Talk openly to your adult children about your plans for the future

For many boomers and seniors, talking about plans for their later years with their children is not a hot agenda item. But it should be.

Planning for long-term care represents a carefully thought out decision to be made with the help of an extended care professional. You need information so you can make educated decisions about the care you may need – and Your LTC Resource is a great place to get the facts for yourself and help with your future health needs.

Just as you need that important information, your adult children do, too.  Make time to sit down with your adult children and honestly discuss your preferences and your decisions. Ed & I are fully ready to help you discuss the many options for Long and Short-Term Care (and the many new hybrid plans) available to you. That talk with your kids? It’s something we’ve always recommended.

Recently, we ran across a down-to-earth guide called, “The Other Talk; A Guider to Talking with Your Adult Children About the Rest of Your Life.” The guide provides tips for honest discussions about such tough topics as:

  •  Who do you want to help manage your finances, and how will you budget for unknown needs?
  •  If you need assisted living, where do you want to live?
  •  Where can your children find the documents and information they’ll need to help?
  • What type of medical treatments do you want — and not want?
  •  Who will advocate for your needs?

It’s good, and very reasonably priced (available in paperback for $9 from Amazon, and on Kindle for $8.55). Click HERE for a link for more information on this book.

Education, information and frank, open talks. All three are the keys to making smart decisions, and communicating honestly with your family.   ~ Ed & Elise

 

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Tax and the Long-Term Care insurance client

When we work with clients to educate them about the many Long-Term Care health insurance options available, sometimes Ed and I are asked whether LTC expenses, including Long Term Care insurance premiums, are tax deductible.

Understand, planning for long-term care involves a set of carefully thought out decisions, decisions best made with the guidance of an a professional. You need as much information as possible, so you can make educated choices, and it’s natural for you to want to know about tax deductibility as well.

While Ed and I do not offer tax advice (best to check with your own tax adviser for specifics in your own situation), we can give you a general idea of how long term care premiums relate to federal income tax.

  • Tax-qualified LTC insurance premiums are considered a medical expense.
  • Individuals who itemize tax deductions can treat premiums paid for tax-qualified long-term care insurance for themselves, their spouse or any tax dependents (such as parents) as a personal medical expense.
  • The yearly maximum deductible amount for each individual depends on the insured’s attained age at the close of the taxable year. The LTCi premium that exceeds the eligible amount not included as a medical expense.
  • For 2013, for taxpayers age 40 or under, the limit is $360. For those over 40 but under 50, $680. For those more than 50 but less than 60, it’s $1,360, and for those over 60 but under 70, it’s $3,640. For those more than 70, the deductible limit is $4,550.

There are many erroneous ideas about which long-term care expenses can be deducted and which cannot, and the best person to help you comply with the tax regulations is a qualified CPA.

However, as qualified LTC professionals, we wanted to give you a start, and we hope this helps. Have a question we didn’t cover? Link on the blue highlighted words or email us! We’re always happy to help you get the information you need.

~ Elise

My number one job is to find the best extended care program for you

Very true words, and I take them seriously. Even if it means I don’t get your business.

My father always said, “Always do what’s in the best interest for your client,” and I’ve never strayed from that. Because when you work with people in planning for their future, you want to be sure you are providing them with a good service they need at a price they can afford.

Case in point:  Last week I visited with a husband and wife who had both recently retired. They had no savings, were in reasonably good health, but were having trouble consistently paying their mortgage. They wanted to buy a Long-Term Care policy.

The more I talked with them, the more I was sure that Long-Term Care was not right for them. They were already strained paying their mortgage. The last thing they needed was to add another bill to their budget.

I suggested that a better route for their situation might be to get information on a reverse mortgage, since they did have equity in their home. I put them in touch with someone I knew would give them the information they needed to make a good decision.

They called me back to thank me and suggested that now that they had money in the bank, they could invest in Long-Term Care. I had to smile. I was pleased they believed so strongly in the program and in my services, but once again, I said that I didn’t feel Long-Term Care was in their best interest right now.

Would your agent have made that decision? My responsibility and commitment as a Long-Term Care planning specialist is to help navigate through the many choices available for clients, and help them choose what is best for them — even if it means I don’t sell them a policy.

I am always happy to talk to new potential customers and give them the facts about Long-Term Care and other extended care programs. And – I’m always ready to say no, if what I offer isn’t in their best interests. I think that’s the only way to go… and my father, I’m sure, would agree.          ~ Elise

Why I’m proud to have Dave Ramsey’s endorsement as a Long-Term Care Professional

As many of you may know, Dave Ramsey is personal money management expert, national radio talk show host and New York Times bestselling author. I, like many of you, am a big fan of his. Having read his best-selling books, “Complete Guide to Money” and “Financial Peace Revisited,” I believe his financial advice is tough, straightforward and most of all — reliable.

