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Long-term care: sticker shock and available alternatives

Long-term care insurance: the very words summon up a range of emotions in families trying to make intelligent choices to plan for future care. It's a product whose value is so unpredictable that it's rather like a riddle for all concerned. How could something be at once notoriously expensive, yet also potentially a useful part of a prudent estate plan?

To begin answering that question, one must remember just how expensive the alternatives can be. Paying for nursing home care can involve astronomical expense. In Massachusetts and across the country, the sticker shock, even for people with substantial assets, is almost unbelievable.

But paying for someone to care for a loved one in the home can also become very expensive. Let's say a parent, or a spouse's parent, has a condition - dementia, Parkinson's disease, or any other serious illness or disability - that makes requires frequent care. Hiring a paid caregiver to provide it can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Of course, that does not necessarily mean that long-term care insurance is the right choice for you or someone in your family. There are many considerations involved, starting with age. In particular, for people over 65, it's important to know what Medicaid may pay for.

In any case, there are a lot of people in need of such care. About 10 million people in the U.S. need some form of long-term care or services to handle daily living tasks, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Source: "Long-term tab," Modern, Jessica Zigmond, 3-9-13

To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on long-term care planning.

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