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Planning for Long Term Care

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:48pm

I received an email about the long term care post from Eileen Tell, Sr. Vice President,  at the Long Term Care Group, Inc. From her Bio, it's a pretty safe assumption that she can educate us on long term care insurance!   In her letter she corrected a statement I said in my earlier post about 4-5% of our elderly needing long term care.  I "said" long term care, but meant "nursing home". It has since been corrected.

Eileen, my gratitude for your insightful email. Here it is:

Thanks for mentioning the HHS website on your blog. It is such a critical issue and, while awareness is growing, we still have a long way to go. The good news is that so far nearly 700,000 people have received the government's "Own Your Future" information guide on planning for long term care needs. We just concluded focus groups with consumers - all of whom found the guide extremely helpful and an easy "first bite" into this topic.

I did want to point out one inaccuracy in the opening statement of your piece: Remember only 4-5% of our elderly need long term care.

This is not correct. That figure refers to the percent of people at any one time who reside in a nursing home (elderly or not). Obviously, the vast majority of long term care is provided at home and in other care settings like adult day care and assisted living. So the 4-5% figure would not capture that. Also, that is the prevalence of nursing home need at a single point in time, not the lifetime risk of every needing long term care. Basically, when I turn 65, there is a 60% chance that, at some point in my life, I will need some type and amount of long term care. So NOT planning for something with such a high probability of occurring (and the chance of it being financially catastrophic) is foolish; we would never take that kind of chance with our car insurance, home insurance or similar.

And even younger people need long term care; at present (again a prevalence figure not incidence), of the more than 13 million Americans receiving long term care in all settings, about 40% of them are working age adults 18-64 years old. Another reason why the 4-5% figure does not accurately reflect the lifetime risk nor the financial devastation of needing long term care.

I hope this information is helpful and would be happy to chat more if it is helpful. Thanks again for providing the useful link to people.

Get a copy of the Own Your Future HandbookEileen references above.

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