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Thinking Ahead This Holiday Season: Long-Term Care Awareness Month

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For many, November marks the beginning of the holiday season. This is a time centered on family, togetherness and bringing in the New Year on a good note. These occasions also provide a time of reflection on family and how to better plan for the future in order to protect you and your loved ones financially. It so happens that, aside from housing the Thanksgiving holiday, November is also Long-term Care Awareness Month, making this the perfect time to start your plan now.

What is long-term care insurance and why is it important? As people age, the need for added support or services to carry out either personal or health related tasks can arise. Long-term care is defined as the medical or non-medical support needed by an individual for an extended period of time. Wondering if this coverage is relevant for you and your family? While most consider long-term care as a need just for senior citizens, approximately 40% of patients receiving long-term care are actually under age 65.1 While the majority of long-term care patients are seniors, this prolonged care is for any individual who suffers from an illness, accident or disability that requires them to have some form of regular medical care.

There is a burgeoning number of aging seniors across the nation, which is cause for concern regarding the accessibility and affordability of long-term care. A 2017 survey conducted by Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has concluded that two-thirds of Americans aged 40+ “feel the country is not prepared for the rapid growth of the older adult population.”2

As the number of Americans aged 65+ grows, it is expected that the majority of them will need at least some form of daily care. However, 67 percent say they have done only a little or no planning at all for their own care needs.2 A nearly equal percent- approximately 7 out of 10 American’s age 65 and older- of this same population will need some form of long-term services and supports (LTSS) during their remaining years, as per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2015 study.3 To go a step further, 20 percent of that same population will need care for longer than 5 years.5 These figures all underscore the importance of getting a jumpstart on planning ahead financially to avoid or minimize trouble finding and/or affording care in the future.

Why long-term care insurance? Long-term care is costly and often not covered by insurance. Care costs average around $92, 3784 annually per patient. Medicare does not cover long-term care services and Medicaid will only provide such care services for eligible individuals who meet certain financial and medical criteria. The cost of care, or having to provide care themselves, can become a burden to not only the patient but to their loved ones as well.

Many of Genworth’s survey responders who had not purchased long-term care insurance, or chose to self-fund, cited the cost of insurance premiums as a primary reason they did not buy a policy. However, this risk has the potential to cost over $300,000 per year per person. While long-term care insurance coverage may not be affordable for everyone, it can save thousands of dollars for policy holders and the loved ones who would have to otherwise bear the cost of care.

It is important to keep in mind that long-term care insurance is not necessarily affordable for everyone. However, it may be less expensive than you may assume. There are ways to minimize premiums and/or take advantage of discounts offered through membership with various associations.

Resources:

  1. Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey. April 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2017, from https://www.genworth.com/dam/Americas/US/PDFs/Consumer/corporate/130568_040115_gnw.pdf
  2. Long-Term Care in America: Views on Who Should Bear the Responsibilities and Costs of Care. (2017). Retrieved June 5, 2017, from http://www.longtermcarepoll.org/Pages/Polls/Long-Term-Care-in-America-Views-on-Who-Should-Bear-the-Responsibilities-and-Costs-of-Care.aspx
  3. Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans: Risks and Financing Research Brief. ASPE. July 1, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/long-term-services-and-supports-older-americans-risks-and-financing-research-brief
  4. Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, conducted by CareScout®. April 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2017, fromhttps://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/long-term-services-and-supports-older-americans-risks-and-financing-research-brief
  5. LongTermCare.gov: The Basics. October 10, 2017. Retrieved November 9, 2017, from https://longtermcare.acl.gov/costs-how-to-pay/index.html

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