people associate with the term long-term care, most care is provided in the home environment, and much of it may be provided by the spouse or partner.
So, for older women on their own, undertaking some long-term care planning is essential. But that planning today can be misleading when you base your decision on older data and information.
According to AALTCI, the national industry trade organization, here are some current facts that women should be aware of.
Women have a much greater need for long-term care services. About 68 percent of all long-term care insurance policies are taken out by women.
More than one-third of long-term care insurance policies taken out by women are for services received in their own home. Only 20 percent is for care in a skilled nursing facility.
Because women are more likely to need long-term care and file more claims than men, women pay more for comparable long-term care insurance policies, often as much as 40 percent more.
For all these reasons, women would benefit from taking a slightly different approach when considering long-term care insurance. Different from what many call how the product recommendation “out there” is usually presented. This describes the following basic policy provisions, an initial $150 per day benefit amount, a 3-year policy provision coupled with a three percent annual increase in benefits to keep pace with inflation.
For the women on their own, some long-term care insurance protection will always be better than having none. Having some will provide faster access to care, greater options in terms of choice of care providers and care options. By some insurance, we mean having insurance to pay part of the cost using retirement savings and Social Security or other retirement income as the supplement.
An analysis of long-term care insurance prices conducted in January 2019 found that over-the-counter access for a single woman in her 60s would cost nearly $3,000 a year. A price many women on their own on fixed incomes simply cannot afford or choose not to pay. So they go without any plan.
Rather, here are two more affordable options worth considering. A policy priced with an initial monthly benefit of $3,500 growing at three percent annually with a benefit that grows from an initial $84,000 at age 60 to $198,000 at age 90. This can be a significant amount of insurance benefits to cover home care and certainly many months. if a skilled nursing home is needed. The annual overhead would be $1,800 per year. This amounts to a 40 percent annual savings and an amount of coverage that can be quite enough for many women and will certainly be better than having no coverage at all.
Or, consider a larger set of benefits that starts at $175,000 at age 60 and grows to $265,000 at age 90 thanks to an annual 1.5 percent inflationary growth option. That benefit will still cost less than $2,150 a year — a 28 percent savings compared to the over-the-counter approach.
The bottom line for women on their own is to consider much more than the off-the-shelf approach to buying long-term care insurance. You have the right to request several examples of policy illustrations and prices from the insurance professional you work with. Ask them to offer a Good-Better and Best scenario with low, medium and higher monthly premiums.
At the end of the day, armed with this information, you will be able to make a better informed decision that will benefit you today as well as your future.
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