Long-Term Care Insurance

How to Keep Long-Term-Care Costs Under Control

A new study shows that cost of care in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities is on the rise.

The cost to receive long-term care continues to increase each year, according to the 2013 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. In the ten years that Genworth has conducted its annual study, the median annual cost of a room in a private nursing home has jumped from $65,200 to $83,950, an increase of more than 4% a year. The cost to receive care in an assisted-living facility also has increased more than 4% a year for the past several years, with the national average now $41,400 annually.

On the bright side (sort of), the cost of receiving care at home through homemaker services or a home health aide has remained almost flat, according to the Genworth survey. However, this sort of care still isn't cheap. The median hourly cost of homemaker services and home health aides is $18 and $19, respectively.

If you think this is one cost you don't have to plan for, think again. One in eight individuals 65 and older suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and 45% of people age 85 and older have it, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Health insurance and Medicare do not cover the sort of long-term care needed to help someone with Alzheimer's with daily-living activities. If you're a veteran, you might be able to get help paying for long-term care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Medicaid rules vary by state, but in general the government program does pay for long-term-care services (primarily nursing-home care). However, you might have to deplete your assets to become eligible.

So to avoid paying out of pocket, you can get a long-term-care insurance policy. Unfortunately, rates for long-term-care insurance have spiked over the past few years, and policies have become more restrictive. Kiplinger's Kimberly Lankford writes about a new approach to buying long-term-care insurance to keep the cost manageable. See a A New Strategy for Long-Term Care.

And for more advice on planning and paying for long-term-care, here's a roundup of what Kiplinger's editors have written recently:

Navigate a Course for Long-Term Care
The long-term-care insurance business is in turmoil. But these options can help you steer through the turbulent marketplace.

How to Choose a Long-Term-Care Facility
This step-by-step guide can help you find the right place to meet your loved one's needs.

A Reliable Home Aide Can Be Hard to Find
Whether you hire in-home help directly or through an agency, ask detailed questions about caregivers' background and training.

Planning for Alzheimer's
Nothing will erase the emotional toll this disease takes on families. But you can take steps to stem the financial bleeding.

Does Insurance Cover Alzheimer's Care
Private and government insurance programs may pay for some of the costs.

Tax Breaks for Alzheimer's Care
Caring for someone with a chronic illness can be expensive, but these tax-saving moves may help defray some of the costs.

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