I’ve worked in government nursing homes where indigent residents live and get health care (physical and other therapies, recreation therapies, nursing, etc.) and their fees are usually nothing, or taken from their social security benefits. I’ve also worked in private facilities where the monthly cost for long term residents is between $6,000 and $10,000 per month, depending on whether a person has a private or semi private room and the kind of facility he or she chooses.
Think about $10,000 a month - a tremendous amount of money that can diminish a lifetime’s savings rapidly, causing tremendous stress on both the elderly and their families. It’s not just an American problem. I was listening to a radio program in Ireland and a woman calling in was highly distressed and tearfully admitted that she “could only afford for [her] mother to live for another two years.” That is the kind of feeling no family member should be forced into.
One solution to this is long term care insurance. This is an insurance plan that guarantees coverage for full time nursing home care should a person need to move into a facility or will pay for 24-hour nursing care in a person's home. It sounds like a great option we should all take but there are both benefits and risks that everyone should know.
Cost: Cost can vary drastically from one insurer to another and it is not cheap. A person can pay up to $700 per month for long term insurance which makes that payment is in itself a burden to many. A deep analysis of what exactly a person is paying for is also needed – many may not need some of the add-ons and having a third party can also help to avoid any kind of sales pressure. While most insurance companies are not out to scam, many work on commission and may push a person into buying plans they are likely to never use. Additionally, the average time a person needs long term care is about three to five years so longer policies may not be needed.
Premiums: Price hikes in premiums can happen without notice or explanation so in some cases, not much can be done.