If you can afford long-term care insurance coverage, but only for one spouse, explore multiple factors when deciding on long-term care coverage for you or your spouse. Long-term care insurance premiums are expensive. Therefore, few people can afford to buy a policy for both spouses.
How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
Some experts suggest that if you want to maximize the benefits you receive from a long-term care insurance policy, buy the coverage for the wife, not the husband. This is because statistically, women tend to live longer than men in America. Like many statistics, however, this is a gross generalization that may not relate to your situation.
Look at each spouse’s health and lifestyle, including nutrition and exercise. Consider the longevity of each spouse’s family. Think about which spouse is more likely to need nursing home care. One spouse might be more likely to live longer at home, while the other spouse may be more likely to need nursing home care. Many people live independently, well into their 90s and beyond.
Some long term care policies allow spouses to share one policy, splitting the benefits between them. If they have ten years of coverage, for example, one spouse could use three years, and the other spouse could use seven.
The shared policy option may be more than adequate, despite what some high-pressure insurance salespeople may tell you. The majority of seniors never need to move into a nursing home. Of those who spend time in a nursing home, Kiplinger reports that only half of the men and about 40 percent of the women ever stay longer than three months. Experts debate about whether the benefits people receive from long-term care policies justify the high premiums.
Check to see if the long-term care insurance company gives a substantial discount, if both you and your spouse buy policies. It might not cost twice as much to insure both of you, as it does to cover one of you.
A relatively new option is a hybrid combination of life insurance with long-term coverage. These products can be less expensive than traditional long-term coverage, and provide a death benefit besides nursing home coverage.
Options to Long-Term Care Insurance
Explore alternatives to nursing homes, such as caregivers in your home. State and federal funds will pay for some options that help seniors stay in their homes if possible. The cost of living in an assisted living center can also be far less expensive than the 24/7 skilled nursing care of a nursing home. If you only need a small to moderate amount of help with daily living or medical issues, you probably need not live in a costly nursing home.
If you have limited assets and low income, Medicaid can pay for your nursing home expenses and protect assets and income for your spouse. Some experts advise you to skip long-term care insurance altogether, if your assets are less than $500,000, because you can spend down your assets and become Medicaid-eligible.
This posting discusses the general law. The laws are different in every state, so talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
Kiplinger. “4 Secrets to Buying Long-Term Care Insurance.” (accessed October 8, 2017) https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T036-C000-S004-4-secrets-to-buying-long-term-care-insurance.html
AgingCare.com. “Turning to ‘Shared Care’ for Cheaper Long-Term Care Insurance.” https://www.agingcare.com/articles/shared-long-term-care-insurance-151804.htm
Elder Law Answers. “Which Spouse Should Get Long-Term Care Insurance Coverage?” https://www.elderlawanswers.com/which-spouse-should-get-long-term-care-insurance-coverage-12321