Toni King

Toni King

Dear Toni: My brother recently had to move out of his house into as assisted living facility because he broke his hip and is unable to live on his own. The monthly cost of the facility is about $4,500 and his adult children are having to help him financially.

Is it too late to buy him a Long-Term Care policy? He is 69 and except for his hip issue, his health is decent. Please advise what his options are. Thank you. — Leslie from Tyler, Texas

Leslie: Your brother is not in a good situation. Due to his health issues, he will most likely not qualify for a long-term care policy. And he will have to spend down his retirement and savings before Medicaid will assist in paying for his assisted-living/nursing-home care.

We are noticing more long-term care issues at the Toni Says office because many people are waiting until they are retiring and past age 65 to apply for a traditional long-term care policy. By then, the premium is often unaffordable for their retirement budget, or they cannot qualify due to health issues.

Americans need to know that the cost of long-term care is projected to rise, from an average nursing home cost of $115,000/year in 2023 to more than $155,000/year within 10 years, and to $207,000 in 20 years.

Assisted living costs less, with the 2023 average at $57,000/year, projected to rise to $77,000 for 2033, and to $103,000 in 20 years.

The insurance industry has designed new products for Americans who are concerned with long-term care.

Below are some long-term care options: — Traditional Long-Term Care Insurance: The younger you are, the lower the premiums will be. Look for a long-term care policy while you are younger and in good health.

  • Life and Annuity Policies: Many life/annuity insurance policies have a provision, or rider, for long-term care. You can receive a certain amount with your life/annuity policy’s face amount.
  • Aid and Attendance Benefits: The VA can help with long-term care needs. The government made billions available to qualified veterans or their survivors for long-term care. An amount is added to the monthly pension benefit. You need to have a long-term care issue to qualify. (Recently, I had my own mother qualified for this benefit. Currently a home-care aid is assisting in her daily care. Thank You to the VA for this great service for our veterans and their spouses.)
  • Medicaid: Check to see if you can qualify for Medicaid. One must “spend down” one’s assets to qualify. Not only that, but do not forget the 5-year income/asset look back period and “MERP” (the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program). The state can place a lien on the beneficiary’s estate for the amount of money the state paid for nursing home and medical care.
  • Over the next 10 years, 10,000 baby boomers per day will turn 65. Many of them feel they have enough in their 401(k) to pay for a catastrophic illness and therefore are not concerned with long-term care planning. They do not realize that in 20 years, when their health is failing, their savings, including 401(k) and other investments, could be wiped out because they failed to plan. Planning for long-term care is best done sooner rather than later.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. She spent more than 27 years as a top sales leader in the field. For a Medicare or long-term care checkup, email: or call 832-519-8664. You can now visit to listen to her Medicare Moments podcasts and get other information for boomers/seniors.

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