Long Term Care: Separating Fact From Fiction
Today’s Americans are living longer, healthier lives thanks to a variety of factors, including discoveries about nutrition and exercise, advances in medicine and technology, and much more. While most of us can look forward to a long retirement, it is important to realize that most people will need some sort of long term health care in their older years. And, the costs of long term care can be devastating.
The good news is, long term care insurance can protect you from the financial difficulties of long term care. However, many people are under the impression that they don’t need this type of insurance. Before you dismiss the idea, it is important to separate the myths from the realities.
Myth: it probably won’t happen to me.
Reality: Approximately 43 percent of people age 65 and over will stay in a nursing home for some period of time at some point in their life. Many people will also need home health care, adult day care and other types of long term care.
Myth: Medicare will cover my long term care expenses.
Reality: Medicare pays for less than 11 percent of nursing home costs and a limited amount of skilled nursing care provided in a person’s home. Medicare does not cover intermediate and custodial care, which most nursing home patients require.
Myth: I can afford long term care on my own, without insurance.
Reality: The average cost of one year in a nursing home is over $70,000 and the average length of stay is 2 years. About 70 percent of all single people who enter nursing homes paying their own way are impoverished within one year. And, about 50 percent of couples are impoverished within a year of one spouse entering a nursing home.
Myth: I’ll simply go on Medicaid if I can’t afford long term care.
Reality: You must exhaust virtually all of your income and assets, including savings, property and investments, to be eligible for Medicaid. Additionally, the amount of long term care covered by Medicaid varies from state to state, and the program limits your choice of nursing facilities.
Long term care insurance can provide benefits for nursing home care, home health care, adult day care, hospice, equipment and home modification, home health aides and homemaker and chore services. Your premium is generally waived a short time after you begin receiving benefits, and preferred health and spousal discounts are usually available on most policies.