Consumer Reports: How to pay for long term care

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Many families who take care of their elderly relatives face a challenge - how to pay for long term care.

Consumer Reports says insurance policies can help but picking the right one can be tricky.

Here's something to think about: the median cost for one year in a nursing home is about $82,000 dollars. Long term care insurance can help you pay for such a facility or for help at home.

But with far fewer providers, long-term care insurance is more expensive than it used to be. So Consumer Reports has a couple alternatives.

Micki Fernandez takes care of her mother in her home but wonders what would happen if she weren't able to. She says there's no way she or her mom could pay for long term care.

"I"m very concerned about that and the more I think about it the more it scares me. It's a scary feeling," she said.

Micki has no children so she also worries about her own care down the road. She is considering buying a long term care policy.

"Long term care insurance can help cover the assistance you may need with things like bathing or preparing meals, in nursing and assisted living facilities and even in your home," said Penny Wang, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

The average cost of such policies is about $2,700 dollars a year.

However, the older you are, the more you'll pay. You'll also pay more depending on your health.

And a warning, if you have a serious condition like Alzheimer's or metastatic cancer, an insurer might refuse to offer you a policy at all.

"An alternative is a short term care policy which is generally about a third the cost of long term insurance. It can be less than 1 thousand dollars a year. But it covers a lot less," said Wang.

It covers about one year in a nursing home and may not cover an assisted living facility or home health aides, but it is easier to qualify.

A hybrid policy combines life insurance and long term care insurance in one. It allows you to tap into the death benefit to pay for long-term care. But that type of insurance requires a significant upfront payment, an average of $89,000 dollars.

A couple of caveats on hybrid policies: the big upfront premium is not tax deductible and the growth you get on the policy may be low. So you might be better off investing the money wisely yourself and saving it for when you need more care.

To read the full story from Consumer Reports, CLICK HERE.

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