The material below is intended as a guide. As with all life senior services, please seek professional assistance when making insurance-related decisions. Insurance agents/companies are separately regulated/licensed by each state. Check the state license status before making insurance determinations.
The following is intended to provide a broad overview of annuities and answer some basic questions. While this overview points out elements that many annuities have in common, there are hundreds of different annuity products available today, each with its own particular features, benefits, and pay-out options. Within that extensive group of annuity products, it is possible that specific annuities may behave differently than the descriptions given here. If you are interested in annuities, we encourage you to learn as much as you can about a particular product and talk to a financial counselor you trust before making any purchase decision.
What Is An Annuity?
An annuity is an insurance product designed to provide income -- either at some future date or immediately. With any annuity, the consumer makes at least one payment (called a "premium") to an insurance company. The insurance company, in turn, agrees to provide income payments to the consumer in the future or right away. Because there are several different varieties of annuities, it is easiest to break them into two broad groups -- deferred annuities (those designed to pay in the future) and immediate annuities (those designed to provide income immediately.)
What should one look for in an annuity provider?
When purchasing an annuity from an insurance company, you are placing your money, your trust, and part of your future financial well-being with that company. Be sure that the company you choose has a long track record of meeting its financial obligations and is financially secure. By researching and comparing the financial condition and credit ratings of several insurance companies, you will be able to make an informed decision.
Check the insurance company's financial condition. Ask your financial counselor or your state's insurance department for this information. Research the credit ratings of the insurer versus those of other providers. The rating applies to the company that issues the annuity, not to any specific annuity product or to any underlying investments. The most widely-known credit rating agencies are Standard and Poor's, Moody's, Fitch, and A.M. Best.
What is a deferred annuity?
A deferred annuity is an insurance product designed to provide income at some time in the future - typically during retirement. The idea is to let the premium payment you made to the insurance company accumulate tax-deferred for a number of years.
If you choose a fixed, deferred annuity, your money will accumulate at a fixed rate guaranteed (based on the claims-paying ability of the insurer) by the insurance company for a specified period of time.
If you choose a variable, deferred annuity, your money will accumulate at a variable rate, based upon the performance of the underlying investments. The investment return and the value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.
When you no longer wish to keep accumulating funds in your annuity, you may take the money out as a lump sum or annuitize it (convert it to income payments). If you annuitize, you have a choice of several standard pay-out options. Liquidations of earnings are subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, a 10% federal income tax penalty may also apply.
Fixed, Deferred Annuities
What is a fixed, deferred annuity?
A fixed, deferred annuity is an insurance product that offers a fixed interest rate guaranteed* by an insurance company for a specified period of time (sometimes called a guarantee period ). With this form of retirement savings, the premium you pay to the insurance company accumulates on a tax-deferred basis and the insurance company usually guarantees* the return of your principal investment.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, both in their early 50's, have received a $40,000 inheritance and would like to use this money for their retirement income later on. Their financial advisor has explained that an annuity may be a suitable product for them. The Smiths have a very low-risk tolerance and they will need this money for their retirement. They decide that a fixed, deferred annuity is perfect for them because they do not need the money right now and they do not want to risk losing their principal investment.
What are the advantages of a fixed, deferred annuity?
* Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurer.
What are the disadvantages of a fixed, deferred annuity?
No flexibility. You may not change any applicable guarantee period or interest rate once you pay your premium. Not a liquid investment. Liquidation of earnings is subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, a 10% federal income tax penalty may also apply. Early surrender charges may also apply.
For what type of investor is a fixed, deferred annuity suitable?
It may be a suitable investment for someone:
May one make withdrawals from a fixed, deferred annuity?
Certain withdrawals from fixed, deferred annuities may be subject to:
Variable, Deferred Annuities
What is a variable, deferred annuity?
A variable, deferred annuity is a long-term insurance product that enables the premium paid to the insurance company to accumulate tax-deferred with a variable rate of return. Within the annuity, there is a choice of investment options (called sub-accounts) that will allow for management of investment choices over time. The sub-accounts invest in underlying funds that, in turn, invest in various types of securities (i.e., stocks, bonds, money market instruments) each with a different risk/return profile. The return on your annuity will depend on the performance of the investment options you choose.
