How affordable are senior home options?

If you suddenly needed in-home care or nursing home care, could you afford it? Or would your life savings be depleted in the face of potentially significant Long-Term Care costs?

Remember that most health insurance plans do not cover long term care. Medicare was not designed to cover custodial care – which is what many people will need. Even more importantly, Medicaid doesn’t cover care until most of your assets are depleted.

Senior housing options are many, and plenty expensive. Here’s what they cost:

  • Continuing care (CCRC) communities:  According to SeniorHomes.com, incoming residents pay a one-time, upfront entrance fee, a buy-in or ownership fee, plus monthly fees. Price ranges are from $20k – 200k per year depending on the community. Seniors join these communities when they are relatively active and live independently in apartments, then gradually move into on-site assisted-living or nursing home facilities.
  • Assisted living communities: According to a survey conducted by MetLife, the national average for assisted living base rates was $3,550 per month in 2012. Licensed and regulated by the state, these communities are intended for those who need some help with the activities of daily living such as dressing, eating or bathing, but are not totally disabled. Residents usually buy or rent rooms or apartments.
  • ECHO (Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity) housing: According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a 500 square foot one-bedroom unit installed, is around $25,000. These units are small, inexpensive prefab homes that can be leased or purchased and placed on the property of relatives or caregivers.
  • Nursing homes: According to a MetLife Market Survey, the average cost in 2009 of a private bed in a nursing home facility was $219 per day, or over $79,000 per year. For those patients who are in a semi-private room, the average cost is $191 per day, or about $70,000 annually. Nursing homes focus on individuals who are disabled, acutely ill or need help with many activities of daily living.
  • Help from outside or live-in caregivers: According to Caregivers.com, live-in caregivers cost from $700 to $3000 a week. Costs vary widely, depending on what part of the country you live in and what the living accommodations are.

Arm yourself with the facts to protect your dignity, your savings, and your freedom to make your own choices. I can help.               ~ Elise

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How to avoid spending your last days in a nursing home

One sentence I’ve yet to have a potential client say is, “When I’m old, I hope to live my last days in a nursing home.”

I hear you loud and clear – that’s not your preference.

As the co-owner of YourLTCresources.net, I’m an extended care professional, and have been for the better part of the past 30 years. Helping you provide for yourself and your family in the ways you want is the best part of my job.

I know nursing home living is not part of your plan, so let’s map out a health care insurance plan that factors in your ideas, your finances, and your family. If you are approaching your 50s, right now is a great time to make key decisions while you are still vital and healthy, and make your preferences known.

I often refer to myself as a “tour guide” in the labyrinth of Long-Term and Short-Term Health Care Insurance options. Navigating that path on behalf of my clients is what I do best. And the best news I have for you is, you have a LOT of choices!

When we sit down to talk, it’s you that will be telling me what’s important to you, and how you want to live out your life. What I do is provide you with options that work with your ideas and your budget. Together we can plan for every health contingency.

You’ve worked hard to set up your life the way you want it to be. Let me help you align your future health and well being in the same way.

~ Elise

Your health care is a lot to ask of your children

70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will need Long-Term care at some point, but few are prepared to pay for it, according to a new report by the SCAN Foundation on the State of Long-Term Care Financing. The report also finds that families bear a huge part of the burden, providing $450 billion in unpaid care-giving and over $63 billion in out of pocket costs.

No matter how close you are to your children, that’s a lot to ask of them. Your family may be an exception, but the fact is that families are very different now than they were a generation or two ago. Parents remarry. Sometimes more than once. Today’s adult children may have several “parent-figures.” And today’s young adults are moving farther away, and moving more often.

As a step-parent myself, I understand today’s families are complicated. Those approaching retirement assume that they will be able to rely on government support or their immediate family to provide for their care in the future, but that is no longer true. And, according to a 2010 Harris Interactive survey conducted by Age Wave, “(Seniors) are generally more afraid of burdening their family than dying.”

Long-Term Care Insurance helps mitigate some of that family complication by transferring the financial and care risk to a fixed, pre-determined place – your insurance plan. With a well-thought-out retirement plan and Long-Term Health Care Insurance, you won’t need to worry about your future care – and neither will your children..

I know from years in the financial and insurance industry that knowledge is power. I would add to that, “Risk is risk.”

Take it upon yourself to make an informed health care decision and complete a written, insured plan. Your children will thank you.

~ Elise

What is the difference between Medicaid & Medicare?

As a health insurance professional, I deal with this confusion all the time. Here’s what you need to know:

Although Medicaid and Medicare sound alike and are both government programs, they exist for very different reasons.

  • Medicaid is a federal program, administered by each state. It provides basic health coverage for low-income, financially dependent people. You must qualify for eligibility, which is tied to financial need.
  • Medicare is also a government program. It provides health insurance for people 65 or older, and people under age 65 with certain disabilities. Medicare is not tied to financial need. It is an entitlement program paid for through your Social Security taxes.

Since the U.S. healthcare system is THE MOST EXPENSIVE in the world, it makes sense to find health care insurance that assures you complete health care coverage, even if you have Medicare.

That’s because “having Medicare” will not pay your bills when you:

  • Need financial assistance while you are going through a critical illness. (But having Critical Care Health Insurance will pay you cash.)
  • Require prolonged health care assistance when you are older and in need of assisted living, nursing home care, hospice or home health care (Like Long-Term Care Insurance does.)
  • Need a cash benefit over and above any other medical insurance or disability insurance (As Short-Term Care and Critical CareHealth Insurance will provide).

