6 Best Long-Term Care Insurance Companies of 2021

·19 min read

70% of people over the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care and support later in life, according to LongTermCare.gov.

Long-term care insurance can help you pay for the costs associated with your long-term care as you get older and need help with everyday activities — like bathing, dressing and eating.

Read on to learn about the best companies offering long-term care insurance products.

Our Top Picks for Best Long-Term Care Insurance Companies

  • Northwestern Mutual: Best for Customer Satisfaction

  • Mutual of Omaha: Best for Discounts

  • Golden Care Insurance: Best Marketplace

  • New York Life: Best for Financial Stability

  • Lincoln Financial: Best for Immediate Benefits

  • Transamerica: Best for Competitive Prices

Best Long-Term Care Insurance Reviews

A.M. Best Rating

A++

J.D. Power Score

790/1000

Pros

  • Premium Payment option waives premium if you become eligible for benefits

  • Long-term care policies are "participating" policies, eligible for dividends

  • Offers a Caregiver Training Benefit equal to 20% of the Maximum Monthly Limit

Cons

  • Doesn't provide online quotes

  • Only two benefit periods: three or six years of protection

  • Only covers care services from providers approved by the plan

Northwestern Mutual makes our list thanks to its superior financial strength and above-average customer service rankings. It also has a remarkably low complaint index for long-term care policies, according to the NAIC’s National Complaint Index Report.

Northwestern’s QuietCare traditional long-term care policy lets you select a maximum monthly benefit from $1,500 to $12,000 in $100 increments. And it offers four elimination period alternatives — 6, 12, 25 or 52 weeks.

One major drawback of this policy is that it will only cover services offered by providers approved by the plan, and not all approved care providers are certified in every state.

As a mutual insurance company where customers are also shareholders, participating Northwestern insurance policies – such as its traditional long-term care policy – are eligible to receive dividend payouts.

The company also offers long-term care coverage through life insurance policy riders. Other riders, such as its Premium Payment option, allow policyholders to waive premium payments as soon as they are eligible to start receiving long-term care.

A.M. Best Rating

A+

J.D. Power Score

789/1000

Pros

  • Offers a discount of 30% for couples who purchase the same policy

  • Offers a discount of 15% to individuals in good health

  • You can choose your benefit payment method from month to month (cash or reimbursement)

Cons

  • To qualify for the couple's discount, you must be legally married, in a registered domestic or civil union or have lived continuously as a couple in the same permanent residence for the last 3 years

Mutual of Omaha offers three types of discounts that amount to 30% in potential savings. It also came in fifth place for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study and has a strong financial strength rating.

Mutual of Omaha offers long-term care insurance coverage exclusively as a stand-alone product. Available policy options include the MutualCare® Custom Solution and the MutualCare® Secure Solution, which include:

  • Monthly benefits from $1,500 to $10,000

  • Elimination periods between 0 and 365 calendar days

  • Policy limit of $50,000 to $500,000

  • Waiver of premium benefit

  • Optional inflation protection benefit

A.M. Best Rating

N/A

J.D. Power Score

N/A

Pros

  • Specializes in critical care, life and long-term care hybrid policies, life insurance and annuities

Cons

  • Doesn't offer policies directly but connects customers with insurance carriers instead

As an online insurance broker, Golden Care partners with industry leaders to help customers find the best options for their long-term care needs.

The company assigns clients a long-term care specialist that will work with them on their care plan and guide them toward the insurer that best aligns with their situation.

Golden Care partners with Mutual of Omaha, Transamerica, Aetna, Thrivent, Securian Financial, OneAmerica and National Guardian Life Insurance Company.

A.M. Best Rating

A++

J.D. Power Score

784/1000

New York Life is our top pick for the best long-term care insurer for financial stability. It has superior financial ratings — the third-highest of any insurance company on our lists, regardless of type — and is one of the nation’s oldest mutual insurance providers.

New York Life offers two types of long-term care insurance options: traditional stand-alone policies and combination long-term care and life insurance policies. Maximum daily benefits range from $50 to $400 per day and waiting periods between 90 and 180 days. You can choose a benefit period of 2, 3, 5 or 7 years.

Pros

  • Policies can cover 100% of care costs

  • Premiums are guaranteed not to increase on combination policies

Cons

  • Benefit period options and covered benefits may vary by state

  • Offers a money-back guarantee for hybrid policies if the insured doesn't use the policy

A.M. Best Rating

A+

J.D. Power Score

749/1000

Pros

  • Income tax-free reimbursements are available for approved long-term care costs

  • Benefits are available internationally

  • Two inflation protection options: simple (3%) or compound (3% or 5%)

Cons

  • Product features and benefits may vary state by state

Lincoln Financial made our list of best long-term care insurance providers thanks to its superior financial stability and plans with no elimination period.