Nancy Edwards, 56, makes the maximum contribution to her 401(k) plan at work each year and also has an IRA to which she contributes the maximum annual amount. This year, she receives a bonus for which she doesn't have an immediate need. She decides she would like to invest $15,000 of her bonus and let the earnings accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. Knowing that Nancy is financially savvy and is a moderately aggressive investor, her financial advisor suggests a variable, deferred annuity with a mix of equity and bond investment options. Nancy is willing to take the risk of either profiting or losing from this investment.
What are the advantages of a variable, deferred annuity?
What are the disadvantages of a variable, deferred annuity?
For what type of investor is a variable, deferred annuity suitable?
A variable, deferred annuity can be a suitable investment for someone:
May one make withdrawals from a variable, deferred annuity?
Certain withdrawals from variable, deferred annuities may be subject to:
What is an immediate annuity?
An immediate annuity is an insurance product designed to convert assets into income immediately (typically within 30 days and seldom longer than 12 months from the date of purchase). The consumer pays a premium to the insurance company, and the insurance company makes a stream of periodic, income pay-outs** to the annuitant. As is the case with deferred annuities, immediate annuities can either be fixed or variable.
** Taxable Distributions (and certain deemed distributions) are subject to ordinary income tax.
With a fixed, immediate annuity, your periodic pay-out amount will always stay the same. With a variable, immediate annuity, your periodic pay-out amount will fluctuate, based on the performance of the investment options you have chosen within the annuity.
Fixed, Immediate Annuities
A fixed, immediate annuity is an insurance product that offers a fixed, periodic payment to you, the annuitant, to begin shortly (usually about a month) after you pay your premium to the insurance company. You choose the time frame over which you will receive your pay-outs. Either for a specified period (called a Period Certain )or for the rest of your life. The most common usage of this type of annuity is to convert assets into a steady income during retirement.
Mr. Johnson, age 71, is a conservative investor who wants to have additional monthly income. He plans to sell about $50,000 of mutual funds that he currently owns and use the proceeds to buy a 10-year Period Certain Fixed, Immediate Annuity. His fixed pay-outs will begin in about a month. He likes the idea that he won't have to worry about market fluctuations with the mutual funds anymore, and that his pay-outs will be the same every month. He also likes the fact that, should he die before the 10-year period is over, his beneficiary will receive any remaining payments from that Period Certain.
What are the advantages of a fixed, immediate annuity?
* Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the insurer.
** Taxable Distributions (and certain deemed distributions) are subject to ordinary income tax.
What are the disadvantages of a fixed, immediate annuity?
For what type of investor is a fixed, immediate annuity suitable?
Can one make withdrawals from a fixed, immediate annuity?
No. Withdrawals from a fixed, immediate annuity may be made only if there is a commutation (cancellation) provision written in your annuity contract.
What pay-out options are available from a fixed, deferred annuity?
Most fixed, deferred annuities offer several standard pay-out options - ranging from pay-outs for a specified period of time (Period Certain) to pay-outs for life. See table below.
Variable, Immediate Annuity
What is a variable, immediate annuity?
A variable, immediate annuity is an insurance product designed to produce pay-outs that will vary depending upon the performance of the investment options you choose. At the time you pay your premium to purchase the annuity, you choose from several underlying investment options (called sub-accounts). The sub-accounts, in turn, invest in underlying securities that can range from stocks to bonds to money market instruments. You choose the investment options based on your assessment of their potential performance and on your own risk tolerance.
Unlike a fixed, immediate annuity, you may make some changes to your variable, immediate annuity after the pay-outs begin. You may change your investment options as frequently as your particular annuity allows. You may not, however, change your pay-out option.
Mr. and Mrs. Ford, ages 70 and 72, have a sum of money that they would like to use to purchase an annuity. They have discussed with their financial advisor that they already have enough income to fund their retirement. They would like to purchase an annuity and be able to choose their investment options with the potential of profiting from favorable performance. Because the Fords are savvy investors, their financial advisor suggests a variable, immediate annuity because they want to receive pay-outs immediately, but they do not need a defined pay-out.
