Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.
They say that what you don’t know won’t kill you. However, if you are misinformed about the costs of long-term health care in retirement, you might not be able to afford the kind of care you would like to have when wanting to stay alive.
When saving for retirement, it’s vital to think about the cost of long-term health care as you age. Unfortunately, those costs are vastly underestimated and are increasing each year, according to Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care Study.
The 2020 study marks the 17th year for the report. The national annual median cost of such care now ranges from $105,850 for a private room in a nursing home to $19,240 for adult day care services (based on five days per week per year).
The annual national median cost for an assisted living facility is $51,600 ($4,300 a month).
Year over year, the cost of receiving care continues to rise. Assisted living costs saw a whopping 6.15% increase in just the last year and a humongous 80% increase over the last 17 years.
In-home services, where the vast majority of Americans receive long-term care for a longer period of time, “only” saw a 2% rise last year and a 30% to 40% (depending on the type of in-home care) increase over the last 17 years.
Do You Know How Very Expensive Long-Term Health Care Is in Retirement?
Four out of five adults underestimate the cost of home health care, according to the Genworth survey.
“The data from our complementary study dramatically demonstrated the huge disparity between what consumers think costs are and what they actually are, which is why it’s so important for families to educate themselves about the costs and plan ahead for how they will pay for those costs before it’s too late,” said Tom McInerney, president and CEO of Genworth.
Costs Continue to Rise
While we don’t seem aware of what health care costs are now, the bad news is that these expenses are getting higher every year. In fact, Genworth predicts another 66% increase in assisted living costs over the next 10 years.
“Although the high cost of long-term care in America is considered the ‘new normal,’ it does not change the reality of what is certainly one of the biggest societal issues of our time: that at least 70% of Americans over age 65 will need some form of long-term care services and support during their lives,” said McInerney.
On the bright side, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute 2021 Retirement Confidence Survey, 70% of workers are somewhat confident in having enough money for a comfortable retirement. In addition, 30% of those surveyed said they were very confident. In 2018, only 17% of those surveyed said they felt very confident.
The survey suggests that this may be because more people have retirement plans compared with past years.
What Do You Do if You Can’t Afford Long-Term Health Care?
Are you worried about funding long-term care? There is reason for concern. Data suggests that someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years.
However, your actual costs will be dependent on the type of care you require and over what period of time. They may be greater or much lower than the medians cited above.
And, you won’t be turned out on the street if you can’t afford care. After you have used up existing assets, you can opt to receive Medicaid. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid will cover the costs of long-term care.
Other households rely on family members to provide the needed care, but this decision should not be taken lightly. Caregiving can take a tremendous toll on the health and wealth of the caregiver.
Options for Funding Future Long-Term Care
Saving enough for retirement expenses seems daunting for most of us. But when you add in the costs of long-term health care, the savings goals can seem insurmountable.
Options for covering care include:
- Purchase of a long-term care policy
- Purchase of a deferred lifetime income annuity to cover the cost of long-term health care
- Use of home equity to fund the costs of care
- Reliance on family members to provide the care
When planning, you might want to start by setting a goal: Do you want to be able to fund the kind of care you desire? Do you want to protect your assets so that they don’t get used up funding long-term health care? Are you okay with Medicaid or with whatever help your family can provide?
Not sure? Explore creative ways to fund long-term care.
Or, better yet, the NewRetirement Retirement Planner actually lets you model all of these scenarios so you can see the impact on your own retirement finances. This powerful tool will tell you if you can afford long-term care and enable you to compare different ways of funding these costs.
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