The short answer is yes, everyone needs to think about long-term care planning. The more complicated answer is: What type of care will you need? What will it cost? How will you pay for it? No one can say for sure that you will end up in a nursing home, but statistics show that for a 50 year old man in excellent health, the odds are 39% that he will need long term care consisting of approximately 1 year of in-home help and 2 years of assisted living or nursing home care.
How did I come up with those numbers? Medicare.gov provides a planning tool to help estimate your individual cost of care. It asks for your age, your health status, and whether you have family to help you. It also asks some broad questions about income and whether you have the resources to start saving now for the cost of care. After gathering three screens of information, it will tell you what your average cost of care might be. Of course this is in today’s dollars, with today’s calculation of what government help is available through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
After last Tuesday’s vote to raise the debt ceiling, there is one thing we know for sure, Congress has agreed to allow the President to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for $2.4
trillion in budget cuts over 10 years. How this deal will affect the three major programs crucial to the elderly — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — may not be known until almost year’s end, but the impact could be significant. The Wall Street Journal’s reporter Suzy Khimm gives her take on the Five cuts the debt commission might make to medicare, Medicaid.
If you are facing an immediate need for nursing home care, our article on Medi-Cal
(Medicaid) Exemptions and Allowances can help you to understand whether you qualify for help with costs now. Another consideration is whether you or your spouse has ever served in the military. There may be a VA benefit available to help out with in-home care or assisted living. It’s called the Veterans Non-Service Connected Disability Pension, or Aid & Attendance Benefit.
The bottom line is no matter how much you save or how well you plan, you may find that your retirement savings is not enough. That is why pre-planning for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) or other public benefits is so important as part of your overall estate plan.