Long-Term Care Insurance Sarasota, FL: Everything You Need to Know
Designed to help pay for the costs associated with nursing home and assisted living care, long-term care insurance in Sarasota, FL is an important part of the estate planning process.
Basics of Long-Term Care Insurance Sarasota, FL
In the United States, seniors age 65 and older constitute one of the fastest-growing demographics. With these rapid shifts in population come an increased need for long-term care arrangements such as nursing homes, assisted living, and in-home assistance. Unfortunately, the high cost of these services can create significant issues for aging seniors and their families. This is where the importance of long-term care insurance comes into play.
Long-term care insurance is an important part of every estate plan. If you or someone you love is interested in obtaining long-term care insurance in Sarasota, FL, the trusted estate planning attorneys at Lehn Law, P.A. can help you understand your options and create a comprehensive plan to give you and your family the peace of mind you need moving forward. Read on to learn more, then contact us for a free consultation.
Why Do You Need Long-Term Care Insurance in Florida?
According to AARP, when you reach the age of 65, there is a 50 percent chance that you will require paid long-term care. The term long-term care (LTC) is used to define assistance with the activities involved in daily living including bathing, eating, toileting, dressing, transferring (walking), and continence. Inability to perform two of the above listed tasks for a minimum of 90 days due to a chronic physical disability qualifies one for long-term care legally.
LTC can be received at one’s own home or in an assisted living facility. However, it is expensive. In Florida, a month in a facility is estimated to cost an average of between $9000 to $11000. For personal health aides, the national average hourly rate is approximately $21, and this can add up quickly. Because of this almost guaranteed need for cost-prohibitive long-term care at some point during aging, your estate plan in Florida is not complete without long-term health care insurance.
People generally think about Medicaid or Medicare planning when they want to protect assets from the cost of LTC thinking that the government will bear the full cost for it, their perception being, “I have Medicaid so I don’t need to bother with long-term care plans.” Unfortunately, this is wrong.
As your elder law attorneys, our goal is to ensure that your assets last through any potential disability. Many individuals have worked all their life and do not want to see the nest egg they have worked so hard to accumulate disappear due to the high costs of long-term care. With the right planning, you get to protect your assets and qualify for government benefits like Medicaid or Medicare without breaking the bank.
The Downsides of Relying on Medicaid and Medicare
Medicaid is a joint federal and state government health insurance program that is designed to help low-income elders in paying for a variety of medical needs. On average, it is estimated that an average couple should plan to pay about $250,000 in medical expenses during retirement. However, few people have this amount saved for retirement, leading the majority to turn to Medicaid.
Most individuals tend to believe that Medicaid will not cover their nursing home care until all their resources and assets are depleted. This is not true in Florida. You or your loved one can get Medicaid benefits, regardless, with the aid of an experienced Medicaid planning attorney. However, the unfortunate reality is that Medicaid is overburdened and has limited options. Medicaid only pays for a semi-private room in a nursing home, and even worse, not all nursing homes accept Medicaid patients.
Many people prefer to be taken care of at home rather than in an assisted living facility. But getting Medicaid to pay for home care in Florida can be challenging. This makes those who would never consider a nursing home under other circumstances resort to it as the only viable alternative.
When exploring your options, it’s important to not confuse Medicaid with Medicare. Medicaid is a joint state-federal program, while Medicare is solely a federal social insurance program. Attached to citizens’ social security, Medicare is available to those above the age of 65, regardless of their income, and covers four areas: hospitalization, medical insurance, supplementary insurance, and prescription drugs.
However, Medicare is only useful in critical care, not chronic care. Think of critical care as needing rehabilitation after a surgery. In essence, what this means is that medicare is great for short-term trauma care and hospitalization but it does NOT cater to long-term nursing care in chronic conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Even for critical care in an assisted facility, Medicare only pays for up to 100 days with full payments limited to the first 20 days and then co-payments after. The role of a Sarasota elder law attorney is to help local families understand the pros and cons of these options and determine the best course of action to ensure that your loved one’s health and finances are protected.
Paying for Long-Term Health Care Costs Without Medicaid
With Medicaid and Medicare out of the picture in most situations, many aging adults believe that they are left with one of only two additional options: self-funding or depending on loved ones. However, each of these comes with its own downsides, and they can often be avoided with the help of an attorney.
This involves continuing to invest money in commodities, stock bonds, or real estate with the belief that these investments will generate enough returns to provide you with the resources to pay for your own LTC.
