Long-Term Care Myths Debunked
Here are seven long-term care myths debunked.
7 Long-Term Care Myths
We all hope we’ll remain in good health as we age, but someone turning age 65 today has a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Women typically need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years) and the average length of long-term care is about three years.
According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, annual national median costs are:
Adult day health care: $18,720
Assisted living community: $48,000
Homemaker services: $48,048
Nursing home private room: $100,375
Nursing home semi-private room: $89,297
It pays to know the facts about long-term care so you can plan for future needs.
Here are seven long-term care myths debunked:
1. I have to get rid of all my assets to receive Medicaid.
Even though you’re not allowed in many states to keep more than $2,000 in countable assets to receive Medicaid, there are certain assets that people can keep and still qualify, says Abigail Wolf, an elder law attorney at the Elder & Disability Law Center in Washington, D.C.
Asset exemptions vary by state, but in most cases, the house is exempt if the spouse still lives in it. Other exempt resources may include:
Assets that can’t be converted to cash
Business or trade property
The non-applicant spouse is also permitted to keep a portion of the couple’s countable assets. This is called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance.
2. I’m too young to need long-term care.
Even if you’re under age 65, if you have an accident or a chronic illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may require long-term in-home or residential care services.
On average, around 8% of people between ages 40 and 50 have a disability that could require long-term care services, according to the HHS.
3. Medicare will pay for my long-term care expenses.
Medicare pays for long-term care in some very specific, narrow instances, says Adam Hyers, a Medicare insurance broker in Columbus, Ohio. “At most, Medicare covers 100 days of skilled care when combined with Medicare supplement insurance and skilled care can only be administered by doctors and licensed nurses,” says Hyers. “Most people need custodial and/or intermediate care such as help with the normal activities of daily living (ADLs). Medicare doesn’t cover that at all.”
Medicare covers skilled in-home care ordered by a doctor such as skilled care from a nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist or social worker for up to only 21 days. For care in a skilled nursing facility, Medicare pays for the first 20 days with zero copays but for days 21 to 100, Medicare pays only a portion and the beneficiary must pay $170 per day.
4. My family will take care of me.
Most people can live at home longer with help from unpaid family member caregivers and paid and unpaid community support. However, don’t assume that your adult children or other family members are willing to take on caregiving duties in addition to their own family and work responsibilities.
It’s a good idea to sit down with family members to discuss their willingness and availability should the need arise for long-term care.
5. My health insurance will cover long-term care expenses.
Health insurance doesn’t generally cover long-term care to any meaningful degree, says Stephen Forman, vice president of Long-Term Care Associates, based in Bellevue, Washington.
“Some plans provide minimal home care and skilled nursing benefits, but these are short-term in nature and designed around your recovery and rehabilitation,” Forman says. “On the other hand, most long-term care received is custodial in nature, for the safety, maintenance and well-being of those with chronic conditions.” In fact, you’ll often find language in your health insurance that plainly states: “This plan does not cover long-term care.”
6. My long-term care insurance will pay for all long-term care expenses.
Long-term care insurance may not cover all the costs you might incur.
Common limitations include not paying benefits during your elimination period, which functions like a deductible or after your entire policy benefit has exhausted, says Forman. “Your care provider might charge more than the maximum amount per day covered under your policy, charge for amenities that go beyond basic room and board or provide a service your policy is not designed to ensure such as assisted living under a home-care-only policy,” Forman says.
7. My savings will cover long-term care costs.
If you have retirement savings, the amount may not be enough to cover long-term care costs. Even if you plan to try to age in place, the average U.S. national median cost for long-term care is around $50,000 annually for a home health aide.
In many situations, especially with residential care, costs can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few years.
For more information about long-term care, visit: LongTermCare.gov.