Few Have Long-Term Care Insurance, But Most Will Need It

A 2010 poll by the SCAN Foundation, “an independent, non-profit public charity devoted to transforming care for older adults in ways that preserve dignity and encourage independence,” found that not many Californians are taking steps to accomplish dignity and independence for themselves as they age, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.

The study, conducted in conjunction with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that most residents 40 and older don’t have long-term care insurance, mistakenly believing that Medicare is there for that purpose.

“When you ask them, ‘Does Medicare cover long-term custodial care?’ only a third know that the answer is no,” Steven Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, was quoted as saying.

“The majority of those polled said they couldn't pay for more than three months of nursing home or part-time in-home care if they needed it,” the story goes on to point out. “That's not surprising, given the cost of such care. According to the California Healthcare Foundation, a semiprivate room in a nursing facility will cost Californians, on average, about $82,000 a year. Home health aide services run just more than $51,000 annually. Medicaid, the government program for people with low incomes, pays for care for about 7 of 10 nursing home residents. But to qualify, in most cases, you'll need to spend down the majority of your assets.”

“It’s a story that is repeating itself time and time again across the country,” chimes in a recent item on the website CareAmerica.com. “Elderly individuals build a solid retirement account, spend a few years enjoying their retirement, and then a major health crisis occurs and within a few short years, all of that money is gone and the rest of the family struggles to provide some level of in home or other type of long-term care for them.

“The majority of people don’t think about the possibility that they may require any type of in home care in the future. They may plan for their retirement, putting money away every month throughout their working life, and have dreams of traveling the world and getting to do all of the things that they hadn’t been able to do before. They just don’t see that they might be one of the millions of people over the age of 65 who will require any type of long-term home health care.”

CareAmerica goes on to point out that government estimates show approximately 70 percent of that population will need such care.

The L.A. Times piece offered this advice from experts on obtaining long-term care insurance:

• Age and health matter. The younger you are when you buy long-term care coverage, the less expensive it will be on a monthly basis, and the better your chances of being approved for a policy.

• Some coverage is better than none. Can't afford the best policy? Don't let that stop you.

• Know what your insurance pays for and what it doesn't. All insurance policies will require proof of how many activities of daily living you need help with — bathing, dressing, eating or using the toilet — before agreeing to cover your costs.

• Know when coverage starts. Most policies have a waiting period during which you must pay for long-term care services on your own before insurance begins to pay.

• If you buy with an agent, pick a good one. Long-term care insurance is a complicated product. Help from an experienced agent is important.

Long-term care is just one of many aspects involved in long-term care planning. An Elder Law attorney can assist you in protecting assets, and other long-term care planning.

Sourced by ElderCounsel

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