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Retired Couples Will Need Average of $85,000 for Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums – to cover the rising costs of care.

A 65-year-old couple today will need $85,000 on average to cover annual premiums for long-term care insurance, according to a new study by the financial services firm Fidelity Investments.

To come up with the estimate, Fidelity surveyed insurers offering long-term care policies, which cover visits by caregivers or stays in a nursing home. The study supplements a survey the company completed in March 2008 estimating a couple retiring this year would need $225,000 in savings to cover total medical costs in retirement. The costs for long-term care insurance are in addition to the $225,000.

About 5 million Americans have long-term care insurance, a number that has not increased much over the last decade, said Joan Bloom, senior vice president for Fidelity’s life insurance group, which distributes long-term care insurance issued by an unaffiliated firm, Genworth Financial.

Bloom said people should consider buying long-term care insurance in their 50s because policies generally cost less the earlier they are purchased.

A 65-year-old couple needs $85,000 on average to cover insurance costs for long-term care such as nursing home stays in retirement, according to a study to be released today by Fidelity Investments.

The finding underscores the need to financially prepare for the possibility of eventually needing assistance to get by – a burden that often falls on elders’ adult children, who can jeopardize their own finances by caring for an ailing parent while finding they must cut their work hours.

Setting aside adequate savings heading into retirement can help defuse family tensions should physical or mental illness hit parents who slowly realize they can no longer perform tasks such as household chores, or bathe or dress on their own.

“If you plan adequately and you have the ability to pay for assistance, in whatever form that might be, it makes it easier on everybody if you can do that,” said Kathleen Kelly, executive director of the Family Caregiver Alliance, a nonprofit agency in San Francisco that helps families cope with adults’ disabilities. “Families really want to do the right thing, but there are so many pressures on them.”

Read the full story at San Francisco Chronicle.

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