Long-Term Insurance for Senior Citizens

If you're confused by all the ads, hype, pros-and-cons, and news about long-term care insurance, you're not alone. Get the insights you need to make the best choice for you and your loved ones.
Happy elderly patient with friendly female nurse spending time together

What’s the best choice in long-term care insurance? This essential insurance product is different from ones we’re more familiar with, such as term insurance for seniors or medical insurance. If you’re confused by all the ads, hype, pros-and-cons, and news, you’re not alone. It helps to take a closer look into this special insurance product. It can give you peace of mind, and help you make the best choice for you and your loved ones.

Long-Term Care Insurance: What You Need to Know

I don’t know about you. But when it comes to insurance options, many people’s first response is to roll their eyes. Uh-oh. Here we go. To avoid the glazed looks and frustrated feelings, here is the simplest definition:

Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance that helps cover the costs of long-term care services. Think costs associated with an assisted living facility, at-home care expenses, and so on.

Long-term care insurance for seniors covers what generally is not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. This insurance product helps pay for the costs associated with long-term care.

Gee…that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Let’s look at the big things to know about long-term care insurance for seniors.

What Kind of Care?

This isn’t the kind of thing most people love to think about. Yet, as we age, there is a possibility that we may need assistance. This may be in the form of help in our own home, in a nursing home, in an assisted living facility, or in an adult day care center.

There are many services that aren’t covered by regular health insurance. This includes care in routine activities, dressing, bathing, toileting, getting in and out of bed, getting in and out of the house.

Why Bother?

“Do I have to?” No doubt, this is the kind of thing many of us like to avoid, deny, and put aside. Who wants to think about it? And, while we’re not thinking about it…it’s easy to push it off, and not bother considering the needs.

Let’s face it: growing old is expensive.

According to a study by the Urban Institute and U.S. Department of Health & Human services, about half of 65-year-olds today will eventually require some long-term care services. Most will need services for less than 2 years. However, about 14% will require care for more than 5 years.

Regular health insurance won’t help. Medicare won’t save you either. It covers short bouts of nursing home stays or limited home health services for rehab.

If you don’t have long-term care insurance for senior citizens, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. The help that may come from federal and state programs may only be available after you’ve used up most of your savings.

And to think expenses don’t end there! You’ll have to think about funeral expenses (thankfully there is final expense insurance), too!

Why Get It?

According to insurance experts, people get long-term care insurance for two main reasons.

First, to protect their savings. In a Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the median cost of care for a private nursing home room is $102,200 per year. This can rapidly deplete a retirement nest egg.

Second, to get more freedom of choice. Simply, with more money, you can get better quality of care. If the only options are those possible through government programs, choices are limited. In many states, Medicaid doesn’t pay for assisted living.

Can You Afford It?

If you have few savings and a low income, long-term insurance for seniors may not be an affordable option. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers expert guidance: recommending spending no more than 5% of your income on long-term care policy.

Recent Changes

There’s been huge fallout of insurance companies offering this type of care. In the late 1990s, more than 100 insurers offered it. Today, less than a dozen are selling policies.

In addition, the benefits have reduced. Fewer insurers are offering fewer benefits. What does this mean for consumers? Be aware of your options, needs, finances, and choices.

Buyer Beware: Rates Vary

Rates of long-term care insurance for senior citizens vary on a number of factors. Among these are:

Age and Health

The older you are, the more you’ll pay. The more health issues you have, the more you’ll pay. Sorry. It’s how they do it.


Here’s one place where there is no gender equality. Women generally pay more than men. Why? They tend to live longer. There is a greater probability that they’ll make a claim.

Marital Status

Married people usually pay lower premiums than single people.


Different insurers offer different pricing. Compare quotes and shop around to find the best option for you.

Coverage Amount

Expect to pay more for better coverage. This may include higher limits on daily benefits; higher limits on lifetime benefits, cost-of-living increases, and fewer restrictions on care coverage.

Tax Advantages

One of the advantages of long-term care insurance is that if you itemize deductions, you realize some tax advantages. The limits of the amount of premiums you can deduct increase as you age. Check with your insurance company to determine if your policy is “tax qualified.” If it is, you may be able to count premiums as medical expenses.

State Partnership Plans

Many states offer partner programs to encourage people to plan for long-term care. These programs can provide cost-of-living adjustments and may help protect assets. Check with your state’s insurance department to find out whether your state has a partnership program.

Assistance Club Summary

Long-term care insurance is an insurance product that offers more choice in quality of care as you age.

The # 1 Big Idea: evaluate your age and health status, your needs, your finances, and your options. Premiums are expensive. Deciding to buy is a choice to consider and evaluate carefully.

Talk to a financial advisor to determine whether buying long-term care insurance is the best choice for you and your loved ones. If you’re still on the fence and want to learn more about the other insurance products for seniors, check out our articles on Senior Assistance Club.