There are few certainties in life. Yet one thing is increasingly clear: as you age, the likelihood that you or a family member will need long-term care increases.
And most people have three options to pay for long-term care, and many of us can’t rely on two of them. And if you do, you could end up in a tough spot.
The Need for Long-Term Care is Increasingly Likely
Planning for long-term care is unavoidable. Life expectancy continues to rise and the probability that we, or our loved ones, will need long-term care is increasingly likely. So understanding the three primary options for financing long-term care (Long-Term Care Insurance, Personal Savings and Medicaid) and their distinct challenges and considerations is important.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance is designed to offset the cost of long-term care. However, it’s important to remember that these policies assist in covering the expenses. So, think of them as a helping hand, not a solution.
They have caps and, as we all know, insurance companies do their best to resist paying out claims. That’s because insurance companies are businesses, and their bottom line depends on the balance between the premiums they take in and the benefits they pay out.
The world of long-term care insurance has changed over the years, and not for the better. Fewer insurers offer these policies, and the policies that are available can be restrictive and potentially costly. And don’t forget, like other forms of health insurance, your eligibility and premiums are influenced by your age and health.
So, if you go this route, the sooner you start shopping, the better.
Using personal savings to fund long-term care is common. But the cost of long-term care can rapidly deplete a nest egg. In Florida, the average monthly cost for a semi-private nursing home room is around $8,500, and this cost will continue to grow.
If you have a spouse or partner, and they are in good health, the financial strain of long-term care could leave them in a precarious situation. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your finances, potential care needs, and how these two components intersect before deciding to rely solely on personal savings. Because the last thing you want is for your spouse or partner to have to impoverish themselves to make sure that you get sufficient long-term care.
Finally, Medicaid can help cover the cost of long-term care, but you must meet specific income and asset limits to qualify.
Does this mean you have to drain all your resources before you’re eligible? No. There are strategies that can help you qualify for Medicaid without having to spend down all of your assets. Some of these strategies involve planning over a five-year period, while others can speed up your qualification for Medicaid. Proactive planning is crucial to ensure you’re ready when the need arises.
The Role of Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys
Estate planning and elder law attorneys can offer guidance to navigate these complexities. They can help decipher the intricate rules of Medicaid and formulate a comprehensive plan that safeguards your assets while ensuring you or your loved ones receive the necessary care.
So, planning for long-term care isn’t just about figuring out how to pay for it—it’s also about preserving your wealth, securing your family’s future, and ensuring that you have a safety net in case of unexpected health issues. It’s about creating a plan that gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared for whatever life throws your way. Remember, it’s never too early to start planning. The sooner you begin, the more options and flexibility you’ll have. So take the first step today, and secure your future and that of your loved ones.