Alzheimer’s Is Expensive

Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in America.

By age 65, one in eight has it.  By age 75 it’s down to one in four, and by 85 fully half of us already have it.  If you live long enough, its almost inevitable.  Alzheimer’s is not preventable, and not curable.  At first you will know that you have it, and are trapped in its progression.

At some point you will need help.  Sometimes the children can retire early and move in to care for us 24-7.  Most of us do not have that luxury – we will have to pay for home care or assisted living facility care.  Most LTC, even for dementia, is not done in nursing homes anymore.  Costs for dementia care are the highest range of assisted living billings, often up to $6500 per month.

How long can your budget last with this kind of an extra bill each month?  Many other physical ailments can bring about a need for care too.  Its all expensive, like a car accident with car insurance.  Surely you insure that risk, so why not insure for LTC costs since 70% of us will need some (per HHS)?

I have seen some very inappropriate proposals given to consumers on Long-Term Care insurance.  For most agents or financial planners this topic is a once in a while, also have product.  They typically do not research all the options, and tend to suggest more insurance than will be needed, making the premiums far too high.

Before you think it is out of reach for your budget, contact a professional who can help you decide how much is appropriate for your situation, taking into account the lifestyle changes that occur when care is needed.  We constantly hear “Oh, that is much better than we anticipated” once we meet with clients.

Consult with the experts.  We have 23 years experience in the financing of Long-Term Care.  We have solutions for anyone, regardless of finances or health.  The best options are for those who are still healthy, but we can help everyone in some way.  Give us a call at (920) 884-3030 in Green Bay or from anywhere at (800) 219-9203

Posted in Alzheimers, Assisted Living, Home Care, Long Term Care Costs, Long Term Care Insurance, LTC Financing Strategies, Uncategorized, When to Buy LTC | 1 Comment

Childless Couples Need To Do This Retirement Planning

This logic is based on the simple fact that kids are expensive. A child costs over $245,000 to raise until age 17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a sum of money the childless, in theory, could use to fund retirement.

But while Gregory Hammer of Hammer Financial Group acknowledged being childless can make a time horizon for retirement more predictable, he was quick to add that people without kids often have other things that are costly in their day-to-day lives — more travel, for instance —   while other retirement planning differences are negligible.

One difference he did emphasize is that childless couples must be sure to prepare for the death of a spouse, since they don’t have children to rely upon.

“When the first spouse passes away, income usually goes down, more times than not tax liabilities increase, and expenses either stay the same or increase,” he explained. Childless couples especially should crunch the numbers on such a scenario to see what gaps in income would exist. From there, either be prepared to return to work, or take out a life insurance policy to cover the difference.

Along the same lines, long-term care insurance is a smart bet for childless couples. Policies aren’t cheap, costing $2,000 to $4,000 annually for a couple in their mid-50s. Buying coverage earlier rather than later means lower premiums, though. And while it may be hard to imagine eventually being frail or dependent enough to need it, it’s smart to have the policy in place for a worst-case scenario.

Really, though, this kind of planning should take place even when children are in the picture, especially if parents don’t want to burden their kids down the line. As Sally Brandon of Rebalance IRA put it: “Everybody needs to plan for themselves and care for themselves whether they have children or not. Who knows if your kids will have the wherewithal to take care of you anyway?”

Unfortunately, one similarity between DINKs and their DEWK (double earners with kids) counterparts is that such planning is often neglected. “A lot of people have this sense that it’s all going to work out (but) have never gone through the exercise of really understanding what the numbers look like,” she added.

So for DINKs and DEWKs alike, the importance of foresight can’t be understated. Take the time, crunch the numbers and put plans in place for everything from retirement income to long-term care. As Brandon summed it up: “Being aware, as with anything, is half the battle.”

You would surely not go without health insurance, so do not skip planning for Long-Term Care, which 70% 0f us will need.  For more information contact http://www.TheLongTermCareGuy.com

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Is Motel 6 WhereYou Plan To Retire?

