Girl and boy drawn on a chalkboard

Many groups today are working toward gender equality at work and in the home. But one place where gender will continue to be an influence is in the area of aging and health care. While it is now known and accepted that women live longer than men, what is less often addressed is how this statistic impacts the quality of healthcare services for individuals later in life. Science Daily reports that women (on average) outlive men by five to six years. An additional truth is that, to date, women typically earn less annual income than men. When you add these factors together, the implications range from thought-provoking to worrisome for women as they age. This leaves many women to consider whether their gender alone is sufficient reason to purchase a long-term care insurance plan.

DNA and Aging

The phenomenon of females outliving males is not unique to human beings. This is known to hold true for females and males of many other species as well. A study published by Current Biologyhighlights new research linking life expectancy to genetic mutations in the mitochondria of the DNA. Mitochondria are tiny organelles found in almost all cells. Their job is to assist with respiration and energy production. Whether in humans or fruit flies, the genes responsible for mitochondria production are passed down from mother to child only (unlike most genes, which come from both parents). So when genetic mutations occur that affect mitochondrial genes, which in turn affect lifespan and the speed of the aging process, these mutations greatly affect male lifespan and health but leave females unscathed.

Who Files Long-Term Care Insurance Claims

The New York Times reports more than two-thirds of all long-term care insurance claims are filed by women. As well, with statistics highlighting how nearly 90 percent of claims are filed by individuals aged 70 and older, it becomes easier to see how Long Term Care Insurance cost may be justified in the interests of improving access to quality of care, maintaining independence and personal mobility as well as safeguarding finances later in life. The following statistics are what is known today about who files long-term care insurance claims, what their age bracket is and why the claims are filed:

  • Twenty-five percent of long-term care insurance claims are filed beginning around age 70.
  • Sixty-six percent of long-term care insurance claims are filed beginning around age 80.
  • Fifty percent of all new claims filed annually are for home health care services.
  • One-third of all new claims filed annually are for women to receive home health care services.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and cancer represent the top two medical reasons new long-term care insurance claims are filed annually.

How to Decide if Long-Term Care Insurance Makes Sense

The American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) reports that by the year 2050, more than 88 million adults living in the United States will be age 65 or older (this is more than double the projected number from 2010’s census count). There are many valid reasons to consider adding long-term care insurance to your portfolio of care options as you age — whether you are a woman or a man. But for women particularly, extended lifespan projections can highlight the need for more care later in life and the need for a longer term of care than previous generations have required. The following questions can guide you in deciding whether purchasing long-term care insurance makes sense for you:

  • What is your projected health and lifespan?
  • What are the projected costs for long-term care premiums starting now (versus if you wait until later to open a policy)?
  • How much will Medicare cover for expenses related to at-home care or assisted living?
  • What type of support system do you anticipate having later in life (in your home, your family or your community)?
  • What can your income accommodate — now and in the future?

Over and above gender-related issues, a careful consideration of costs and options as tied to your lifespan, your health history and the health history of your loved ones is the best way to determine whether long-term care insurance is right for you.

 

About the Author:

Joe Houston is a guest blogger and counselor. He recently purchased long-term care insurance for both himself and his wife after researching the costs for his parents.