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Friday, December 16, 2011 12:30:18 PM

How much does long-term care insurance cost? How do I know whether I am paying too little or too much?

The cost of long-term care insurance affects people differently, depending on their income level.

For those with minimal assets, paying premiums most likely will deplete those few assets, so they may qualify for Medicaid coverage. On the other hand, people with substantial assets may be able to fully cover any health issues without even needing a long-term care insurance policy. Those individuals who fall in the middle financial range are most likely to benefit from having long-term care insurance to cover future health care needs.

The real question concerning cost is: Are you buying too little coverage to protect your family and assets, or are you purchasing too much coverage, above and beyond what you actually may need?

The way to figure this out is to analyze what your needs may be. How would your family function if you were in need of long-term care? What if you were no longer receiving any income? What if you had expensive hospital or rehabilitation bills? What is your lifestyle now and how might that be compromised? What would you need in the way of coverage to maintain your lifestyle?

You can work with a long-term care insurance agent who is trained to give the best information and to discuss your needs and concerns. Together, you can choose a company and policy that best address your expectations considering all options that are available in your price range.

The long-term care insurance company you choose needs to be one with a long-standing record of strength and stability, and of putting its policyholders first. The premiums have to be affordable not only now, but in the future. The prices of all things will change, including your everyday expenses, so it's wise to look at inflation coverage.

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Laura Adams is a personal finance expert and award-winning author who is Senior Insurance Analyst for InsuranceQuotes.com. She represents Bankrate Insurance’s web properties in the media and works as an advocate to make sure consumers protect their financial futures by having the right kinds of insurance.

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