Lincoln’s MoneyGuard II is a universal life insurance policy with a long-term care rider that accelerates the death benefit to cover long-term care expenses. It has no deductible period for nursing home or assisted living care. If the policyholder ends up not needing long-term care, their dependents may receive a tax-free benefit or complete return of premiums after five years.

In contrast, MoneyGuard® III plan offers lenient underwriting with no medical exams or lab tests needed for approval, discounted pricing for couples and several inflation-protection options.

A.M. Best Rating

A

J.D. Power Score

734/1000

Pros

  • Offers a rider to switch from daily benefits to monthly benefits

  • Policies are highly customizable and eligible for discounts

Cons

  • Pool of money varies by state

Transamerica is among our top picks because it allows policyholders to customize their long-term care insurance coverage based on the price range they can afford. It also offers life insurance products with long-term care riders and has a solid financial strength rating.

The TransCare II plan has maximum daily benefits ranging from $100 to $400 per day, and elimination period options of 0 days to 180 days. The TransCare III plan offers a wider range of options with which to customize coverage and potentially save on premiums.

An add-on available to both plans is the shared care benefit rider, which allows couples to share a pool of benefits if one spouse exhausts theirs.

Other companies we considered

While these companies didn’t make our list of top insurers, they offer coverage and features some consumers might find attractive.

Brighthouse Financial

Pros

  • Guaranteed death benefit and terminal illness benefit

  • Ability to link the policy to an index and grow LTC benefits

  • Cash indemnity plan pays out base benefit regardless of the actual expense amount

Cons

  • No stand-alone LTC policies are available

Brighthouse Financial is an insurance company that specializes in annuities and life insurance policies. One of its products is the SmartCare plan, an indexed universal life insurance policy with a long-term care rider.

OneAmerica

Pros

  • Sells hybrid life insurance and annuity plans with LTC benefits

  • Policies underwritten by State Life Insurance Company

  • Receive LTC benefits for a limited period or opt for guaranteed lifetime benefits

Cons

  • No stand-alone LTC policies are available

OneAmerica is a financial services and mutual insurance company that specializes in life insurance and annuity products. It offers hybrid life insurance policies and annuity plans, both of which include LTC benefits.

Pacific Life Insurance Company

Pros

  • 100% return of premium benefit if LTC funds are never use

  • Expert care coordinators available for arranging long-term care

Cons

  • Application not available online

  • Products not available in all 50 states

Pacific Life sells life insurance, annuities and mutual funds. It offers three whole life insurance policies that include long-term care benefits, giving consumers a range of options from which to choose.

Nationwide

Pros

  • Offers universal and variable universal life insurance policies with LTC rider

Cons

  • Rider not available in every state

As a well-known national insurer, Nationwide’s reputability adds an extra layer of assurance for customers looking to invest in financially secure products. It only sells universal life insurance with long-term care riders.

LTC Resource Centers

Pros

  • Works with different carriers

  • Offers hybrid life and LTC, state partnership, tax-qualified policies, among others

Cons

  • Information on the site is scarce

LTCResourceCenter.com is an independent managing general agency. The company has authority from an insurer to underwrite and price policies, administer programs and settle claims.

CLTC Insurance Services

Pros

  • Works with different carriers

  • Offers annuities and life insurance with LTC riders and critical illness insurance

Cons

  • There isn't much information on the site

California Long Term Care Insurance Services, also known as CLTC Insurance Services, is an independent insurance brokerage that specializes in selling long-term care insurance and related products in the state of California.

Long-Term Care Insurance Guide

What is long-term care insurance?

Long-term care insurance provides coverage for home health care or facility care if you can no longer perform at least two of the six basic activities of daily living: personal hygiene, dressing, using the toilet, ambulation/transferring, continence and eating.

Many people erroneously believe that Medicare will cover all of these costs when the time comes. However, there are limitations to what Medicare and other government programs will cover when it comes to long-term care, and half of people end up paying for these costs privately. Long-term care insurance is a dedicated product that can help cover expenses related to long-term care.

How does long-term care insurance work?

A long-term care insurance policy can give you the financial security required to pay for professional care later in life. Still, the policy will only go into effect after the elimination period and when your benefits are triggered.

Depending on your policy, specific triggers make your coverage come into effect. These typically include having a cognitive impairment or not being able to perform between two to six activities of daily living.

