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How will you pay for your long-term-care needs?

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Many of us look forward to our senior years, anticipating traveling, spending time with family and enjoying the rewards of decades of work. However, the reality is that almost 70 percent of people 65 and over on average will require long-term care. This can be anything from an in-home caregiver to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Women require long-term care for an average of 3.7 years and men for about 2.2 years.

We've discussed here previously how, despite these statistics, too many people don't adequately plan for the costs of long-term care. They assume that family will take care of them or that their savings combined with government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will cover it. However, this kind of wishful thinking overestimates the capacity of non-professional caregivers and underestimates the costs of care.

Retirement experts say that it's best to begin planning for how you will pay for long-term care in your 40s and 50s. Once people get into their 60s and 70s, they are less likely to be able to obtain long-term-care insurance. Choosing an insurance company that has a good record of paying policyholder claims is important. However, sometimes, no matter how carefully you choose an insurer, they will deny legitimate claims. Disability attorneys help policyholders who are having problems with denied claims.

Whether you get long-term-care insurance or choose another method to pay for it, such as converting your life insurance policy into a long-term benefit plan, you need to know the kind of costs you may face. They can be shocking when you first see them. An assisted-living facility can cost over $3,000 per month for a simple one-bedroom apartment. If you require more care, a semi-private room at a nursing home can cost nearly double that.

Medicare can help cover nursing home care, as can Medicaid, depending on your annual income and assets. Medicare can also be used to cover in-home rehabilitation care. Most assisted living facilities can't be paid for using benefits from either of these programs. The website longtermcare.gov/medicare-medicaid-more/ provides more information on what these programs cover and the qualification requirements.

Most experts recommend relying on more than one source for your long-term-care needs. This is generally a combination of insurance, savings and Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs. You may want to work with your legal and financial advisors to determine the best options for you.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "Ways to prepare for possible long-term care costs" Alex Veiga, AP, Oct. 05, 2014

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