Monday, February 9, 2009

What Is Long Term Care Insurance?

Long term care insurance can be a complex and sensitive subject – one that most people hope they will never have to take out. As the name suggests, it is the name given to the insurance that provides coverage for the care given to a person when they need permanent and continuous care.

Long term care has been described as the biggest challenge that an elderly person could have - and an estimated 70% of people aged 65 or over will need long term home care at some point in their lives.

This care is usually provided by a family member or close relative – often a spouse, a daughter or daughter in law. Around 70% of long term care is provided in the home and can include medical care and help with everyday activities. Long term care insurance offers coverage and benefits for services not covered by regular insurance or by Medicare.

Not surprisingly, long term care doesn’t come cheap and paying for it can be a challenge – studies show that the average cost for the insurance increases by around 12% every year – the average cost of a year spent in a nursing home is around $41,000.

Long term care insurance makes sense if you are young and have the necessary time to prepay for adequate coverage – although most of us don’t think about it when we are young. There are several different methods of paying for the insurance, or for older people who don’t have the funds; there may be other options, such as using money from assets. Medicare may help cover the costs for those who have no other options.

Apart from being an unavoidable fact of life for most older people, long term care should not necessarily be seen as something negative. For many people, it offers a way to maintain some of their independence as well as peace of mind, and ensures their later years won’t put a strain on family relationships.

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