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Julie Garber

Who Will Pay for Your Long Term Care?

By October 30, 2012

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From Deborah Caldwell for CNBC, The Crushing Expense Your Children Will Pay for You: "Call it the Gray Tsunami. In less than 40 years, the number of people in the world age 80 and older will quadruple. That means a historically unprecedented number of people will need crushingly expensive long-term care, much of it provided by their unprepared children and grandchildren. Yet few countries around the world are paying much attention, at least not yet."

Ms. Caldwell goes on to point out that in the U.S., it is projected that by 2050 there will be 88.5 million Americans age 65 and above which will equal about 20% of the U.S. population, which will be an increase from 49.6 million in 2008 which equaled 13% of the population. And while many European countries have recognized the problem and started to research solutions and put plans into action to deal with the inevitable (in fact, four countries - Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and South Korea - already have long term care insurance systems in place), in the U.S. we have to "deal with a complicated soup of private health insurance companies (or no health insurance); individual state disability programs; Medicaid; and Medicare, the federal program that guarantees health insurance for Americans ages 65 and older."

Many Americans do not realize that Medicare only covers long term care in a skilled nursing facility for a maximum of 100 days until its too late. This leaves families scrambling to figure out a solution during a time of stress and crisis, and often times the children are the ones left to sort everything out, and, at least in one recent case of "filial responsibility," held legally responsible for footing the bill to pay for a parent's cost of care.

The long term care problem will not be solved overnight, or even in the short term. This is why it so important for families to have a plan in place to address the long term care needs of aging parents and other loved ones before a crisis strikes. An elder law attorney can help families navigate the confusing laws that go hand in hand with planning to pay for long term care.

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