Long Term Care in Georgia: Who Pays?
States across the nation are taking a long, hard look at their long term care systems in an attempt to reduce costs and improve quality of care for patients. A recent article in the Columbia County News-Times discusses the prevalence of long term care in Georgia and how the typical form of payment affects the state.
Cost of Long Term Care
Like the majority of Americans, Georgians simply aren’t prepared for the health expenses that come along with retirement, long term care being the most costly of them all. The costs are almost unbelievable at an average of $181 per day for care in a Georgia nursing home. Despite this, people still aren’t putting the effort into planning ahead and allocating funds for long term care. Instead, many believe they will be able to rely on the government to pay for their care when the time comes.
Medicaid, the social insurance program designated for those with extremely low or no income, currently covers about 40% of all long term costs in the United States every year. Though the program was originally intended for the poor, the article points out that its use has expanded in recent years beyond the intended recipients.
Only 3.5% of Georgians over the age of 40 have long term care insurance, compared to the national average of 4.5%. Of course, many people don’t purchase a long term care insurance plan until they are in their 50s or 60s, but even among seniors, only about 10% have private insurance. Too many people either incorrectly assume Medicare will cover the costs or plan to use Medicaid to their benefit, despite their financial status.
A growing trend in Georgia and across the country involves wealthier individuals or couples with a substantial amount of assets who hire lawyers to help them find ways to circumvent the Medicaid eligibility laws. People who otherwise have plenty of financial wherewithal are taking advantage of the system in place because the eligibility requirements are so lenient. A program created to help the neediest in society is now serving the needs of the wealthy, an occurrence that can’t last very long.
Medicaid spending in Georgia totaled $1 billion, 76% of which was spent on nursing home care. Another 13% went to home care services. Currently, Medicaid recipients make up 72% of occupied nursing home beds in Georgia and as the population continues to age and Baby Boomers enter retirement, the number of people needing long term care is only going to rise.
Eventually, Medicaid will be unsustainable and the system will no longer be able to support the number of people using the services. Researchers at UC Berkeley made a similar prediction when they found that the trends of California’s state Medicaid spending mean state expenditures will nearly double over the next decade and warned that individuals need to start planning how to pay for care themselves.
Plan for Yourself
Long term care insurance can help you prepare for the costs that may otherwise be devastating to your retirement portfolio. Read more about planning for the risk of long term care or fill out this form and we will send you a side-by-side comparison of the top long term care insurance policies at no cost.