Q. If I buy long-term care insurance, I know it’s cheaper when I’m younger. But I don’t have a lot of extra money. What can I do to make it cheaper but still have decent coverage? I’m 46.
— Considering

A. Long-term care (LTC) insurance can help to pay the bills should you have a need for long-term care in the future.

The cost of long-term care can be more than $100,000 a year, studies have shown.

You’re smart to consider LTC insurance now, said Ed Gaelick, a Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant with PSI Consultants in Glen Rock.

Gaelick, who said he’s had personal experience with two parents who needed long-term care, said you’re correct that rates for policies are much less when you are younger.

He said rates are based on many factors: the insurance company you pick, your age, gender, marital status, health and whether you smoke. It’s also based on the benefit level chosen, the elimination period (how long you wait before benefits kick in), the benefit period (how long benefits are paid), and other options.

If you need to budget, you have several ways to control premiums, Gaelick said.

“Obviously less benefits, a longer elimination period, a shorter benefit period and less options could help you get some coverage to shift some of the risk to an insurance company,” Gaelick said.

There are other ways to streamline costs.

“Some income protection plans — disability insurance — have an option to provide additional benefits for long-term care as do certain whole life policies,” he said. “The mechanics of each work differently from traditional LTC insurance.”

You do get what you pay for.

Gaelick said you should meet with a broker who has extensive knowledge and experience with these products so they can work with you to create a policy that provides the benefits you need at a cost you can afford.

Email your questions to ask@njmoneyhelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter

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