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Knowing Your Options: Planning and Paying for Long-Term Care

Knowing Your Options: Planning and Paying for Long-Term Care

It’s difficult for a person in good health, someone with no past or looming health issues to be concerned about, to understand the need to plan for long-term care once they’re too old and frail to care for themselves. But the numbers bear out the wisdom of doing so. It’s estimated that more than 50 percent of people turning 65 will require some form of long-term care. That means planning and paying for long-term care should both be seen as important investments.

Planning

Take careful notice of you or a spouse’s health condition and how it might impact your life in the coming years. There are many conditions that undermine your health and self-sufficiency, from cancer to diabetes, osteoporosis, and dementia. The progression of any such condition can leave you utterly vulnerable to in-home accidents that may have catastrophic consequences. Long-term care planning becomes especially important if a physician has advised you that your condition will gradually worsen.

Even if you take precautions against home-based injuries, it may not prevent an accident, but it is wise to make every possible arrangement to cope with your condition. It just takes one fall or a mishap in the kitchen to put you in immediate need of some kind of care.

You may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance, which will provide you with a menu of benefits when needed. It’s also a good idea to take stock of your financial resources and assets, in case they’re needed to help finance long-term care. Benefits usually “kick in” once an individual proves incapable of performing certain activities of daily living without assistance, such as bathing, eating, or dressing.

Paying

Being prepared to pay for long-term care is an important step considering the costs involved. For example, the median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing care facility is more than $7,100, and over $4,000 monthly for a home health care aide. Clearly, having a plan for financing care is important, whether or not you have long-term care insurance. There’s more to paying than having enough savings (or not), or being prepared to sell off assets if you don’t have sufficient funds. There are a number of financial “tools” at your disposal, resources that can get you the help you or your spouse needs.

Reverse mortgage

If you’re a homeowner, a reverse mortgage can provide you with cash on a consistent basis that can be used to pay for care and other health-related issues. With a reverse mortgage, you receive monthly payments that come directly from the equity in your home; the entire loan is repaid after you die or move out of the house. It’s also a way of getting rid of a current mortgage and improving your cash flow, and you don’t need sterling credit to qualify. However, be aware that there may be initial costs associated with a reverse mortgage, and interest rates may apply, so be sure to do your homework before choosing this option.

Medicare

Healthcare expenses such as prescriptions and dental care can be paid for through a Medicare Advantage supplemental plan. It’s well worth it to learn about this option, though bear in mind that options vary state by state. Become familiar with online resources that can make the details of a Medicare Advantage plan clear to you.

Life insurance policy

A life insurance policy is more than a safety net for you and those who survive you. It’s also a robust financial resource should you become ill and accrue health care expenses or need to pay for long-term care. You can surrender it for its accrued cash value or seek a life settlement, in which it is purchased by an investor. Best of all, it’s a generally tax-free option.

Chances are that you or a loved one will require long-term care at some point. Regardless of the reasons, it’s a pricey proposition and one that requires careful planning and a good understanding of your financial resources and options through Medicare. Having a plan will help you avoid what can come as a terrible financial shock.

Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

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