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Long Term Care, Why It Matters

Millions of people in the U.S. are unable to care for themselves and need long-term care services. These people need assistance in performing one or more self-care activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing, and executing basic movements like walking, sitting, or standing. Services can be provided in the patient’s home, a residential care community, nursing home, assisted living facility, adult day service center, or at a hospice. Housework, money management, shopping, organizing medication, and helping with communication are some of the other long-term care services that are provided.

The need for long-term care services has grown as the life expectancy of the U.S. population increases. There is a 70% chance a person who is 65 years of age or older will need long-term care, and women are more likely to need this care because they live longer than men on average. It’s not just the elderly who are most likely to need long-term care services. People who have been in an accident or have a chronic illness or chronic condition due to poor eating habits, lack of exercise, or family history are more prone to need long-term care services. Also, people who live alone are likely to need long-term service if they don’t have family or a partner nearby to help take care of them.

Long-term care services can be expensive for most people, and the longer a person needs servicing, the more expensive it gets. The average length of care for women 65 years of age or older is 3.7 years, and for men, it’s 2.2 years, but 20% of people 65 years or older will need five or more years of care. Costs vary by state, and the provider being used and the type of services being provided can also influence long-term care costs. The average national annual cost of long-term care are as follows:

• Home health care: $45,760 - $46,332
• Adult day health care: $17,680
• Assisted living facility: $43,539
• Nursing home care: $82,125 - $92,378

Costs for some providers are all-inclusive, and other providers have a flat fee then add extra charges for services beyond room, food, and housekeeping.

Health insurance only provides limited coverage for specific types of long-term care medical needs, and disability insurance doesn’t provide any long-term care coverage. Health insurance, including Medicare, generally covers skilled nursing facility stays after a recent hospitalization and medically necessary skilled home care. Disability insurance is only designed to provide an income to a person when they become disabled and are unable to work.

Long-term care insurance is specifically designed to cover the cost of long-term care services that are provided in a variety of settings. This insurance is comprehensive, and it’s flexible enough to provide a person with individualized coverage. The monthly premiums for a long-term care insurance policy are based on a person’s age at the time they apply for a policy, the type of policy they apply for, and the type of coverage they select.

Long-term care is a complicated process that involves family, nursing care representatives, and in some cases, social workers, and legal counsel. It can be a delicate time for everyone involved. It’s important to take the time to make the right decision so that the person who needs these services can be satisfied with the decision.