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Should You Consider Purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance?

Seth Jentner05/22/2013

Let me give you a few thoughts on long-term care insurance as a professional who does not sell insurance but who is in the business of helping people develop sound strategies for secure retirements. People use their retirement income for what they value the most:  family, friends, personal independence and dignity.

People need long-term care when a chronic condition limits their ability to carry out basic self-care tasks, such as bathing, dressing or eating. Long-term care involves the most intimate aspects of people’s lives—what and when they eat, personal hygiene, getting dressed, using the bathroom and more. Long-term care differs from other types of health care in that the goal is not to cure an illness but to help people maintain an optimal level of independence and dignity.

The lifetime probability of needing daily assistance is 68% for people age 65 and older. That is not 100% probability, but it is higher than 50%.

Over three-quarters of adults in need of long-term care depend on family and friends as their only source of help. Relying solely on family members often results in great strain for the family caregivers.

Even if only one spouse needs daily assistance, two things can happen:

The healthy spouse can become severely burdened (even ill) with care-giving responsibilities.

If professional assistance is needed (even at home on a part-time basis), the financial impact can be severe.

The cost of living for a couple in this situation can easily increase by 50 to 100% each month. Unless you have a great deal of resources, this can rapidly deplete your assets and force you into a financially compromised situation.

Insurance is typically used to pay for potential costs you cannot afford to pay yourself. By working with a qualified, independent long-term care insurance agent, you can develop a plan that will help you protect your independence and dignity.  It is typically much easier to budget in a long-term care insurance premium than attempting to budget in the potentially enormous cost of providing home-based assisted-living care, let alone nursing-home care.

Unfortunately, many people have come to expect the government to take care of them through Medicaid and Medicare. However, financial reality limits these benefits.

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