Consider the limited government support for long-term care expenses:

  • Medicare - spent $32.8 billion on home health care and skilled nursing facility (SNF) services in 2005, accounting for 10% of program spending. However, Medicare’s coverage of home care and nursing home care is very limited. Medicare pays for 100 days of nursing home care for beneficiaries with a prior hospital stay who need skilled nursing care or rehabilitative therapy. Medicare pays the full costs of care for the first 20 days of a nursing home stay; after that, beneficiaries make a substantial copayment. As a result of these limits, SNF stays tend to be short, lasting an average of 25 days. (Georgetown University, Long-Term Care Financing Project – February 2007)
  • Medicaid - Medicaid coverage is available only if you're willing to spend down your assets to the state required level. And even then, it may not cover most care at home - where many people would prefer to be when receiving care.*

*California refers to Medicaid as "Medi-Cal"

Most people are not financially or emotionally prepared to handle the high costs of long-term care. In 2006, Medicaid paid for almost 63% ($108.6 billion) of all long-term care spending. Out-of-pocket spending by individuals and families accounted for more than 22 percent ($38.9 billions) of spending. Private insurance and other public sources paid for the balance. (National Health Policy Forum, November 28, 2008.)

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