Recently, the Special Committee on Aging examined the long-term care insurance industry. One of the current limitations this industry faces is how to manage the high cost of long-term care. The economic environment has presented baby-boomers, seniors, and individual states with significant financial planning challenges. Planning for future long-term care needs is often times lowest on the priority list.

When planning their financial future, many Americans include life insurance in their retirement portfolio, but overlook long-term care insurance. However, with the number of seniors requiring long-term care on the rise, many will be faced with the possibility of relying on someone else for daily care. These expenses could cause a person to quickly deplete their finances and become dependent on Medicaid. Personal planning, such as purchasing a long-term care insurance policy, offers a viable way to save assets and reduce a potentially large future financial burden.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about nine million Americans over the age of 65 are in need of long-term care. By 2020, that number will be close to 12 million. Presently, only about 10 percent of seniors have chosen to purchase long-term care insurance. To encourage more people to learn about long-term care, understand the costs involved, and plan for the possibility of needing the assistance, the federal government joined with states in the Long-Term Care Partnership Program which supports enhanced insurance products that use Medicaid as a form of re-insurance, strong asset protection for consumers, and as a result has led to the federal government and the states saving money.

Many Americans plan for their futures and every one of us ages every day. Making your own decisions on what is affordable for the short-term as well as the long-term when you are older is the only way you can guarantee you will receive the care you prefer, while also planning for the future needs and circumstances your family may one day have to face.

-- Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), the lead Republican on the Senate Special Committee on Aging