by Walecia Konrad

Long-term care insurance seemed like such a great idea. Buy a policy when you’re in your 50s or 60s, while you’re still relatively healthy, pay your monthly premiums and in return you’ll have help managing the astronomical costs of a nursing home, assisted-living facility or personal aide when the time comes.

This insurance was not only supposed to help you afford quality care, but it also was supposed to help protect your nest egg and legacy. You wouldn’t have to spend all your hard-earned retirement savings on getting old.

But long-term care insurance hasn’t exactly worked out that way. The past few years have brought sky-high premium increases for most policyholders. In some cases, premium prices have doubled in the past two years. The latest bad news came last week when Mass Mutual, an insurance company that has so far avoided big LTC premium increases, announced that it would seek approval from regulators to charge an average of 77 percent more on many of its established long-term care policies.

Price hikes like this have forced consumers to make some unpleasant choices. Some seniors struggle to pay increasingly unaffordable premiums, digging into savings and cutting living expenses to hang onto the coverage they fear they may need soon.

Others try to keep premiums affordable by cutting back on the amount of benefits their insurance will cover, leaving themselves exposed to the risk of unaffordable out-of-pocket costs. (The eventuality these policies were supposed to prevent.)

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