I am sensitive to the worry I see in my potential clients’ faces when they consider how they want to be cared for, should they face a health crisis. That’s why health insurance advance planning makes good sense.

There is nothing that beats surefooted planning for all possibilities. That helps our clients – and me – rest easier, knowing they are protected.

 

Decisions about Health Care Insurance begin at the kitchen table

The most common misunderstanding about advance care health planning may be that it requires consulting with an attorney and the creation of numerous complex legal documents. In reality, advance planning starts at the kitchen table, with a thoughtful conversation with your spouse and/or family members.

Focus on advance care planning, talking about how you want your health care needs handled, financially as well as physically, and from there, move on to a discussion about a living will, a will and burial decisions. Then you are ready to speak with a Health Care Insurance advisor to set up a health care plan that meets your needs, and an attorney to take care of your will.

Yes, some of the topics may be uncomfortable to talk about. Studies show most people would rather indefinitely postpone these conversations, rather than have them. But all it takes is one cautionary tale from someone like me, a Health Care Insurance advisor, to realize delaying is not the answer.

Claire and Rich, both in their 50s, sat down with me and talked for about an hour and a half about Long-Term (LTC) and Short-Term (STC) Health Care policies. They agreed that having both a LTC and STC policy could help them, but decided to take a few days to think through some of the plans I showed them.

When I checked back with them, Claire had decided to postpone their decision for a couple of months, until after the holidays.

Unfortunately, Rich had a stroke about a month later, and was unable to buy the Short-Term Care policy that would have helped Claire pay for his home health care and nursing home care needs while he was recovering. Like many stroke victims, Rich lived, but will now be ineligible for Long-Term and Short-Term Care policies because of his pre-existing condition.

I was still able to help Claire, but felt very badly not to have been able to help Rich as well.

 Unfortunately, most of us don’t want to think about end of life and critical care health needs – often waiting too long – until after something devastating happens.

This is the reason I’m so passionate about health care insurance! I want to make sure you don’t get caught up in a crisis situation like Claire and Rich did. Both LTC and STC health insurance needs to be decided upon WHILE YOU ARE HEALTHY.

Together, let’s make your future health care decisions a priority, beginning at your kitchen table.

~ Elise

Critical Care Insurance and how it benefits you

People are living much longer lives even after suffering a heart attack, cancer, heart bypass surgery, suffering a stroke, or many other maladies that used to guarantee fatality. No more, thanks to early earlier detection, better prevention and medical advances in serious healthcare treatments.

Unfortunately for many of us, surviving such a catastrophic illness can bring with it serious financial hardships – especially if that illness leads to a prolonged, expensive stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility (or both) while recuperating.

This is where Critical Care Insurance can help. Relatively new to the health care insurance scene, Critical Care Insurance provides monthly cash benefits for at home care, assisted living and nursing home care. The benefits provided progress with the expenses and duration of each level of care.

Here’s how it works. Let’s use Pat as an example:

Before Pat became ill, she purchased a Critical Care Policy with a monthly base benefit of $2,000 with a maximum benefit period of 18 months. Some years later, Pat suffered a stroke. Like many other stroke patients, she required lengthy follow up care.

Here’s how her Critical Care Coverage helped pay Pat’s bills:

  • 3 months in nursing home = $12,000
  • 8 months in assisted living = $24,000
  • 3 months in home care = $6,000

Total Critical Care paid to Pat over the course of 14 months of recovery in various facilities = $42,000.

What’s even better? Twelve months after Pat fully recovered from her stroke, all of her Critical Care Benefits were fully restored. So if Pat suffers from another catastrophic health event, she will be covered again.

If not for her Critical Care policy, that $42 thousand would have had to come from Pat’s retirement savings, the equity in her home –or even from her children. That’s something none of us wants to consider.

As an extended care advisor, I can help you figure out a plan of health insurance that fits you in every way possible. Together, we can choose a plan, a benefit period and a monthly base benefit amount that is right for you. Whether you are 18 or 84, I want to be sure your future health doesn’t cause you a moment’s stress or anxiety.

~ Elise

New poll shows most in denial about Long-Term Care

It’s a fact: Americans don’t want to think about Long-Term Care.

According to an AARP poll by the Public Policy Institute, Americans fail to understand that employer, private health insurance and Medicare do not cover the extraordinarily high costs of Long-Term Care.

I mean, how much clearer can things get? We’re talking about nursing homes, hospice care, assisted living, home health care … almost none of this is covered and almost all of us will need some of it during our lifetimes.

So what’s going on here? Aren’t people listening?  Apparently not, the Public Policy Institute poll found.  When people 40 and older were asked how they were preparing for the reality of aging, two thirds said they’d done “little to no” planning for long-term care. Three in ten admitted they would “rather not think about getting older” at all. Some were hoping their families will step in and care for them.

Here’s the reality: You may be lucky enough to be part of a very close-knit family. That doesn’t mean they — or you — understand the full extent of what that care-giving will entail.

No surprise: Those who had already experienced providing care to an older family member – as I have – when questioned in the poll, were less apt to say they would rely on their families.  Like me, they’d seen how difficult it can be to provide long-term care services without professional help.

Long-Term Care is no Do-It-Yourself proposition. Making sure you have the financial power to ensure that you and your family members can have the right kind of help at the right time is what Long-Term Care insurance planning is all about.

Want to know more? Click HERE for related articles about Long-Term Care Insurance.

~ Elise