by Sa El

April 18, 2024

long term care policies

Key Takeaways Made Simple: 

  • Long-term care insurance is essential for future healthcare costs.
  • Mutual of Omaha offers ‘Secure Solution’ and ‘Custom Solution’ for customized coverage.
  • One America provides ‘hybrid’ policies combining life insurance and long-term care coverage.
  • Northwestern Mutual offers dividends to policyholders, reducing premiums or boosting coverage.
  • Choose a policy by understanding features, assessing needs, and evaluating cost-benefit.

Trying to figure out the best long term care insurance companies for your unique needs can be difficult. Especially with an array of coverage options and plan benefits to consider. 

But here’s the thing: 

You don’t have to go at it alone; in-fact, this post will help shed light on the best ltc providers in the U.S.

Expect a careful comparison of their policy features, costs, and user satisfaction to ensure you’re well-equipped to choose a long term care policy that gives you peace of mind without breaking the bank.

Snapshot of Industry Leaders in Long-Term Care Insurance

The realm of long-term care insurance can be complex to navigate. The first step is understanding who the key players are. The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance recognizes six companies as the primary insurance providers of standard long-term care insurance policies:

  • Bankers Life
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • National Guardian Life
  • New York Life
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • Thrivent

Each of these insurance companies have over a century’s worth of experience in the insurance market, making them well-established and trusted providers. Here are some key features of each company’s policies:

  1. Bankers Life’s SimpleChoice Standard policy offers policy options for individuals with a high maximum issue age up to 84 and options for a zero-day elimination period.
  2. National Guardian Life’s EssentialLTC policy offers a unique option for lifetime maximum benefits.
  3. Northwestern Mutual is prized for its exceptional financial strength with an A++ rating and its high ranking in J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Life Insurance Study.

In essence, these insurance giants provide a plethora of policies and benefits, catering to diverse individual needs. The best policy for you will depend on your specific circumstances, including:

  • your health
  • your age
  • your financial situation
  • your long-term care needs

Mutual Of Omaha – Best Insurance Company for Customizable Policies

Mutual of Omaha allows you to shape your long-term care policy to your personal liking. They offer two main long-term care insurance offerings: ‘Secure Solution’ with predetermined benefits and ‘Custom Solution’, which allows policyholders to more finely adjust policy details.

The ‘Secure Solution’ comes with fixed benefit periods, whereas ‘Custom Solution’ enables choosing a policy limit ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, which offers greater flexibility. Couples are accommodated with the option to share their total coverage through a shared care option if one partner exhausts their individual policy limit, providing mutual financial support. Mutual of Omaha also offers a 15% partner discount when two policies are simultaneously issued, or a 5% discount on a solitary policy issuance, adding value and incentive for multiple policy purchases.

From my perspective, the ‘Custom Solution’ is noteworthy. It boasts a broad selection of elimination period options, from none at all to a full year, allowing for greater flexibility compared to the standardized choices of ‘Secure Solution’. The policy also includes exclusive optional benefits like the Shared Care, Waiver of Elimination Period For Home Health Care, and Non-Forfeiture Shortened Benefit Period to further customize the policy.

While the ‘Custom Solution’ policy offers more flexibility, all Mutual of Omaha policies extend coverage benefits for an array of care types, including but not limited to home health care, facility care, and hospice care, to support varying care scenarios. The innovative ‘Alternate Care’ benefit anticipates future health care advancements by covering services or treatments that may emerge in the healthcare landscape, reflecting Mutual of Omaha’s forward-thinking approach to insurance. This flexibility and customization make Mutual of Omaha a top choice for those seeking a tailored solution to their long-term care insurance needs.

One America – Best for Asset-Based Solutions

One America distinguishes itself in the market with its asset-based long-term care provisions. They provide ‘hybrid’ policies, which combine life insurance with long-term care coverage. These policies offer a comprehensive solution for both life protection and long-term care needs. These hybrid policies provide a death benefit to beneficiaries if long-term care is never needed, with options for either individual or joint coverage, accommodating spouses under a single policy.

These policies are highly flexible and allow policyholders to access a portion of the death benefit early for long-term care expenses, with the remaining amount allocated to beneficiaries. With their Asset-Care offering, OneAmerica provides the possibility to pay a single premium, thus removing concerns about potential future premium hikes, and ensures premium and benefit stability throughout the policy’s term.

In my view, the ‘Lifetime Continuation of Benefits’ rider is the gem of One America’s offerings. This optional rider is available for those seeking comprehensive protection, providing unlimited benefits for the entirety of the insured’s life. This means that you can have peace of mind knowing that you are covered for life, no matter how long you need care.

