Consumer Reports: Looking into long-term care insurance for you and loved ones

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Some people are turning to long-term care insurance to cover bills for older people. In a partnership with Consumer Reports, Seven on Your Side's Michael Finney checks to see if the insurance is worth it.

Here's something to think about: the median cost for a year in a nursing home is about $82,000, according to an industry survey.

Most Americans over 65 will need some type of long-term care. Long-term care insurance can pay for the help you may need, whether in a facility or from a home attendant. But it's getting more expensive. Consumer Reports has some creative solutions to paying for such care.
Micki Fernandez takes care of her mother in her home but wonders what would happen if she were not able to.

She says there's no way she or her mom could pay for long-term care.

"I'm very concerned about that, and the more I think about it, the more it scares me. It's a scary feeling," said Fernandez.

She has no children, so she also worries about her own care down the road. She is considering buying a long-term care insurance policy.

Penny Wang, a Consumer Reports money editor, says, long-term care insurance can help cover a wide variety of things you made need help with.

"Things like bathing or preparing meals in nursing and assisted living facilities and even in your home," she notes.

The average cost of such policies is about $2,700 a year. However, the older you are, the more you'll pay. You'll also pay more depending on your health.
With some serious conditions like Alzheimer's or Metastatic cancer, an insurer might refuse to offer a policy at all.

"An alternative is a short-term care policy, which is generally about a third the cost of long-term insurance," says Wang. "It can be less than $1,000 a year, but it covers a lot less."

You'll only get about a year in a nursing home, she explains, and it may not cover an assisted living facility or home health aides.

Hybrid insurance combines life and long-term care in one policy. It allows you to tap into the death benefit if you need it for care.

But that type of insurance requires a significant upfront payment -- an average of $89,000.

A couple of caveats on hybrid policies. The big upfront premium is not tax deductible, and the growth you get on the policy may be low. So you might be better off investing the money wisely yourself and saving it for when you need more care.

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