Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, patients 65 years and older represented nearly 40 percent of hospitalized adults, accounting for nearly half of all health care dollars spent on hospitalization. However, they comprised less than 13 percent of the population in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). And according to the most recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 47% of all Wisconsinites are over the age of 60.
With age comes the increased probability of requiring assistance to stay at home. If you live to age 65, you have a 58% chance of needing long-term care at some point in your life. Regardless of your current health or your financial situation, these statistics are certainly a cause for concern as health care costs continue to rise.
The good news is that there are steps you can take today to protect yourself against the potential financial and personal costs of needing long-term care. Eileen Dunn, Geriatric Care Manager at Associates of Clifton Park (the firm providing life insurance and long-term care insurance support for WEA Member Benefits participants), has worked on the front lines of long-term elder care for over 30 years. “The single most important thing you can do is to include a long-term care strategy within your retirement plan,” she states. “Having a plan that looks at your assets, income, lifestyle, goals, estate plan, and tax situation is critical. But nothing is more important than protecting yourself, your family, and your life savings from the financial devastation of an extended chronic illness.”
Long-term care insurance policies are specifically designed to provide the protection you need by giving you the power to decide where you get your care and who gives it to you. Most people go to nursing homes because their spouse or family cannot provide the care, they simply can’t afford home care, or their care has become too complex to receive at home. Eileen shared a story of a 92-year-old client who was recently hospitalized and had surgery for a blood clot behind his knee. “Upon discharge from the hospital, they were going to send him to a rehab facility for six weeks,” she recounts. “But due to the current COVID situation, the family was adamant that he go home. He required 24-hour care, physical and occupational therapy, and nursing services for wound care. Fortunately, he had a long-term care insurance policy and was able to be discharged to his home with all the services he needed, including additional physical therapy and home health aides that enabled him to remain safely and comfortably at home.”
The state of Wisconsin gives residents another reason to consider long-term care insurance: the Wisconsin Long-Term Care Insurance Partnership Program. This is a joint effort between the federal Medicaid program, private long-term care insurance companies, and the state. Under the program, a long-term care insurance policy holder’s assets are protected up to the full amount the insurance policy paid out should they outlive the benefits. This guaranteed asset protection potentially allows you to retain thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money.
The reality is that everyone needs a long-term care plan. What’s important is to get started today by reviewing your options and creating a plan that works for you. After all, we’re not getting any younger.
To get help making informed decisions about your long-term care insurance options, call 1-800-893-1621 or fill out our long-term care insurance information request form.
Source: Paul A. Werlin, President, Human Capital Resources, Inc.