What are the advantages of a variable, immediate annuity?
** Taxable Distributions (and certain deemed distributions) are subject to ordinary income tax.
What are the disadvantages of a variable, immediate annuity?
For what type of investor is a variable, immediate annuity suitable?
Can one make withdrawals from a variable, immediate annuity?
No. The only way you can make a withdrawal from a variable, immediate annuity is if there is a commutation (cancellation) provision written in your annuity contract.
What pay-out options are available from a variable, immediate annuity?
Most annuities offer several standard pay-out options - ranging from pay-outs for a specified period of time (Period Certain) to pay-outs for life.
Annuity Pay-Out Options
What are the pay-out options if I choose to annuitize (convert my assets to income payments)?
Both fixed and variable annuities offer similar pay-out options. The most common options are listed here.
|Pay-out Option||Length of Payments||Payment to Beneficiary||Example|
|Life Only Annuity||The annuitant will receive pay-outs for the rest of his or her life. Under this option, it is possible to receive only one pay-out||No death benefit with this option.||John purchases a life annuity and lives for three more years, receiving pay-outs over that time. Upon his death, no death benefit is payable. Susan purchases a life annuity and lives for 25 years, receiving pay-outs over that time. Upon her death, no death benefit is payable.|
|Period Certain Annuity||The annuitant will receive guaranteed* pay-outs for a specified period of time (Period Certain). This period is typically expressed as a number of years (i.e., 10, 15, or 20 years).||If the annuitant dies before the specified period ends, the beneficiary will receive pay-outs for the rest of the Period Certain.||Bill buys a 10-year period certain annuity and he dies in the 3rd year. The beneficiary will receive payments for the remaining 7 years.|
|Life Annuity with Period Certain||The annuitant will receive periodic pay-outs for the longer of his/her lifetime or a specified period (Ex. Life with 10 years certain).||The beneficiary will receive payment if the annuitant dies before the specified period has expired.||Maria buys a Life with 10-year Period Certain annuity and she later dies in the third year. Her beneficiary receives payments for the 7 remaining years. However, if she were to die in the 11th year after purchasing the annuity, the beneficiary would receive nothing.|
|Joint and Survivor Annuity||Payments are made for the duration of 2 lives. Upon the death of the first annuitant, the second annuitant receives a percentage (typically ranging from 50-100%) of the amount the first annuitant received.||No death benefit with this option.||Tom has chosen a Joint and Survivor with 50 percent continuation benefit for him and his spouse, Jill. When Tom dies, Jill will continue to receive pay-outs for the rest of her life, but each pay-out will only be 50% of the periodic pay-out he received. When Jill dies, no death benefit will be payable.|
|Joint and Survivor With Period Certain||Payments are made for the duration of 2 lives. Upon the death of the first annuitant, the second annuitant receives a percentage (typically ranging from 50-100%) of the amount the first annuitant received. In addition, the annuitants may choose a minimum period (Period Certain) over which they will receive guaranteed payments*.||If both annuitants die before the Period Certain ends, a beneficiary will receive any remaining guaranteed* payments.||Jim and Martha purchase a Joint and Survivor Annuity with 50% continuation benefits and a 10-year Period Certain. If Jim dies in year 3, Martha will continue to receive pay-outs, but the amount of each pay-out will be 50% of the amount he received. If Martha dies before the end of the 10th year, any remaining pay-outs will go to a beneficiary. If Martha dies after the end of the 10th year, no death benefit will be payable.|
|Life Annuity with Cash Refund||With this option, the annuitant receives guaranteed* periodic pay-outs for the rest of their life. If the annuitant dies before receiving the amount of his/her premium payment back as pay-outs, any remaining pay-outs go to a beneficiary. NOTE: For immediate annuities, a beneficiary will receive any remaining premium if the annuitant dies before receiving the amount of his or her premium back as pay-outs. For deferred annuities, if the annuitant dies before receiving any pay-outs, the beneficiary will receive the account value of the annuity.||Upon the death of the annuitant, the beneficiary will receive the remainder of the premium (or in the case of a deferred annuity, the account balance.)||Juan makes a premium payment of $100,000 to purchase an immediate Life Annuity with Cash Refund. He dies several years later, after having received only $75,000 back in the form of pay-outs. His beneficiary will receive the remaining $25,000.|
The above information was provided by Hartford Life Insurance Company
Here are some tips to help the senior drivers that are increasingly staying in the driver's seat. Of course, like many life senior services, the correct auto insurance is a must.
