Vail Daily column: Why buy yet another type of insurance?
Talking about health insurance may have the same social taboo as publicly talking about religion and politics.
America’s health care system can be frustrating at best — especially for those in the middle class. Here in the mountain communities of Colorado, the burden of cost is especially high. As a matter of fact, according to Kaiser Family Foundation information published in the Denver Post last year, we are paying some of the highest premiums in the country.
So why would anyone consider adding yet another cost of health-related insurance to their monthly budget? Having a health insurance policy protects you from unexpected medical costs. It protects you financially in the event a serious illness or injury that could be very expensive. Ultimately, having a health insurance plan protects you for today and provides some security you that could make it to see another day.
GAPS IN MEDICARE COVERAGE
Skip ahead many years and consider your health needs at age 65 or 70. Yes, you may be able to forgo your private pay health plan for Medicare and Medicaid. However, what may that actually look like? Will you have the same access to doctors, health choices and living options?
What happens when you have medical challenges that necessitate getting help with daily activities such as driving, cooking and living a life in general as you choose to in your own home?
Medicare and Medicaid are not set up to provide daily help at home. Rather, they will provide short-term skilled care at home for the treatment of an illness or injury, often following a hospitalization. (“Skilled care” is medical and nursing care.) Medicare does not provide for non-medical home-care.
Long-term care insurance
Rather, if you find yourself with medical conditions that do not quite necessitate skilled care, living at home independently could pose some difficult challenges for you.
Whether you are seeking some advice for a family member or simply looking to protect yourself in the future, long-term care insurance might be a viable option. As health awareness increases and medical care improves in the future, we can expect to live longer than any generation before us has. As we live longer, the need for care in our later years increases. Illnesses and injury can be prevented, but the odds are that we will still need assistance with some of the activities of daily living. Long-term care insurance can be the means to provide this necessary support. Below are some points to understand about long-term care:
1. Long-term care insurance can provide coverage in the home or in an alternative facility such as private, assisted living, adult day care and nursing home.
2. Long-term care insurance gives you a choice of provider. You’re not limited to certain government approved facilities.
3. Long-term care can provide a benefit for life so you won’t run out of coverage. Long-term care insurance protects against catastrophic risk. Depending upon the daily benefit amount you anticipate you may want, a policy for you and your spouse could cost somewhere in the range of $2,500 to $3,500 a year if you are older than 55 years of age.
4. Long-term care insurance is available with some life insurance and annuity products. (If you never need care, you can use the money or pass it to your heirs.)
5. Long-term care insurance offers several tax advantages. Premiums are includable as a medical expense on individual income tax returns. Qualified long-term care insurance benefits are tax-free.
6. Long-term care insurance will allow you to maintain your independence without burdening your family.
When the time comes that you can no longer take care of yourself at home and your needs exceed what family and friends can provide, things can become challenging. Nursing homes, assisted-living centers and home care are expensive and can quickly deplete your savings. Buying a long-term-care insurance policy can be a way of assuring your future needs are met in a manner of your choosing.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visiting angels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.