Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Statistics show that between 30 and 40 percent of those age 65 and older will need some form of long-term care but only 13 percent actually purchase insurance against those costs, according to the Center for Retirement Research.

The study said there are various ways of estimating likelihood of need for care, with one study putting the figure at 27 percent for men and 44 percent for women, and two other studies each putting the figures at 44 and 58 percent, respectively.

Those projections also differ somewhat in how long such care will last, ranging from under one year to 1.3 years for men on average and from 1.4 to 2 years for women.

What’s not in dispute, it said, is that paying for long-term care costs out of pocket is expensive. It said the average annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is more than $81,000, while home health care averages $21 an hour.

“Medicare – the health insurance program for the elderly – provides only limited coverage, while Medicaid only covers the long-term care costs of the indigent. Despite the substantial financial risk, few single individuals over 65 buy long-term care insurance – a behavior sometimes called the long-term care insurance puzzle,” it said.