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  • Why Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

    My parents retired to Florida 10 years ago, escaping the harsh midwestern winters.  I left 24 years ago, moving to the West Coast for the same reason.  At the time they moved, they were independent.  None of us gave a thought to what their future medical concerns might become.   By the time my father passed away 3 years ago, he was living in a Medicaid funded nursing home.  My mother was unable to care for him and this was all any of us could afford. 

    I wish we all had thought about what might have happened to him well in advance of his final years.  I regret that none of us considered getting long-term care insurance before he could longer complete ordinary, daily living activities such as bathing, using the bathroom, preparing meals, and following medical directives — including taking prescription drugs.   We found out that paying for help with these activities can be very expensive. I know that my dad felt horrible that he, and by extension our family, was in this situation.  None of us think about aging and illness.  The fact is that we all get older, and most of us wind up with health issues as we age.  I strongly believe that everybody needs to have a plan  to address the possiblity of long-term care expenses.

    Why would anybody possibly need long term care?   

    When my parents moved to Florida they were in their sixties, and reasonably healthy.  My father’s health worsened as he entered his seventies.  My mother did the best she could to help him, and I came from California as often as I could to give her respite.  But I had my own children to care for and a job, so I was unable to help as much as I would have liked.  There were no other close relatives nearby to help.  After a few years of this, my father’s numerous medical conditions became too difficult for my mother, and we were faced with the difficult decision of how to best care for my dad.

    A report last year by the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP found that just one in five caregivers had their care recipient living with them. So unfortunately, formal long-term care may be the only solution for people whose health has deteriorated and who have no family nearby.

    Medicare will pay limited benefits for a nursing facilty following a hospital stay.  They do not pay for care facilities that help with common activities like dressing, bathing or using the bathroom.for long-term care expenses.   Since my parents didn’t have Long Term Care insurance, they had no choice but to apply for Medicaid to cover his expenses.    There are financial requirements and benefits can be hard to obtain. Moreover, Medicaid laws vary from state to state

    Insurance company statistics advise that two-thirds of people aged 65 and over will need long-term care in their lifetime.  When my parents moved to Florida they certainly didn’t think my dad would be one of them.  Most of us don’t think about that real possibility – until they are actually in need of care.

    Why buy Long Term Care insurance??

    Because we all age.  Because most of us become less healthy as we age.  Because we all want to have control over the quality of our medical care.  Because none of us want to leave our children with  the regret and guilt of not being able to care for our parents.

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