What Women Should Know About Long Term Care

November is Long Term Care Awareness Month

As baby boomers age, long term care becomes an increasingly important retirement planning conversation to have. Especially for women.

Since women live longer than men (which means our retirement nest egg needs to last longer), putting long term care coverage in place is a crucial element of a sound retirement plan. In fact, no retirement plan is complete without it.

For women, no retirement plan is complete without a plan to pay for long term care.

One myth that needs to be addressed is that long term care insurance is nursing home insurance. Not true. Long term care coverage is nursing home avoidance insurance because it gives you options you might not otherwise have, such as receiving care at home.

Another myth is that Medicare and Medicaid will cover long term care expenses. In reality, Medicare only covers a portion of skilled nursing costs up to 100 days. Medicaid is only available to those with extremely limited assets and income, and there are strict rules that prohibit you from spending down your assets in order to qualify for assistance.

One of the prevailing objections to purchasing long term care insurance is that most people believe they will never need it. It’s that old “that will never happen to me” mindset. However, this is dangerous thinking for women. Studies indicate that there are biological reasons why women are more likely than men to need long term care.

Women should consider this: Centenarians are the fastest growing segment of our society, which means living to age 100 is becoming more commonplace. If for no other reason than frailty, women need to consider positioning a portion of their assets to provide for long term care at a time in life when we will no longer be able to care for ourselves. Because it may not be a matter of if we’ll need it, but when.

Genworth, the largest provider of long term care insurance in the country, currently pays 70% of long term care claims to women.

One of the main reasons people resist the idea of buying long term care insurance is that it’s expensive, and if you don’t use it, you lose all that money paid toward premiums. But here’s the good news: These days there are many attractive alternatives to traditional long term care insurance.

These alternatives are new hybrid insurance products, making it possible to obtain long term care benefits without the cost of throwing away those dollars should you not need care in the long run. They’re referred to as asset-based products or linked-benefits, because they are linked to other insurance products like life insurance or annuities. With these products, should you never need long term care, you still have access to the cash value (or your beneficiaries will inherit it upon your passing).

Ladies, long term care insurance coverage gives you options in your golden years, and helps you maintain a life of dignity that you may not be able to afford otherwise. It’s definitely worth checking into. In fact, if you’re a woman, I highly recommend it.

Here’s to your financial security!

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