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Planning for long-term health care

Some people need constant, long-term health care as they get older and can no longer take care of themselves. Those with chronic disabilities, terminal illnesses or other incapacitating conditions find the care and treatment they need through either in-home health care providers or nursing homes. However, this treatment is not free, and the costs associated with such specialized care can be overwhelming to those who do not have the means to afford it.

A recent article noted a statistic from the Census Bureau that claimed that, at any given time, only four percent of those 65 years old or older occupy nursing homes. Although that percentage is small and suggests that most elderly individuals will not need to seek long-term health coverage, those who make up that four percent will have to find a way to pay for it. The article also quoted Genworth Financial in saying that the average yearly cost of a semi-private nursing home room is around $80,000 nationwide -- and that price can increase depending on the state in which one lives.

To help cover some of the costs associated with long-term care and nursing homes, an individual can sign up for long-term care (LTC) insurance. The premiums and deductibles will vary according to the provider and the health and age of the insured. If one is still employed, he or she can check to see if LTC insurance is offered through his or her employer; otherwise, an individual will need to get separate coverage through a private, third party provider. According to the article, 70 percent of those who are current residents of nursing homes rely on Medicaid to help cover the associated costs.

Regardless of an individual's means or current health, planning for the eventuality of long-term care makes sense. Individuals can include any potential long-term health care needs as part of their estate plan, which may include appointing a durable power of attorney to assist with decisions later on. Furthermore, the cost of long-term care is tax deductible along with other medical expenses. Anyone who wants to be proactive and make any future health care needs a part of their estate plan could consult with an attorney experienced in estate planning and health care laws.

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