Long-term care insures and producers should consider giving themselves a round of applause.

This week, my group, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, has been trying to use the Internet and the traditional media to explain the value of what the long-term care insurance (LTCI) industry does.

It’s easy to get distracted by the news of the day, but here’s something else to think about: Some 264,000 individuals were receiving LTCI benefit payments as of Dec. 31, 2012.

Private insurers paid $6.6 billion in benefits last year to individuals who were getting care at home, in assisted living communities and in skilled nursing facilities.

Americans are living longer, and more need long-term care (LTC) services. LTCI carriers — and the people who serve as LTCI agents, LTCI brokers and LTC planners — are helping the policyholders pay the many bills not covered by Medicare or traditional health insurance.

As in the past, the leading causes for long-term care insurance claims continued to include Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer. 

Female policyholders accounted for roughly two-thirds of the long-term care insurance claims and benefit dollars paid by the industry.  

Consumers associate long-term care with nursing home care. They may not realize that private insurance actually enables many people to remain at home when care is needed.

Care received in the home accounted for half of all newly opened individual LTCI claims.

Consumers also may have trouble imagining how high LTC costs can get. They may not realize that the value of the largest known LTCI claim  open in 2012 exceeded $1.7 million. 

But the work of the people reading this article has given some consumers an inkling of how much LTC can cost, and helped many of those consumers come up with serious plans for addressing that risk.

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