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Patients Unprepared for Out-of-Pocket Costs for Long-Term Care

Most patients aren't saving up for long-term care, despite the high out-of-pocket costs associated with the facilities.

out of pocket costs long-term care

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Patients underestimate the financial responsibility associated with beginning long-term care, with many leaving themselves unprepared for the high out-of-pocket costs at long-term care facilities, according to a recent survey from Moll Law Group.

The survey of 2,000 patients and family caregivers found that patients vastly underestimate their potential need for long-term care. On average, about 70 percent of all patients wind up needing long-term care. However, only 46 percent of patients predicted they may end up needing long-term care, the survey showed.

Patient respondents also inaccurately estimated when they might need to begin long-term care. Most survey respondents guessed they might begin long-term care at age 79, while the national average for beginning this type of treatment is 73.

According to Moll Law Group, this gap of 6 years’ worth of treatment can run up an extremely high bill that patients should be preparing for.

After all, long-term care can be extremely costly, although most of the patients surveyed were unaware of the true costs of long-term care.

The average respondent estimate for long-term care costs was $25,350. In reality, long-term care costs an average of $47,000 or more, depending on the facility of choice.

Assisted living facilities cost $45,000, while semi-private nursing homes cost $85,775 and private nursing homes cost just shy of $100,000.

And yet 64 percent of respondents have nothing saved for long-term care. Sixty-seven percent said they are not in a financial position to saving money for this purpose.

When patients do contribute savings for long-term care, it totals an average of $657 each month.

Cost of care came in as one of the biggest concerns for patients and family caregivers when discussing a move to a long-term care facility, the survey revealed. For 41 percent of family caregiver respondents, the cost of long-term care ended up being greater than originally anticipated.

Aside from the financial issues tied to long-term care decisions, patients and family members struggle with the overall decision to enter long-term care, the survey revealed. Long-term care can be a sensitive topic between patients and family caregivers, especially when caregivers include adult children or adult grandchildren.

Long-term care can represent a loss of independence for patients in addition to a financial hurdle most insurance models do not reimburse for fully. Some patients may feel like a burden to their family caregivers, while family members may feel guilt about their loved one beginning long-term care.

As a result, many patients and family members don’t discuss this care option. Only 33 percent of respondents said they had discussed long-term care before beginning treatment. The move to long-term care was unexpected for 48 percent of respondents.

Family caregivers also have concerns outside of care costs, including the quality of care received. Seventy-three percent of family caregivers said they had fears that their loved one would be abused in some way in a long-term care facility.

The transition to long-term care requires ample preparation on the part of both patients and family caregivers. Emotional preparation is essential for driving patient and family satisfaction and promoting emotional and mental health.

Additionally, advanced discussions about long-term care de-stigmatizes the subject and allows patients and family members to begin their financial preparations.

When a patient and her family caregivers anticipate considerable spending on long-term care options and have come to terms with that fact, they may be more likely to make the investments in that future need.

“The truth is that discussing long-term care is a hard and uncomfortable conversation, one that most people do not have,” the survey report concluded. “By putting the forethought into what kind of future and quality of life you and your loved ones want, Americans can lessen the stress and feel more prepared for the curveballs life is known to thrown.”

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