You’ve probably heard lots of statistics about long-term care insurance – enough to make you want to tune out the next person who asks you, “Have you thought about…?”
I get it. The information is overwhelming, the future seems a little scary, and we all have that voice inside of us that says, “It could never happen to me.”
Until you’ve seen the effects of not having long-term care (LTC) insurance in your own family…it just doesn’t sink in. That’s why my experience with my own family has given me a first-hand glimpse of how important it can be.
First of all, one thing you need to know about me is how important family is in general. I never pass up an opportunity to visit and spend time with the people I love – even if it means taking a trip out of state for a weekend.
Because of that, I have witnessed a couple of situations with grandparents - both mine and my husband’s - where LTC could have been helpful. In both scenarios a family member took on the responsibility of care-taking.
One instance led to my husband’s grandmother having to be moved into an assisted-living facility once her dementia got to a point where professional care was needed. The other instance was my grandfather who was fortunate the have been able to stay in his home before he passed away with my grandmother being his sole caretaker.
In my examples, both caretakers happen to be women. One was a wife and one was a daughter since she was the only child. Both women took care of our grandparents for over a decade in their homes and both women spent their early retirement years caring for a loved one.
They chose to care for their loved ones because they felt that’s what you do for family and they could. They chose to be caregivers because the alternative of placing a loved one in an assisted living facility was unbearable for either of them to imagine.
I can tell you that neither my grandmother or mother-in-law imagined things would become as bad as they did for either of the loved ones they were caring for. They both did wonderful jobs of caring for our loved ones, but this did not come without very sad and tough times.
Times are Different Now
Back when our grandparents and in some cases, parents would have had someone discuss long-term care policies with them, there was only one type of policy. Today there are more options for long-term care policies and professionals who can help individuals and families decide what plan fits their situation.
This topic should be a part of every individual’s financial plan. And here’s why:
About half of 65-year-olds today will eventually develop a disability and require some long-term care services, according to a study revised in 2016 by the Urban Institute and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Most will need services for less than two years, but about 14% will require care for more than five years.
Regular health insurance doesn’t cover long-term care. And Medicare won’t come to the rescue, either; it covers only short nursing home stays or limited amounts of home health care when you require skilled nursing or rehab. It does not pay for custodial care, which includes supervision and help with day-to-day tasks.
If you don’t have insurance to cover long-term care, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. You can get help through Medicaid, the federal and state health insurance program for those with low incomes, but only after you’ve exhausted most of your savings.
It’s important to keep in mind that health plays a big part in being approved for long-term care policies. Not only that, but the younger you are the more likely you are to be in good health and could be eligible for lower premiums. Personally, I’d like to see more people in their 30’s having a plan for long-term care and for those in their 40’s, I think long term care should be at the top of the list to complete, if it’s not already part of your financial plan.
Melissa Thompson is an Investment Advisor Representative holding a ChFC® designation in the Castle Rock, CO and Denver, CO areas who focuses on educating individuals and small businesses about the importance of protecting and growing their financial assets. “My preliminary meeting process is a chance for us to talk about where you are and where you’d like to go. You’ll have the opportunity to make sure that my services fit your unique needs before you commit to moving forward. I look forward to creating life-long relationships with my clients and taking the fear out of financial planning.”