A study out of Boston College found 20 to 30 percent of single Americans over the age of 65 could benefit from long-term care insurance. Others, according to the study, may be better off using Medicaid

A strong retirement plan requires more than just a 401k and IRAs. In addition to retirement accounts, many can benefit from a long-term care insurance plan. A recent article in Forbes noted that a failure to plan for long-term care in retirement is one of the top retirement planning mistakes. This mistake falls just behind overspending and a failure to properly plan for the high cost of health care.

Why should I consider long-term care insurance?

A recent study found that although the cost of long-term care is expensive, only 13 percent of single adults over the age of 65 carry long-term care insurance policies. AARP reports the average private pay cost for a stay at a nursing home in 2012 was approximately $88,000 per year. Assisted living facilities averaged $41,000, day services $66 a day and hourly assistance cost approximately $20 per hour. A long-term care insurance policy can help mitigate these expenses.

Those that chose to get a policy go through an application process. The process includes a calculation that determines the premium cost of the policy. A variety of factors are taken into consideration, including the applicant's age, benefits provided and the amount and length of coverage chosen. Depending on the policy, 60 to 75 percent of long-term care costs can be covered.

Is a long-term care insurance plan right for you? A new study provides answers.

The study mentioned above was conducted by researchers out of Boston College's Center for Retirement Research. The researchers focused on single, unmarried Americans and used data from the National Long-Term Care Survey as well as analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study to find patterns of lifetime care usage.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that a long-term care insurance policy was optimal for 20 to 30 percent of this segment of the population. The researchers support this finding by arguing that current predictions for the cost of long-term care needs understate the risk of going into long-term care but overstate the duration. As a result, the study supports a certain segment moving forward with long-term care insurance policies while others, it advises, are more likely to benefit from Medicaid planning.

What do these findings mean for you?

Although the researchers found that the previous estimates of long-term care insurance benefiting 30 to 40 percent of elderly single individuals were too high, the new data still supports the finding that more people could benefit from these plans. Only 13 percent of adults within this subset have these policies, but an additional 7 to 17 percent could benefit.

Determining the best retirement plan for your situation will vary depending on your circumstances. As a result, those looking to build a strong retirement plan are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced elder law attorney.

Keywords: Long-term care planning estate planning