Auto Insurance Discounts for Mature Drivers
An accident is sometimes the first indication that an elderly person should cease driving. It is hard for senior drivers to give up their independence. Drivers over 75 have one of the highest rates of fatal daytime accidents. Many times with Seniors, driving skills have impaired over time. Hence senior drivers should be proactive in keeping their driving skills up. In many states, auto insurance discount are available in many states for mature drivers who have taken an approved senior driver safety course. Check to see if such a discount is available when you get an auto insurance quote. Be sure you check the eligibility rules for the auto insurance discount. AARP offers a Driver Safety Program, mature driving courses through local AARP chapters. Many insurance companies offer subscriber discounts with proof of course completion. Information on local offerings may be obtained through local AARP chapters.
While auto design features are important to all drivers, there may be special considerations for seniors. These include: movement freedom, high roadway visibility, and any unique physical limits. Careful attention to the following parameters can assure a better driving experience.
Also, keep an eye on the technology in newer cars that enables assisted or self-driving vehicles. This technology is getting better every day, and features like auto-braking when an object is detected is designed to save lives.
Specific Physical Conditions
Many physical conditions and medications can have an adverse impact on driving. Seniors should be aware of the potential reactions to medicine that might cause difficulties. Several health-related conditions have been tied to automobile accidents and injuries. These include vision problems, joint inflammation, neurological disorders, diabetes, foot problems, and falling episodes.
Driving courses for Seniors are offered by many states to get informed about potential problems and to renew safe driving techniques.
Getting the Correct Auto Insurance
Want to save money? Here are some suggestions to help you save on your auto insurance policies. It all starts with an auto insurance quote.
Vital Savings by Aetna gives you and your family a great way to get significant discounts on a wide array of dental services. Plus, you’ll have thousands of dentists to choose from. It’s so easy to use, it will have your whole family smiling!
Drug Payment Assistance
Pharmaceutical companies offer medication assistance programs to help uninsured and indigent patients obtain needed prescription drugs. Program eligibility criteria differs from company to drug company, but almost all of them, as part of their philanthropic efforts, want "no patient in need to do without."
Seniors who feel the financial pinch of filling doctor-prescribed medications should:
To qualify for free or reduced-price prescription medications patients must meet specific financial criteria and be prepared to fill out paperwork for each medication. Here is where a health care professional can help. Some companies require that patients have no third party payer assistance.
Some programs provide assistance with Medigap or HMO insurance companies to identify billing problems and work to resolve claim denials. Some outline specific payment limitation programs for expensive and long-term medications for the indigent.
Patients may not be eligible if they have any prescription drug insurance coverage, or may be required to pay a nominal pre-determined shipping fee to receive "free" prescriptions.
Some assistance programs provide a card that can be presented at the pharmacy for medication refills. Enrollment is not indefinite, and most programs require periodic re-application.
Burial insurance is a type of life insurance that has been available for a long time. Payout occurs upon death to cover final expenses, such funeral costs. Romans and Greeks introduced burial insurance c. 600 CE when they organized guilds (benevolent societies) to look after the surviving families and paid funeral expenses. Similar groups existed in the Middle Ages and Victorian times for a similar purpose.
Many people buy life insurance simply to cover their burial and funeral expenses. Did you know there are a variety of burial insurance policies available that are quite different from each other?
Types of Funeral Insurance
Funeral expense insurance is an insurance policy that pays the costs associated with your funeral. There are several different forms of these policies available to you to assist you with planning for your end of life costs.
Funeral expense insurance can be used to pay for the cost of the funeral alone, or it can cover additional final expenses such as outstanding medical bills, legal costs, or any other debts that you owe, such as credit card bills.
