A:

Long-term care insurance (LTCI) covers the risk that individuals may need medical and custodial care, either at home or in a skilled nursing facility, at some point in their life. Most workers wait to purchase an individual policy as they approach retirement or their group employer benefits are about to expire. Surprisingly (according to the Journal of Financial Planning, February 2009), nearly half of all group long-term care claimants in 2007 were under the age of 65. Costs ranged from $19,296 for in-home care in Louisiana to $177,634 for full-service nursing home care in Alaska. On average in the United States, you could expect nursing home facility care to run between $60,000 to $100,000 per year.

The cost of long-term care facilities and care has and will become even more expensive as our population continues to get older. One way to protect your family assets from being eroded by these costs is to purchase a long-term care policy. Even if you feel that you have sufficient assets saved to cover these costs, you may want to reconsider the benefit of having a LTCI policy as a hedge to protect your estate. If you or a parent are admitted to a nursing home facility at $80,000 per year, your assets would be depleted by $400,000 for a five-year stay in a facility.

When looking at the cost of LTCI it's similar to many other types of health and age related insurance coverages. The older you are and your current condition of health will play a huge factor in the size of your premium payments. Consider shopping for coverage while you are in your early 50s and in good health, you'll be able to lock in a cheaper premium and not have to worry about being denied coverage in the future for existing health issues.

Read Long-Term Care Insurance: Who Needs It? for more.

This question was answered by Steven Merkel.

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