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Can in-home health care be made affordable?

Some people in East Hanover may think it is inevitable that, should they reach an age where they can no longer care for themselves, they will eventually go to a nursing home. However, they may be surprised to hear that most people who reach an age where they can no longer care for themselves remain at home and obtain the care they need through in-home health care. Therefore, it is important to plan financially for the potential need for long-term care.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that over six million individuals in the nation have a "high need" for care that involves daily help with at least two basic life activities for a minimum of 90 days. Thus, they are in need of long-term care. However, most people do not need such care for very long. Of individuals who will reach age 65 or above, 52 percent will need long-term care. Of those, only 15 percent will need it for over five years.

While some people have long-term care insurance, it can be costly. In fact, less than 10 percent of older individuals currently have long-term care insurance. Some experts maintain that the long-term care insurance industry should prioritize assisting people who need in-home care services, rather than nursing homes. This might make long-term care insurance more affordable.

One option those who anticipate needing in-home care can consider is purchasing a more basic long-term care insurance policy, which may be less costly than one with more amenities. Another option available in New Jersey is a "qualified long-term care partnership policy." This policy helps individuals keep their assets if they are very sick, need to enter a nursing home, and want to eventually be covered by Medicaid. Medicaid is only available to individuals with less than $2,000 in assets. Under a partnership policy, long-term care benefits received are not counted towards Medicaid eligibility and cannot be taken by the state.

In the end, determining how to pay for long-term care is not always straightforward. While many people may recognize that they need to plan for the future, they may not know where to start. One place to begin is to consult with an elder law attorney. These professionals can explain what their client's options are, so their client can make informed decisions.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "How to get long-term care at home without busting the bank," Judith Graham, Aug. 7, 2017

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