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Long-term care planning is of paramount importance for women, especially single women. We will use the word single to define women who are single because they have never married, or following the death of their spouse or a divorce.
Experts will tell you that long-term care generally impacts women more than men. Indeed, women generally live longer and reach ages when a significant proportion will require long-term care services. Not only do women tend to need care more than men, but they generally have less retirement savings and less income to pay for them.
Indeed, data from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance indicates that approximately two-thirds of all long-term care insurance claims are attributed to female policyholders.
Insurers now recognize the fact that women represent more claims and take this into account when pricing long term care insurance coverage. As a result, women will pay more than men for the same levels of coverage. The difference in cost can range from 20 to 40% more.
Short-term care insurance for women
There is, however, an affordable option for women. It is the one that receives little attention. Called short-term care insurance or restorative care, these policies are available from several leading health insurers. In some cases, the insurer continues to apply unisex pricing, which means that men and women pay the same price for equal coverage. This can make short-term care insurance an affordable and viable option, especially for single older women.
Short-term care insurance policies are available in most states, with the notable exceptions of California, New York, and Florida. The best policies will resemble traditional long-term care insurance policies that provide benefits for care at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a skilled nursing facility. As the name suggests, policies generally provide benefits for about a year (360 days).
Significant savings potential for single women
According to the AALTCI’s 2022 Long Term Care Insurance Price Index, a 63-year-old woman purchasing a traditional 2-year long-term care insurance policy could pay $140 per month for a monthly benefit of $4,000 for home care or nursing home. An acute care policy offering $4,000 per month in home care benefits would cost $55 per month. Adding nursing home coverage would increase the premium by approximately $40.
While some people will need care for several years, data from insurers reveals that a significant percentage need care for a year or less. This makes short-term care coverage often sufficient. At the very least, it provides funds that pay for needed care and provide transition time for future planning.
May be easier to qualify for health
In recent years, many seniors have found it increasingly difficult to qualify for traditional long-term care insurance. Today, insurers carefully review medical records, assess height and weight proportions and prescribed prescription drugs. Short-term care insurers can be more lenient, making this coverage an ideal option for single women with modest existing health conditions.
Similarly, most traditional long-term care insurers stop accepting new applicants after age 76. Insurers offering short-term care plans will consider applicants aged 80. Keep in mind that costs are based on your age and generally health deteriorates with age. Finding coverage in your 60s is generally considered the best time to start.
It is important to recognize that short term care insurance is different from short term health care insurance. The latter is temporary coverage for those who are switching health plans because you’re between jobs or just got out of your parent’s health coverage.
Tips for Finding Acute Care Specialists
A good place to start learning about acute care insurance plans and costs is on the AALTCI website. There you will find a map showing the states where the products are approved as well as examples of police costs at different agents. Go to www.aaltci.org/stc.
Women seeking information on policies and costs should contact a long term care insurance specialist who is appointed by both traditional insurers and short term care insurers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and they will be in the best position to help you compare plan options and costs.