A recent Wall Street Journal cartoon featured a gentleman visiting his financial planner. In the cartoon, he asks the planner, “Why can’t I spend some of my money on fun now?”
Often, retired people are afraid to spend money on fun or travel because they fear the catastrophic costs they would face if one of them needs long term care (LTC). This can be a real concern, because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that 70% of people who reach age 65 will need some long-term care. The great majority of us cannot afford it for long if we’re paying out of pocket.
Many people assume the insurance for LTC is prohibitively expensive. This is because they never investigated what the costs actually would be for them. I can tell you with near certainty that you need less of it than you imagine. When you finally need care, your lifestyle will change considerably. If you cannot drive there will be fewer vehicles, boats, toys, and less travel, golf, dining out, and so on. The money spent on fun (which you SHOULD do while healthy) can be redirected towards the costs of LTC.
Most people have some savings. Without touching the principle, you can spend the interest or yield it generates. Add this to the savings from your lifestyle changes, and you may find you can cover a significant portion of the costs of LTC yourself. You will only need to cover the shortfall from some other sources, like insurance, so you do not spend down all your savings and end up on Medicaid.
People investigate LTC insurance for two reasons.
- First, they do not want to go broke.
- Second, many long-term care service providers will not accept Medicaid. Nursing homes generally have to because of federal laws–but a nursing home is usually the last place you want to be. If you have the ability to pay from your cash flow and insurance, it will let you choose where and how you will be cared for. The providers will welcome you with open arms!
If you have not investigated LTC insurance, now is the time, while you are still healthy enough to get it.
It is a logical discussion and it is not appropriate for everyone. But please investigate with someone knowledgeable in planning for LTC. At The Long Term Care Guy, we have been doing only LTC planning for over 25 years. Since nearly all of our business comes to us by referral, we may even may be working with your financial planner or attorney!