Long Term Care Insurance Not Just For Elderly

Financial Fitness Week seminar offers explanation of long term care insurance benefit

Pat Galla, a Prudential representative, provides information about long term care insurance during Financial Fitness Week at Duke. Photo by Marsha Green.

Emma Cabezas raised two children and then cared for her mother and father, both of whom have since passed away. 

"Now it is time to start taking care of myself, because Social Security and Medicare won't be enough if I need extra care," said Cabezas, who turns 65 in August and is a medical interpreter for Duke's International Patient Services.

Hoping for planning tips, Cabezas attended Wednesday's Financial Fitness Week workshop on "Long Term Care Insurance: The Missing Piece in Your Financial Plan" at the Searle Center. She learned how long term care insurance works to protect an individual's assets if illness, injury or dementia requires use of a nursing home, assisted living center, day care or in-home care.

Long term care can quickly consume an individual's savings, said Pat Galla, a representative from Prudential, which offers group rates to Duke faculty and staff. "North Carolina is fairly cheap compared to other states," he said. "But a nursing home here still costs an average of $215 a day."  

Different levels of insurance coverage are available to help pay for long term care costs. Premiums are calculated based on how much coverage is chosen and the insured person's age when he or she enrolls. For example, a 30-year-old can purchase a plan that pays $100 a day for up to three years of care at $10.15 per month. At 50 years old, the same coverage costs $29.42 a month. 

Galla said 40 percent of long term care insurance claims involve people younger than 65 who suffer accidents, strokes or have other chronic diseases that render them unable to accomplish basic tasks such as eating, dressing or bathing. "Don't let anyone tell you this is just old people's insurance," he said.

The long term care insurance available through Duke offers several advantages, including access to group rates and the ability to keep the insurance even after leaving Duke. Additionally, employees' family members, including spouses, same-sex partners, parents, grandparents, in-laws and adult children, can take advantage of Duke's competitive rates. 

Jean Rundquist, a laboratory technician in clinical immunology, purchased coverage through Duke when she was in her early 40s. She attended the workshop to refresh her memory on how long term care coverage works. "This workshop reminded me that I need to look into Prudential's inflation protection options," said Rundquist, now 48.  

It was the fourth workshop of the day for Rundquist, who took the day off to attend a variety of Financial Fitness Week workshops. 

"I'm surprised that more people don't come to these seminars," she said. "We work so hard for our money, why shouldn't we take advantage of these free workshops that help us manage the money we've earned?"