Care Health

Prioritize Healthy life

How much long-term care insurance should your parents buy?

How much long-term care insurance should your parents buy?
Long-term care can be expensive. Make sure your parents have enough insurance coverage to pay for it.

Getty Images

Dealing with aging parent isn’t easy under any circumstances, but it can be made even harder if money becomes a major issue. Long-term care is expensive. Whether they end up needing a nursing home, assisted living or care in their own homes, your parents could have to pay a lot of money for care as they age – and if they aren’t prepared, the financial burden could fall on you.

There is a way to get ready for this, though — long-term care insurance. If your parents don’t have a long-term care insurance policy, you should push them to consider it. One important question when buying long-term care insurance is how much coverage you should get. If you are helping your parents navigate the long-term care insurance purchasing process, it helps to know how much they should actually buy.

Ready to buy a long-term care insurance policy? Shop online today.

How much long-term care insurance should your parents buy?

There are several factors to consider when helping your parents decide how much long-term care insurance to purchase. Here’s what to think about when assisting them in the process.

Where do they live?

A major factor in how much long-term care insurance coverage you need is the cost of care where you live. The price of long-term care services varies widely across the country. For instance, in New York the average cost of a private room in a nursing home was $158,797 per year in 2021. In Ohio, it was $98,550 and in Missouri it was $71,175. You can use Genworth’s cost of care tool to get a sense of how much you might pay for various long-term care services where you live.

Make sure to take into account not only where your parents live now but if they’re going to move when they retire. If your parents live in New Jersey now but are planning to move to Florida when they turn 70 that would mean a big difference in how much they’ll have to pay for care. For instance, the average cost of a home health aide in New Jersey was $68,526 annually in 2021 but in Florida it was $57,200.

Find the right long-term care insurance policy for your family now

How much money do they have for retirement?

The next question surrounds your parents and their retirement planning. If they have planned well and have a decent retirement nest egg, they’ll need less coverage than if they don’t have significant retirement funds and will be using everything they have for day-to-day living costs.

“My recommendation would be to estimate what three years of care costs today,” says Jesse Slome, the founder and executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “Then decide how much you are willing and able to pay from current retirement savings and projected or actual social security or pension income.”

Let’s say you anticipate your parents will live in South Carolina when they retire. According to Genworth, the average monthly cost of an assisted living facility in the state was $3,612 in 2021. Look at your parents’ finances with them and figure out how much they can reasonably expect to pay toward this service. From there, you can figure out exactly how much coverage to consider.

If your parents decide they will be able to afford to pay $2,000 per month, they could consider a long-term care insurance plan that will be able to pay the rest of the cost, around $1,600. If the premium for that amount of coverage is too much for them to fit in their budget, then re-work the budget, if possible.

“Some coverage will always be better than none at all,” Slome says.

Medical history matters

Another factor to consider when choosing how much long-term care insurance coverage your parents will need is their medical history and your family’s medical history. If Alzheimer’s is common for your father’s side of the family, for instance, he may be more likely to end up needing to live in a nursing home. The decision of how much long-term care insurance coverage he needs should take into account that possibility.

Consider linking their policies

One way to make it more likely that your parents have enough long-term care insurance is to link their policies through a “shared care” rider. When you do this, if one of your parents dies before they’ve used all of their available benefits, the leftovers will be inherited by the other parent for no additional fee. A shared care rider will add a cost to your premium but it is generally not too burdensome.

For instance, let’s say both of your parents buy policies that provides $2,500 in benefits and a maximum lifetime benefit of $150,000. If your mother dies at age 72 without having used any of those benefits, they will pass to your father. He’ll now have $5,000 a month available and a maximum benefit of $300,000. If your father lives significantly longer, he will be more likely to cover his long-term care costs with this extra money available.

The bottom line

There are many factors to consider when helping your parents buy long-term care insurance. You need to account for where they live, as the cost of care varies across the country. You should also consider how much money they have saved for retirement and what services their personal and family medical history indicates they may need. By taking these factors into consideration you’ll boost your parents’ chances of securing cost-effective and comprehensive long-term care insurance.