Short-term care insurance seems to be one of the options seniors are turning to in place of the increasingly expensive long-term-care insurance, according to data released by the National Advisory Center for Short-Term Care Information.

The sales of short-term care policies increased 19.6 percent in 2015 over 2014, according to the center. This is the first year the data has been analyzed so it is not known how much sales increased in previous years.

“Insurance agents are selling more short-term care insurance to seniors to fill gaps in Medicare and as a long-term care planning alternative when cost, age or health are issues,” explains Jesse Slome, director of the National Advisory Center. Slome also heads the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. The organization analyzed sales and claims data from seven leading short-term care insurance companies.

Short-term care insurance policies generally provide coverage for up to 360 days and can pay for home care assistance, assisted living and skilled nursing home care costs, Slome explains. The average cost for a short-term care policy in 2015 was $1,043, a 5.3 percent increase over the previous year, but still far short of the cost of a long-term care policy. It also is easier to qualify for short-term care coverage.

“These policies are ideal for individuals concerned about the cost of traditional long-term care insurance,” Slome adds. “It's a great option for people who waited too long to start the long-term care planning process.”

Ninety percent of buyers of short-term care policies are 60 or older, the analysis found.

Sales of traditional, stand-alone long-term care policies declined 20 percent last year, but other types of alternatives, such as life insurance or annuities with provisions for long-term-care are increasing in popularity, he says.