There are three guarantees in life…..death, taxes….and caring for the elderly.
The ‘long-term care insurance’ discussion is being avoided by many individuals who, in fact, would be prime candidates to secure this insurance sooner than they think they should.
With 60 being the new 50, people are working longer and many middle-aged people are taking on physical challenges that their children wouldn’t even attempt much less their own parents at the same age, thus deferring the reality that they need to plan for their elder years.
Believe it or not, the longer you live the greater the likelihood of needing long-term care health assistance. Understanding the statistics and looking at your own parents’ and grandparents’ aging situation is a good indicator of how your future may look.
Being an advisor for almost 30 years, I have, unfortunately, witnessed my clients’ health become compromised at a time when it was not expected. Waiting to make plans under these circumstances is simply not planning. When planning your care needs for the future, you have to consider whether you have family or friends that will physically be there to assist you with your daily needs. The idea of aging parents living with their children due to loss of independence is very rare in today’s environment because of career obligations and raising children; more so if he/she is an only child or single parent. Moving a parent/grandparent away from their daily environment, friends, doctors, and community services can further exacerbate a declining condition.
We wouldn’t hesitate to maintain insurance on our home for decades in case of fire, but the odds of your house succumbing to fire is far less than the probability you will need long-term care assistance at some point.
I have personally served as an advocate for clients who have had to obtain the services of a long-term care provider. They vary in age and degree of health care needs, from periodic in-home visits to full time assisted living or nursing home care. Some of the more common occurrences that demand this care have been multiple sclerosis, strokes, automobile accidents, and cognitive impairment. Having long-term health care coverage provided these clients with the personal freedom of choice of services along with protecting assets that were earmarked for other obligations.
It’s not easy to imagine that 20 years after paying off your home you are suddenly faced with monthly costs in the amount of $6,000 just to maintain a reasonable lifestyle due to requiring assisted living or nursing home care. Most people do not budget for these retirement costs. The costs of these services have increased over the last 10 years and faster than the cost of living. The demand for assisted living and nursing home care has increased substantially and will continue as the Baby Boomer population continues to age.
The idea behind long-term care insurance is to reduce your risk of spending down your assets that were designated for you and your spouse or heirs. More importantly, those that do not have LTC insurance could be forced to liquidate their assets to pay for these costs or be unable to afford their ideal lifestyle. Another primary consideration is to have peace of mind about the type of care you want and where you wish to live during this time. These important decisions should be informed and made while you are in the prime of your life.
If you are in your 50s and in good health, I would advise you to at least start asking questions about your personal planning. Insurance companies are now rejecting many applications due to documented health-related issues that were previously acceptable. They are requiring the same testing one would have for life insurance. What this indicates is the demand for long-term care insurance is increasing and the insurance companies are all too aware of the future claims that they will be paying. Choosing the insurance provider is an equally important part of securing long-term care insurance as it relates to that provider’s ability to pay claims, fairly price premiums, and provide advocacy for those who are in need of services. Working with a financial planning professional who has experience in this area, provides independent research, and can act as an advocate when loved ones aren’t around is helpful to everyone involved.
Waiting until you have a compromising health problem generally is when you start to ponder the need for long-term care insurance – unfortunately, underwriting requirements are far more stringent and the risk of rejection is greater than it used to be.
The Legacy Foundation has been helping members of the university community explore the options available through various policy riders along with providing education on how to customize their policy in order to control premium costs.
Riders are additional guarantee options that are available to an insurance contract holder. While some riders are part of an existing contract, many others may carry additional fees, charges and restrictions, and the policy holder should review their contract carefully before purchasing. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.