Long-term care (LTC) insurance encompasses a variety of services that may be necessary for people who have disabilities or debilitating health conditions. The need for it can arise for anyone at any time. Long-term care is different from other kinds of healthcare or medical care in that it can involve assistance with aspects of what’s known as custodial care, which includes help with bathing, using the bathroom, eating, getting dressed and more. It involves a much wider, personal and daily level of care than other kinds of healthcare a person might receive from a general or specialized medical practitioner. In general, there are three categories of long-term care: home care, assisted living and skilled nursing. MassMutual, a major provide of long-term care policies, has a number of features and riders that we review here. Finding insurance policies that fit your overall plans can be complicated, so working with a financial advisor can be helpful.
When considering long-term care, one of the biggest questions becomes how to pay for it. That’s where LTC insurance comes in. Companies such as MassMutual, New York Life and others provide insurance that typically covers services that don’t fall in the scope of other kinds of health insurance. These services can include the activities of daily living (ADLs) listed above. Some policies also cover services and care related to chronic conditions, certain diseases or impairments from unexpected accidents.
Affording a long-term care insurance policy can be relatively difficult, especially if you don’t have enough saved beforehand or lack a major income stream. Insurance costs will depend on various factors, such as age, gender, types of benefits, durations of benefits, policy types (traditional or hybrid) and even existing health conditions, to name a few. Regular health insurance, disability insurance and Medicare are not designed to cover long-term care costs.
Some ways to make up the costs of long-term care include getting support from Medicaid, using a 1035 exchange plan, signing up for certain state partnership programs and more. Finally, there are asset-based long-term care insurance policies. These are life insurance policies that let you leverage your death benefit to pay for nursing care costs.
Overview of MassMutual
MassMutual, which was founded in 1851, has its headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts. As a “mutual company,” according to its website, the company does not have public shareholders. Instead, members and participating policy owners are described as “sharing in ownership,” as members are entitled to vote for the company’s board of directors. Owners of participating policies may be able to share in any dividends the company may declare too. The company’s global employee base is currently in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 across various offices.
The financial strength of MassMutual is very sound, with it being on the Fortune 500 list as of June 2021. It also holds at least “very strong” or “superior” ratings from A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P. The outlook of MassMutual, according to these ratings, is stable. According to the company’s 2020 financial summary details on the company’s website, it has $1.7 billion in policyholder dividends and $6.2 billion in insurance and annuity benefits paid in 2020.
MassMutual Long-Term Care Policy Features & Riders
According to its website, MassMutual has various policies, including:
- SignatureCare long-term care insurance
- CareChoice One and CareChoice Select hybrid long-term care insurance plans that also include life insurance
- Life insurance with acceleration benefits
Consumers should note that the company’s traditional (non-hybrid) long-term care insurance was largely discontinued, effective Jan. 28, 2021, but that this only affects new sales and does not affect current policyholders. The program continues in New York and California only, under the name SignatureCare.
Policy types include individual/standard, state partnerships, hybrid, group and tax-qualifying. The kinds of care that they cover are in-home care, assisted living or adult daycare, nursing home, hospice care and medical help systems. Coverage applies to any kind care that takes place in any kind of facility.
Policy riders – which are add-ons or adjustments to a current policy – include inflation protection, shared care, return of premium and waiver of premium, which waives insurance premium payments if the policyholder becomes critically ill or disabled.
MassMutual policies have an unlimited lifetime benefit period. The elimination period (the amount of time between the start of the injury/illness and the payment of benefits) can be either 0, 30, 90 or 180 days. A longer elimination period usually means a lower the premium.
MassMutual’s hybrid policies, CareChoice One (a single premium policy) and CareChoice Select, are life insurance policies with long-term care benefits included as riders. They offer a variety of long-term care benefits, a death benefit (a payout to beneficiaries if the policyholder dies) and a surrender value (the amount payable to you if you surrender the policy) that increases over time.
Finally, the company’s life insurance with acceleration benefits are long-term care benefits attached to life insurance policies. They allow customers to use part of the policy’s death benefit once specific conditions are met for long-term care or managing chronic illness.
MassMutual’s Customer Satisfaction
Overall, the number of complaints against MassMutual’s long-term care insurance policies has been low. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), of the four complaints filed in 2020 under “Accident & Health,” two were filed under “Long-Term Care.” The rate of long-term care-related complaints were similar for 2019 (5 of 12) and 2018 (3 of 6).
Regarding the number of complaints, whether they concern long-term care insurance or not, the most common fell under the categories of “Delays” and “Delays/No Response.”
While the Better Business Bureau (BBB) does not categorize information about complaints, its website shows that the company is not accredited by the BBB and receives a “B-” rating. A total of 13 customer reviews, at time of writing, on the site assign an average star rating of 1 out of 5 stars. There were 41 complaints about the company as a whole logged over the past three years. A majority of them reported a problem with a product or service, while others reported billing or delivery issues.
How to Contact MassMutual
To contact MassMutual and find out where there might be a physical location near you, you can call their customer service line at (800) 272-2216. You can also visit the company’s website and fill out its contact form there so an agent can reach out to you directly.
Long-term care insurance might be necessary for anyone, whether it is someone in older age who requires assistance, or someone of any age who suffers from an injury or chronic illness that prevents them from independently managing their daily needs. When thinking about how to pay for this care, it’s important to shop around and learn more about the different policies that are out there.
MassMutual offers both a long-term care plan as well as hybrid options that combine life insurance and long-term care benefits. While it could be a good idea to seek the services of financial professional to see if long-term care insurance is right for you, it’s also important to shop around and learn more about the different policies that are out there.
Tips on Insurance
- If trying to plan for future care for you or a loved one makes you feel overwhelmed, consider consulting a financial expert. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- To set realistic expectations for yourself, be sure to keep a budget in mind when allocating expenses for medical care. What can you really afford, especially if premiums rise? Our free budgeting calculator can help.
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