Care planning has been an integral part of individuals' lives for decades. However, 50 years ago, it was much easier to figure out how to pay for long-term care if the need arose. One reason why it has become more difficult is because people are living longer. Although Americans are, on average, living longer, the length of time that many individuals require for long-term care has not diminished, which can mean that they accumulate extensive expenses.
Many people think that Medicare will cover the costs associated with this care, but that just simply isn't the case. While it is estimated that more than 50 percent of individuals will need long-term care at a cost of approximately $140,000, only about 20 percent of Americans have some sort of coverage to help them alleviate these costs.
But that coverage is also becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. While there were more than 100 long-term care insurers 20 or so years ago, that number has dwindled to less than 12. The insurance plans offered by these providers can be extremely expensive, too, primarily because long-term care, when needed, is excessively costly. In fact, some estimates indicate that a couple may pay as much as $6,000 a year in premiums, with up to a 50 percent increase expected in the coming years. Another problem is that elderly individuals sometimes let this coverage lapse, which can leave them facing the full cost of their long-term care on their own.
What does this mean for New Yorkers? In short, it means they need to seriously think about long-term care planning and how to develop a plan that works for them and their family. A legal professional who is skilled in estate and care planning may be able to help these individuals identify programs that can be used to bridge the gaps left by Medicare and, if obtained, long-term care insurance. It is worth noting, though, that engaging in this planning well in advance is best, so those who have not done so yet are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible.