Seventy percent of Americans age 65 and older will need some form of long-term care during their lifetime and fifty percent will need care in a nursing home. Unfortunately, the United States has no form of health insurance system for long term care. Too many, this comes as a rude awakening as their health declines and the need for care arises.
This issue effects just about everyone. While the estate tax is now a concern for only a limited number of people due to the increased federal and New York State estate tax exemptions, chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease can affect anyone, regardless of net worth. For many middle-class families a catastrophic illness can result in bankruptcy. Unfortunately, our country, in deciding whether to pay for care, discriminates based on the type of care you need. If you need skilled nursing care such as rehabilitation services, then Medicare offers some limited coverage. However, if you need help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, toileting, dressing, etc., Medicare will not pay for the cost of your care. Thus, you are forced to pay out-of-pocket for this very expensive care, which can exceed $200,000 annually.
If you have an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, this can last several years, and the cost of care can be exorbitant. Medicaid, the only government benefit program which pays for long term care, is intended to be for those who are poor and has strict income and asset requirements that must be met before any benefits are paid.
One of your options may be to purchase long-term care insurance. This is insurance specifically designed to cover care delivered at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home, as the case may be.
Whatever you decide to do, please at least take time to think through these issues with a qualified professional and make an informed decision as to next steps.
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