Attention Long Term Care Shoppers: Costs and Other Realities
Modern consumers - purchasers of goods and services - have greatly benefited from the ability to comparison shop and order from virtually any purveyor anywhere.
This reality has even infiltrated health care. For decades, many people, when faced with a dread diagnosis, have been willing to travel out-of-state to get what they perceive as better medical care. Today, the reach has expanded internationally, with the rise of medical tourism.
Long term care is different. Siri, Alexa, YouTube are of little help when you need to line up long term care for a loved one (or for yourself). It matters little if you are a member of Amazon Prime.
Whether the search is for a home health care worker(s), or a facility such as an assisted living facility or nursing home, the choice can be more difficult.
LOCATION Though there may be many available options in your region, the number may dwindle to a paltry 1, 2 or 3 when you would like to stay in a certain location. Imagine if the 'best nursing home in the state' is an hours’ drive from someone's hometown, or from their children; would they be better off in a less highly-regarded facility located close by?
PERSONALITY Long term care involves a lot of ongoing, long term, personal assistance. It includes help with some things most of us cannot imagine needing assistance with: from dressing to bathing, and more. Temperament and personality do matter. They can make a tremendous difference in quality of life. You may find yourself choosing a care provider more on the personality of the providers than the quality of the furnishings. Alert: ask the person whose temperament you like how long they have worked for that provider. High turnover rates plague many organizations.
PAYMENT SOURCE You have heard the phrase 'money talks,' and that often-unsaid rule does indeed apply even to the long term care world. However, let's be very clear about one thing: when you are privately paying for your care, you can expect to have more choice and more control than if Medicaid (or even Medicare) is paying your bill.
By more choice I mean more provider possibilities. By more control, there's no arguing with the fact that if you control the money - including private insurance proceeds - you will have an enhanced ability to call the shots.
Speaking of paying, the hard way to privately pay for care is to use current income and perhaps assets you had earmarked to leave to others. The easy way to pay for care - while preserving your income and assets - is by allowing a long term care insurance policy to write the big caregiver checks.
COSTS What does long term care cost? That's a little bit like asking the question “What does a car cost?” The only honest answer is "It depends." Not only does the cost of long term care vary by type of care, it varies in different parts of the country, and even by location within a given state.
All that said, below are some updated cost numbers. A gentle reminder that your costs are very likely to be even much higher or lower than the national medians shown here.
Homemaker Services (44 hours a week - NOT round-the-clock-care) $49,934/yr.
Assisted Living Facility (1 bedroom unit) $66,000/yr. (Many states report median costs exceeding $100,000)
Nursing Home (semi-private room) $85,775/yr. (Many states report median costs exceeding $150,000)
With costs like these (which are only going to increase with inflation), and growing pressure on public-funded programs, isn't it good to know that by purchasing long term care insurance today you purchase future care options for pennies on the dollar?
Brigitte Bromberg, MS, CFP®, CSA® is an independent insurance specialist who provides unbiased, consultative, solutions for long term care, life and disability insurance needs.
For more than 30 years Brigitte has worked diligently to provide clients the information and insight they need to make informed insurance decisions. President of Winning Strategies Group LLC, Brigitte loves speaking to groups, and she also loves helping people implement creative, smart insurance strategies.