8 Long-term Care Insurance Myths

Chances are about 70 percent that you'll need long-term care sometime after age 65, according to the nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE). And it won't come cheaply.

The median cost of a full-time nursing home room is $81,030 per year, according to the Genworth 2012 Cost of Care Survey. The national median hourly rate for a licensed home health aide is $19, which would total $55,480 a year for eight hours a day of care.

Statistics like those make long-term care insurance sound like a no-brainer, but misunderstandings still abound.

Here are eight myths about long-term care insurance -- and the truth.

Myth No. 1: I don't have to worry -- I've got Medicare

Of all the misconceptions, this is one of the biggest, says Steve Casto, founder and president of Strategic Wealth Solutions Inc. in Omaha, Neb., and author of "Is Your Retirement Headed in the Right Direction?"

Generally, health insurance -- including Medicare -- pays for hospital and doctor bills but not for custodial care when you have a long-term disability or illness. Custodial care includes help with such daily tasks as eating, getting out of bed, toileting, bathing and remembering to take medications. Casto says he counsels clients not to expect a dime from Medicare for long-term care.

Medicaid will pitch in for long-term care expenses, but only after you've depleted your assets.

Myth No. 2: My spouse will take care of me

"A lot of people tend to be in denial," says Wendy Spencer, a Certified Financial Planner with Spencer Capital Strategies Co. in Arvada, Colo.

Although you may be able to depend on your spouse, it's something of which you can't be sure. What if you outlive your partner? What if you develop Alzheimer's disease and need around-the-clock supervision? What if you become physically disabled and need more help than your spouse alone can provide?

Myth No. 3: Everybody should buy long-term care insurance

For many people, long-term care insurance is simply out of reach.