Tread carefully toward long-term care insurance

How do you handle a delicate and immensely important health topic like long-term care (LTC) without sounding a bit morose? Let’s give it a shot. Really, it’s part of a much larger concern for just about everyone – how do you preserve wealth and handle health insurance costs, including those of a nursing home, home health care or the like?

Retirement is a time when individuals generally feel that they’ve worked their entire lives to gain a position of relative comfort and a life free of the worries that once caused stress and anxiety. However, are those worries merely replaced by new ones about one’s ability to pay for retirement?  

Studies show that the cost of health care in retirement can cost upwards of $215,000, according to a recent study by Fidelity investments, for a couple retiring at age 65.

Those are just the out-of-pocket costs for health care, NOT including a nursing home. 

So you think, “I’m in good health, why do I even need to worry about it? I have money, and I know how to use it!”

Here’s the key:

Nursing homes are increasingly expensive, averaging about $6,250 per month, or $75,000 a year. That’s expected to more than triple over the next 25 to 30 years. Anyway you look at it, that’s a chunk of change and, guess what – the cost is going up at a rate faster than inflation. Little surprise there.

CNN and Money magazine’s financial Website said that “two out of every five Americans will need nursing home care at some point in their lives.” Also, over 4 million households have a caregiver who provides at least 40 hours of service a week, according to AARP.

Might you be receiving that care some day? John Hancock Insurance Co., one of the leaders in long-term care coverage, says that some of the conditions that typically require long-term care include MS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, heart disease, stroke, and head injuries.

Health insurance, and even Medicare, is not equipped to handle the high costs associated with long-term care. To get care, private pay or insurance work best.

So what do you do? There are lots of reasons to pay for your own long-term care and have insurance to help you pay for it.  Individuals buy LTC coverage for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is to protect the assets they’ve worked a lifetime to accumulate. It does, indeed, fill the void left after medical insurance plans have paid all they will.

If you’re an independent person now and want to preserve that independence, regardless of your age, this should be an important item in your overall planning. As retirement specialists, we come face-to-face with this as we help our clients plan for a successful retirement and address issues that could derail those plans. Whether it’s a nursing home, home-health services, adult day care, informal care, assisted living facilities, or alternative care facilities, it’s critical to plan for the possibility that you could need some or all of those some day.

Getting your very own LTC policy may help ease your mind and address one of the pressing needs of our generation.

Make sure you consider the following items:

• Maximum policy benefits – how long the policy will pay you.

• Elimination or waiting period – how long before you get benefits.

• Daily benefit amount – how much do you get. Cost of livingis a must!

Finally, make sure you work with a company that has lots of experience with LTC.

Integration and experience are keys. Don’t be fooled. Preserve your wealth.

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