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Long-term care refers to the help that people with chronic illnesses, disabilities or other conditions need on a daily basis over an extended period of time. The type of help needed can range from assistance with simple activities (such as bathing, dressing and eating) to skilled care that's provided by nurses, therapists or other professionals.
Employer-based health coverage will not pay for daily, extended care services. Medicare will cover a short stay in a nursing home, or a limited amount of at-home care, but only under very strict conditions. To help cover potential long-term care expenses, some people choose to buy long-term care insurance.
Policies offer many different coverage options. Since you can't predict what your future long-term care needs will be, you may want to buy a policy with flexible options. Depending on the policy options you select, long-term care insurance can help you pay for the care you need, whether you are living at home or in an assisted living facility or nursing home. The insurance might also pay expenses for adult day care, care coordination and other services. Some policies will even help pay costs associated with modifying your home so you can keep living in it safely.
Long-term care insurance is designed to be flexible where you can control the costs relative to the benefits you wish to receive.
Long-term care policies offer various kinds of coverage. Some offer adjustments for inflation, others pay only for a stated number of days, and others offer a life-time benefit.
When deciding on a policy, you should compare the benefits of different types of policies and the limitations and exclusions; what the policy pays per day or month for eligible care, how long the benefits will last, the maximum lifetime benefit, the waiting period, the types of facilities the policy would cover, and the cost of the premiums.