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Long Term Care Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/15/2011 1:19:27 PM

Seniors who develop serious illnesses that keep them from living at home often must find alternative care facilities in which to reside. There they can receive the medical support they need as well as assistance with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, brushing their teeth and using the restroom. Long term care insurance helps seniors prepare for the potential need for these services.

How Much Will I Have To Pay?

The most commonly asked question about long term care insurance concerns financial responsibility. How much will you have to pay per month (or per year) in order to maintain such a policy? Unfortunately, the answer varies widely depending on your age, health and geographic location.

According to the Federal Citizen Information Center, the difference between a policy initiated at the age of 40 and another initiated at the age of 79 could amount to thousands of dollars per year in premiums. In 2002, the average premiums for a policy that covers $150 per day of care could cost anywhere from $564 to $7,572.

What Age Is Best To Buy?

As with many long-term insurance policies, long term care insurance is a gamble at any age. Buying younger, you will enjoy a lower premium as well as peace of mind, but you also run the risk of the insurance company going out of business or changing its policies, according to ConsumerReports.com.

If you wait too long, however, and become ill before starting a long term care insurance policy, you could be denied coverage. This is why many Americans choose to buy early, at the age of 45 or 50, to ensure their needs will be met later in life.

Who Qualifies For Long Term Care Insurance?

The criteria for long term care insurance will vary depending on where you live and which insurance company you choose. In general, however, this type of insurance is intended to protect patients in the event of serious illnesses that inhibit their ability to take care of themselves. Diseases like Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, heart disease and Huntington's disease, for example, might require care in a nursing home or other facility.

Not only must patients qualify to purchase a long term care insurance policy, but they must also meet the necessary criteria to receive benefits later on. This depends in large part on the specific coverage options they choose, which is why many patients purchase more coverage than they believe they will need.

What Coverage Should I Purchase?

Consumer Reports recommends that patients purchase the most flexible policy possible. This way, they won't be denied benefits when they need them most. For example, some policies require that patients be unable to perform only two of many daily activities in order to receive benefits. Bathing, dressing, eating, walking are some examples. The fewer activities you need to qualify, the better.

Additionally, it is important to consider inflation when purchasing a long term care insurance policy. If inflation increases the cost of your care beyond the coverage you've purchased, your out-of-pocket expenses will skyrocket. Some policies offer inflation insurance attached to the policy for your protection.

Caregivers can discuss the options with a licensed insurance agent to determine which options are available to their loved ones. It is important to work with a solid, stable insurance company to ensure they are still around when you need your benefits to begin.

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