One America’s asset-based solutions are an excellent choice for those who want the security of life insurance combined with the flexibility of long-term care coverage. This unique offering sets One America apart from other providers, making it a solid choice for those seeking asset-oriented long-term care solutions.

Thrivent – Best for Member Benefits

Thrivent Financial stands as another titan in the long-term care insurance landscape. What sets Thrivent apart is their extensive member benefits. Their long-term care insurance is available for individuals as young as 18 years old, making it one of the most accessible policies on the market.

As a member of Thrivent, you not only get access to their long-term care insurance but also a host of other benefits. While details on these benefits are not specified in the knowledge base, they typically include financial planning services, educational resources, and participation in local Thrivent events. These additional benefits make Thrivent’s long-term care insurance more than just a policy – it’s a membership in a supportive community.

From my observations, Thrivent’s dedication to offer generous member benefits speaks volumes about their emphasis on customer contentment and service. If you’re looking for an insurance provider that offers more than just coverage, Thrivent is worth considering.

Lincoln Financial Group – Best for No Waiting Period Plans

Lincoln Financial Group distinguishes itself with the provision of no Waiting Period Plans in long-term care insurance. This means that policyholders can start receiving benefits as soon as they need care, such as in a living facility, without having to wait for a predetermined period.

The company offers four distinct health insurance plans that provide immediate coverage with no waiting periods. This is a significant advantage as it means you can receive benefits immediately when you need them, without having to worry about covering the costs of care while waiting for the insurance to kick in.

In addition to this, Lincoln Financial Group’s plans also extend benefits to policyholders living abroad, making it a suitable choice for retirees who plan to spend their golden years overseas.

In terms of financial reliability, the insurer is rated A+ (Superior) by AM Best, indicating a strong financial position and reliability. This assures policyholders that Lincoln Financial Group is a secure choice and can be trusted to follow through on their coverage commitments.

Given their no waiting period plans and their strong financial ratings, Lincoln Financial Group is an excellent choice for those seeking immediate coverage and peace of mind.

Northwestern Mutual – Best for Policy Dividends

Northwestern Mutual stands out with its policy dividends offered to policyholders. This means that as a policyholder, you have the opportunity to receive a share of the company’s profits in the form of dividends.

Northwestern Mutual has a long history of consistent dividend payouts. Since 1872, they have consistently paid out dividends, awarding over $150 billion to its policyholders, and is expected to pay $7.3 billion in dividends in 2024 alone. These dividends can be utilized in various ways including taking them as cash, using them to pay premiums, or reinvesting them to buy additional paid-up whole life insurance.

From my standpoint, Northwestern Mutual’s policy dividends are an attractive feature that differentiates the company from its rivals. Not only do you get coverage for your long-term care needs, but you also have the opportunity to receive dividends that can be used to offset your premiums or even increase your coverage.

If you’re looking for an insurance provider that rewards you for being a policyholder, Northwestern Mutual is an excellent choice. Their strong history of dividend payouts and the flexibility they offer in how you can use your dividends make them a standout in the long-term care insurance market.

Navigating Long-Term Care Insurance Options

The vast array of options in the long-term care insurance market can be daunting to navigate. It’s not just about choosing a provider; it’s also about:

  • Understanding the different types of policies
  • Assessing your coverage needs
  • Evaluating the cost versus the benefit
  • Understanding the policy features

Each insurance provider offers different policies with unique features and benefits. For instance, Mutual of Omaha is recognized for its solid comprehensive coverage and is the third-highest-rated life insurance company based on J.D. Power’s 2022 study. Your personal factors such as age, health, and marital status can significantly impact long-term care insurance premiums and coverage options, necessitating personalized policy solutions.

In addition to understanding the different policies, assessing your coverage needs, and evaluating cost versus benefit, you also need to understand the features of each policy. From traditional to hybrid policies, coverage settings, qualification requirements, elimination periods, and optional riders to enhance coverage, there’s a lot to consider. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Let’s delve into each of these areas in more detail.

Assessing Your LTC Insurance Coverage Needs

Choosing the right long-term care insurance policy necessitates an initial evaluation of your coverage requirements, including considering a life insurance policy with long-term care benefits. This involves evaluating your personal financial situation and considering other sources of coverage.

A key financial decision when assessing coverage needs is determining whether to preserve assets for heirs or use savings to cover potential long-term care costs, ensuring financial security.

Factors to consider when deciding on long-term care insurance include:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Marital status
  • Chosen insurance company
  • Coverage amount

Long-term care insurance premiums vary based on these personal factors and choices.

