A Beginner’s Guide to North Carolina’s Long-Term Care Insurance

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A Beginner’s Guide to North Carolina’s Long-Term Care Insurance

For those over the age of 65, there is a 70 percent chance that the need for long-term care will arise. Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI) can help to make this care more affordable. For those who may be considering this type of insurance, we’ll help you navigate the basics and major considerations of buying LTCI for elderly care in North Carolina, where the demand is higher than the national average

Understanding the Policy

•Policy Provisions
As with any insurance, it’s critical to find a policy that’s right for you. Do you need home care? Specialized Alzheimer’s care? Respite care? Finding the right policy for you will help keep costs down and provide you with the care you need. 

•Coverage
Your daily LTCI payout can vary greatly depending on your location and what kind of coverage you may need. Home care in Cary, NC may be priced differently than in Charlotte, for example. Currently, the average hourly rate for caregivers in Cary, NC, is currently $19/hour for home health aides. 

•Commencement of Benefits
A doctor or other healthcare professional typically must certify that an individual needs assistance with two or three Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) for LTCI benefits to kick in. In addition, there may be an “elimination period” during which you cannot use your policy (many of these last 90 days). 

•Duration of Policy
Depending on the policy, most coverage lasts between three and five years. In rare cases, coverage can last much longer. However, rates for these plans will likely be much higher. Pay attention to inflation; for home health aides, the growth of senior care in Raleigh is expected to increase 2 percent higher than the national average over the next five years. 

Tips for Finding (and Keeping) Low Premiums

It’s no secret: LCTI plans are expensive. Here are a few tips to help keep premiums low:
•Purchase your insurance early – experts recommend during your 50s for the lowest price. 
•Buy joint insurance (i.e. with a spouse).
•Do research on your company’s rate history. Some companies have a habit of raising rates frequently. 
•Ask about elimination period extensions. Some insurance companies will lower your premiums if you extend your elimination period, such as up to six months before coverage kicks in.

North Carolina also has resources to link LTCI with Medicaid coverage. In some states, a policyholder would not be able to keep all of their assets in qualify for Medicaid coverage. In 2010, however, North Carolina established the North Carolina Long-Term Care Partnership (LTCP) Program, which enables some individuals to keep their assets even if they have run out of long-term care resources and need to apply for Medicaid. For a list of participating insurance companies, click here.  

For more specific North Carolina LTCI resources, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance provides extensive and current information for each state. Explore North Carolina’s LTCI guidance to learn more.