I admit I have a great aversion to paying for insurance. That said, I have always spent a great deal of my annual expenses for lots of coverage. As I have always been an independent consultant and entrepreneur, I have never had the (phantom) assurance of a larger corporation looking out for my welfare. So, always insisting on self-reliance for my income, I have approached creating protection for myself and my tiny consulting practice against the catastrophic Unknown.
I know, some of you may want to rely on your husband’s or your wife’s income and coverage, or your family’s wealth, but an accident or a crippling disability may last a very long time, well beyond the tolerance of others and their resources. And besides, what if your partner loses his or her job or business or practice? Insurance companies were created to provide exactly this kind of coverage. If we are going to pay them for coverage, then they should provide it.
Long-term care insurance is usually considered insurance that old people get as they confront their mortality. But we must widen our perspective. Long term care is not an issue only for the elderly — we can encounter an accident (car? rock climbing? skiing?) or an unexpected illness that requires extensive care at any age.
Long term care coverage is based on your inability to perform any two of six basic tasks in your own care, such as dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, continence, transferring (getting in and out of a bed or chair), and walking. The payments cover help in your home, or in qualified facilities (assisted living, nursing homes, Alzheimer’s care facilities, etc.). In my long-term care policy, there is a calculation that my total premiums would cover 81 days in a care facility if paid out of pocket (without the insurance).
Lots of variations to choose from, in each kind of policy: get help
Long term care policies last as long as you pay the premiums, which are lower based on your age and health, so earlier coverage is better. Disability insurance replaces a percentage of your established income (the insurance company determines the percentage), and lasts until you are 65. Both kinds of policies have an exclusion period (30-90 days). There are variations among different policies and you can design one (or a combination of both) that fits your conditions and budget with the help of a Certified Financial Planner (I particularly like Scopp & Associates for excellent knowledge and strategy). Take your spouse or life-partner with you for a joint policy for long-term care, which will offer a discount for policies covering you both.
So, yes, I recognize the dread and the avoidance of paying for more insurance. And I also know that these protections are needed, especially as we live longer and healthier lives, as breakthroughs in medicine keep us living beyond 100 (especially you GenXers and Millennials), and as we may well outlive our incomes, our intentions and our supportive communities. The time to plan is now.