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Long Term Care - Is it Right for You?

Reprint of an article by Bradley Steffens from the Article Codex website,

Introduction by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert


The article below discusses the high costs of long term care today, and how relying on the government to provide assistance is a risky strategy. One reason: Medicare generally does not pay for extended stays in nursing homes or assisted living facilities (ALFs). To help manage the risk, one can purchase long term care insurance. Another popular and effective option is to become a member of Life Alert -- a Personal Emergency Response Service -- which can get you immediate help 24/7 if a medical crisis or other emergency occurs. Life Alert is literally a lifesaver in some cases. In others, it can help one avoid serious complications from emergencies, and thus delay or avoid the need to enter a nursing home or ALF. --Don Rose


It can’t happen to you, can it? You’ll never be in a nursing home. You’ll be one of those active seniors featured in the TV commercials and magazine ads—dancing, playing tennis, riding a bike, even skydiving.

An active lifestyle can counter the effects of aging, but not necessarily forever. The reality is that 7 out of 10 Americans who live to age 65 will spend at least some part of their lives in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. If it’s not you, it could well be your spouse. The odds are high enough—and the costs are great enough—that it may be worth your time to consider long term care insurance.

The costs of long term care are extreme. Right now the average cost of a private room in a nursing home is $74,806 per year, according to a survey by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, a not-for-profit organization that studies elder care. A stay in an assisted living facility is considerably less, but it still costs $32,572 a year. Those costs are not stable. They have been going up and will continue to rise in the years ahead.

Many people think that, after a lifetime of paying taxes, the government will help defray these costs, but they are wrong. Medicare pays for a period of rehabilitation after a patient is discharged from a hospital, but it does not pay for extended stays in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Unless you have long term care insurance, you are on your own.
Depending on how deep your pockets are, a stay of a year or more could deplete your lifesavings. If you own a home, you could burn through your equity in a matter of three to five years. All your hard-earned assets will be gone, with nothing left to pass on to children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.

Depleting your savings does have a silver lining of sorts: once your assets are gone, Medicaid will pay for your long term care. Medicaid is a welfare program with low income eligibility requirements. You cannot have many assets left, other than your home, to qualify for assistance. Worse, your home is exempt only as long as you or your spouse live in it. If you are single and enter a nursing home permanently, or if your spouse dies while you are in a long term care facility, most states can put a lien on your property to recover Medicaid payments. With the lien on your home, you cannot sell or refinance without paying off what you owe the state.

You may well go on to have your dream retirement, but even if you do, you wouldn’t go biking without a helmet or skydiving without a parachute. From a financial point of view, entering your senior years without long term care insurance could be just as risky.

About Bradley Steffens

Bradley Steffens is a copywriter and the author of twenty-eight books. He has written for a range of clients in the financial, healthcare, and high tech industries, including Raymond James Financial, Cardinal Health, and Del Tel, Inc. His latest book is Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist.

The article above is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License. The information provided is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to review the original article, and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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