When it comes to planning for retirement, there are all kinds of planners. There are those who have planned their retirement down to a t, there are those who haven’t planned anything, but keep reassuring themselves that it will get done this year, and there are those who have a pretty good general idea of how their retirement will go. In truth, though, there are certain things that are impossible to plan for no matter how meticulous you are, and a sudden health care emergency in retirement is one of them.
Finding Peace of Mind
Sudden health care in retirement is not just emotionally upsetting, but can take a huge financial toll, too, which is why we recommend Long Term Care Insurance. Long Term Care Insurance helps people establish a plan for the rising cost of long term care by providing benefits while shielding assets from the increasingly expensive costs. No one likes to think about themselves as ill, disabled, or fragile, but doing so can help tremendously in the long run.
We recently heard from a client who is about to begin the claims process for her husband’s Long Term Care Insurance policy. The couple lives in Wyoming and about 5 years ago, when the husband John was 69 years old, they decided it was time to look into plans. They have three daughters and like many parents, were afraid of potentially burdening their children with care giving duties later down the road. So rather than simply accept the uncertainty of their retirement plans, John and his wife made the choice to take action, protect their assets, and give themselves a separate pool of money for long term care. That choice paid off.
Earlier this year, the couple was taking care of their grandchildren when John was found on the floor, unable to move. After being taken to the hospital by an ambulance, it was discovered that he had suffered a stroke. He can talk and think normally, but is totally paralyzed on his left side, leaving him in a wheelchair some of the time and needing assistance the rest. This type of news is devastating news for anyone to hear, but because of the policy they bought, that news didn’t bring with it the overwhelming fear of depleting their assets. The Long Term Care Insurance policy is providing them with the peace of mind when it comes to finances, so they don’t have to worry much about the cost of care, they simply have to focus on each other and helping John recover.
Plan for Reality
John was fortunate in one way: the first 100 days of his care in a nursing home will be covered by Medicare because he had a qualifying hospital stay. The same can’t be said for every one in long term care, a topic that is still contentious among policymakers. After Medicare coverage runs out, he will be moving back into his home to receive care from a home health aide and his benefits will cover the bulk of the cost. If they hadn’t thought to buy their policy a mere 5 years ago, it’s hard to say the dilemma John and his wife would be facing now, but there’s no question that it would be a difficult one. Though they have some assets saved, it likely isn’t enough to cover the cost of care for years without spending money that was designated for other expenses.
Buying a Long Term Care Insurance policy doesn’t mean you are planning for poor health. On the contrary, most people who purchase a policy are actually more health conscious than the non-insurance buying population (which makes sense, considering health is a qualifier for buying). Buying a policy does mean acknowledging the fact that poor health can happen at any time, especially as you age. John wasn’t given any warning of his stroke: he was healthy one day and in the hospital the next. He now needs care for an unknown period of time. With situations like that, we usually aren’t given advanced notice that allows us to plan, which is why creating your own plan early on is essential.
John isn’t alone in his scenario, not by a long shot. Strokes are a leading cause of long term care, affecting more than 795,000 people across the nation every year and ranking as the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease, the number one killer, has the same risk factors of stroke and also poses the risk of needing care, but recognizing your risk factors can help you reduce your risk. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are the major risk factors for both stroke and heart disease, meaning if you can reduce any of these influencing factors, the sooner you do it, the better. Even so, as we age, our chances of a heart attack, stroke, or any other medical emergency jump quite substantially, which is where a backup plan comes into play.
Looking at Policies
Long Term Care Insurance has helped millions of Americans protect their assets in retirement and sleep soundly at night knowing their money isn’t at risk of being spent on care. The industry pays out more than $7 billion in claims to more than 200,000 individuals like John every year.
If you are in the midst of retirement planning and haven’t yet created a strategy for long term care, request a free quote today and we will help guide you through your different options and provide an objective comparison of the top Long Term Care Insurance providers. If you aren’t ready for a quote but would like to learn more about Long Term Care Insurance, click here.