Long Term Care Insurance: How to Choose the Best Elimination Period

By | December 19, 2009

In a long-term care insurance (LTCI) policy, the elimination period is often referred to as the policy deductible. In many ways it is similar to the deductible used in major medical insurance policies. One major difference is this: rather than a certain dollar amount that you will initially pay for your own care expenses, there is a specified number of days for which you will be responsible for your own homecare.

What are My Options?

Nowadays, there are only a few carriers that offer a zero day elimination period. The most common choices are 30, 60, 90, 180 and 365 days, however, these periods can differ from one carrier to another carrier. The choice of 180 or 365 days is most often made by those who have significant assets of their own. Selecting a longer period helps them keep the cost of LTCI extremely low. Even if one chooses a 90-day elimination period, the amount of funds put at risk is miniscule when compared to the asset protection afforded by the policy;s total pool of benefits.

What is a Reasonable Choice for an Elimination Period?

Some popular financial authors recommend setting it as low as possible, perhaps even at zero. It’s true that the shorter the elimination period, then the less likely it will be for you to pay out when the time comes for you to recieve care.   On the other hand, low elimination periods can have a dramatic effect on the premiums that you pay throughout the life of the policy. Usually, some form of negotiation is necessary for the very sake of affordability. In making a decision about the elimination period, a lot of policy holders remember that insurance is always used as a way to avoid suffering catastrophic financial losses rather than insuring against every possible expense. Accepting a small portion of the risk involved can be an economical and reasonable choice for most people.

The Smartest Thing You Can Do

Please keep in mind that what is right for most people might not be right for you. In deciding on the best elimination period for your particular situation, it is important to check what the cost would be for the most expensive assisted care that you may have to receive, which is most often facility care. Once you have a good idea of the daily costs for facility care in your area, multiply the costs by the various elimination period choices and determine the amount that you feel is affordable. When you decide on the elimination period that best fits your situation, earmark those funds for your care, and allow them to grow so that they keeps pace with inflation, at the very least.   Using a little financial common sense goes a long way toward making a wise decision about the LTCI elimination period.




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