LONG-TERM CARE: Are Baby Boomers Prepared For High Costs?
Writing in yesterday's San Diego Union Tribune, author and radio host Ken Stern says that baby boomers need to give more thought to the costs of long-term care. By the year 2000, 9 million Americans will be in need of long-term health care services. However, only 25% of senior citizens can presently afford the "out-of-pocket cost of even a single year of long-term care," which is about $41,000. The problem, Stern says, "is that planning for the unpleasant aspects of aging isn't very popular, with more than 75% of Americans surveyed expressing their belief that they'll never need nursing home care." Stern notes that in actuality, nearly 50% of Americans will need long-term care "at some time in their life."
Reduced To Poverty
Stern points out that Medicare covers "less than 8% of current nursing homes residents," while Medicaid covers more than 70%. Such a large portion of seniors "don't fit in," but "fall in" to Medicaid because they've exhausted their personal savings "to the point of reducing themselves to poverty." Long-term care insurance can now be counted as a health care cost and is tax-deductible, Stern notes, but few people are buying it. Concluding, he urges people to find out whether their employer includes long-term care coverage in their insurance policies. "If the answer is no," he writes, "check out private long-term care coverage -- and do it before the next tax season brings a few more gray hairs" (8/5).