Long-term care planning is an important consideration for individuals and families as they age, but it can often be a complex process. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of long-term care planning, including the types of care available, the costs associated with care, and the options for financing care. We will also discuss the importance of planning ahead and offer tips for creating a long-term care plan that meets your needs and goals. Whether you are just starting to think about long-term care or are already in the midst of planning, this article will provide valuable insights and guidance to help you make informed decisions.
The Cost of Long-Term Care:
The cost of long-term care in the United States is expected to rise due to several factors, such as the aging population and increasing life expectancy. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70% of people over the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care in their lifetime.1 This can range from assistance with daily activities, such as bathing and dressing, to skilled nursing care in a facility. As the demand for long-term care services increases, the costs associated with providing these services are also likely to rise.
The actual cost for care can vary significantly depending on several factors, including gender, health status, the level of care needed, the location, and the length of stay. For example, women tend to live longer than men and may require longer stays in long-term care facilities, leading to higher costs. The individual’s health status and the level of care needed can also affect the length of stay in long-term care facilities.
In addition to nursing homes, there are other types of long-term care, such as in-home care or assisted living facilities, each with their own associated costs. In-home care can be a more affordable option, but the level of care provided may be limited. Assisted living facilities can be more expensive than in-home care, but they may offer more comprehensive services.
According to the latest Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is $9,034 per month. The average cost for a semi-private room is slightly lower at roughly $7,908 per month.2 However, these costs can vary significantly depending on location and the level of care needed.
It is important for individuals and families to plan ahead for potential long-term care needs and to consider options for financing these costs.
Self-Insure through Investment Assets:
Self-insuring through investment assets means relying on your investment portfolio to pay for long-term care services should the need arise. While this may seem like a good option, there are several factors that can make this problematic (unless you are in the top 1% wealth wise). Generally, if you have a net worth of $7M or more, then self-insuring is a viable option. However, for most, self-insuring, can present the following issues:
For these reasons, it’s important to explore other options, such as purchasing a long-term care insurance policy or a hybrid policy (EWA’s favorite choice). These options can help protect your retirement savings and help ensure you have the resources needed to pay for long-term care services.
Purchase a Stand-Alone Long-Term Care Policy:
A stand-alone long-term care policy is a type of insurance policy specifically designed to cover the costs associated with long-term care. It is an option to consider for individuals who don’t want to self-insure or don’t have enough assets to cover the costs of long-term care. However, there are several downsides to this approach, and why EWA generally steers clear of these “use it or lose it” policies:
One of the main drawbacks of a stand-alone long-term care policy is that it is a “use it or lose it” proposition. This means that if you pay premiums for years and don’t end up using the policy, all of the money you put in will be wasted. Unlike life insurance policies that have an eventual death benefit, long-term care policies only provide a benefit if you require long-term care.
Another factor to consider is the cost of long-term care policies. These policies can be expensive, and the premiums can increase over time. It’s important to carefully review the policy to understand the costs and any potential rate increases that may occur over time. Additionally, there may be exclusions or limitations to coverage that could impact your ability to receive benefits.
While a stand-alone long-term care policy can provide coverage for long-term care needs, it’s crucial to consider the pros and cons of this policy and assess your individual financial situation and needs before making a decision. Other options, such as hybrid policies, may offer more flexibility and additional benefits that could better meet your needs. It’s essential to carefully evaluate all available options and consult with a financial advisor to make an informed decision about your long-term care planning.
If a 65-year-old couple purchases a $10k/year total (with no cost increase) long-term care policy that is stand alone, and then lives to age 90, and pays in $250,000 over their retirement:
However, insurance companies are smart, so make sure you look at the provisions of the policy. Most people will never use the full benefit as males stay for about 2.3 years, and most females stay in a nursing home for 3.2 years.3 So even for someone that has a robust LTC stand-alone policy, there is a strong likelihood they will not use the full benefit due to the provisions of the policy vs. the statistics of how long an individual actually will stay in care.
Hybrid Whole Life/Long-Term Care Policy:
A hybrid whole life/long-term care policy is generally the most efficient option for long-term care planning. This type of policy combines permanent life insurance with long-term care insurance. These policies have three components that ensure that some sort of benefit is derived from the policy. The example below references a participating whole life policy with a LTC rider attached to it:
It’s Important to note that the specific details of a hybrid whole life/long-term care policy can vary depending on the insurance provider and policy. Therefore, it’s crucial to research and review the specific policy before making a decision.
Overall, a hybrid whole life/long-term care policy is a good option to consider for long-term care planning. With three components that help ensure some sort of benefit is derived from the policy, you can have greater peace of mind that your long-term care needs are covered while also having the flexibility to use the policy for other purposes if needed.
As always, it’s best to consult with a financial advisor to determine the best option for your individual situation.
If you are interested in learning more about long term care planning see here for an educational video that our firm published on this topic.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans: Risks and Financing Research Brief. Retrieved from https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/long-term-services-and-supports-older-americans-risks-and-financing-research-brief
2 Genworth. (2021). Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2021. Retrieved from https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html
3MedicareGuide. (n.d.). How Much Long-Term Care Will You Need? Retrieved from https://medicareguide.com/how-much-long-term-care-will-you-need-337811
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