Before finalizing coverage levels, it’s important to incorporate other sources of coverage like Medicare or Medicaid to ensure you are appropriately insured without being over-insured. It’s also crucial to regularly reassess long-term care insurance to align with changing needs, and recognize the importance of keeping your plan to avoid forfeiting the premiums already paid.

Evaluating Cost vs. Benefit

A pivotal step in the decision-making process is a comparison between the cost and benefit of long-term care insurance. You need to compare potential pay out of pocket expenses without the insurance against the total of premiums paid over an expected period.

Long-term care insurance coverage can be adjusted by reducing the daily benefits or even the amount of coverage to lower premiums, albeit at the cost of reduced care quality. Policyholders can negotiate alternative policy terms or make changes such as eliminating inflation protection, reducing the maximum monthly benefit, and increasing the elimination period to make long-term care insurance more affordable.

Premiums for long-term care insurance increase with the policyholder’s age, with rates generally increasing from 2-4% per year after age 50 and approximately 8% annually after age 60. To cope with the rising premiums of long-term care insurance while maintaining essential coverage, financial planners can assist in devising personalized strategies.

Some long-term care insurance policies may be tax-qualified, allowing for a portion of the premiums to be tax-deductible, with the deductible amount rising with the age of the policyholder.

Understanding Policy Features

A clear understanding of different policy features is vital for making an informed decision about long-term care insurance. This includes knowing:

  • The differences between traditional and hybrid policies
  • Coverage settings
  • Qualification requirements
  • Elimination periods
  • Optional riders to enhance coverage

Traditional long-term care (LTC) policies focus only on long-term care costs, whereas hybrid policies may include life insurance benefits and accumulate cash value. Long-term care insurance can provide ltc coverage for a variety of settings, including nursing home care, offering valuable ltc benefits such as:

  • In-home care
  • Adult day care
  • Nursing homes
  • Specialized memory care facilities To sell ltc insurance effectively, it is crucial to understand the unique needs of each client.

To qualify for long-term care benefits, policyholders must be unable to perform at least two activities of daily living (ADLs) or require care due to cognitive impairment. Policies usually include an ‘elimination period’ during which the insured must cover care expenses out-of-pocket before insurance payments begin, such as those in an assisted living facility. Optional riders and features like inflation protection and shared care policies can enhance coverage but may increase premiums, so they should be considered based on individual needs.

What If I Have A Life insurance policy with coverage?

Summary In conclusion, choosing the right long-term care insurance policy requires careful consideration of your personal needs, financial situation, and understanding of the different policy features. There are numerous providers in the market, each offering unique features and benefits. From Mutual of Omaha’s customizable policies and One America’s asset-based solutions to Northwestern Mutual’s policy dividends, there’s a policy out there to meet every individual’s unique needs.

Remember, the best policy for you is one that offers the coverage you need at a cost you can afford, with features that align with your lifestyle and future plans. By understanding the market, assessing your needs, and carefully evaluating cost versus benefit, you can make an informed decision and secure your future with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the biggest drawback of long-term care insurance?

The biggest drawback of long-term care insurance is that it can be expensive and premiums may increase over time.

What is the least expensive type of long-term care?

The least expensive type of long-term care is an assisted living community, according to the Genworth cost of care survey. This can provide 24-hour assistance at a lower cost compared to other options.

What is the oldest age for long-term care insurance?

The oldest age for traditional long-term care insurance is 79. This type of insurance is available for individuals between the ages of 18 and 79.

What are the leading providers of long-term care insurance?

The leading providers of long-term care insurance are Bankers Life, Mutual of Omaha, National Guardian Life, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, and Thrivent. These companies offer comprehensive coverage for long-term care needs.

What unique features does Mutual Of Omaha offer?

Mutual Of Omaha offers unique features like ‘Secure Solution’ with predetermined benefits and ‘Custom Solution’ allowing policyholders to finely adjust policy details. These features provide flexibility and choice for policyholders.

Summary

In conclusion, choosing the right long-term care insurance policy requires careful consideration of your personal needs, financial situation, and understanding of the different policy features. There are numerous providers in the market, each offering unique features and benefits. From Mutual of Omaha’s customizable policies and One America’s asset-based solutions to Northwestern Mutual’s policy dividends, there’s a policy out there to meet every individual’s unique needs.

Remember, the best policy for you is one that offers the coverage you need at a cost you can afford, with features that align with your lifestyle and future plans. By understanding the market, assessing your needs, and carefully evaluating cost versus benefit, you can make an informed decision and secure your future with confidence.

About the author 

Sa El