By Catey Hill
Americans seem to believe they’ll remain forever young and healthy. Fewer than one in three think it’s “somewhat likely” they’ll need long-term care and just 7% think it’s “extremely likely” they will, according to the 2011 Financial Reality Check Study by Genworth Financial. Instead, many responded “I’m not worried about it,” “my family and/or church will take care of me,” or ““I am still young and healthy.”
The reality, however, is much different. Consider these findings from Medicare.gov:
* This year, about 9 million men and women over the age of 65 will require long-term care.
* By 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term care.
* People who reach age 65 have about a 40% chance of entering a nursing home, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In other words, most seniors may need some sort of long-term care in the future — and it’s going to be pricey. The average annual cost of a nursing home is more than $77,000 per year, according to the Metlife Mature Market Institute — and it can cost a lot more depending on the facility and where in the country you live. Even for those who seniors who only need a home health aide, the extra costs are between $20,000 and $40,000 per year, according to Andy Cohen, the CEO of Caring.com.
It’s these costs that make long-term care insurance a viable option for some. To that end, SmartMoney.com created a list of resources to help you figure out your long-term care needs and how to buy a policy. Here are three resources that can help:
* SmartMoney.com offers two calculators: The first lets you decide whether you need long-term care insurance and the second lets you evaluate specific policies.
* Medicare.gov offers a long-term care planning tool that shows you what options are available in your area and lets you compare them.
* AARP and Genworth offer a free state-by-state guide to long-term care insurance.