With increasing healthcare costs, it can be difficult to plan for the future. Senior couples are more and more often finding themselves unable to financially cope with retirement despite extensive planning. The rising costs are impossible to predict. Illness itself can range nearly anywhere in cost, lasting for an undisclosed amount of time that is bound to make a dent in the bank account. With these unknown variables, it only makes sense that elderly couples are finding themselves underprepared, overwhelmed, and intimidated by an unknown future.
That’s why it’s so important, even if difficult, to try and plan for such health-care uncertainties. Although absolutely easier said than done, there are a few different forms of insurance coverage that middle-age couples can begin to implement in order to diminish the rising healthcare costs of contemporary society. With the average cost of healthcare for a 65-year old healthy couple retiring this year hovering at an astounding $394,954, it is time to take action:
Long-term Care Insurance
Intended to cover an established period of time, long-term care insurance encompasses health-care-related expenses like at-home care or assisted living, two aspects of healthcare that are all-too-often either very limited in coverage or completely absent from plans to begin with.
Michael Resnick a Chief Financial Planner at GCG Financial, speaks up, “I have a client whose husband did almost everything right in planning for retirement. The one thing he missed in his retirement planning was long-term care insurance, and now he has dementia and his wife was forced to put him into a facility. Now the wife is concerned that she may not be able to afford to stay in her home.”
This anecdote is a common tragedy; and sadly enough, there really is no simple answer. While, yes, long-term care insurance could have worked here, that does not acknowledge the fact that the costs are high, and the different plans are difficult to implement and use to your advantage. Not to mention, there is no guarantee that premiums won’t rise, and that would only further strain the fiscal situation. So, while yes, LTCI is worth keeping in mind, it is not necessarily always the right choice.
While many have the ‘luxury’ to rely on Medicaid to cover LTCI expenses, there is a central issue. You can only qualify for Medicaid if all of your other assets have been depleted, used up, are gone. This means that you have literally nothing to leave for beneficiaries, and are entirely unable to supplement your care.
However, there is a way around this. Set up a “Medicaid-proof Trust,” which is essentially an irrevocable trust that passes along its contents to your heirs when you pass away. A trustee needs to be established, and then they can supplement care with those assets in the trust. That said, there is no guarantee that the trustee will do so, since they don’t have to do so. In light of such, make sure you know the trustee will be more than willing to supplement your care when the time comes.
Paying expenses out of pocket is an option, albeit an expensive one. Generally reserved for high-net-worth individuals, it tends to mean that people will spend the money they saved earlier in life when they were younger in order to enjoy retirement to a greater degree. However, again, this option can be very pricey and will often mean that there will be less left behind for heirs.
Just as well, should you opt to self-insure, you need to be aware that there could possibly be extreme tax implications (and penalties) if you decide to liquidate stocks, bonds, or anything of the sort.
When considering your fiscal future, it pays to think now rather than later. Assess your options. Speak to a professional—and make the decision that makes the most sense for you.