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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seven Essentials of Long Term Care Planning - Part 1 of 7

Knowing Your Risk

Deciding whether or not to purchase long term care insurance is a personal decision... one that shouldn't be taken lightly.  Knowing the facts will help you make an intelligent choice.  Some questions to ask yourself are:
  • How likely are you to need long term care?
  • What you be placing at risk if you need long term care (assets, dignity, legacy)?
  • Can afford long term care insurance?
Let's look at your odds...   According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "At least 70% of people over age 65 will require some long term care services at some point in their lives".  In fact, the same study reveals that once you reach age 65, 3 out of 4 Americans will need long term care.

Former first lady, Rosalyn Carter stated:  "There are four kinds of people in the world:
  • Those who have been caregivers
  • Those who currently are caregivers
  • Those who will be caregivers
  • And those who will need caregivers."
That being said, long term care needs do not strictly affect our aging population, 40% of people needing long term care are between the ages of 18 and 64 and have been debilitated due to accidents, disease (Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, etc.) stroke or other causes. 

The odds are VERY GOOD that you will need some form of long term care in your lifetime.  So the question isn't really... will you need it?  The questions are really... who will provide it, where will you receive it and how will you fund it?

Contrary to popular belief, private insurance, group medical plans and Medicare pay very little of the long term care costs generated in this country.  These insurance plans will cover SOME costs while you are recovering from an illness or an injury.  If you stop recovering or you reach your maximum limit on that particular type of care -- they stop paying.  And these insurance plans DO NOT COVER custodial care which is the main type of long term care that you will need.  Custodial care provides help with the normal activities of daily living:
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Bathing
  • Using the Restroom Independently
  • Transferring (Moving About)
In addition, what about the costs associated with maintaining your living space -- house cleaning.  Medical plans do not pay for that either but you can't live in a filthy environment.  So what are your options for getting this type of care -- Custodial Care?
  • In Home Care-Giver ($15-$25 per hour)
  • Assisted Living Facility ($1500-$4500 per month)
  • Group Home ($80-$120 per day)
  • Nursing Home ($180 - $220 per day)
You're talking about $30,000 - $80,000 per year with the average stay being 2.29 years for a total cost that could exceed $183,000 just for ONE person.  Studies have shown that this cost is expected to DOUBLE in the next 10 years (by 2021).  

Given these statistics... what will happen to your lifetime of savings and investments when the need arises?  I think you know... long term care insurance is a viable option to protect your retirement portfolio.

Stay tuned for Part 2 which asks the question... Who will care for you and more importantly how will it affect both them and you?

Content derived in part from http://www.3in4needmore.com/ltccoststudy.pdf.