DEAR HARRY: I am in my 60s and my husband is approaching 70. We have been debating for a number of years the wisdom of long-term-care insurance. We've heard arguments on both sides. We have heard that life-care communities are also a viable alternative. So now we have three choices (buy, not buy, community). Then there are considerations of how long a period of coverage, inflation increases in benefits, premium increases, etc. Which way to go?
WHAT HARRY SAYS: There are pluses and minuses for each choice. More and more people are moving to retirement communities. Some of these offer full care; some offer it as an option. But even in the best cases, there are extra things that insurance can get you - a paid companion, for example. The premiums can be stiff, averaging at more than $3,500 for six-year coverage with a 90-day waiting period. I don't know of any major company offering lifetime coverage today. Some people have recommended that you save the money that normally would go into premiums, but the risk of needing the care before you have enough saved is huge. And suppose you never need this type of care? You will have "wasted" the premiums. Great! You hope you'll never need your auto, homeowner's, or disability insurance, too. My vote is for it unless you choose a life-care community. Then it's a question of how easily you can afford it.