The coronavirus pandemic has put a spotlight on long-term care facilities. Thousands of residents have died from the virus. Families haven’t been able to visit loved ones for months. As a result, Americans are taking a look at how to prepare for the future.
A survey released in June 2020 by Genworth Financial Inc. found that three out of four adults have been prompted by the pandemic to think about their own long-term care needs.
The survey found 39% of respondents said they were more willing to prioritize saving for the future than they were prior to the pandemic. Another 32% also said they want to make sure they are financially prepared for future long-term care in the setting of their choice. The majority of respondents would prefer to receive long-term care at home.
Local long-term care specialist Barbara Franklin said the pandemic is motivating people to think about their care – and that’s a good thing.
“If people wait until they’re 65 or until there’s a health crisis, it’s too late,” said Franklin, owner of Franklin & Associates Inc., a Charleston-based company offering both traditional and innovative approaches to long-term care planning and financing as well as assistance sorting out Medicare options.
November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, making it the ideal time for individuals and families to think ahead.
• Determine whether purchasing a long-term care insurance policy could be right for you. Even though premiums have been increasing, it’s becoming harder to qualify so the time to act is now. A long-term care specialist can help you weigh the benefits versus the cost.
• Understand the cost of paying out of pocket for care in a facility or at home. Many people don’t realize just how costly that can be. The 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey shows the median monthly cost of a home health aide in South Carolina is $4,000. For an assisted living facility in the state, the median monthly cost is $3,500. And for a private room at a nursing home facility, individuals could expect to pay more than $7,000 a month.
• Can your adult children or other family members help with your future care? It’s important for families to discuss long-term care responsibilities and who will bear the cost. Adult children, for example, may not be financially prepared to take on the cost of care for their parents. This is particularly tough for those in the “sandwich generation,” who are also caring for their own children.
• Understand what government programs cover and, more importantly, what they don’t. Many adults expect government programs to partially or fully cover the costs of their long-term care services. The reality is that Medicare pays for only limited care, and Medicaid has strict financial eligibility requirements.
“These can be tough conversations for families, but it’s much better to talk about options and finances now than to wind up in a crisis situation. That’s when options are extremely limited, and people end up making decisions based on what they can afford in the moment, “Franklin said. “My hope is this pandemic has taught us how quickly circumstances can change and being prepared is of the utmost importance.”
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