7 in 10 will need long-term care, ready or not
Q: How much do nursing homes or assisted living centers cost?
A: The Metlife annual survey of national long-term care costs for 2012 found: Nursing home: private room, $248 a day; semi-private room, $222.
Assisted living is closer to $118 per day, or about $3,550 per month.
A home-health aide costs $21 per hour.
Daily rate for adult day services was $70.
Q: Does Medicare cover this cost?
A: Generally, no. Medicare focuses on “medically necessary” care, such as doctor visits, hospital stays and drugs. It may cover short-term stays in skilled nursing centers, hospice care or home health care under certain circumstances.
Q: Is long-term care the same as medical care?
A: It can include medical care, but it tends to be more custodial in nature; for example, you’ve been injured and now need help getting out of bed or dressing yourself, bathing or eating — assistance with the activities of daily living. Caregivers also help people who have a cognitive impairment.
Q: When am I likely to need long-term care?
A: About seven in 10 people will require it sometime after they turn 65. On average, people in long-term care are in their 80s.
Q: Will Medicaid cover the cost?
A: Yes, but Medicaid is a program for the poor, and you have to meet strict requirements to qualify. In effect, you must be impoverished (or become impoverished) to enroll in Medicaid. The program pays about $158 a day for a nursing home bed in Georgia.
Q: Is there some other way to pay for all this?
A: You can buy long-term care insurance, but it’s expensive, and fewer companies offer it today than just 15 years ago.
Q: How much does long-term care insurance cost?
A: The American Association of Long-term Care Insurance, according to its website, priced a policy for a couple, ages 60 and 55, from four leading insurers. The results ranged from $3,133 per year to $5,148 per year, which covers both people.
Q: Do I have to qualify for it?
A: Usually. Insurers “health-qualify” their policyholders. If you have multiple or severe health problems, chances are you won’t qualify for a plan.
Q: Can you switch if you find a better deal, like with car insurance?
A: Generally speaking, you only buy long-term care insurance once. That’s because the cost increases with your age, and you probably won’t want to give up the investment you’ve already made in a policy.
Q: What is life expectancy in the U.S.?
A: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development this year released a comparison of its 34 member nations. The OECD found the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.7 years, putting Americans in 26th place, behind Slovenia. (The Swiss, Japanese and Italians — one, two and three on the OECD list — live four years longer than Americans, on average.)
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