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Life Health > Long-Term Care Planning

LTC costs exceed many Californians' income

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Seniors in Los Angeles County face home-care services $319 in excess of their median annual income. With other basic expenses taken into account, an LA senior living alone would need twice the median income of $17,029 to survive, according to a new study by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

In each of California’s 58 counties, long term care is unattainable for many of the state’s most vulnerable citizens: disabled seniors living alone. In 33 counties (57 percent of all California counties), the cost of long term care for elderly single women, who as a group are more likely than men to require long term care, exceeds the median income for single Californians aged 65 or older.

Making matters worse, due to California’s financial crisis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has recently proposed the elimination of Medi-Cal-funded, in-home support services for up to 400,000 seniors.

“When getting help at home costs a year’s income, something’s wrong,” said Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the Center for Health Policy Research. The study estimates long term care costs in each county using the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, which measures the actual costs of basic necessities for seniors. The Elder Index is currently being considered by the state legislature as a planning tool for state programs.

Researchers created a table in which costs are paired with median income, which includes Social Security, pensions and other income for senior Californians living alone. The table, which can be sorted, is available on the Web sites of the Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center. Currently, some 973,000 California seniors live alone, 50 percent of which lack the income to meet basic expenses.


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