The elimination period, also known as the deductible or waiting period, is the amount of time you must wait before you start receiving long-term care insurance benefits.

“Benefits are paid either monthly or daily, with traditional LTC insurance reimbursing the actual cost of the care up to policy maximums,” says Greg Kingler, director of wealth management at the Government Employees’ Benefit Association.

Long-term care insurance covers costs that regular health insurance doesn’t, such as personalized care in your home, a nursing home, an assisted living facility or an adult daycare center.

There are two main kinds of long-term care insurance policies:

Stand-alone long-term care insurance policies

A long-term care insurance policy can reimburse you for some of the costs of the care you receive at home, at a nursing home or in a residential care facility.

This type of insurance provides flexibility concerning the kind of care you receive, when and where you receive it and for what duration.

Stand-alone long-term care insurance policies provide a monthly benefit amount that is paid out during a benefit period. Benefit periods typically range from two to five years, and benefits are disbursed after an elimination period, which customarily ranges between 30 days to 90 days.

You may add riders to your LTC policy that increase or modify coverage, such as one that adds inflation protection to prevent your benefit from losing value as the cost of living increases.

Hybrid long-term care insurance policies

Hybrid long-term care policies combine two types of coverage, typically a life insurance policy or qualifying annuity and a long-term care rider.

The advantages of a hybrid life/long-term care insurance policy include:

  • The policy will pay out a guaranteed death benefit if the policyholder doesn’t use long-term care insurance.

  • Premium payments are guaranteed not to increase over the life of the policy.

  • Underwriting is less strict, and pricing for women could be lower.

But these policies also have drawbacks, at least for some:

  • Premiums can be far higher than those for stand-alone long-term care insurance.

  • Buying life insurance late in life may not be the best financial move, according to many planners.

Ultimately, the choice to purchase a stand-alone policy or a hybrid one will depend on your personal and financial goals.

If you’re in the market for a life insurance policy, click here to see our ranking of the best life insurance companies.

How much is long-term care insurance?

Before we go into how much a long-term care insurance policy could cost you, it’s important to put into perspective the costs of long term care itself, as these are rising exponentially.

Between 2019 and 2020, the average cost of assisted living facilities increased by 6.15%, homemaker services by 4.44% and home health aide services by 4.35%.

Long-term care costs can vary depending on the services provided and where they are rendered, whether in-home, at an assisted living facility or at a nursing home facility.

According to Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey, the daily median cost for homemaker services is $147, while a home health aide costs $150. Assisted living costs are lower, with a daily average of $74 for adult daycare and $141 for assisted living facilities.

The annual cost of various care options are as follows:

  • Homemaker services: $53,768

  • Home health aide: $54,912

  • Adult day health care: $19, 240

  • Assisted living facility: $51,600

  • Semi-private room in nursing home: $93,075

  • Private room in a nursing home: $105,850

Most people over 65 will require long-term care sometime in their lives, with women needing care longer than men and having to pay more in consequence.

As for the coasts of long-term care insurance, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) says that, in 2019, the average annual premium for a 55-year-old couple was $3,050, while individual policies were $2,050 for a 55-year-old male and $2,700 for a female of the same age.

The following are some of the many factors that determine your LTC policy premiums:

  • Age and health: The younger you are, the less expensive your premium will be, so planning ahead pays off. According to a study by the AALTCI, the highest percentages of applicants whose requests for coverage were denied were those in the 60 to 79 age bracket.

  • Gender: According to data from the Administration on Aging, on average, women outlive men by about five years. Since the odds of a woman making a claim are higher than those of a man, premiums for women tend to be more expensive.

  • Marital status: The cost of long-term care insurance tends to be lower for married couples than for single people.

  • Insurance company: Prices vary depending on how the insurer prices risk and the benefits the policy offers. It’s important to compare at least three quotes from different carriers to ensure you’re getting the best price for the coverage you need.

  • Selected coverage: The cost of long-term care insurance will also depend on the policy’s term length, the amount of coverage you select and whether or not you purchase additional coverage through a policy rider such as inflation protection.

Alternatives to Long-Term Care Insurance

If long-term care insurance isn’t the right solution for you, there are a few alternatives available, such as government programs and your own savings.

Medicare and Medicaid

As a joint federal and state public insurance program for low-income Americans who need healthcare, Medicaid is the largest public payer for long-term care services and supports, but not all nursing homes accept it. Medicare, on the other hand, only covers limited long-term services and supports.

