Will Long-term Care Costs Skyrocket after COVID-19?

Orange City Iowa Estate Planning

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Will COVID-19 make long-term care even more expensive?

About 70% of seniors 65 and older will eventually require some type of long-term care in their lifetimes. That care isn’t cheap.

Motley Fool’s recent article asks “Will COVID-19 Drive Up the Cost of Long-Term Care?” According to the article, unfortunately those figures may begin to look like a bargain in the coming years as facilities change their policies and pricing after COVID-19.

The impact of the coronavirus has been experienced throughout the country, but we all see that nursing homes are an especially hard hit. As of April 23, there were over 50,000 reported COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In six of the 23 states that are publicly reporting death rates (Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Utah), deaths in long-term care facilities are at least half of all COVID-19-related fatalities.

COVID-19 has been detected in at least 4,000 long-term care facilities across the country and has caused more than 10,000 deaths among residents and staff members. As a result, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will most likely reconsider how they train and rotate staff and implement sanitary standards to avoid this from occurring again.

All of this is will likely come at a cost, and the question will be if that expense is passed on to seniors, who can hardly afford these facilities in the first place.

We can’t really predict if you’ll require long-term care in the future and to what extent. We also don’t know how much long-term care costs will go up in the coming years after COVID-19. However, you are well served to purchase long-term care insurance, as long as you’re still young enough and healthy enough to qualify.

The best time to apply is during your mid-50s, so that you aren’t paying those premiums for too many years. However, you’re also applying at a time when you’re relatively young and more apt to get a nice discount on your premiums based on your age and health. If you’re already past your mid-50s, you still should look at applying in your 60s, especially if your health is good.

Of course, being eligible is just the first step. The cost of long-term care insurance may be more than you can afford even if you’re young and healthy. And not all long-term care policies are created equal. Different policies offer varying levels of coverage. Take the time to assess your financial resources, research the cost of long-term care in your area and determine the amount of coverage you think you’ll need.

Consult with an elder law attorney to determine if long-term care insurance is the best solution. Depending on your specific situation, there may be other ways to protect your assets from the costs of long-term care.

Even if COVID-19 doesn’t directly mean big increases, the cost of long-term care has already been increasing every year. The more financial protection you have, the less stress you and your family will have when you are older.

Reference: Motley Fool (May 5, 2020) “Will COVID-19 Drive Up the Cost of Long-Term Care?”

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