The problem with self funding, however, is that it means you have to liquidate your assets from income-producing investments to pay for LTC, allowing you to leave nothing for your loved ones. With nursing home bills averaging $90,000 a year, only very few people can afford to pay this for an extended period of time.
Self-funding through traditional health insurance may also be an option, but many services are not covered by insurance. Even if nursing home or in-home care is covered, the insured may have to meet their deductible before insurance will pay anything, making it cost-prohibitive to lower-income families.
Depending on Loved Ones
Oftentimes, adult children and spouses have to pay for caregivers from their own pockets. If they do not have the resources for that, they resort to toughing it out and providing the care themselves.
This can be a huge burden on an aging spouse and can lead to health declines. For adult children, this time investment affects their busy lives significantly. When you include long-term care insurance in your estate plan, you and your family can rest assured that you will not need to resort to these alternatives. LTC insurance is designed to cover the gaps in care that are not covered by Medicare and Medicaid so you can get the care you need without adding additional strain to your loved ones or your finances.
Types of Long-Term Care Insurance
In recent years, long-term insurance from private insurance companies have been gaining traction to help reduce the enormous costs associated with long-term care.
Many people get overwhelmed trying to decide on the best LTC insurance solution. The available options are:
- Life Insurance with a Chronic Illness Rider.
- Life Insurance with an LTC Rider.
- Fixed Annuity with LTC Benefits.
- Stand-Alone LTC Insurance.
Understanding which of these options is right for you is an enormous burden to tackle alone. For personalized guidance on how each of these types of LTC insurance may apply to your unique circumstance, please contact Lehn Law, P.A. for assistance.
Life Insurance with a Chronic Illness Rider
A chronic illness rider is a life insurance option that allows the policy holder to tap into life insurance benefits while still alive if diagnosed with a qualifying chronic illness and if they meet the criteria for LTC. This is considered an accelerated death benefit rider.
Life Insurance with an LTC Rider
The LTC rider is similar as it also offers accelerated death benefits. But in this case, the advancement from death benefit may be further supplemented by an extension of benefits rider. It also offers reimbursement versus only cash indemnity.
Fixed Annuity with LTC benefits
An annuity is an insurance contract where holders pay a premium either monthly or upfront to receive payments back at a later date from the insurance. An LTC annuity is a deferred annuity that includes a long-term care rider. To activate the LTC rider and begin receiving benefits from the annuity, the holder has to meet medical standards that require LTC. Your annuity company can give you the money to use as needed or reimburse you after the fact for long-term care expenses you’ve already paid.
Stand-Alone Long Term Care Insurance
This may offer more comprehensive coverage than the other options discussed above because it focuses on comprehensive LTC insurance coverage. However, it is more expensive because it is not attached to a life insurance or annuity product. Some downsides include that it has no cash value and its underwriting is time consuming. It can be beneficial in some situations, so don’t hesitate to ask your Sarasota, FL estate planning attorney if it’s right for you.
Florida Long-Term Care Partnership
Few people know of the Florida Long-Term Care Partnership. It is a partnership program between private long-term care insurers and Medicaid. The program encourages citizens in the Sunshine State to buy private long-term insurance and allows them to use their LTC insurance before Medicaid.
The partnership provides dollar-for-dollar asset protection if you need help with long-term care costs after insurance has run out. With the Florida Long-Term Care Partnership, you will be able to keep assets you would normally not be allowed under Medicaid. When you meet with Lehn Law’s experienced Sarasota, FL estate planning attorneys, we will help you determine if this is an option for you, then create a clear and reliable plan to help you pursue it.
Talk to An Attorney Before Any Long-Term Care Insurance Agents
Applying and qualifying for Medicaid is a complex and technical process. You have to understand the requirements, transfer penalty rules, and lookback period, as well as pass the asset and income test. You will also need to understand how it will affect all other areas of your life, including your physical, mental, social, and financial well-being.
When deciding to pursue long-term care insurance, many families speak directly with a long-term care insurance agent. However, the insurance agency has only one goal when meeting with you, and that is to sell you something, even if the particular insurance they offer will not be beneficial to you in the long-run. That is why it is vital that you begin the process by working with a trusted Sarasota estate planning attorney.
At Lehn Law, we have only your best interests in mind, and you can rely on our unbiased perspective to give you the honest, considerate, and straightforward legal guidance you need during this complicated time. If you’re interested in learning whether long-term care insurance is right for you, we invite you to reach out to our team. Please contact us online for a free legal consultation or call our Sarasota number at 941-487-7100 today.