A Long-term Care Policy Checklist

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As you live into your golden years, you might never even need to think about long-term health care (search), or assistance in dealing with a chronic illness or disability that leaves you unable to care for yourself.

But 19% of Americans aged 65 and older experience some degree of chronic physical impairment. That is according to America's Health Insurance Plans (search), a national association representing nearly 1,300 members providing health benefits to more than 200 Americans.

You can receive long-term care from nursing homes, assisted living facilities or your own home. The costs can be high, however, as a one year average in a nursing home can be more than $50,000 dollars.

No matter your current health, if you are over the age of 65, it's important to be able to answer some questions about how you might pay for long-term care and the comparison between policies.

AHIP has created a checklist that can help:

What services are covered?

— Nursing home care

— Home health care

— Assisted living facility

— Adult daycare

— Alternate care

— Respite care

— Other

How much does the policy pay per day for the various types of long-term care?

How long will benefits last in a nursing home? At home? In an assisted living facility?

Does the policy have a maximum lifetime benefit? If so, what is it for each of the types of long-term care?

Does the policy have a maximum length of coverage for each period of confinement?

How long must I wait before preexisting conditions are covered?

How many days must I wait before benefits begin?

Are Alzheimer's disease (search) and other organic mental and nervous disorders covered?

Does this policy require:

— An assessment of activities of daily living?

— An assessment of cognitive impairment?

— Physician certification of need?

— A prior hospital for stay for nursing home care?

— Home health care?

— A prior nursing home stay for home health care coverage?

— Other?

Is the policy guaranteed renewable?

What is the age range for enrollment?

Is there a waiver-of-premium provision for nursing home care? For home health care?

How long must I be confined before premiums are waived?

Does the policy have a nonforfeiture benefit?

Does the policy offer an inflation adjustment feature? If so, what is the rate of increase, how often is it applied and for how long? Is there an additional cost?

What does the policy cost, with and without inflation and/or nonforfeiture features? Per year? Per month?

Is there a 30-day free look?