Tom Bodette will leave the light on for you, but do you really want to stay there?

I surely do not! And I do not want to end up in a welfare nursing home either. Many people think that you get the same care on Medicaid as you would by paying for your care. The problem is the Medicaid reimbursement is so far below market rates only the Motel 6’s of nursing homes or assisted living homes will accept you.

You’ve planned to have a comfortable retirement, and unless you can afford 6 figures a year for a nursing home, or over $50,000 for a nice assisted living facility or home care, you should be looking into LTC insurance while still healthy enough to get it. Every year it is tougher to get this coverage, the benefits are shorter, and the costs are higher. Get it while the getting is good.

But you’ve heard that this insurance is very expensive.  From proposals my clients have shown me, it is – when it is not appropriately chosen.

How does over $850,000 of benefits for a 65 year old (male of female) for less than $2000 per year premium sound?  Say you pay this premium for 20 years until you are 85 years old.  You spent less than $40,000 for over $850,000 of coverage, is that expensive?  Is it affordable for you?

Today, less than 15% of Long-Term Care is done in nursing homes.  Thus, just like flood or earthquake endorsement on your homeowners insurance, many people choose not to cover the nursing home, but purchase just enough LTC insurance to cover home care, assisted living facilities, or adult day care.

Then bear in mind that when someone needs care, their lifestyle changes drastically.  No need for the second (or third) vehicle, vacation travel drops, less golf, boats, campers, motorcycles, etc. to support when they can’t be played with.  Most people can cover a good part of the cost of LTC by simply repositioning the dollars from things they can’t do anymore.  Interest on your life savings can help as well without depleting the balance.

OK – here is the fine print.  65 year old, male or female, buys a $70/day benefit.  This plus available income and interest may be sufficient.  It will give you 10 years of collecting when you need care and INCLUDES an automatic 5% compound increase on your benefits every year.

You pay $1980.94 per year for 20 years.  On the 21st year you need care and file a claim which starts at $185/day (remember the automatic inflation included) and will increase over the 10 years you collect until it reaches $288 per day for a total of $852,603 paid out to you.  If your care costs less, you get all the money for every day of care regardless.

If you can’t find a deal this good with an A+ rated company, no matter where in the USA you live, call (800) 219-9203 and talk to us at http://www.TheLongTermCareGuy.com

 

 

Posted in Government Funding Cutbacks, Home Care, Long Term Care Costs, Long Term Care Insurance, LTC Financing Strategies, Uncategorized, When to Buy LTC | Leave a comment

LTC Insurance is Too Expensive!

Lately I have seen clients shown proposals to purchase Long-Term Care insurance with premiums exceeding $10,000 a year for a couple.  This is ridiculously expensive for most couples in their fifties, and is probably because the insurance amounts are way too large to be appropriate.

Some insurance agents who “dabble” in LTC insurance products think that everyone needs enough insurance to cover the entire bill.  Perhaps they themselves have zero deductible car insurance, which makes no sense either.

If we have a car accident, most of us have some deductible that we will pay before the insurance pays the rest.  The larger the deductible, the lower the insurance premium.  With most car accidents, our lifestyle does not drastically change, but when LTC is needed, it does.

If one of a couple needs LTC, they are probably not driving anymore.  Thus fewer cars, less motorcycles, boats, campers, snowmobiles, ATV’s, etc. will be needed.  There will be less trips to Branson, Disney World, cruises, even less going out to dinner when one has a difficult time going anywhere.

Professionals who specialize in LTC planning take these things into consideration.  We try to help our clients predict how much of their monthly income is actually required to pay the basic bills, and with less toys and travel – how much of the bill for LTC they can pay out of pocket.

In addition to monthly cash flow, many people can also contribute the interest their savings earn, without touching the principal.  Often, the total between available cash flow and monthly interest will cover a significant portion of LTC costs.  Only the shortfall needs to come from LTC insurance.