The different types of funeral insurance policies include:
Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance
Some companies are now offering Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance to people whose age, health, or pocketbook may prohibit them from being able to purchase life insurance. Unlike underwritten life insurance policies, you are not required to answer any health questions or take a physical. Usually, these plans include a limited benefit period. If death occurs during the first few years, a reduced benefit is payable, or the company will return the premiums paid plus interest. This allows the company to guarantee your acceptance. Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance provides extra protection to help cover final expenses, unpaid medical bills, outstanding loans, and credit card payments. Even if you already have some form of life insurance, you may still be underinsured due to inflation and the rising costs of final expenses.
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's)
Things to compare between HMO's:
Links for More HMO Information
Life Insurance Settlements
A life settlement is a financial transaction whereby a third party acquires an unneeded or unwanted life insurance policy from the policyholder. Life settlements provide seniors a secondary market for life insurance in which the policy owner can determine fair market value for their policy. This value may be higher than the cash surrender value from the issuing life insurance company. The purchaser becomes the new beneficiary of the policy at maturation and is responsible for all subsequent premium payments.
The following is intended to provide a broad overview of life settlements and answer some basic questions.
What is a Life Insurance Settlement?
A senior life settlement allows seniors typically over the age of 65 to sell existing unwanted, obsolete or unaffordable life insurance policies to investing financial institutions for a lump sum cash settlement.
What are the benefits of a Life Insurance Settlement?
Settlements can help seniors to:
What are the requirements to qualify for a Life Insurance Settlement?
To qualify for selling your life insurance policy:
Life settlements allow seniors to benefit from their policies when they need it the most.
Here are some additional considerations
Why use a Life Settlement Broker?
Usually, cases are brought to market for purchase through a licensed Life Settlement Broker vs. a Life Settlement Provider. This ensures that the policy owner will get multiple offers and maximize their sale price. Some policy owners go directly to the buyers (Life Settlement Providers) themselves. Working with a Life Settlement Provider directly only gets a single purchase quote, not multiply offers. Providers are companies that manage the life settlement process for the ultimate buyer. We work with approximately 36 providers who represent about 100+ sources of capital. There are some cases where we go direct to the end buyer. Providers want to buy the policy as cheap as possible, with as little competition as possible.
How much money will I get if I sell my Life Insurance policy?
The value of a life insurance policy is determined by a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the age and medical condition of the insured, type of insurance policy, rating of the issuing insurance company and amount of premium payments to keep the life insurance policy in force.
What type of Life Insurance policies can be sold?
Most types of life insurance policies can qualify; however, the most common are Universal Life, Whole Life, and convertible Term Life.
Why would I consider selling my life insurance policy?
Long Term Care Insurance
Medicare, HMO's, and Medigap insurance do not pay for nursing home care for long term stays or for Assisted Living. Insurance can be purchased to help pay for these costs. Without it, a one year stay in a nursing home, estimated at $25,000-$42,000 per year, can wipe out a family nest egg. It can leave the well spouse without financial resources for their living expenses.
When shopping for Long Term Care insurance compare:
Medicaid is federally funded, and administered by states under their State Department of Insurance (found in Resources by State). How "poor" you have to be in order to be eligible for Medicaid varies by state. Divestiture of assets, including spousal impoverishment (through asset transfers) to qualify for Medicaid may differ. How much a couple may have in "assets" is presently approximately $87,000, $2,000 for an unmarried nursing home resident. For a couple, the maximum monthly income is approximately $2,200, but again this differs by state. The asset limit and income for a married couple are adjusted annually by each state.
If you want Medicare and Medicaid to work together to cover the cost of medical care, select providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) that accept both Medicare and Medicaid.
Check at cms.gov for your state information.
Exemptions to your "assets" value may be:
Generally, regulations require residence in a long term care facility or skilled nursing home for Medicaid eligibility. But in some states, a case by case investigation may allow some to be eligible when receiving medical care at home.
Those who have worked for a time in the United States, and their spouse, are generally eligible for Medicare. The age of eligibility is 65 unless there is a disability involved, in which case one may be younger to qualify. Read through the information in our Medicare Resource Center to find out more.