If you buy private long-term care insurance coverage, you run the risk of “spending down” your benefits while at a nursing home. If this happens, you could qualify for Medicaid, so make sure the nursing home is eligible for said program.

In contrast, Medicare only offers very limited coverage for short-term care for an illness or injury if you meet certain conditions, primarily if you need skilled services or rehabilitative care.

These programs vary by state, and eligibility is based on your income and assets. Some states have higher income limits for nursing homes, for example.

If you haven’t qualified for Medicaid in the past, you may while receiving nursing home care. For more information on the coverages in your state, contact your state’s Medicaid office.

Veterans Health Administration

The Veterans Health Administration and other state-run assistance programs offer aid to cover long-term care expenses to qualifying veterans and low-income communities.

The Veterans Aid & Attendance Pensions Benefit is another federal program that provides long-term care assistance coverage for veterans and their spouses.

The benefit is tax-free and can be used for in-home care, community and assisted living or paying for a private nursing home facility. However, it does have some requirements. Veterans must be unable to perform at least one ADL, have served during wartime and need financial assistance.

Savings

People who are very well-funded for retirement can likely bear the costs of long-term care without help.

Such self-funding is especially viable if you own the house you live in, are willing to sell it to cover any long-term care costs and have someone who can help facilitate the sale and move you.

Obviously, this isn’t an option for those who lack such resources, or who prefer not to risk depleting savings to pay for long-term care, perhaps because it’s a priority for them to pass along their wealth to heirs.

Long-Term Care Insurance FAQ

When should I buy long-term care insurance?

Although people put off purchasing long-term care insurance policies due to the potentially high cost of premiums, long-term care insurance specialist Carol Burk suggests looking into the coverage when you're in your early fifties.

For couples looking for coverage, the sweet spot is around 55 years old. Beginning to shop at this time increases the odds of buying before your health declines and your premiums rise. The younger and healthier you are, the more likely you are to get the lowest rates.

Is long-term care insurance worth it?

Many people put off thinking about the prospect of needing care later in life or who will provide it, but the likelihood of needing care is high. Research shows that 70% of people aged 65 and older will need some form of long-term care, with women needing 1.5 more years of care than men.

According to financial expert Greg Klingler, "Purchasing insurance is about managing your risk. If you ask someone who has been confined to a long-term care facility if it is worth it, the answer will be a resounding yes. But if you ask someone who never had the need, the answer will be no."

Also, if you have sufficient resources, you may want to forego long-term care insurance and instead rely on tapping those assets if you indeed require such care later in life.

Does health or disability insurance cover long-term care?

According to LongTermCare.gov, there's a common misconception that medical insurance will cover most of the costs of long-term care. Most private health insurers and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) exclusively cover skilled, short-term, medically-required care. Many private health insurers do not cover custodial care.

Disability income insurance, on the other hand, is designed to replace your income in the event an illness or injury renders you unable to work, not to cover long-term-care expenses. In the event your disability also requires long-term care services, the cost of care may add up.

What can disqualify you from long-term care insurance?

Insurance companies price risk differently, which means some may be more lenient than others when it comes to certain risk factors. In general, long-term care insurers will pay special attention to your medical history and any family history of debilitating illness.

Being in poor health or needing help with daily living activities could make it harder to get approved for coverage or to qualify for lower premiums.

How do long-term care insurance state partnership plans work?

Many states have partnerships with long-term care insurance companies that incentivize people to purchase long-term care. Participating insurance companies agree to specific provisions in their partnership policies that financially protect policyholders who exhaust their benefits and want to request Medicaid.

Before Medicaid starts paying benefits, it will require you to exhaust most of your assets -- the specific amount varies by state. Partnership programs protect your assets up to the equivalent of your long-term care policy's total benefit amount.

For example, if your state requires you to spend your assets down to $1,500 and you have a long-term care insurance benefit that is partnership-approved for $500,000, you would be able to maintain up to $501,500 in assets and still qualify for Medicaid.

How We Chose The Best Long-term Care Insurance Companies

To make our selection for the best long-term care insurance companies of 2021, we considered the customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power’s 2020 Individual Life Insurance Study scores. We also looked into financial strength as demonstrated by A.M. Best’s ratings of that attribute, along with the number of complaints filed against each company with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Summary Of Money’s Best Long-term Care Insurance Of 2021

  • Northwestern Mutual: Best for Customer Satisfaction

  • Mutual of Omaha: Best for Discounts

  • Golden Care Insurance: Best Marketplace

  • New York Life: Best for Financial Stability

  • Lincoln Financial: Best for Immediate Benefits

  • Transamerica: Best for Competitive Prices

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