How come I do not qualify for long term care insurance?

Dotti asked...

I've had cancer surgery and successfully completed chemo and radiation. I use oxygen on and off. Why can't I get long-term care insurance? I was told I did not qualify.

Expert Answer

There is almost no regulation by the government of long-term care insurance. So, no one has a "right" to buy long-term care insurance. That results in insurance companies refusing to sell policies to people they think are likely to collect on the policies soon, or who might collect for a long time. If an insurance company thinks the odds are that it might not make money on you, it won't sell you a policy. This is often the case when someone has had a serious preexisting illness or condition, as you have, even if it is in remission.

But just because one insurance company won't sell you a policy doesn't mean that all companies won't. There are many insurance companies and policies to choose from, so you should continue to shop around. In particular, a company might be willing to sell you a policy with a long exclusion period regarding the return of the specific cancer you've already had. This means that if and when this specific cancer returned and was the cause of your need for long-term care, the policy would not pay any benefits for a period of time, even though your condition would otherwise trigger benefit payments under the terms of the policy. This kind of exclusion period certainly doesn't make for the best coverage, but it might at least make it possible for you to buy some long-term care insurance.

Another thing you might look for is group long-term care insurance, which you could buy into without regard to your personal health history. Your employer might offer such policies. Also, if either you or a spouse is a veteran, check with the Department of Veterans Affairs about its long-term care insurance program. Also, professional, labor, fraternal, or other nonprofit organizations may offer group long-term care insurance policies.