Insurers paid $8.5 billion in long term care insurance claims for 180,000 U.S. insureds in 2008, the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance reports.

The AALTCI, Westlake Village, Calif., has published those figures in a summary of results from a survey of the six leading LTC carriers.

About 9% of the new individual claims were filed on behalf of insureds ages 69 and younger; 31% on behalf of insureds ages 70 to 79; and 61% on behalf of insureds ages 80 and older.

Almost two-thirds of the claimants were women, and 42% of the benefits payments were for care in the insured’s own home. Only about 31% of the benefits paid for nursing home care.

The 5 most common reasons for a LTC claim were Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, arthritis, circulatory issues or injury.

“One in 8 persons age 65 and over has Alzheimer’s,” says AALTCI Executive Director Jesse Slome.

The largest reported open LTC claim has paid out more than $1.2 million in benefits, the AALTCI says.

The claimant, a woman, bought coverage at age 43 for an annual premium of $1,800. Her claim began just 3 years later and has continued for almost 12 years.

The second largest claim was submitted by a woman who bought her LTC insurance policy at age 72, for an annual premium of $12,766. Her claim began 3 years later and has continued for almost 9 years, paying a total of more than $1 million in nursing home benefits.

The largest reported claim involving a male insured now exceeds $690,000. The individual bought LTC insurance through his employer at age 54 at an annual premium of $2,560. He filed his claim 2 years later, and his claim has continued for almost 7 years.