Here is an example for a 65 year old couple.  They want to be able to pay for home care and assisted living facility care without using up their life savings.  If they do not need to support 2 cars, the extra Corvette “summer car”, the boat, and they understand that when one cannot travel, that expense drops to zero as well, they can pay the majority of the cost of home or assisted living facility care.

Many people plan for just those costs as very few people today need the care of a nursing home, especially if they can afford their home or assisted living care.

In their case it is determined that an additional $2000 a month from LTC insurance will suffice.  At age 65 for each, and both in good health, they can purchase that coverage with a 10 year benefit when care is needed, including an automatic 5% compound inflation rider on the monthly benefit for less than $2000 a year each.

With the automatic, built in 5% compound inflation on the benefits payable, by age 85, a 10 year length of claim can give them over $850,000 from the LTC insurance to pay for their care.

Let’s review, at age 65 they purchase LTC insurance that will give them over $850,000 to pay for care over 10 years starting if care is needed at 85, for $1900 a year.  Is a premiumk of less than $2000 a year expensive for that?

If you have been shown sky high premiums for LTC insurance, you need to shop around before you buy.  Talk to someone who has over 23 years experience in planning for LTC, and can help you size coverage appropriately.  Just give us a call at TheLongTermCareGuy.com at (920) 884-3030 or (800) 219-9203 and lets investigate.  But don’t wait until your health fails, becasue then it may be too late, for you.

Posted in Alzheimers, Assisted Living, Government Funding Cutbacks, Home Care, Long Term Care Costs, Long Term Care Insurance, LTC Financing Strategies, Medicaid, Protecting Money from Nursing Homes, Uncategorized, When to Buy LTC | Leave a comment

If You Need To Use Your LTC Insurance, I can Help

Most people who purchased LTC insurance hoped they would never need to use it, just like their car insurance, but the time does come for many of us. That is when we are reminded about the elimination period that we chose way back when we purchased it. Call it a deductible if you will, it is the number of days (typically around 3 months) that you must pay for your care out of pocket before the insurance starts covering those bills.

3 months of paying out of pocket can be far more expensive now that it was way back when you purchased this coverage. However, the insurance company does not care how expensive, or inexpensive those days are. This can work towards your advantage, saving you thousands of dollars.

Quite often, the need for care starts with a spouse or other loved one helping you. It may start out with checking in once a day and progress to assistance every day. Only when the burden becomes too great do most people consider contacting their LTC insurance company when they need to move to a facility or need significant help at home.

Once the care is needed, even in small, intermittent amounts, consider contacting the insurance company and filing a claim. Even if family can do it alone, you could bring in a home care helper for the shortest, least expensive visit available. This can help you get through your (xx) day deductible at perhaps $35/day. That is much less expensive than waiting until you move to a LTC facility where the daily charge is much higher and paying it for (xx) days.

For help and advice on this or any other question concerning your LTC insurance or LTC in general, no matter when or from whom purchased, call us, www.TheLongTermCareGuy.com at (920) 884-3030 and let us help you.

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Where’s The Disconnect

This post, in it’s entirety, is reprinted from a chapter in the book “Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine”, written by my very good friend Honey Leveen, a first rate Long-Term Care insurance agent in Houston, TX

“Where’s the Disconnect?” by Honey Leveen, The Queen, by Self-Proclamation, of Long-Term Care Insurance

Insurance disclaimer: The following is based on the author’s personal experiences and opinions.

Much of the legacy we leave may be measured by how honestly we’ve dealt with life’s most painful truths. Often, such truths are the most obvious, yet hardest to see clearly.

I’ve specialized in long-term care insurance (LTCi) since 1990.  That’s a long time.  I’ve seen a few hundred of my nearly 3,000 clients collect from policies I’ve sold them. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however; many more will need to collect from their LTCi as time goes on.

I see scenarios just like Dayna’s [as described in Surviving Alzheimer’s] play out again and again. For different reasons, when a parent needs LTC, family members who’ve always gotten along well may find themselves at odds with each other. It is exactly as Dayna describes. The absence of sufficient, readily available money to swiftly access long-term care (LTC) aggravates an already highly stressful situation.

