Planning and Paying for Long-Term Care
What are your plans should you require long-term care? How will you pay for it? The majority of Americans will require long-term care at some point, but many people don’t prepare for it properly.
Planning for long-term care
Scary statistics. According to some studies, as many as 15 million Americans will require long-term care by the year 2050. It’s important to plan in case you are one of the many who fall into that number. While we often associate long-term care with aging, there are a number of reasons people need long-term care. Permanent or temporary disability, extended illness, or other physical or mental impairment can change your circumstances.
Planning and need. There are several reasons to plan for long-term care. Many health insurance policies don’t cover its costs, and while many people assume otherwise, there are numerous circumstances under which Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care. Still, it’s wise to look into getting a Medicare plan if you don’t have one already, and now is the time to look into enrollment.
To supplement Medicare coverage, it’s smart to get long-term care insurance while you’re younger so you can save money. Purchasing while you are in good health can lower your premium, and costs increase as you develop health conditions and with age.
You should assess the likelihood you or a loved one will require long-term care. Ask yourself important, pertinent questions:
- What lifestyle choices are you making now?
- Are there hereditary illnesses and conditions that could impact you?
- How close are you to retirement?
- Would an event requiring long-term care deplete your resources?
As Forbes points out, unless you have substantial retirement income and assets, or are willing to reduce your estate, you should consider long-term care.
Paying for long-term care
Insurance options. There are several factors in determining what your long-term care policy should look like. First, consider what nursing home costs are in your area. Then, tally your expected retirement income, and figure out how much of those costs won’t be covered. That gap gives you an idea of how much coverage you should plan on getting.
Another factor is what kind of care you need. There are various kinds of long-term care, including skilled care, which requires medical professionals, and custodial care, which is generally provided by family members, although custodial caregivers can be hired, if necessary. If you don’t have a close friend or family member who will provide care in the event you need it, you should look for policies that cover both professional medical staff and custodial care.
Other payment options. Aging Care points out that you should think outside the box if you are struggling to pay for long-term care. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for veterans’ benefits, use dividends from investments or use stocks, bonds or real estate to pay for care. Another option to carefully consider is selling a life insurance policy, which could help pay for daily living expenses and medical care. Just be sure you do thorough research first to ensure it’s the best decision for you.
Reduce risks. Think about what you can do right now at home or in your lifestyle to reduce your risk of injury or onset of illness. For instance, do you struggle with obesity? There are many health risks associated with obesity, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
Your physician can advise you on what a healthy weight range is for you. In the meantime, you can get an idea of your goal weight with a body mass index calculator. There are a number of ways to lose weight that are relatively painless, such as eating a big breakfast every day to get off to a good start and making sure you consume plenty of fiber, water, fruits, and vegetables.
Do you need long-term care insurance?
There are many factors that can lead to needing long-term care, and the reality is that most of us will require it at some point. Smart planning now will ensure you can pay for care if you need it later.
June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.
Visiting Nurse Health System is Georgia’s leading nonprofit provider of home healthcare, long-term care at home, and hospice services, helping patients and their loved ones receive care at home following an illness, surgery, or hospital stay.