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Should you buy long-term care insurance?

Release Date: 02/03/2016
Source: The Globe and Mail
Staff Reference: Stephen Frank

Augusta Dwyer
Special to The Globe and Mail

It’s no secret that long-term care in either a facility or at home could well be part of anyone’s old age.

And it’s no secret that governments face spiralling long-term health-care costs as an ever-larger percentage of Canadians enter their senior years.

So is long-term-care insurance the answer?

Experts are mixed in their views on that, yet the majority of Canadians are not even thinking about it. A survey carried out by Leger Marketing for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) found that almost three-quarters of respondents – 74 per cent of them – said they haven’t included provisions for long-term care in their retirement plans.

“A lot of people are unaware that they have this potential liability ahead of them,” said Stephen Frank, CLHIA’s vice-president of policy development and health. “There is a mistaken impression,” he added, “that government programs will cover people’s long-term-care costs, and that’s just incorrect.”

In fact, CLHIA estimates that the shortfall is in the billions of dollars, as the cost of providing health care to Canada’s aging boomers will reach $1.2-trillion, and current government programs will meet only about half of the bill.

According to Mr. Frank, the probability of needing long-term care in one’s old age is not all that high – about 17 per cent. “Insurance can play an important role in helping to be prepared for that,” he said, “versus trying to save.”

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