The Associated Press has released a report that more than one-third of all Americans over the age of 40 have done no planning for long term care needs. None. 

What does this mean with the aging of America and the increasing demand for long-term care? The NORC Center for Public Affairs Research states that most Americans plan to look for Medicare to pick up the cost, however, after the first 100 days, that's a little more than three months, Medicare will no longer even assist in paying for long-term care.

First question, just what exactly is 'long-term care'?

Administrator of the Senior and Long Term Care Division at the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, Kelly Williams, offered the following definition.

"Long term care is the need for services over a long period of time, typically administered in a nursing home," Williams said. "In the current situation, these services are being tailored for individuals in their homes and in their communities.This helps to delay the need to enter a nursing home or a long-term care facility."

Now, what about the costs of long-term care?

"For those in a nursing home facility and paying privately, it could be in excess of $77,000 a year, or between $6,000 and $7,000 a month if you have to pay out-of-pocket," Williams said. "If you meet the financial criteria for Medicaid, it would pay about $62,000 a year, or about $5,000 a month. These are astronomical costs for necessary long-term care."

One of the misconceptions that people 40 and older have is that they think Medicare will simply pick up the cost. In a way, it will, but not for the long term.

"Medicare is an option for those 65 and older, but it is a limited benefit," she said. "It focuses on post-hospital treatment and rehabilitation. That benefit only pays for 100 days. Days one through 20 are covered 100%, then days 20 through 100 require a co-payment. Following that period, the care would have to be privately paid."

Williams said her agency has materials and resources to help plan for long-term care at the DPHHS website.


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