Most long term care insurance policies usually do not pay benefits for:
- A mental or nervous disorder or disease, other than Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
- Alcohol or drug addiction.
- Illness or injury caused by an act of war.
- Treatment the government has provided in a government facility or already paid for.
- Attempted suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injuries.
NOTE: In most states, regulations require insurance companies to pay for covered services for Alzheimer’s disease that may develop after a policy is issued. Ask your state insurance department if this applies in your state. Nearly all policies specifically say they will cover Alzheimer’s disease. Read about Alzheimer’s disease and eligibility for benefits in the section on benefit triggers on page 19.
NOTE: Many policies exclude or limit coverage for care outside of the United States.
How Much Coverage You Will Have The policy or certificate may state the amount of coverage in one of several ways. A policy may pay different amounts for different types of long-term care services. Be sure you understand how much coverage you will have and how it will cover long term care services you receive.
Maximum Benefit Limit Most policies limit the total benefit they will pay over the life of the policy, but a few don’t. Some policies state the maximum benefit limit in years (one, two, three or more, or even lifetime). Others write the policy maximum benefit limit as a total dollar amount. Policies often use words like “total lifetime benefit,” “maximum lifetime benefit,” or “total plan benefit” to describe their maximum benefit limit. When you look at a policy or certificate, be sure to check the total amount of coverage. In most states, the minimum benefit period is one year. Most nursing home stays are short, but illnesses that go on for several years could mean long nursing home stays. You will have to decide if you want protection for very long stays. Policies with longer maximum benefit periods cost more. Read your long term care insurance policy carefully to learn what the benefit period is.
Daily/Weekly/Monthly Benefit Limit Policies normally pay benefits by the day, week or month. For example, in an expense-incurred plan, a policy might pay a daily nursing home benefit of up to $200 per day or $6,000 per month, and a weekly home care benefit of up to $1,400 per week. Some policies will pay one time for single events, such as installing a home medical alert system.
When you buy a policy, insurance companies let you choose a benefit amount (usually $50 to $350 a day, $350 to $2,450 a week, or $1,500 to $10,500 a month) for care in a nursing home. If a policy covers home care, the benefit is usually a portion of the benefit for nursing home care (e.g., 50% or 75%), although a growing number of policies pay the same benefit amounts for care at home as in a facility. Often, you can select the home care benefit amount that you prefer. It is important to know how much skilled nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care agencies charge for their services BEFORE you choose the benefit amounts in your long-term care insurance policy. Check the facilities in the area where you think you may be receiving care, whether they are local, near a grown child, or in a new place where you may retire. The worksheet on page 42 can help you track these costs.