Long-Term Care Insurance: When to Get It and When Not To

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I met with a new client yesterday. While this is not unusual, the reason he had come to see me was: he was in his thirties, healthy, athletic – and extremely anxious about the fact that he didn’t have long-term care insurance. While some would call this paranoid, for those who have yet to explore this type of insurance, here’s what you should know.

Long-term care insurance covers you if you need to spend an extended period of time in a nursing home or an assisted facility – or if you need long-term care at home. While this is also true for the government-sponsored program Medicaid, there’s one important difference: Medicaid only covers individuals with minimal net worth. The Medicare program covers stays in nursing homes or assisted facilities in certain cases, but only for very short periods of time. What this comes down to is that if you have a decent amount of money but no longer are able to take care of yourself, you will be very happy that you purchased long-term care insurance.

So should everyone get a policy? Well, the drawback is that long-term care insurance can be very expensive – a policy can easily cost you $2,500 per year. Because of this, unless some scary disease runs in your family, it is generally best to wait until you are close to your late fourties or nearing fifty before you take out a policy. You don’t want to make payments on a policy for years and years – only to be forced to drop it due to financial difficulties a year or two before you need it.

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