People who own LTCi also commonly suffer familial dysfunction similar to Dayna’s. What makes things so different for them is that their LTCi policies pay out significant, meaningful amounts of money when LTC is needed. This is often a huge game changer. LTCi tends to subdue the emotional discord Dayna describes. Relationships don’t suffer as much, and outcomes are better. The money people collect from LTCi provides them with dignity, choices, access, and options they would not have otherwise had.

Sadly, most of us still do not own LTCi. Sadder still, it is too often well-educated people with good incomes and a whole lot to lose who choose to be unprepared for LTC.

Such people come up with what they think are fabulous excuses to avoid discussing what might happen to them at the end of their lives. There seems to be a disconnect between our intellect and our emotions when it comes to LTC planning.

According to www.longtermcare.gov and other reputable sources, at age 65, there’s a 70% chance of needing LTC. These odds go up with each year we age. Visit Genworth’s Cost of Care Calculator (find it in the Resources area of www.honeyleveen.com) to see just how expensive LTC is in your locale.

Most LTC in the US is provided on an unpaid basis, disproportionately by women, who often have to sacrifice their careers, savings, and relationships to provide care.* LTC already costs American families dearly, yet the worst of this crisis is yet to come.

As former First Lady Rosalynn Carter said, “There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

Here are some simple responses to major misconceptions about LTC and LTCi. More complex answers are found on www.honeyleveen.com or by calling me, at no obligation:

LTCi is too expensive. Not true. What may be expensive is needing LTC for anything but a short time and not owning LTCi. Policyholders usually collect back all premiums they’ve paid over the life of their policy in a few short months. Premiums are customized for each person and can be made to fit into almost anyone’s budget. *

The government pays for LTC. The type of LTC the government pays for is not what you would freely choose. *

Medicare covers LTC. No it doesn’t! Medicare covers acute medical problems and a restrictive, conditional amount of home or in-patient rehabilitative care that most people don’t qualify for.*

The LTCi industry is threatened. It’s true that the number of carriers selling LTCi has shrunk; there are valid reasons.* Policyholders are not in danger.* LTCi carriers remain staunchly committed to the market. They realize the LTC crisis and oncoming Senior Tsunami isn’t going away any time soon, and are in it for the long run.*

LTCi only pays for nursing homes. The opposite is true. The great majority of LTCi policies pay comprehensively, for care at home, in adult day care, assisted living, and nursing homes. They enable you to increase the odds you will not need LTC provided in a nursing home.*

Here are some of many silly excuses smart people give me to avoid conversing about LTCi while they’re healthy and can find reasonable premiums:

My wife will take care of me. Really? Your wife will be eager and physically capable of helping you bathe and dress, for example? You don’t mind the thought of her last memories being about the physical, emotional and financial burdens of caring for you?

That won’t happen to me. Really?

My kids will take care of me. Really?

I’ll kill myself.

I can’t afford LTCi. Many people claim LTCi is too expensive, despite the fact that we tailor LTCi premiums to fit into most people’s budgets. Situations like this one happen frequently: an acquaintance tells me she can’t afford LTCi premiums. This person’s mother needed LTC for an extended length of time, at great sacrifice to the family. A week later this person announces she is making a two week trip to Mt. Everest Base Camp/African photo safari/Tahiti or another exotic locale, or is buying a top-of-the-line car/kayak/audio equipment, etc. She has the money to do that but can’t afford LTC premiums. Where’s the disconnect?

