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I enjoyed today's column on long term care, and am looking forward to the future columns on this subject.

When I was around age 54, I looked into buying a long term care policy. The insurance people claim that this is the most cost effective age at which to buy it. However, I had a lot of concerns and ultimately didn't buy. I've been wondering ever since if I made the right decision.

Following are some of my concerns, which I hope will be discussed in future weeks, both in the column and on the board.

1. I believe if I had bought the insurance in my early 50's, statistically I would not have been very likely to use it for about 25 to 30 years. During that time I would have paid between $50,000 and $100,000 in premiums.

I came to the conclusion that this amount of money invested Foolishly, (i.e., I would self-insure), would probably equal any benefits I would receive from a LTC policy. Note my use of the word "probably." I would love to see a mathematical analysis of this theory using different rates of return and time periods, done by someone not as spreadsheet-challenged as I.

2. When one buys a life insurance policy, it is a virtual certainty that if the premiums are kept up (and Dr. Kervorkian is not called), there will someday be a payoff. Death is inevitable. Not so with a LTC policy. I have seen statistics estimating that not more than 50% of us will need extended long term care. This means that if I self-insure, there is a 50% chance that I or my heirs, rather than the insurance company, will get to enjoy using the money for something more fun than long term care.

3. Another strong concern I had was the reliability of insurance companies. It is certainly possible that, after paying premiums for decades, the insurance company could go out of business before a claim is made. But a more likely scenario is that the insurance company might deny benefits on some technicality, as insurance companies frequently do, forcing the long term care claimant to have to fight them at a time when they are physically and/or mentally not able to do so.

Again, I'm looking forward to hearing a Foolish discussion on these issues.

Gail Buckles
Montgomery Village, Maryland
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