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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Long-term Care Insurance Important for Retirement Years

LAS CRUCES -- Eight million Americans 65 and older with a disability or chronic disease will need long-term care by the year 2000. But many people don't make financial preparations for basic retirement, much less long-term care, said a consumer education specialist with New Mexico State University.

"Even healthy people don't know what's in store for them in the future," said Susan Wright with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "With the increasing number of older Americans and the rising cost of extended health care, people should give some consideration to long-term care."

A long-term care insurance policy can be an important financial safety net, she said. It also provides peace of mind for the families of people who are approaching their golden years.

When choosing a long-term care policy, do a thorough evaluation of the coverage offered, Wright advised. Read policies carefully and determine the limitations. Some policies do not pay for major long-term care expenses or mental and nervous conditions.

"Make sure the policy you select is guaranteed renewable, and that it cannot be canceled for any reason, except failure to pay the premium," Wright said. "Avoid policies that require hospitalization before benefits will be paid. Make sure there is not a clause that denies payment for treatment of pre-existing conditions. And, policies should allow for inflation as the cost of living increases."

An acceptable policy will provide for daily custodial care needs like eating, bathing and dressing, which may be provided by nonmedical professionals, she said. Care in a facility that is not necessarily a skilled nursing center should be covered. The facility should not be required to have medicare certification.

"Financial worries at a time when a person's well-being should be the focus can be lessened by making appropriate preparations," Wright said. "Read and compare long-term care policies carefully, then select the one that best meets your needs."