A person who is 65, a legal resident of the United States and has been so continuously for five years, may be eligible to buy into Medicare by buying into Part A and also Part B coverage of medicare. The buy-in amount varies and can be determined for you by workers in your local Social Security office.
Even if you are not going to file for Social Security at 65, FILE FOR MEDICARE at 65. If you delay filing, it may cost you more money to file later!
Medicare is divided into Part A and Part B coverage:
Part A, provided free of patient premiums to those who have worked the necessary number of quarters, includes:
Part B is provided at a premium, "which most people pay through an automatic deduction from their social security check" and helps pay for:
If you live in a rural area, Medicare regulations enable some reimbursement of home care visits. Your closest Social Security Office can provide details regarding availability in your state. This is another segment of trying to provide better services overall for seniors in rural regions of the country. Earlier efforts to provide for rural patients was approval of limited telehealth services for "teleradiology" and "telepathology".
Some seniors qualify for Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) because of a "disability" or other exceptional circumstance and "low income." Eligibility for maximum payments under SSI are reduced by "countable" income and assets beyond homeownership. Some states supplement the SSI payment from Medicare when a qualified recipient lives in a care home. SSI recipients may also qualify for additional help i.e., food stamps or Medicaid.
Medicare and SSI information provided here is meant to be a primer and a place to start. It is not intended to replace the information available from Medicare.
The Medicare Hotline is 1.800.633.4227. They can provide "Your Medicare Handbook" free of charge. The Handbook, Publication No. HCFA 10050 provides explanations about Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) of Medicare coverage. It lists carriers of Part B coverage by state and explains Part B enrollment procedures. It also lists, by state, where to call for information regarding the quality of care in Medicare-certified facilities. There is an application for sending away for additional free publications, that deal with Medicare questions relating to specific medical conditions and treatments. They also have a toll-free number for your State Counseling Office.
The Medicare Fraud Hotline is 1.800.447.8477. It is operated 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m Eastern Standard Time. They are interested in suspected instances of Medicare fraud.
Medicare Coverage for Diabetes
For seniors, Medicare provides a wide range of coverage for diabetes and its related symptoms. Original Medicare is fee-for-service coverage under which the government pays your health care providers directly for your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Part B (Medical Insurance) benefits.
The information here provides a quick overview of some of the services and diabetes supplies covered by Medicare (Part B and Part D). Generally, Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers the services that may affect people who have diabetes. In addition, Medicare Part B covers some preventive services for people who are at risk for diabetes. Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) also covers diabetes supplies used for injecting or inhaling insulin. You must have Part B to get services and supplies covered under Part B. You must be enrolled in a Medicare drug plan to get supplies covered under Part D.
Supplemental Insurance to Medicare
Medical Insurance and medical coverage can be obtained from private providers to help pay for doctor and hospital care costs not covered by Medicare A and/or B through:
Medigap or Medicare Supplemental Insurance
Legislation standardizes this insurance into ten plans. They are referred to by letters A - J. All plans offer some coverage for what is not covered in part A of Medicare. Plans B - J, offer insurance coverage for additional "services" that medicare does not cover. i.e., J includes coverage for Part A costs, as well as many non-covered charges from part B.
In comparing policies, remember that all insurance providers must provide categories A - J with similar features. So within each designated category, compare insurance coverage by:
Tax-Qualified Long Term Care Insurances
Understanding the differences between tax-qualified and non-tax-qualified long term care insurance plans is important when considering the purchase of long term care insurance. As the names imply, tax-qualified plans provide the purchaser with certain tax advantages, including the assurance that benefits paid to reimburse them for qualified long term care service costs will be excluded from their taxable income, while non-tax-qualified plans do not provide the same assurance.
Another advantage is that premiums paid for tax-qualified long term care insurance plans can be deducted as medical expenses by taxpayers who itemize (subject to Internal Revenue Code limits). And, proposed federal legislation for an above-the-line tax deduction for long term care insurance premiums would only apply to tax-qualified long term care insurance plans.
