Should I Buy Long-term Care Insurance?

Many people are interested in long-term care insurance to help pay for a stay in a nursing home or other long-term care services. However, long-term care insurance is not for everyone. For some individuals, long-term care insurance is an affordable and attractive form of insurance. For others, the cost is too high and the benefits are insufficient. The purchase of long-term care insurance should not cause a financial hardship by making you neglect other more pressing financial needs. Each person must examine his or her needs and resources to decide whether long-term care insurance is appropriate.

Whether you should buy a policy will depend on your age, financial status (including your assets and annual income), health, marital status, and overall retirement objectives. For example, if your only source of income is a minimum Social Security benefit or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or if your assets and income make you close to Medicaid eligibility, you should carefully consider whether you can afford a long-term care, nursing home, or home health care policy. It makes no sense to buy a policy if you can't afford to pay the premiums year after year.

Remember, if you have existing health problems that are likely to result in the need for long-term care, such as Alzheimer's disease, you probably will not qualify for a policy.

A Long-Term Care Personal Worksheet is available in the Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance ( to assist you in identifying questions you may want to ask yourself.