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AARP Bulletin

10 Misconceptions About Long-Term Care Insurance

Should you make the investment?

7. I was denied and so am uninsurable

Yes, a denial is a strike against you, says Boals. But it doesn't mean you should stop shopping around. There are many companies out there, and an independent long-term care insurance agent can help you find one that might not consider you as much of a risk, says Boals.

8. I can't afford it

Coverage might be less costly than you think, especially if you purchase in your 50s. For a husband and wife, both age 55 and in good health, the average annual premium is $2,350, says Slome. (The range is $2,085 to $3,970 depending on your health history and the individual insurer.) Premiums can rise over that time, but increases are never based on your personal medical history and require state regulatory approval.

9. Insurance will cover all my needs

Long-term insurance is not limitless. In the above scenario, the 55-year-old couple qualifies for $338,000 in coverage as soon as they pay their first premium. That amount increases over time to $821,500 by age 85. Many plans also have deductibles, meaning you will have to pay out a certain amount for care before coverage kicks in. And if your medical needs exceed those amounts, you will have to pay the balance.

10. It's too complicated

If your eyes glaze over at talk of contingent, non-forfeiture, share care … you're not alone. Many different companies offer many different plans. But the LTC insurance industry is working to make it less confusing. "I think as agents, we've made it complicated, but it doesn't have to be that way," says Boals. "We talk in insurance terms. But what I ask my clients is, 'If something happened, what would you want it to look like? Where would you want to be? What are the things that you worry about?' And then we craft a policy from there."

Cynthia Ramnarace writes about health and families. She is based in Rockaway Beach, N.Y.

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