I am humbled and most appreciative that Dave Ramsey has endorsed me as his Indianapolis-area provider for Long-Term Care Insurance. It’s not something I take lightly.

I earned the endorsement the hard way. Not only I am certified in long-term care, but I’ve been a top-performing insurance and financial services provider in Indiana and Kentucky for almost 30 years now, first beside my father, and now, with my husband Ed.

Early on, I adopted my father’s saying, “Always do what is in the best interest of your client.”  It’s a mantra of which I know Dave would approve.

Like Ramsey, I believe in a straightforward approach in helping people understand the practical and affordable financial solutions for extended care needs. I also believe that education is everyone’s biggest challenge in understanding the ins and outs of Long-Term Care Health Insurance.

And that’s why I’m in this business — to help you understand what is available to you so you can make the right choices to fit your needs. Together, we can protect your financial future with the Long-Term Care solutions that work best for you.              ~ Elise

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

Won’t Medicaid or Medicare protect my future health?

The two names look and sound very similar. That’s confusing and unfortunate, because the two programs exist for very different reasons. But can you – and should you – depend on either to protect and provide for your future health? Let’s take a look:

Medicare is a government program that provides limited health insurance for people 65 or older, and those younger than 65 with certain disabilities. Eligibility for Medicare is not tied to financial need. It is an entitlement program paid for through Social Security taxes.

Medicaid provides extremely basic health coverage for low-income, financially dependent people. You have to qualify to receive it. Although Federal laws provide the basic outline for Medicaid, it is administered differently in every state.

Both Medicare and Medicaid have undergone changes recently, and with the advent of the Affordable Health Care Act, there will undoubtedly be more changes in the future.

If you believe Medicare will take care of you in your old age, think again. Medicare is for medical purposes. Yes, Medicare covers everyone, but we can’t rely solely on it. Medicare does NOT pay for Long-Term Care. Medicare and a supplement cover medical care, not any type of custodial care. And Medicaid comes into the LTC picture only for the impoverished.

No – it’s up to us. Up to you. Decide what is important to you and together we can map out a future plan to meet ALL your needs.

Ed and I work to help our clients keep their assets protected for whatever their future medical care needs may be. No matter what government program changes may occur, or what medical or financial challenges lay ahead, there is nothing that beats knowing you’ve planned carefully and knowledgeably for all possibilities. 

Planning helps our clients rest easier. Ed and I rest easier too, knowing their best interests are being protected.                ~ 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

Long-Term Health Care has evolved!

As consumers, we decide where we want to live, the type of car we prefer to drive, where to buy groceries, and so forth, right down to the type of phone we use. With Baby Boomers, it’s all about choices. And with 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every single day over the next two decades, “Boomer’s choice” is definitely a part of the Long-Term Health Care system.

As a Boomer myself, I love choices! I welcome Long-Term Health Care Insurance in its many forms – many of them hybrids to make sure the policies work just as we need them to. Taking a new, more individualized approach allows us as consumers to dial up or dial down the health and insurance features that meet their want, needs and range of budget.

It’s great to see this freedom of choice when it comes to both insurance to public programs, Short-Term Care policies, private family support, self funding, Long-Term/life insurance hybrids, or even a combination of these.

Make sure you tailor a Health Care Insurance plan around your particular considerations. A good place to start in your planning is to evaluate the cost of care where you intend to live. As shocking as this is, a private room in a nursing home can easily run to $83,950 per year, according to a new report by the SCAN Foundation on the State of Long-Term Care Financing.

It’s not easy to think about these issues, but knowledge is power, and planning is critical to assure you get the care you might need. Since there are so many choices available, why not choose the plan that works best for you?   ~ Elise

Indiana health care insurance professional gives ‘boomers’ exactly what they are looking for

We baby boomers are changing the nature of health care planning. With 70 million of us, our dramatic numbers alone are radically altering the world of health care insurance.

As ‘boomers,’ we have high expectations and prefer to leave nothing to chance. We want control of our financial and health planning to ensure we get the type of healthy, dignified, independent, and secure future we have envisioned.

Those of us edging toward retirement plan earlier and plan thoroughly. I enjoy working with pre-retirement clients to plan for all health care contingencies. They are bright, well educated, and expect a long, healthy future with a lot more self-sufficiency and control than their parents had.

If you are a boomer, we should talk. Soon. Because nothing ever goes absolutely according to plan, it’s smart to look ahead, before a health emergency strikes you or your partner.

And, because health care prices continue to go up, health insurance costs continue to rise as well. There’s no better time to lock in rates for Long-Term Care, Short-Term Care and Crisis Care health insurance plans than right now, while you are healthy.

As a health care insurance professional for 26 years and a baby boomer myself, I can help make sure you cover all your health ‘bases’ and get the type of coverage that will leave nothing in your future to chance.

~ Elise

 

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