Long-Term Care – The Ignored Need

Most Americans fear they’ll need long-term care at some point after retirement, but only a small percentage are are doing anything about it, according to a survey conducted for the John Hancock Life Insurance Co.* It states that 85 percent of respondents worry about needing long-term care at some time in their future, an increase from 80 percent a decade ago.

Long term care addresses a wide range of long term care and supportive services for people who may have cognitive impairment or who are unable to accomplish certain activities of daily living over an extended period of time. These can include activities such as bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring. Long term care services can be provided in a variety of settings, including your home, assisted care facilities or nursing homes; and it can be very expensive.

Many Americans incorrectly believe Medicare and/or Medicaid will help fund their long-term care expenses. This is simply not true. Some feel they will be able to “trick” the system, but this has become much more difficult to do. The Deficit Reduction Act that was signed on February 8, 2006, has caused most states to radically alter Medicaid parameters and long term care programs. The loopholes are being closed.

The study also found that almost 60 percent of the respondents worry about paying for long-term care, but nearly 70 percent of these people said they have done little planning, if any, for long-term care needs. Furthermore, Americans are living longer, care costs are rising, and company pension programs are being cut back. Because the average cost of nursing home care has risen to more than $71,000 a year, the costs for in-home care are also rising and it is apparent the rate of future increases will continue to be high; there is a looming crisis in America. Americans are not facing the realities of what lies ahead, especially the potential need for long-term care.

Right now, Americans seem to be avoiding the issue. According to the survey, more than 60 percent of adults haven’t tried to calculate the amount of money they need for retirement. Of those who did the calculation, nearly half didn’t factor in long-term care. Of those who did, nearly four in 10 did nothing about it.

One important financial tool possibly being overlooked is Long-Term Care Insurance. Many people do not realize this type of insurance can be tailored to fit a persons budget as well as help with some of the potential costs of long term care. In other words, there are many variables that can be tailored to meet an individual’s financial budget as well as help with the cost of future long term care needs. A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance representative should be consulted to help develop an appropriate plan.