Long term care insurance is a subject that most people rather not think about. And who can blame them; the prospect of needing long term care is not a pleasant thought. Often when people consider this type of insurance, it has been my experience that they assume they either can’t afford it or hope they won’t need it. Only a very small percentage of people have actually purchased an insurance policy. While it is true that many people should not buy long term care insurance, it is risky to not at least make an informed decision. When determining whether to buy this insurance, here are several things to consider:

1. What does it cover?

If you are unable to care for yourself because of prolonged illness or disability, long term care insurance can cover the kind of services you need such as in-home care, respite or adult day care, or care in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

2. Won’t Medicare or Medicaid benefits be sufficient?

Medicare will only provide skilled care coverage in a nursing home for a maximum period of 100 days. Medicaid on the other hand, has very strict rules that require applicants to have minimal assets before qualifying. With the average nursing home cost exceeding $7,000 per month (i.e. $84,000 per year), a short stay in a nursing home can wipe out a lifetime of savings.

3. Isn’t it expensive?

Depending on your age, health and specific type of long term care coverage that you choose, it can be expensive and premiums can increase even after the policy is purchased. Many people simply cannot afford the cost of this insurance.

4. Would I be better off self-insuring?

For those individuals with higher incomes and savings, it may be advisable to develop their own financial plan to pay from their own assets for their long term care needs.

5. What should I do?

Every person’s situation is unique and what may be advisable for one person is not necessarily a good idea for another. The worst thing you can do is nothing. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an expert and find out your options so you can make an informed decision regarding what is best for you.


Long term care insurance can mean the difference between living out your life the way you want or receiving welfare or becoming a burden to your family. It is important to find out what is the best plan for you by consulting an experienced elder law attorney.