Don’t Let Long-Term Care Needs Take You By Surprise
One of the most pressing concerns for seniors is ensuring they have adequate health insurance, especially since the government is providing less and less and the cost is going up and up. Long-term care is one area that is taking many seniors by surprise.
There has been a longstanding gap between the long-term care needs of seniors and what’s really covered by Medicaid and Medicare. Of course, the latest restrictions that limit the availability of nursing home coverage through Medicare doesn’t help. The bottom line is that seniors simply can’t afford to ignore this issue and let it take them by surprise.
Of course, finances are going to greatly impact the approach to long-term care.
Sadly, those with a minimal income and assets have few affordable options available to them. They will usually quickly go through their limited funds and qualify for Medicaid rather easily.
On the other hand, those with incomes over $75,000 a year and that have over $500,000 worth of assets are facing an endless cycle of out of pocket expenses. Even those that have planned well for the future can watch as their nest egg drastically depreciates from years of long-term care expenses. A nursing home bed alone can cost thousands of dollars each month. Purchasing long-term care insurance to pay for these costs is a prudent choice for this group.
A third group is the middle class. This group is comprised of those with moderate incomes of $30,000 to $50,000 and assets not exceeding a few hundred thousand dollars. This group often isn’t well off enough to afford long-term care insurance, but is too well off to quickly qualify for Medicaid. Long-term care needs of one unhealthy spouse can eat away at savings to the point that a healthy spouse is left impoverished for the remainder of his/her life.
If the funds simply aren’t there to buy long-term care insurance, there are some other options. For example, an existing life insurance policy may be sold through a life settlement, a reverse mortgage, or simply downgrading homes can all be additional sources of money. None of these may be pleasant thoughts, but they are methods that can free up cash for long-term care needs. However, it may be a smart decision to use these new funds to purchase long-term care insurance instead of paying long-term care costs directly out of pocket.
The benefits of assisted living facilities, nursing home care, and skilled and custodial home healthcare are invaluable. And there are many issues, from emotional to financial, that influence how long-term care needs are addressed. More often than not, when a spouse, parent, or loved one is no longer able to care for themselves, the healthy spouse, child, or relative isn’t so quick to spend savings on caregivers and skilled nursing care. Instead, the healthy person risks their own health to care for their incapacitated loved one. This can create a serious physical or emotional burden that words cannot describe.
When early steps are taken to ensure appropriate long-term care is available, life can be much easier for the senior and their family. With appropriate long-term care planning, the spouse, child, and so forth may focus their energy on providing attention and love instead of completely altering their life to become a primary caregiver.
Predicting what future medical needs will be is impossible in most cases. Some seniors may never reach the point that they need long-term care needs. However, statistics show that almost half of all senior citizens will eventually need nursing home care. Even those that don’t require nursing home care will usually still require some type of skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled assistance. So, it’s vital to protect your health, as well as the health of your family, by planning ahead for these times of uncertainty.