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Long-term care: Central issues, considerations and solutions

Readers dealing with long-term care issues relating to a family member might take some solace in knowing that they are far from alone in the concerns they might be harboring regarding current costs and future outlays. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 10 million persons in the United States need long-term services. About half of those are age 65 or older, with the other half being younger and suffering some type of disability.

Given the cost of medical care in the country, the question virtually asks itself: How can an individual or family help to ensure that a loved one will be able to always receive adequate and respectful care? What type of care planning will bring about that result, and how does a family even begin to start the process?

How long-term care services are paid for has been, states one media commentator on the subject, "a thorny issue for patients, families and federal and state policymakers for decades." For some families, red tape predominates, and there are mountains of forms to deal with.

In fact, the Obama administration has called for a special commission to examine long-term care and make recommendations to Congress, but the15-member panel has yet to be finalized. When it is, members will be confronted by a daunting array of complexities, including funding duties spread across municipal, state and federal agencies, as well as troublesome questions regarding the ability of Medicare and Medicaid to play strong ongoing roles in the area of skilled nursing care.

Long-term care planning encompasses a cluster of issues centering around finances, health care decisions, living arrangements and estate distribution. An experienced estate planning and elder law attorney can be a strong resource for identifying relevant concerns, protecting assets and helping a family fully promote the best interests of an aged or disabled loved one.

Source: ModernHealthcare.com, "Long-term tab," Jessica Zigmond, March 9, 2013

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