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Life and Long-Term Care Insurance

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In this article

Overview

As a general rule, securing various types of insurance when you are young and healthy is the best advice. But all too often, MS or other health conditions that typically strikes early in life get diagnosed before many of us have seriously considered investing in these types of financial safeguards. However, people with MS are still wise to look into insurance, even after their diagnosis, and the sooner, the better!

Life Insurance

Although surveys reveal that many people with MS have life insurance, it is possible that they had it in place prior to their MS diagnosis. And while there is no reason MS should automatically disqualify anyone from a life insurance policy, insurers willing to issue a policy to someone with an MS diagnosis are apt to limit it or charge a higher premium.

Clearly, it is in your best interest to try to find a policy that does not limit the value of your life insurance policy in any way, so it is to your benefit to shop around. A licensed insurance broker who knows about your MS diagnosis and is willing to work on your behalf may be your best option.
 
All life insurance policies are not the same.  Some give coverage lasting your lifetime, others cover you only for a specific number of years.  Some build up cash value, others do not.  Some policies combine different kinds of insurance (such as life and long-term care coverage) and others let you change from one kind of insurance to the other.  Some policies may offer other benefits while you are still living.

We recommend the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Life Insurance page and Life Insurance Buyer's Guide.

The market is beginning to change.  And perhaps even more striking than insurers’ willingness to cover people with MS, is their increasing inclination to offer competitive rates.  In general, life insurance companies are more likely to accept the risk of covering someone with MS if the applicant can provide them with a healthy checkup from their doctor when the disease is in an early or less aggressive stage. If you are starting to explore life insurance options, consider the tips in The Changing Landscape of Life Insurance from Momentum magazine.

Long-Term Care Insurance

General Information

Long term care can refer to a variety of needs and care settings, such as living independently at home, adult day programs and other community resources, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities.  Our publications  Maximizing Independence:  A Guide to Planning for Changing MS Care Needs and Caring for Loved Ones with Advanced MS: A Guide for Families may help guide you in making these choices and being aware of your options. 

It can be helpful to ask questions to determine whether your current living situation can meet your needs, or if it may be a good idea to explore other settings.  Seeking Services: Questions to Ask can help you begin.  

Policies

Some individuals may look to different types of insurance policies to be part of their long-term care plan.  Applying for life, disability, or long-term care insurance typically requires a medical exam and answers to questions about your past and current health.  Known as “medical underwriting” this is the process insurers use to determine whether the applicant is a good enough risk to sell them a policy and how much to charge them in premium. Failure to disclose information about your health on applications for life, disability, or long-term care insurance is considered fraud and can jeopardize future access to insurance for you and your dependents. The best advice is to answer any questions that are specifically asked, but do not worry about disclosing anything else. 

Long-term care insurance is rarely available for purchase on the private market by an individual with MS after their diagnosis. The National MS Society is not aware of any company offering long-term care coverage on the private market for people diagnosed with MS. When exploring long-term care insurance, consider the tips in A Shopper’s Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance.

Some employers, however, offer disability, life, and long-term care insurance as a benefit of employment to their employees, and some do not require medical underwriting the first time they are offered to new employees. For that reason, it is wise to consider enrolling in any employer-based life, disability, or long-term care insurance plan offered by an employer as soon as possible.

Planning Ahead

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Community Living’s website provides a basic overview of things to consider when preparing for your (or your loved one’s) future needs.  Information on costs and ways to pay for care are provided here.  Additional information about costs may be found from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice as well as Genworth FinancialClick here for information on long term care costs and public programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs benefits.

If you cannot get affordable long-term care insurance, or if you are wondering about other options for planning for long term care needs, there might be other options:

  • Elder Law Attorneys help individuals consider different ways of managing assets to help ensure that long term care needs will be met. Organizations that can help you find qualified elder law attorneys include the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the National Elder Law Foundation
  • Every state is responsible for regulating insurance products sold to citizens and businesses located in their states, and these regulatory authorities are overseen by the State Commissioner of Insurance.  Your state department of insurance is often a good resource regarding the availability of health, life, disability, or long-term care insurance for people with chronic conditions or disabilities, and for finding an insurance broker or agent who specializes in ‘Impaired risk’. Remember that it is always best to make insurance brokers or others aware if you have a diagnosis of MS first, as this is considered a specialized area.

If you need assistance, contact an MS Navigator at 1-800-344-4867 or online today.

Financial Planning for a Life with Multiple Sclerosis

A 85-page publication addressing financial organization, planning, insurance options, employment concerns, and benefit issues important to people with MS and their families. This financial planning guide provides information and strategies to help families plan wisely for the future and meet financial challenges that often accompany life with MS.

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© 2021 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.