Plan Now for Long-Term Care

You could buy insurance to finance future costs, but policies are pricey. Here’s how to decide whether you need coverage.

illustration of a man looking through a window at his future self as an older man
(Image credit: Illustration by Joe Anderson)

In early June, a 102-year-old South Carolina woman made headlines with her secret to a long life: minding her own business. While most of us probably won’t live that long (or resist the temptation to be nosy), modern medicine has increased the likelihood that we’ll live well into our nineties. But living longer also raises a daunting question: Will you need long-term care, and if so, how will you pay for it?

More than two-thirds of 65-year-olds will need some type of long-term care in their lifetime, according to the Administration for Community Living, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The cost of long-term care can deplete even a well-funded retirement savings plan: According to the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the median cost of a private room in a skilled nursing home exceeds $8,800 a month. And the cost varies depending on where you live. A typical private room in New York costs about $12,930 (according to the Genworth survey), compared with about $7,600 in Tennessee. (To get an idea of how much you would need in each state, check the Genworth Cost of Care Survey.)

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Rivan V. Stinson
Ex-staff writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Rivan joined Kiplinger on Leap Day 2016 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. A Michigan native, she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 and from there freelanced as a local copy editor and proofreader, and served as a research assistant to a local Detroit journalist. Her work has been featured in the Ann Arbor Observer and Sage Business Researcher. She is currently assistant editor, personal finance at The Washington Post.