The Cost of Long Term Care

Why LTC ?

In 1900 life expectancy for males was 46 years, for females it was 48. In 1997 those figures were 74 years, and 79 years respectively.

In 1900 the death rate per 1,000 Americans was 17.2. In 1997 it
was 8.6

The Long Term Care Problem

Could you afford $140* or more a day for professional long term care? At age 65, it is projected that a person faces a 43% risk of entering a nursing home during the remainder of his or her life.**

*Kiplinger's Retirement Report, January, 1997
**A Shopper's Guide to Long Term Insurance,
Nat. Assoc. of Insurance Commissioners, 1996

Long-Term Care Financing

"I know my loved one will need long-term care sometime in the next few years, but I do not know how my family and I will pay for it."

Most long-term care expenses are paid out-of-pocket, but Medicare, Medicaid or private long-term care insurance may help.

Medicare does not cover long-term care. Nevertheless, Medicare does have limited nursing home and home care benefits for people who need skilled nursing services and who meet other criteria. These can sometimes be a significant short-term help to families paying for long-term care. Check your local Social Security office for information about Medicare home care, skilled nursing facility care and hospice care.

Medicaid is a state and federally funded medical assistance program for people with low incomes. Medicaid helps pay for nursing home care and -- sometimes -- long-term care services at home. Medicaid services and eligibility requirements vary from state to state, so check with your local Medicaid office for information. (It is listed in the government section of your phone book. The Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 can also tell you where to get Medicaid information from your state.) Be sure to ask about the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program, which pays Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-payments for eligible low-income people.

Many people are not eligible for Medicaid when they first need long-term care.  However, they become eligible after they have "spent down" their savings paying for care.

Private long-term care insurance policies are the answer for most people. However, long-term care insurance is expensive. Some older people cannot afford coverage that gives them real protection against the high cost of long-term care.  Moreover, it usually must be purchased before you are age 80 or have medical conditions that will require long-term care services.

Long-Term Care Insurance Consumer Guides

If you are considering buying long-term care insurance for yourself or a loved one, these publications can help you:

A Shopper's Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 120 W. 12th St., Suite 1100, Kansas City, MO 64105. (Free)

Long-Term Care: A Dollar and Sense Guide. United Seniors Health Cooperative, 1331 H St., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. ($12.50 includes postage and handling.)


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