The United States Census Bureau estimates that between 2012 and 2050, the United States will experience considerable growth in its older population. The population aged 65 and older is expected to grow to be 83.7 million people, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million people in 2012. Americans are living longer and often suffering from debilitating conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the age and health of our nation, Americans are needing long term care more than ever before. Long term care is expensive and can cause a family to drain all of their assets, creating problems for financial security. The average cost of a skilled nursing facility in central Virginia is $88,480 annually, according to Genworth.
How do people pay for their care? There are essentially five ways to pay the cost of long term care.
1. PRIVATE PAY. Private pay means paying for the cost of a nursing home or assisted living facility or for other needed care out-of-pocket. Many people use this method, often relying on personal savings, pensions or other retirement funds, or income from stocks and bonds.
2. LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE. Long term care insurance pays for many types of long term care. The extent of coverage depends on the type of policy purchased and what services are covered. If you have long term care insurance, it is a good idea to check the terms of the policy and the limits on how long or how much the policy will pay. There are also other products available that combine long term care insurance with life insurance.
3. MEDICAID. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with the cost of nursing home care for some people with limited income and resources who need help with some activities of daily living, like bathing, toileting, or feeding. There are proper ways to preserve assets and qualify for Medicaid.
4. MEDICARE. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older or certain other people with disabilities. Medicare will cover skilled nursing facility care for the first 20 days. Medicare may pay for skilled nursing care for an additional 80 days with a costly coinsurance fee, and Medicare will not pay for skilled nursing care beyond 100 days. Medicare will not pay for custodial care in a nursing home. Skilled care is health care given when a patient needs skilled nursing or therapy staff to treat, manage, observe, and evaluate their care.
5. VETERANS BENEFITS. Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits may be available to offset the costs of long term care for wartime veterans or their surviving spouses who meet certain financial criteria.