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Three Questions For Long Term Care Insurance Consideration

Armen Hareyan's picture

In the United States today, the options for paying for health care are numerous. For some, their workplace pays all the bills. (That's a company I want to work for!) For most workers though, health insurance costs are split between employer and employee. And for those who work on their own, or don't have an employer, they foot the health bills themselves. If a person can't afford health care, or chooses not to buy it, they use hospital emergency rooms as their first line of defense. (Note: the exception is the state of Massachusetts, where every citizen must have health insurance or pay a hefty penalty come tax time.)

Health insurance is fine for ordinary expenses. However, what do you do if you or a member of your family has a debilitating illness that demands long-term care? For how long does ordinary health insurance pay your medical bills? Is it smart to buy a long-term health insurance policy now when you and your family are healthy, just in case?

3 questions to ask before making a decision on long term care insurance

1. Does your family medical history suggest that you may be genetically disposed to developing a chronic illness such as diabetes or Alzheimers?

Sadly, there are indications that certain medical conditions are genetic or likely to be so. Alzheimers in particular, is still a mystery, but as our population ages, more of our citizens are being diagnosed with this affliction. Research suggests that some strains are genetic.

2. Do you have personal assets other than your primary home that need protection in the event your medical insurance is fully depleted?

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Long-term care insurance will cover some of the expenses for home care, assisted living and/or nursing home bills. If you don't have insurance, these bills are paid directly by you. A life time of savings can be totally depleted in just a matter of months.

3. Can you afford long-term care insurance?

This last question is personal (as if the others were not) and you need to consult your financial advisor and estate planner if you have one. Consider your current age, current assets, projected life expectancy, cost of monthly premiums and determine: is it worth it for me? What would happen if I didn't have long-term care insurance? If I or one of my family got sick, could I afford to give them the care they need and deserve, and for how long?

If you decide to carry long term care insurance, I strongly urge you to shop around and compare policies.

Check the details of LTCI policy. Here are just a few:

• What are the determining factors that you need before applying for benefits?
• How long after these determining factors "kick in" do you have to wait before you receive your first payment?
• Are there limits to the amount the insurance company will pay each day? Each month?
• How are payments made: direct deposit to you? Or to the nursing facility?
• Does the company have a support hot line if you need assistance?

Long-term care insurance is not an easy topic to discuss, but one we have to face. In the meantime, eat smart, exercise and be happy. That's the best long term health insurance plan I know.

Pat Mullaly is the editor and publisher of MidLifeJourney.com http://www.midlifejourney.com a web blog dedicated to the exchange of ideas, opinions and resources for the boomer generation. You can reach her via email at [email protected]