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The good news is that we are living longer. The worrisome news is that we are going to have to stretch our finances for more years than we may have expected. Enter long-term care insurance, “designed to cover long-term services and supports, including personal and custodial care in a variety of settings such as your home, a community organization, or other facility,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Is long-term care insurance appropriate for you? That is a decision each person must make, but chances are you will incur some unexpected expenses associated with aging. A number of factors should be considered, including whether you have a chronic illness, how your family history may predict your need for long-term care, and how your lifestyle (diet, exercise, etc.) may affect your future health and wellness.

If you are receiving Medicare, be aware that it will not cover all of your long-term care expenses. Medicare covers a maximum of 100 days in a rehab facility, but statistics show that the average Medicare-covered stay is 22 days. Medicare will not pay for in-home, “non-skilled” assistance with daily living activities. Private insurance plans operate similarly to Medicare for long-term care, covering only a minor portion of the expenses. These plans generally cover only medically-necessary in-home care costs. Expenses generally not covered are those associated with assistance in bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of chairs or bed.

That leaves you with a big decision to make regarding your possible long-term care needs. The U.S. government reports that an adult turning 65 has a 70% chance of needing some form of long-term care. While only one-third of retirees may never need long-term care coverage, 20% may need it for five years or longer.

With that in mind, the major consideration when making this decision is how much it will cost. According to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, a couple in their 50s will probably spend approximately $3000 a year for a policy. But there are variables that can affect that figure. For example, your age when adopting the policy may influence its cost. Also, the type of policy you select, and how comprehensive the coverage offered is will make a difference. Also, examine the lifetime maximum amount of coverage the policy offers can cause the cost to go up or down.

Experts agree the best time to purchase long-term care insurance is in your 50s or early 60s before health issues may cause the cost to skyrocket. Age can make a huge difference. Studies suggest that initial premiums at age 65, for example, are 8 to 10 percent higher than those for new customers who are 64.

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