Friday, January 19, 2018
Business

Gauge the costs, advantages of long-term care

It's a frightening prospect. You fall and break a hip and need several months of nursing home care. Or you're recovering from a stroke and need help bathing and getting dressed each morning. Or your husband is slipping into dementia and requires assistance with daily activities.

Those scenarios are the type of care covered under long-term care insurance, known as LTC insurance. The policies can be pricey, and they're not for everyone. Here are some questions to consider.

What's new with LTC coverage?

A lot has changed, said Bonnie Burns, an expert on the matter. Today, more people receive long-term care at home, from family or friends, than move into assisted living. "That's a big change from 20 to 25 years ago," when most people went to nursing homes, she said. "Many of those older (LTC) policies don't pay for the kinds of things people use today."

Today, LTC policies offer many choices, such as how many years you want to collect benefits, how much per day, where you want to receive care and if you want inflation protection. Also, large group plans have imposed rate increases of as much as 85 percent.

Who needs an LTC policy?

There's no easy answer, Burns said. Somebody who has $30,000 in income can't afford the same premiums as someone with $250,000 in income. "If you're a renter with $20,000 in savings, long-term care coverage is not for you," she said; Medicaid will likely cover your expenses.

Some choose to self-insure, feeling confident they can pay out of pocket should the need arise. Others prefer to buy a policy so they don't drain money from funds or assets they want to pass on to their children.

What's the best age to buy an LTC policy?

"It's an expensive product," said Margaret Reilly, program manager for the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program. The average annual premium for a U.S. long-term care policy is about $2,283.

Generally, it doesn't make too much sense to buy a policy before your mid 50s, Reilly said. "It's just years of additional premiums and most of us would not need long-term care in those younger years." But, she said, consider your family's medical history, as well as your own health issues, and obtain a policy before you get a diagnosis that could eliminate you from consideration. "The older you get, the harder and more expensive it is to buy a policy."

How cost-conscious should people be when buying these policies?

"These policies are expensive," Burns said. "There's no easy way to make an apples-to-apples comparison, so people tend to buy based on price. But if you buy a lower-priced policy, you might very well buy something that's going to have a rate increase."

How should families be involved?

"When you need the care, you won't be the person dealing with the insurance company," Burns said. She recommends that consumers sign up for a "third-party notice," so that if the premium lapses, you've named someone to be notified.

What's the best advice for someone contemplating buying an LTC policy?

Do a lot of research. Get second and third opinions about what a policy will cover should you need care. "Nobody needs 100 percent coverage for their long-term care costs," Burns said. It should be a combination of what you can afford to pay in premiums and what you might need in coverage.

Comments
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners are set to unveil a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit. Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional tr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
House approves government spending bill

House approves government spending bill

A divided House on Thursday passed an 11-hour plan to keep the government running. But the GOP-written measure faced gloomy prospects in the Senate, and it remained unclear whether lawmakers would be able to find a way to keep federal offices open pa...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Will the third time be the charm for these Tampa Bay townhouses?

Will the third time be the charm for these Tampa Bay townhouses?

ST. PETERSBURG — In real estate circles, it would seem an odd match — 54 townhouses in an office park and a group of Realtors best known for selling luxury single-family homes in Snell Isle. Yet the Strickland Property Group is convinced it can do wh...
Published: 01/19/18
Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Published: 01/18/18

Consumer agency to spend rainy day funds

NEW YORK — The Trump-appointed acting director of the federal government’s consumer watchdog agency requested zero dollars of funding for its second-quarter budget, saying he intends to first spend down the agency’s rainy day fund. In a letter to the...
Published: 01/18/18
Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

To no one’s surprise, Amazon on Thursday released its list of location finalists for its second headquarters, and neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg was on it."We knew it was going to be a long shot and a difficult road," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said....
Published: 01/18/18

Deal clears way for Oldsmar townhomes

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 4-1 last month in favor of approving a development agreement for a 50-unit townhome community on a nearly 4-acre parcel on St. Petersburg Drive. According to the terms of the agreement, Oldsmar Towns LLC will build a ...
Published: 01/18/18
Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

If there’s one word to describe the buyers of Tampa Bay’s 25 priciest homes in 2017 it’s this: eclectic. As in previous years, the group included doctors, lawyers and professional sports figures — three of the homes were purc...
Published: 01/18/18
Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

When Vision ACE Hardware opened in Oldsmar last November, the very first customer came in looking for a light bulb that he couldn’t find anywhere else."We had that lightbulb," said Stone Ackroyd, marketing manager. "That’s what ACE does. We have thos...
Published: 01/18/18
Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

LUTZ — Mellow Mushroom opened the doors to its new location this week in Wesley Chapel.This is the third location for owner Rob Johnson, who opened the Mellow Mushroom in Brandon 12 years ago, and then expanded to Clearwater.Johnson began looking at ...
Published: 01/18/18