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What is long-term care?

By: Adam Bezman, Senior Director, Product & Innovation

We recently posted an article on a few of the many insurance terms that can confuse consumers. But, there’s one in particular that warrants a closer look. That’s because it’s an increasingly important term and it’s often misunderstood. As you might guess from the title, the term is “long-term care.” 

What is long-term care?

When many people hear the phrase long-term care, the most common connotation is old age; they think of nursing homes or in-home care. These are certainly part of long-term care, but thinking of long-term care strictly through that lens is selling it short. As the name implies, long-term care is needing professional care for an extended period of time. This can be the result of an illness or an injury or any other situation where you require care; and there’s nothing that makes it exclusively for the elderly.

Today, 40 percent of people receiving long-term care are adults age 18 to 64.1 While old age is, unmistakably, a common cause for someone to need long-term care, it’s far from the only time you could need it.

To further illustrate the point, Trustmark doesn’t qualify our long-term care benefits in any way that has to do with being elderly. What we look at is whether you have cognitive impairment or if you require assistance with two “activities of daily living”. For instance, bathing, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, or eating. We also look at whether or not you are in a long-term care facility, have a home health aide or other qualifying form of care. These have nothing to do specifically with the situation commonly associated with long-term care: old age. Essentially, you can qualify for long-term care if you require assistance with everyday activities and are receiving professional care.

Why is long-term care so important?

Long-term care deserves a special emphasis, not just because of the misunderstanding around what it is, but also because of its relevance. Because of conditions in the market, consumers have a higher need than ever to understand long-term care:
  • It’s more relevant than ever – While long-term care isn’t solely about aging, the fact is that people are living longer than ever before. That means the likelihood of them needing long-term care is greatly increased, as well. Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services.2
  • It’s more expensive than ever – The average cost of a home health aide is more than $4,000 a month. The costs for nursing home care are even higher and these costs are only expected to rise in the years to come.3
  • There are fewer options – For many years, long-term care insurance was a viable option. But with the increasing number of people who need care and the growing costs to provide that care, many of the carriers who offered long-term care insurance have stopped offering coverage. In 2016, just 17 carriers were still selling traditional long-term care policies.4

Trustmark takes a bit of a different approach by bundling long-term care benefits with our life insurance policies. It’s a solution that helps control the costs and provides protection that you’re sure to use. Long-term care is, and looks to remain, a financial hurdle for many of us. Hopefully, a stronger understanding of what it is and why it matters can help individuals as they start to think about how long-term care may affect them.  

About the author
Adam joined Trustmark in March 2016. As senior director of product and innovation, he is responsible for developing and managing a pipeline of new, high-value products and offerings for the business. Adam has more than 13 years of product development experience in the health and food industries at Life Fitness, a division of Brunswick, and Kraft Foods. He received his bachelor of arts degree in economics and speech communications from Indiana University and his MBA from the University of Chicago.

1 Genworth. The expanding circle of care. 2015.
2 2018.
3 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. 2017.
4 The Traditional Long-term Care Insurance Market Crumbles. 2017.

Posted on July 26, 2018 in Life Insurance

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