The number of Americans over the age of 65 is projected to reach over 98 million by 2060. Healthcare in America looks different depending on your age, income level, and employment status. There is no universal system in the U.S., and the future of the mandated healthcare coverage for almost everyone under the Affordable Care Act is shaky. Without integrated care for everyone, not only will the physical health of people suffer, but the cost of mental health treatment for people with physical disabilities will increase too. This can leave American seniors searching for creative ways to access affordable healthcare as they age.
The cost of a private room in a nursing home in 2017 was more than $8,000 a month, or $97,555 a year. As costs for care rise, people continue to live longer, and social security and Medicare programs cut dollars, long-term saving options are becoming more appealing. It’s not only about saving money today for healthcare needs of tomorrow; it’s also about mapping critical points of care along the way from middle-age and beyond.
Understanding these changes is essential to the applied psychology involved with attracting patients to healthcare facilities, much like the traditional customer decision journey. Healthcare facilities, responding to shifting healthcare needs, have begun to offer senior options for long-term savings.
Understand the Cost of Aging
People used to believe that once they turned 65 and could enroll in the Medicare program, their long-term needs were covered. However, aging adults can still accumulate significant costs for necessary care. Even if seniors can live at home, they must consider the costs of copays and deductibles. Being smart consumers might mean they consider bifocals versus LASIK, home care services over long-term care placement, and make decisions about end-of-life-care sooner rather later.
Caring for older adults doesn’t start when they have aged; it involves planning for potential healthcare needs as early as possible. People are living longer with chronic health conditions, vanishing pensions, and expensive prescriptions only to realize they didn’t plan soon enough. Turn on the TV, and you can hear a new story almost daily about hospitals overcharging patients for care or rising numbers of elder homelessness that happens when seniors fall between the cracks of the safety nets in an already stressed system. The good news is that people in their forties and fifties have options to consider, and most of them have time to carefully weigh their options.
Comparing the Options
Americans have options. It might take time and energy to evaluate all of the available saving strategies, but the possibilities are there. Here are a few strategies you can use to prepare for your future.
Long-term care insurance can pay for the cost of a nursing home, in-home care, and assisted living facilities — expenses that aren’t covered by Medicare. Many individuals in their fifties or sixties believe that long-term insurance is no longer a financially viable option. However, AARP reports that discounts for couples are common, and some seniors might qualify to use Medicaid as a method of payment for long-term care insurance.
It’s vital to know that long-term care policies have changed. Traditional insurance policies are cheaper but come with no guarantee of recovering the money you spent. Hybrid plans can run you two to three times the cost of a traditional plan, but you have a guarantee of getting money back.
People with chronic health conditions are looking to other countries as a possible answer to the growing cost of care. Medical tourism is the act of traveling to another country to receive medical treatment. For those with chronic conditions, it could save them money throughout their lifetime. The internet has made finding a specialist in other countries a more viable option.
Health Savings Account
Seniors can open a health savings account to pay for future long-term care costs. The maximum amounts that you can deposit change each year, but those over the age of 55 can contribute more than younger HSA holders. Money in an HSA account rolls over from year to year. Withdrawals from these plans are tax-free as long as you use the money for qualifying purchases.
You can choose to be self-insured for your future needs. Self-insured means that you save an amount of money each month for upcoming healthcare costs. The problem with this plan is that no one knows what services they might need in the future or what care will cost. If you’re able to set aside several tens of thousands of dollars for possible medical needs, you might be able to pay for all treatment out of pocket
Each state runs the Medicaid system for people who don't have the means to pay for their care. When all other options are exhausted, the state government will pay all long-term costs. Medicaid eligibility varies from state to state. The critical thing to understand about this plan is that Medicaid only pays for long-term care after you have depleted financial resources. Depending on your state, you might be forced to get rid of your car, home, and any other liquid assets.
Veterans who served in qualifying periods of conflict and their spouses are entitled to receive assistance with healthcare costs, including long-term care. Many people don’t know about the long-term benefits available for veterans and fail to seek out support from Veterans Affairs.
Planning for the Future
Making decisions about the care at the end of your life can be frightening. However, knowing that the options given through government programs are limited and dwindling daily, it’s best to make decisions now. Having a conversation with your physician, loved ones, or a local social worker can help you get on the right track of saving for long-term care.
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