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AARP Bulletin

10 Misconceptions About Long-Term Care Insurance

Should you make the investment?

3. My family will take care of me for free

Yes, they likely will. But think about whether you want them to. If you need help using the bathroom, bathing or changing soiled undergarments (incontinence does happen), would you want your children doing that or would you prefer the help of a skilled medical professional? LTC insurance covers in-home assistance from licensed home health agencies.

4. I'm too young to worry about it

The younger you are, the more likely you are to qualify for coverage. "The median age when people purchase is 57, but the sweet spot is between 52 and 64 because once you qualify for Medicare your health history tends to get more complicated as you suddenly get all these free medical screenings and tests," says Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

5. When I need it, I'll get it

"Once you have a diagnosis of an illness, you can't get coverage," says Maryglenn Boals, an independent long-term care insurance agent in Phoenix. "Think of it this way: We can't insure a house once it's on fire." When you apply for coverage, the insurance company will look at your most recent medical history to evaluate your health. Only 17 percent of people in their 50s are denied coverage, but that number jumps to 45 percent for people in their 70s, says Slome. Once you have coverage and pay your premiums, you have it regardless of what medical issues arise.

6. I'll fail the medical screening

Don't assume that just because you have high cholesterol or are a few pounds overweight that you won't qualify. For most applicants, especially the young ones in their 50s and 60s, underwriting only looks at your most recent medical records from your doctor to see what illnesses you've been diagnosed with and what medications you are on. You'll also undergo a cognitive exam via phone. There's no in-home visit by a medical professional.

Next: The cost? Less than you might think.»

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