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Afraid of Going Broke in Your Golden Years? Plan for Long Term Care Today
The baby boomer generation is heading into choppy and uncharted waters when it comes to their long-term care needs. By 2020, nearly 55 million Americans will be 65 or older, and life expectancies continue to rise. In recent years, analysts have noted the impact of elder care on the so-called “sandwich generation” – adults who were responsible for their aging parents as well as their own children. With longer lifespans, the sandwich generation of the future could well be people in their 60s caring for parents in their 90s, or adults in their working years helping two generations above. ‘them. With the looming prospect of serious long-term care needs, it is essential that individuals and families take their personal financial planning seriously and have a plan in place to pay for a long-term care event.
For many families, long term care insurance (LTCI) can make all the difference. LTCI coverage directly addresses the care expenses of the elderly or disabled, in the environment that best suits their wants and needs. Whether it’s your home, an assisted living facility, or a retirement home, LTCI benefits supplement other income and assets to minimize the impact of these expenses.
Customer Study: LTCI Protects 97-Year-Old Great-Grandmother’s Care
Ruth is a 97-year-old great-grandmother who bought an LTCI policy 18 years ago at the urging of her son. Three years ago, still living independently, she recognized that she needed help with her activities of daily living and moved into an assisted living facility using her LTCI benefits.
Last year, she was diagnosed with dementia. She was moved to the facility’s dementia unit, where she receives 24-hour care and continues to receive LTCI benefits. The current cost of his care is $6,900 per month. Her LTCI benefit pays $150 a day, or $4,500 a month, or about 65% of her LTC costs. The remaining $2,400 is drawn monthly from his Social Security benefits and savings.
Assuming she continues to collect benefits, she will have received $216,000 when she completes her four-year benefit period. Now on waiver of premium, Ruth has paid a total of $48,900 in premiums since the policy’s inception. Her LTCI policy allowed her to pay for her care without depleting her savings and continuing on Medicaid.
Is LTCI a good option for you or your family?
Here are some considerations that should be part of your discussion:
Learn about the realities of long-term care. Ready for sticker clash? The average cost of a private room in a nursing home now exceeds $90,000 per year, and the average stay in a nursing home lasts nearly three years. Government insurance programs other than Medicaid do not address long-term care issues.
Plan ahead – far in advance. LTCI premiums are more affordable when individuals enroll while still relatively young and healthy. LTCI buyers in their 40s and 50s can pay thousands less a year than older buyers, and few companies will write policies for people over 75. Health and family history will also impact the cost of premiums and the availability of coverage.
Take care of mom. Most of us know that women tend to live longer than men. Industry statistics show that 71% of new applications come from women. As a result, women’s premiums for LTCI are generally higher than men’s (unlike life insurance, where women generally pay lower premiums). However, the investment is worth it considering the greater potential expense they face. As mentioned above, buying LTCI at a relatively young age can help reduce premiums.
Customize a plan based on your needs. LTCI products are available to meet very specific priorities. Choices abound in terms of amount of coverage, deductibles (commonly known as waiting periods for eligibility), options for increasing benefits that take inflation into account, and specialized shared plans for couples. Insurance advisors often design combination plans with annuities or life insurance, taking advantage of tax laws for traditional and asset-based plans. These tax benefits may include tax-free LTC benefits and/or a tax-free 1035 exchange for asset-based life insurance/annuity plans with an LTC rider.
Obviously, experienced advice is essential to take these factors into account. Buyers should seek out insurance professionals with a strong background in LTCI who can fully outline a plan’s benefits and limitations. It makes sense to consult experts in your community; costs can vary widely by geography and these experts will have the best access to accurate and relevant information.
We all have to deal with the real changes that come with age and think about how best to protect our property and our families. For those with the foresight, ability and commitment to establish this protection, LTCI is a proven strategy that works.
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