Many people who contact us are interested in buying long term care insurance (LTCI) for their parents.  While this is a nice sentiment and a responsible choice, there are a few questions you can answer to tell you if it is even a viable solution for your parents.

Is the house already on fire?

Are they already experiencing a health illness or event that is causing them to need care?  Just as you would not be able to obtain insurance on your home while it is on fire, you are not eligible for LTCI while experiencing a long term care event.  LTCI is purchased based on your age and health history.

If it is too late for your parents to apply for LTCI, you may want to consider taking the steps to look in to it for yourself to avoid the same situation.

Do they have assets to protect?

Many people purchase LTCI to protect their assets, but if your parents have plenty of money set aside, they may be able to pay for extended care costs out of pocket.  On the other hand, if they have very little income or assets, they may qualify for Medicaid.  It is best to speak to a specialist about your specific needs.

Have you had the talk?

If you don’t know the answers to the above two questions, then you haven’t had the talk.  It is important to open the lines of communication and have an honest conversation with your parents about what their desires are for a long term care event.  Although most people want to avoid the subject, the statistics show that 70% of people will need some form of long term care in the future.  This could range from help a couple hours day in the home, all the way up to full time nursing home care.  Having a plan in place so everyone is on the same page is a crucial step.  Genworth Financial has a great campaign about having the long term care conversation called, “Let’s Talk”.

Regardless if your parents are eligible for long term care insurance or not, it is wise that you are looking into the matter now.  Not everyone needs long term care insurance, but everyone needs a long term care plan.

LTC Consumer is an independent, free online service to help consumers understand what long term care insurance is, how it works, and how to evaluate coverage options. Our mission is to provide an educational, no-pressure resource for learning about long term care planning, with the opportunity to speak with specialists who can help them.