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You may be faced with difficult health and end-of-life circumstances and decisions later in life. The care involved with such decisions is not covered by regular health insurance policies.

For instance, an individual who has been battling cancer very bravely now faces the doctor's recommendation to enter hospice care for imminent death.

Hospice care may last two days or months. You can be sent home from hospice, only to need subsequent return visits when end-of-life appears near. A combination of some money from Medicaid or Calcare with some savings could make a small dent in care.

Medicare, though, does not pay anything toward long term care. The average daily costs of care are 250 dollars. Could you afford to pay that for five years without thrusting your family into poverty?

Be sure to always compare plans and policies thoroughly before making any decisions. Resources such as our FREE comparison tool above can help you in your search.

Ensuring care is more than leaving it up to a patchwork of money from different places. After all, what if the money is not readily available, or if you need to tap your cash resources for medical care?

It does not matter whether you have been saving since your first paycheck or have been a financial late bloomer. The good news is that insurance for seniors is available that pays out to cover some of these unpredictable and expensive situations.

It is called long term care insurance and anyone can buy it, regardless of age. The younger you are when you buy long term care, the less a long term policy costs. There are some basics to know:

  1. What it covers
  2. Approximate costs of coverage
  3. What's the likelihood you will need long term care?
  4. How much does actual long term care cost?

What does LTC cover?

Some of the areas long term care covers, include the following:

  1. In-home care
  2. Adult day care
  3. Respite care
  4. Hospice care
  5. Assisted living centers
  6. Alzheimer's care centers
  7. Skilled nursing
  8. Therapy, including physical, occupational and speech therapy
  9. Activities of daily living, such as feeding, meal preparation, medication administration, dressing, bathing, shopping and cleaning

How much does long term coverage cost?

The average long term care insurance premium is 2,000 to 5,000 per year and increasing. Policy premiums are not set in stone. That means they can, and often do, increase as you hold your policy.

Many people only need up to 90 days of long term care, though the average is up to a couple years. It is worth mentioning these numbers, because the elimination or waiting period for coverage to kick in is often 90 days. Though, you get to choose among 30-, 60- or 90-day waiting periods when you purchase your policy.

Here is one stipulation that surprises people. In order to qualify for the elimination period, you have to pay for long term care services. Additionally, long term care goes into effect when cognitive impairment and, or an inability to perform a number of activities of daily living occurs.

Cognitive impairment could include consequences of a stroke or when a loved one moves into the depths of Alzheimer's or dementia. It also includes the turning point where family can no longer care for a loved one whose Parkinson no longer submits to medication, overtaking their neurological system and whole body.

What are the chances you will need LTC?

Most people do need long term care at some point in their lives. For the entire population, the estimate is one in two people will rely upon long term care at some point in their lives. For the population 65 and older, the statistic jumps to 70 percent who will require long term care.

The percentage of people who require fewer than 90 days of services is in the 70 percent range. Then again, could you afford 80,000 dollars a year for skilled nursing care over five years? The options are expensive whether they involve a few months or a few years of care.

How much does long term care cost?

One recommended way to save on policy premiums is to elect for a longer waiting period. Though, again, you would have to pay for all expenses before the waiting period ends and coverage goes into effect. That quickly gets expensive at the 250 dollars-per-day average.

Typically, long term care insurance companies pay out the benefits by a set daily limit until the maximum lifetime benefits payout is achieved. Some policies pay out a daily cash payout once you qualify and use long term care. The cash payout policies are generally require you to pay more costly policy premiums.

Now you have some important pieces to build a plan for long term care. Yes, you should still aim to save money for long term care, even if you have long term care insurance.

You probably will have a waiting period and might have to front some of the costs while you endure the waiting period and while you square everything away with your long term care insurance.

For special considerations in California, check out your own California Department of Insurance. Another aspect of keeping up with statewide insurance information is knowing where to buy long term care insurance and how it works.

If you are still wanting more help in planning your long term care, check out the California Partnership for Long-Term Care. They have plenty of calculators built in with the costs of long term care in California.

The California Department of Health Care Services provides additional information about long term care too.

It is important to keep in mind that once you become ill, you will not qualify for long term care insurance, regardless of how young you are. Think of people who are in their prime working years who have suffered devastating medical diagnoses or endured disabling accidents.

Those are the types of scenarios that long term care insurance protect you against.

When buying coverage, know it is important. There is no one right answer, but it is best to get as much coverage as you can afford, because long term care is expensive.

You do not know when or if you will ever need care or for how long. Those are all difficult scenarios to imagine and you cannot predict them. Yet, you need to be as prepared as possible for the possibilities life might throw your way.

Be sure to use our FREE search tool below to start comparing policies today!

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