Here’s another common scenario: I get incoming calls with Caller ID stating: “METHODIST HOSP RE-HAB”. The caller is the daughter or son of someone who’s just broken their hip or suffered a stroke. They ask me to come sell their parent LTCi. I have the unpleasant task of trying to tactfully explain that their parent is uninsurable. Sometimes the child is incensed by this news. I suggest the child is of ideal age to find reasonably priced LTCi for themselves; this might be a wise idea if they want to assure a similar scenario doesn’t play out when at the end of their lives. The child is normally not interested. The reason is that the family is in the worst kind of turmoil, duress, and dysfunction. They are scurrying around trying to cobble together LTC for their parent, and there isn’t sufficient, readily accessible money to pay for it. This is the scenario Dayna and I urge you to avoid by doing reasonable, responsible LTC planning, now.

What all of my LTCi clients have in common, regardless of their incomes, is the ability to honestly, openly discuss LTC in advance. Most of my clients have had firsthand experiences similar to Dayna’s. They’ve learned from them, and taken action to avoid the consequences of not being prepared for their own long-term care.

If you need to investigate whether LTC insurance is appropriate for you – or not, give www.TheLongTermCareGuy.com a call at (920) 884-3030 and lets see.

Posted in Alzheimers, Assisted Living, Government Funding Cutbacks, Home Care, Long Term Care Costs, Long Term Care Insurance, LTC Financing Strategies, Protecting Money from Nursing Homes, Uncategorized, When to Buy LTC | Leave a comment

Do You Have A Gap In Your Plan?

Hopefully you have planned and saved to have an income you can live on in retirement.  You planned to use Medicare and either a traditional supplement or a Medicare replacement plan (advantage)  to cover health care costs.  Hopefully your other available income can be used for basic living expenses, travel, and some fun.

Would an unexpected bill that comes each month in the amount of $2000 to $8000 a month be a problem for your plan?  For many people, it would.  While only 70% of us will need Long-Term Care in our homes or a facility (HHS), less than 15% have sufficiently planned for this.

Does that mean all is lost when care is needed?  Not necessarily.  There are strategies that can help most anyone deal with the costs of Long-Term Care (LTC).

The least expensive way to deal with this is to purchase LTC insurance while you are still healthy, but this topic is addressing gaps, so let’s assume you did not do that.  The government has two programs which can help, Medicare and Medicaid.

We all get Medicare at age 65, whether we retired early or are holding off until later.  Medicare is health insurance which, while it does not pay for LTC, will pay for a short recovery stay in a nursing home.  Medicare has learned that is it less expensive to have you recover from surgery in a nursing home bed than a hospital bed.

Assuming you are in the hospital as an inpatient for 3 days (two midnights), transfer to a skilled nursing home for recovery purposes, and do some type of recovery care rehab 5 days per week, Medicare can pay for that care for up to 100 days AS LONG AS YOU MAKE PROGRESS EVERY DAY.  This typically does not go past 10-12 days.

Thus Medicare is not a useful payer of LTC services, but Medicaid is.  Medicaid will pay for LTC once you can prove that you are completely impoverished (broke).  Getting to broke is not pleasant.  A single person spends down all assets to $2000 and cashes in life insurance, a married, at-home spouse can keep a house, car and some money which Medicaid will take back after death.  Thus Medicaid will pay for care but you will have nothing left to pass on.

Medicaid also pays providers much less than you or I would pay by writing checks for our care, thus getting in to where you want care can be difficult.

Now, some solutions:  There are ways to make your just a part of your money last as long as you do.  A part of your net worth can be converted into life income – taking into account your [much] shorter than average life expectancy when you require care.  If you can leave 2/3 of your estate intact to pass on, it’s generally a good thing.

You can also leave money for family through Medicaid allowed gifting.  Irrevocable burial or burial spaces trusts can be funded for children and their spouses, moving a good chunk of assets to family and will not be counted as a divestment.  Medicaid rules allow this in 49 states.

The important thing to remember is that there are solutions for most any situation that can at least help.  If you would like to learn what you can do to protect some money for spouse or family, contact www.TheLongTermCareGuy.com to learn your options.

Posted in Assisted Living, Government Funding Cutbacks, Home Care, Long Term Care Costs, LTC Financing Strategies, Medicaid, Medicaid Planning, Medicare, Protecting Money from Nursing Homes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment