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Five Questions to Help You Shop for Long Term Care Insurance



By Sean Denny, www.long-term-care-insurance-planners.com

If you need long term care in an assisted living facility or nursing home, will your insurance cover it? Many people think they’re covered for long term care insurance, but they are mistaken.

Below are five primary questions you should ask yourself and your insurance agent to determine that you will get the best long term care insurance, for coverage that ensures peace of mind.

To make sure you can get coverage for long term care insurance, you need to understand the many services you might need, and the difference between available long term care insurance policies. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners provides a list of industry standards that help people who are considering long term care insurance.

1. Do I already have coverage? According to a recent survey by AARP, people wrongly believe their other insurance, such as health care or disability policies, will cover their long term care needs. Or they think Medicare will cover it, when in fact that program is strictly for short term care needs. Although some employers have begun to purchase group long term care insurance policies for their employees, the vast majority of Americans are not insurance for this vital elder need.

2. How do I evaluate the insurance companies offering long term care insurance? According to the respected non-profit organization Consumer Reports, people should check the ratings of potential insurers before buying a policy. Free company ratings are available at the web sites of A.M. Best, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, or you can purchase rating information from Weiss Ratings. Be sure of the company’s stability before you buy.

3. What are the basics of coverage that should be required? According to the NAIC, you should buy a policy with at least one year of nursing home or home health care coverage. Additionally, long term care insurance coverage should not be limited to skilled care, but also should include intermediate and custodial care. Also, the policy should include coverage for Alzheimer’s, and should contain a guarantee that the policy cannot be cancelled or non-renewed because of age or health status. It should have a “free look” period (often 30 days) that allows you to return the policy for a refund within that time.

4. How do I compare policies? Each company should offer an “outline of coverage,” says the NAIC, that defines the benefits, limitations and exclusions. The agent or company should also provide a “shopper’s guide” that will give you a basic understanding of this valuable type of coverage. At www.long-term-care-insurance-planners.com, for instance, when you order a free quote, you receive quotes from three of the top insurers, making comparison easy. The site also includes in-depth information on understanding long term care insurance.

5. Should the effect of inflation be considered? Yes, say the insurance commissioners, the policy should offer an option for inflation coverage. People buy long term care insurance to cover care needs at some point in the future, and the cost of services will continue to rise. For instance, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimate that nursing home costs will rise by 5 to 6 percent a year over the next decade. For those who can afford higher premiums, an inflation clause helps the policy keep pace with expenses.

A person who is age 65 today has a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As our population ages, the demand for long term care will continue to grow, making it even more important for people entering their retirement years to take a serious look at the coverage options available through long term care insurance.

Copyright 2005 www.long-term-care-insurance-planners.com.
Reprints: You may use this article on your site or in your newsletter if you print this credit at the end: Reprinted with permission, www.long-term-care-insurance-planners.com, your source for free long term care insurance quotes online.

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