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With Americans living longer, adults have to think about who will take care of them if they need help later in life. Long-term care insurance is an option, but it’s not right for everyone.

Reasons to Consider Long-Term Care Insurance
Most people 65 and older will require long-term care at some point. Even if you’re healthy now, you may eventually need help due to physical or mental decline.

Full-time non-medical care can cost thousands of dollars per month. Medical care costs even more. Most people don’t have enough money set aside to cover those expenses for a significant amount of time. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care in most cases.

Many families are spread out geographically. If you have relatives who live nearby, they might not be able to take care of you if they have families of their own and full-time jobs. With long-term care insurance, your family members won’t have to worry that they might someday need to care for you and you won’t have to worry about being a burden.

How Does Long-Term Care Insurance Work?
A policy will pay up to a set amount per day for care, up to a lifetime maximum or for a limited period of time, and may only cover specific providers. Policies generally pay for in-home care for help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom, as well as care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. 

There is often an elimination period, or waiting period, before insurance begins to pay for care. Sometimes policyholders seek treatment in a nursing home and are discharged before their insurance benefits kick in, so they pay the entire bill out of pocket.

You may not be eligible for coverage if you are older or have a serious pre-existing condition. If you qualify for a long-term care insurance policy, in most cases it can’t be canceled because of any change in your physical or mental health.

Is Long-Term Care Insurance a Good Investment?
Long-term care insurance is expensive compared to other forms of insurance, but the cost of premiums is significantly less than what you might have to pay out of pocket for long-term care. Companies that offer policies allow customers to choose from a variety of features and coverage limits. 

It’s hard to know how much coverage to choose if you have no idea what your needs may be years or decades in the future. You may be underinsured or you may pay premiums for insurance that you wind up not needing. Some companies have raised premiums sharply to keep up with rising health care costs and an aging population.

There are other options to pay for long-term care, including an annuity with a long-term care rider, a deferred annuity, critical care or critical illness insurance, a life insurance policy with a long-term care rider and an asset-based policy. Discuss these options with professionals and get quotes to decide which would be best for you.

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