Buying even a few years of long term care coverage really can make a difference.

Researchers at the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, Westlake Village, Calif., have published figures supporting that argument in a study based on an analysis of claims filed in connection with 1.6 million in-force LTC insurance policies.

The researchers looked both at open claims and closed claims.

Only 33% of the claims that were open at the time the study was conducted had been open for longer than 24 months, and only 16% of the open claims had lasted longer than 36 months.

Claim durations were even shorter for closed claims, AALTCI researchers report.

Only 14% of the closed claims had lasted longer than 24 months, and only 5.6% of the closed claims had lasted longer than 36 months.

“How much you pay for coverage depends to a large degree on how much protection you get,” says AALTCI Executive Director Jesse Slome.

An LTC insurance policy that provides lifetime coverage may cost only 35% more than a policy that provides 36 months of coverage, Slome notes.

But cost is the main reason that many consumers give for not buying LTC insurance, and the results of the AALTCI new analysis back up the argument that buying a few years of coverage may make sense for some consumers who are unable to afford lifetime coverage, Slome says.