There are also other differences that consumers may wish to consider. Tax-qualified long term care plans are designed to cover disabilities that are expected to last for a prolonged period of time, and the IRS has set specific eligibility standards for qualified benefits to be payable. The policyholder must either need substantial assistance with two of at least five activities of daily living (ADLs) for a period expected to last at least 90 days, or suffer from severe cognitive impairment. That need must be certified by a licensed health care practitioner. Long term care services must be in accordance with a Plan of Care prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner, and benefits can only be paid for qualified long term care services.
Under non-tax-qualified policies, the insurance company may offer different benefit eligibility triggers, including allowing eligibility for benefits upon a finding of medical necessity. These less stringent triggers may provide access to benefits more quickly than under tax-qualified plans. Premiums are generally higher than for tax-qualified policies with equivalent benefit levels, benefits may be taxable as income, and premiums may not be deductible medical expenses.
The above tax-qualified vs. non-tax-qualified long term care insurance policies was provided for your informational use by GE Capital's Long Term Care Division, 2000.
Because of old age, mental or physical illness, or injury, some people find themselves in need of help with eating, bathing, dressing, and other physical activities. Long-term care insurance can help pay for such care in the future. To help protect your financial independence, as you grow older, many Long Term Care Insurance providers have plans that offer comprehensive benefits as well as a proven track record of claims payments and financial stability. You should review all your options carefully.
Page two of your passport says:
"HEALTH INSURANCE. Persons considering foreign travel should determine what health insurance coverage, if any, they require while outside the United States. Medicare does not cover health care costs outside the United States and its territories, except under limited circumstances in Canada and Mexico."
Government-sponsored health programs such as Medicare almost never cover care received in a foreign country. Employer-sponsored plans often limit overseas coverage to emergency care only. Emergency medical evacuation is almost never covered. You might want to check with your home health policy before you travel, and before you buy travel insurance. Obtaining healthcare in some parts of the world can be tricky. Some hospitals won't provide any treatment--or won't allow a patient to be discharged--until the hospital has received a guarantee of payment. Such guarantees are commonly provided by travel insurers, in conjunction with assistance providers, but rarely by other insurers or managed care plans. This means you'll have to pay in advance. If using a credit card, the hospital must accept foreign credit cards and your card must have a sufficient credit limit. In addition, traveling from your foreign vacation spot - for a place with higher quality medical care, or to return home where your regular insurance is accepted - may be difficult. Medical evacuations are tricky to arrange, and all air ambulance providers are not equal. Worse, local authorities may have financial ties to certain evacuation companies. Travel health insurance may be purchased with three components:
Most travel insurance products offer all three or two of the three.
A medical assistance benefit gives you 24/7/365 access to a company that will arrange an evacuation for you with a creditable evacuation company--or, through their medical personnel, can help assure that you're getting appropriate treatment locally. They can provide the guarantees needed for hospital discharge and could also help with other travel-related problems: i.e., legal troubles, lost passports, or credit cards. Supplemental health/accident insurance generally pays for doctor and hospital bills, and sometimes dental care and medications. Depending on when travel insurance is purchased, medical problems from preexisting conditions may also be covered.
Medical Evacuation can be expensive (as much as $50,000 or more from a remote location). In addition to the coverage, you'll want assistance arranging an evacuation.
Trip cancellation/interruption. These coverages protect you financially in the event you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for medical reasons. For example, you purchase a $5,000 cruise but can't take it because of personal illness--or illness in the family. Depending on when you cancel, a significant portion of the $5,000 may be non-refundable. This type of insurance will reimburse you.
Resources, Products, and Other Considerations
HealthMatrix Research Inc. - for comparisons of over 2000 HMOs in over 50 cities.
All information on SeniorResource.com, including articles, forms, documents, videos, and FAQs, are for educational purposes and may not fit your specific situation. Due to the intensely personal nature of any insurance issue, it is suggested that you consult with an appropriate insurance advisor to ensure that your issues are resolved to your satisfaction. The insurance information links provided above are for a third party and are not endorsed by, supported by, or affiliated with Seniorresource.com. Seniorresource.com makes no representations concerning the content of the third party information. Insurance agents/companies are separately regulated/licensed by each state. Check the state license status before doing your business.