BY: David Clemons
There are only 4!
We are living longer lives than ever before. Medicines and treatments have allowed people to live long lives with chronic conditions that years ago they would have died from. Living a long life increases the probability that you will experience a time of dependence on others for your day-to-day care. If that happens, you only have four options in how that care is received and paid for. It is important to know these options so that you can plan ahead and control how your care is provided if you ever need it.
Family: Having your spouse, children or other family members take care of you is the first option that we rely on. That is OK if the caregiver is physically and emotionally able to do it. But if the spouse is also frail, or if a child can’t take time off from work or has their own busy life. This option can become a huge burden on them.
Long Term Care Insurance: Covers the costs to have caregivers hired to help you with the care giving that is needed. Home care coverages include housekeeping chores like laundry and dishes, personal care like help with bathing and dressing. And formal care such as rehab and physical therapy. Most people that have long term care coverage will receive their care in their own home. But if care is best received in a facility such as Assisted Living, Adult Family Home or Nursing Home, the insurance pays for the expenses for being in that facility.
Self-Insure: Hoping that the need for long-term care will not happen. Many of us will count on our own savings and investment portfolio to pay for care if it does happen. This drain of the nest egg could affect the lifestyle of the spouse or other family members if the care continues for a long time. Sometimes an untouchable family asset needs to be sold to pay for care. If there are not a lot of assets, the spend-down of what money there is may bring someone to have to count on the welfare system (Medicaid) for their care.
Our Government Services: This is the most misunderstood option in long-term care. Medicare only provides a maximum of 100 days of rehab following a hospital stay with the expectation of recovery. Medicaid is the welfare program that will pay for your care after you have spent down your assets to very low levels. Your choices of care facilities become limited and Medicaid provides very little home care benefits.
Long-term care insurance can be one of the best options to consider. But it must be affordable to someone’s personal budget and you have to have pretty good health in order to qualify for the coverage. Many health issues are not insurable and you could not buy a policy even if you wanted to. The premium is based on your age and health.
So the younger you are, the less expensive the insurance is. If you can’t afford the insurance, choose not to buy it or can’t qualify because of your health, then you are left with only three options if you are in need of long term care. Planning ahead and making your decisions now keeps you independent and helps assure you of the quality care that you deserve.