CHICAGO (AP) — It's the financial protection that many will need in retirement but few are willing or able to buy. Long-term care insurance scares off most people because of the cost.

For married couples, an increasingly popular option called "shared care" may make it more feasible by providing expanded coverage for less money than would otherwise be the case.

Under these joint policies, couples purchase a combined pool of benefits that can be used by either or both spouses.

Like most everything in the world of long-term care insurance, it's complicated. But what's clear is that fast-rising costs have made shared care a more appealing option. New long-term care insurance policies cost 30 percent to 50 percent more than five years ago, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

"When I explain how it works and what you get, most people like shared care a lot," says Brian Varian, long-term care insurance consultant for insurance brokerage Marsh Inc. in Woodland Hills, Calif. "It's very favorable for couples."

A look at the shared-care option within the broader context of changing long-term care insurance:

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