Medicare leaves many gaps in coverage, but one of the biggest gaps is coverage for long-term care. No one plans on needing long-term care, but if you do, you’ll be on the hook for the entire cost if you don’t plan ahead now! What can you do to protect yourself and ensure you have the coverage you need when you need it most?
The High Cost of Long-Term Care
Medicare covers skilled nursing care if you’re discharged from the hospital, after being admitted for three or more consecutive days. Up to 100 days are covered to allow time for rehabilitation and physical therapy following illnesses, such as a stroke or major surgery.
But what if you need more permanent care such as assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, or feeding) or you need care due to Alzheimer’s or dementia? These services are not covered by Medicare. The cost for an assisted living facility can reach as high as $5,000 per month. Nursing home care can range from $60,000 to $90,000 per year – way beyond what the average American can afford.
Options for Paying for Long-Term Care
Many older adults are forced to sell their homes and dispose of other assets in order to qualify for help through the state Medicaid system to pay for long-term care costs. Others must rely on their entire retirement savings – leaving the remaining spouse in financial despair.
By planning ahead, you can avoid both of these situations. Long-term care insurance is the best option to ensure you’re covered. Beginning at age 40, a portion of your long-term care premiums can be taken as a tax deduction. Better yet, a portion of your premium can also be paid with funds from your health savings account (HSA).
When choosing a long-term care insurance plan, you’ll want to consider these factors, which are discussed in more detail here:
> What benefits are covered
> When benefits can begin
> Policy limits
> Inflation rider
> Elimination periods
It’s a tough decision for family members to place a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home facility. It’s even harder to decide at the last minute how you’re going to pay for it. With advanced planning and the right tools, you can have all of the proper resources available, should the time come that a family member requires long-term care.
Do you have any questions regarding long-term care? Do you have any stories you would like to share? Do you have any other questions MediGap Advisors can answer?
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.