Health care costs are a big concern for people going into retirement, but the costs of long-term care can still be a shock.
Here are a few facts:
• 70% of people over 65 will need some form of long-term care at some point.
• For married couples, the chance that one spouse will need long-term care rises to 91%.
• People living alone are more likely to need some sort of home health care.
• Women outlive men, and thus, are more likely to live alone and need some sort of home health care.
So, while some financial planners previously were on the fence about long-term care insurance, they were still encouraging people to at least have a plan for long-term care.
"For Baby Boomers, long-term care insurance is a must," says Manhattan attorney Ann-Margaret Carrozza. "We can no longer rely upon Medicaid to cover custodial type care. We see over the course of the past few years that eligibility for Medicaid has gotten tougher. In 2006 the so-called look-back period was extended from three years to five years," she says. During that period, the government can check, or look back, to see if you have sheltered or given away assets — and if you have, it triggers a penalty period when you're ineligible for government aid.
"There are now proposals in Congress to increase it to 10 years," Carrozza says. And, she warns, Medicare only covers up to 100 days of rehabilitation following hospitalization. "Beyond that — nothing!"
The Employee Benefit Research Institute says the average retirement shortfall for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers is nearly $50,000. But that rises dramatically when expenses for home health care or nursing homes are added: for married households by $25,317; single males, an average increase of $32,433; and by $46,425 for single females.
No wonder so many people are worried that they won't have enough money to even cover health care costs in retirement, let alone make it through retirement in the lifestyle they are accustomed to.
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