How Much Long-Term Care Insurance Should You Purchase?

Middle-aged couple enjoying food at kitchen table.Long-term care insurance helps you prepare for financial costs associated with aging, such as nursing home care, assisted living, or in-home care. Yet long-term care insurance policies vary widely in terms of the amount of coverage and how long the protection lasts.

The Average Costs of Care

The 2021 Genworth cost of long-term care survey provides national median monthly costs for the following:

  • Nursing home care = $9,034 (private room); $7,908 (semi-private room)
  • Adult day health care = $1,690
  • Assisted living = $4,500
  • Homemaker services = $4,957
  • Home health assistance = $5,148

Whether you have a health condition that you know will require care in a skilled nursing facility or prefer to prepare for unexpected medical events, you may consider purchasing a certain amount of long-term care insurance to account for future care.

Evaluate which services you expect to need. Although many individuals need nursing home care, others can avoid nursing home costs by combining assisted living services with in-home care or day health services.

How to Calculate Your Monthly Benefit

Most policies provide between $2,000 and $10,000 of funds per month. To estimate how much long-term care insurance you will need:

1. Review how much you can expect to spend on long-term care.

2. Subtract the cost of services from the amount of money you can budget toward your long-term care expenses; the remainder is the amount you need long-term care insurance to cover.

Suppose you have a monthly income of $2,500 and plan to move into an assisted living facility that costs $4,500 per month. In that case, you will need a minimum of $2,000 per month in long-term care insurance to cover the cost of assisted living.

In addition to determining how much coverage you need each month, think about how long you want your plan to last. Long-term care insurance that lasts longer can be relatively more expensive, yet it provides increased protection.

The Department of Health and Human Services states that most people need long-term care by age 65. The majority of people need care for two years, but 20 percent require care for longer than five years. Most people should obtain at least two years of coverage and contemplate purchasing additional coverage.

Medicaid Planning

As you plan for your future, consider purchasing long-term care insurance that protects you for five years if you intend to apply for Medicaid. Since the Medicaid lookback period is five years, you may transfer your assets to your family and begin to spend down your assets so that you can qualify for Medicaid after your five-year coverage ends. After five years on private insurance, you may be able to transition to Medicaid.

The amount of long-term care insurance you buy should fit your unique circumstances. Learn more about when to purchase long-term care insurance and about how to reduce your long-term care insurance costs.

Speak with an elder law attorney to learn more about preparing for your future with long-term care insurance.