For those who can afford the cost of Long Term Care (LTC) insurance premiums, financial and wealth advisers and medical care experts recommend buying it.  A good LTC policy will cover most or all of the costs of extended care for illnesses or injuries in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or a home or other location  The cost of residential care facilities and long term medical care tend to be a crushing financial burden, yet we all want to be comfortable in our old age.  LTC insurance helps alleviate the burden and preserve assets for children and spouses, partners and dependants.  

Here are key questions to ask when shopping for LTC insurance:

"Is there a limit on premium increases over the life of the policy"?

"If at some point I can't afford to keep paying the premiums, what do I get for the premiums I've paid up to that point?"

"Does this policy limit my options for receiving care and if so how, where and from whom can I obtain covered care?"

"What is the standard for eligibility for benefits?"

Over the 20+ years since insurers first began selling LTC policies, there have been many changes in the marketplace.  At one time there were many insurers selling LTC policies.  Now there are only a relative few to choose from.  As people live longer and medical care costs continue to rise rapidly, insurers are having a hard time accurately pricing the policies.  As a result, they've imposed steep, painful rate increases on existing LTC customers. Many people have had to drop/let their LTC policies lapse.

Consumer advocates and state insurance regulators are currently struggling to keep LTC premium increases to a minimum and help consumers deal with them.  "Non-forfeiture" formulas that allow a consumer to get some benefit from an LTC policy they have to drop because they can no longer afford the premiums.  But those type of provisions will only provide a fraction of the benefits most people need, so they're not an ideal solution.  To make things even more challenging for consumers...insurers are now marketing "hybrid" policies that purport to generate investment income as well as insurance for long term care.  Super complicated.  Strong potential for shenanigans...

Bottom line:  LTC insurance can ensure comfortable and affordable medical and daily care and preserve one's assets, but it aint cheap.  UP strongly recommends working with an experienced and reputable adviser when shopping for an LTC policy. Below you will find a comprehensive list of UP publications, links, resources, and advocacy work related to long term care insurance. 

Consumer Help Publications:

Long Term Care insurance basics

UP Tip of the Month: Go Long? (January 2013)

Claim Guidance: Long Term Care

Long Term Care internet resources

Resources and Links:

Premiums Rise for Long-Term Care Insurance. Keep It or Drop It?

Pitfalls of Long-Term Care Insurance Products

Life insurance vs. long-term care insurance: Which do you need?

Why women should consider buying long-term care insurance now

Most Americans uninformed about long-term care insurance

Facing up to the costs of long-term care

Report Your Long-Term Care Insurance Claim Experience

Costs of long-term care insurance on the rise; policies also changing

Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for Long-Term-Care Insurance: How to Pick the Best the Policy for Your Needs and What to Avoid

The cost of peace of mind

Guest Experts: How To Support Your Aging Parents


Comments before the Minnesota Department of Commerce

Comments to NAIC re: premium increases and rate setting

UP Amicus Curiae brief in Pistorese v. Transamerica

UP Amicus Curiae brief in Carrington v. Superior Court

Settlement announced in Missouri insurance case

Comments to NAIC re: Long Term Care insurance market data

Government and Academia:

The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

NAIC: Long Term Care Insurance

AARP: Understanding Long Term Care Insurance