Here are five long-term health care tips. Find out what approach is right for you as you enter your golden years — before you're in a desperate situation.
1. Insure your future.
Traditional long-term care insurance policies have had a history of premium spikes and ensure losses. Better alternatives? “Whole life” insurance policies with a chronic illness rider that lets you spend your death benefit tax-free if you need a nursing home or other LTC facility. These and “hybrid” whole life LTC policies will return money to your heirs even if you don't end up needing care.
2. Buy early.
Start looking for a plan and your 50s or early 60s, before prices rise or health issues rule out some coverage.
“Every year you delay, it will be more expensive,” says LTCShop.com’s Scott Olson. Initial premiums at age 64, for example, jump 8 to 10% for new customers who are 65.
3. Get covered.
Policies should cover physical and cognitive impairment, home health aids and room and board at both assisted living and nursing homes, says ConciergeHealthNY.com co-founder Dana Reisch.
4. Don’t play favorites.
If you have more than one child, consider having a neutral party be your power of attorney to avoid conflict, Reisch says.
5. See an expert.
Pros say if you can self-insure, you should. In some cases, Medicaid can pay long-term care costs, but it's best if you get professional advice to learn your options.