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Long Term Care Insurance ...

Americans are living longer than ever before. However, as we plan for our later years, few of us consider the financial impact of a prolonged stay in a nursing home or the need for continued care at home or in our community.

It's hard to face, but with increased longevity comes increased risk that we will need long-term care services sometime in our lives. Three out of five people over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care, including home care and community care in their lifetimes. Two out of five can expect to spend time in a nursing home. And this can be an expensive proposition that could wipe out everything you have worked a lifetime to build or make you dependent on your family.

What Is Long-Term Care? Long-term care is the kind of help you need if you are unable to care for yourself because of a lengthy illness or disability. It refers to care provided in a nursing home, at home or in the community. And it can range from help with routine daily activities like eating or dressing to 24-hour care by skilled medical personnel.

How Much Does It Cost? The cost of long-term care is high. Today, the national average cost of nursing home care is $36,000 a year. Home care averages $10,000 to $15,000 a year. And at 5% inflation, these figures are likely to more than double in 20 years. These high costs can exhaust your savings in a very short time. Where will the money come from if you need these services at some time in the future?

Who Will Pay The Bills? Paying for the high cost of long-term care comes down to three basic options:

  • You Can Use Your Own Resources. In this case, you have the income and assets to pay for long-term care without seriously affecting your financial well-being or your independence.

  • You Can Qualify For Government Assistance. If you meet Federal and/or state poverty levels for both income and assets, the government will pay your long-term care bills. But choices for the care you receive may be limited.

  • You Can Be Insured. Long-term care insurance can help you protect your assets, your independence and your dignity in the event you face the over-
    whelming expense of long-term care at some time in the future.

Aren't You Already Covered? Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare, Medigap or other health insurance will cover them in the event they need long-term care services.

But nothing could be further from the truth. These policies were designed to cover acute medical care and really do very little to address long-term care needs. In fact, Medicare and all other health insurance polices combined pay for less than 14.3% of the nation's nursing home costs. Home health visits are not even covered by Medicare unless you are homebound and also require skilled or intermediate medical care. Medicare does not pay for services that are primarily to assist in meeting personal care or housekeeping needs.

And don't expect to fall back on Medicaid unless you are willing to spend down most of your assets. Then, Medicaid will pay your long-term care bills. But the choices for the care you receive may be severely limited. What's more, federal legislation passed in 1996 made it illegal for people of means to transfer assets to family members in order to qualify for government assistance. And tough new regulations have tightened most of the loopholes in the law.

What's The Answer? No one knows who will need long-term care. But if you want to help protect your income, your savings and your independence in the event of a lengthy and costly illness some time in the future, then long-term care insurance is an option you should consider.

This important coverage can help provide the financial resources you will need to pay for the kind of long-term care that best suits your unique individual and family situation - from the type of care that is right for you to when and where you receive that care.

[Source: There When You Need Care]

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Last modified: March 01, 2015