Focus on Family – November is LTC Awareness Month
November is also Long-Term Care Awareness Month – a time for people to analyze their current financial situations, prepare for the future and protect themselves and their loved ones should a sickness or disability occur. And the best way to ensure that everything you have worked for and saved will be protected is with long-term care insurance.
According to the National Medicare Handbook from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (2012), there are approximately 80 million baby boomers living in the United States today. Their research shows that at least 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need long term care services at some point in their lifetime. And while most people think of long term care as impacting only those in senior years, 40 percent of people currently receiving long term care services are ages 18 to 64. However, due to medical advancements and increased awareness on fitness and health, we are now living longer -- someone celebrating their 80th or even 90th birthday is not that uncommon. So with people living longer, their chances of needing long term care also increases.
“It does not pay to wait to buy LTC insurance,” claims Linda Tsironis Caruthers, CSA, LTCP of Long-Term Care Consultants, Inc. “Each year that passes, the cost of care goes up, making new policies more expensive. The premiums just get higher the older you get.”
For those unfamiliar with the term, “long-term care” is the kind of help a person needs if you or a loved one is unable to care for yourself due to a lengthy illness or disability (extended care). It refers to care provided in a nursing home, at home, or in an assisted living facility. And services can range from help with routine daily living activities like eating and dressing, to 24-hour care by a skilled medical professional.
But the big question is…who pays for long-term care? The government? Your major medical insurance? You? Well, the answer is you. While many people believe the government will take care of their long-term care expenses, the fact is the government will not. Medicaid is a federally and state-funded program, but for those who live at or below the poverty level. I’m guessing that’s not you. And both Medicare and major medical were only designed to cover acute illnesses like hospital stays and doctors’ visits, not long-term care.
According to a 2012 Genworth Financial Survey, nursing home care is running around $81,000 annually, with the national average being $247 per day. Plus, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that long-term care costs are increasing at a rate of 5.6% per year. So how does the average person afford this? The answer is long-term care insurance.
A typical response that most people think about insurance is: “Why should I buy something I may never use?” However, if you think about it, most people never file a claim on their homeowners, auto or life insurance policies, but you still purchase coverage for those. Besides, needing long-term care places an enormous emotional and financial strain on you and your loved ones – so, by incorporating long-term care insurance into your financial plan, it can help you protect your assets, reduce the burden of care on family members and provide resources for the type of care you require or prefer.
Many insurance carriers are offering long-term care insurance, which will protect you and your assets should you face a long-term care need. Policies can be customized and have different features and benefits that you can tailor to meet your individual needs. With so many choices and variables to consider and several plans available, it’s nearly impossible to make an educated decision without the advice of a qualified long-term care expert.
“I understand that planning for the future can be difficult,” states industry expert, Caruthers. “But what is clear is that you can’t afford to not consider the future. After all you’ve worked for; you deserve time for yourself, without the concern for the future. Protect your future with long-term care insurance, and stress a little less about what can happen - if you’ve prepared for it when it does.”
If you would like to make an appointment to speak with Linda Tsironis Caruthers about setting up a long-term care policy for you or a loved one, or if you would like more information about the growing need and costs of long-term care, please call 804-272-5827 or email at Linda@ltccinc.com.
Linda Tsironis Caruthers