Want to hear something alarming? There are currently more than 36 million Americans who are 65 or older, a number likely to surge to 87 million in the next four decades, and fewer than a third of them – about 8 million – Only about have a long-term care plan as part of their life insurance package. That’s bad for all of them, but worse for the vast number of older women destined to outlive their husbands, especially if they have no children or other relatives unable to provide care.
Recent health care reform legislation does offer some hope. Beginning in January, corporate insurance plans will begin offering CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Support), a government-run, voluntary, long-term care insurance program. Participants of any age will pay a month premium, and, after a five-year vesting period can receive $50/day – or more – for in-home care.
The passage of CLASS is a big step, but it still doesn’t negate the need for long-term care insurance. As the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance(AALTCI) shares, private home health assistance averages $20/hour, which means a senior citizen needing four hours of assistance three days a week would be paying $12,480/year.
The AALTCI has recently completed a study on seniors and long-term care. Among other things, they discovered:
- 80% of Americans who need private home health care are at least 75 years old.
- Roughly 10 million American seniors need daily help with basic tasks like eating, dressing, and bathing. Within ten years, that number is expected to reach 12 million – and it will continue to climb.
- About 90% of seniors would prefer to live out their years in their own homes, rather than being sent to a nursing home, or similar facility.
- Medicare doesn’t pay for services like basic care that isn’t linked to a serious medical condition.
- 60-75 percent of the time, women provide family care, or informal care – 50 percent more time than men do.
- Women outlive men by an average of five years.
What does all this mean? Put simply: consider a long-term care plan now – especially if you’re a woman.