If you’re planning for retirement, you’ve probably heard about long-term care and the need to plan for it. It’s a common need for retirees. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that today’s 65-year-olds have a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care at some point in their lives.1 The average senior will need care for three years.
But what exactly is long-term care? How is it provided? And what kind of health issues cause a need for long-term care? Long-term care is a broad term that applies to a variety of services. It’s difficult to plan for something when you don’t know exactly what it will look like or how much it will cost.
Long-term care is generally defined as extended assistance with basic living activities, like mobility, bathing, eating, household chores and more. It can be provided in the home or in a facility. It’s often caused by cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s but can also be needed as a result of stroke, cancer, heart disease, joint issues and a wide range of other conditions.
You can’t predict what kind of health issues you’ll face in the future, but you can plan for potential costs. Below are three common ways in which long-term care is administered. A financial professional can help you develop a strategy to pay for your future care needs.
For many seniors, long-term care is progressive. It often starts with support for simple tasks like meal preparation, cleaning or running errands. As health issues become more intense, they need more hands-on assistance with things like mobility or bathing.
You may be able to count on a family member or friend for help in the early stages of care. However, family-based care usually doesn’t last forever. At some point, your care needs may progress to a level that is beyond your family’s capability. For instance, you may reach a point where your spouse can no longer transfer you from a bed to a wheelchair. Or you may need round-the-clock support and that may be too much for your family to provide.
While these thoughts aren’t pleasant, they’re a reality for many seniors. According to projections, it’s likely that most seniors will need paid, professional care at some point. Even if your family is able to help, don’t count on that low-cost assistance to meet all your needs.
Even if your needs have progressed beyond what your family can provide, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to move into a facility. You may be able to stay in your home and get the care you need, especially if you’ve developed a strategy to pay for care.
For example, you could modify your home to accommodate health equipment such as a bed, a wheelchair or even grab bars. You might be able to hire an in-home health aide to provide custodial care and possibly even skilled nursing.
Genworth estimates that a full-time in-home health aide costs an average of $4,195 per month.2 Most long-term care insurance policies cover home care, even if it’s provided by a family member. Many policies also cover home modifications and equipment.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 35 percent of all seniors spend at least a year in a nursing or assisted living facility at some point.1 You may need skilled nursing as the result of a specific injury or illness. Or you may decide to move into an assisted living facility, so you have full-time support available.
Either way, your facility care is likely to be a costly proposition. Genworth estimates that the average room in an assisted living facility cost $4,000 per month in 2018. A room in a nursing home cost more than $7,000.2
It’s possible that these costs will be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, but that’s not usually the case. Medicare only covers skilled nursing that’s related to a specific hospitalization. Even if you qualify for Medicare, the coverage typically lasts only several months. Medicaid only covers nursing home care if you have few assets and little income. You may want to think about alternatives to Medicare, like long-term care insurance, to pay for your stay in a facility.
Do you have a strategy to pay for long-term care? If not, let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Retirement Peace Project. We can help you develop a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.
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Thinking of buying long-term care insurance? That could be a smart decision. Long-term care is likely to be a reality for many retirees. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70 percent of today’s 65-year-olds will need long-term care at some point in their lives.1
Long-term care could deplete your retirement assets. Many people need long-term care for several years. While care can be provided either in a facility or in the home, both types usually cost thousands of dollars per month. That type of cost can quickly add up.
Long-term care insurance can help cover some or all of the cost, depending on your type of policy. You pay premiums today in exchange for protection in the future. Not all policies are the same, though. There are many different types, and each has its own set of costs and benefits.
Many policies also offer optional riders. These are benefits you can add to your policy for an extra charge. The extra benefits may provide unique protection or fill a specific need. Below are three of the most commonly used riders. Before you buy your policy, consider your needs and which riders may best help you meet your objectives.
If you’re married, a spousal benefit rider could be an important feature. Most long-term care policies have lifetime caps on coverage. These are sometimes expressed as a benefit dollar amount, but other policies have a maximum number of months they will cover.
The spousal benefit combines the maximums of each spouse into one pool. That way, either spouse can use the benefit as needed. Some policies will even increase the maximum coverage to accommodate both people. This benefit can increase the cost of the policy, but it can also provide a valuable level of protection.
Return of Premium
One of the biggest concerns many people have about long-term care insurance is the risk that the policy will never be used. Of course, not using the policy means you didn’t need long-term care, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, you may not feel great about paying premiums for years only to never put the policy to use.
Some policies offer return-of-premium riders. These riders vary by policy, but they essentially return a portion of your unused coverage to your beneficiaries upon your death. Some companies will package this benefit as a life insurance hybrid. These riders are appealing, especially for those who want to leave a legacy. However, the rider can also significantly increase the cost of the policy.
This may be one of the most important riders available. Health care costs are rising all the time. Long-term care costs are no exception. It’s possible that you could buy your policy and then not use it for years. Costs could rise over that time, reducing the impact of your coverage. Inflation protection riders increase your benefit each year to keep up with rising costs. The rider may increase your premium, but it may be worth the extra cost.
Ready to find the right long-term care plan for your needs? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Retirement Peace Project. We can help you develop the right strategy for your goals and your budget. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.