You may be thinking about a long-term care facility and long-term care providers for your aging parents. But what about for yourself? Government health insurance only goes so far.
To find out more about preparing for the future, Family Goes Strong talked with long-term care expert Wendy Boglioli, a 1976 Olympic swimmer who is a national spokesman for Genworth Financial. Excerpts:
What's the first long-term care advice you give?
It really is about having a plan. You must have a financial and physical plan, regardless of your age. You must have a conversation with yourself. "If I needed care tomorrow, what do I need in place?"
When should people start thinking about long-term care for themselves, not just their aging parents?
I start having financial advisers talk to people in their 20s or 30s.
Do you really need to think about long-term care when you're that young?
If clients have things in their family – Alzheimer's, dementia, multiple sclerosis — if there's a history in there in your family background, it certain prompts a conversation.
Long-term care insurance is expensive, isn't it?
Spending $8,500 a month in a nursing home is expensive! Genworth has a [yearly] cost of care survey. If you're working with a financial professional, if you're 20, 60, 80, have the conversation with your adviser. "If I needed care today, how would I pay for it?" Beyond dollars, it's really about, "How does it permeate into my loved ones, my community? Where are those dollars coming from?" We are living a very long life, and that's a wonderful thing, but there's a cost to living a long life.
Can anyone qualify for long-term care insurance?
Many people think, "I'll just wait and get an insurance policy at some point when I'm older." There are things that would disqualify you — if you've had a stroke, if you are obese, if you've had dementia or Alzheimer's.
Your own 92-year-old mom, who has dementia, didn't qualify?
My mother only had one third of a kidney working, and she had had three knee replacements, so she was not stable.
What's the cost for long-term care insurance if people are relatively young?
If you are a healthy 50-year-old couple, man and wife, and you have good health and get good health discounts, you're probably looking at anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000 a year. [My husband and I] bought our policies at 42 years old, and now I'm 57. We pay $800 a year — that's just me alone and [he is] about the same. If I need care, I'd rather have somebody else pay the pill than we pull it out of our 401(k). I've got many other things I'd rather do with my money. It's a business decision for us. I'm not immune to a cancer or an accident.
Does the cost go up with age?
Only if you buy it when you're older. Any rate increases have to be done on the whole state level. It cannot be just done on you.
And you don't want to be a burden? You don't want your kids to need to pay for you?
They have their own lives. They cannot be financially or physically responsible for me. It was important for us to keep our independence and to keep their independence.
For more about living arrangements with age, read: