The Elephant in the Retirement Planning Room
Odds are that among all your friends, relatives, advisors, and colleagues, very few have ever talked with you about the importance of planning for a future care need. Can’t blame them— it’s definitely not the most exciting of topics.
Compared to investments, estate and tax planning, and even life insurance, long term care carries a significant “ick” factor. We may be willing to admit we’re going to die, but a discussion about the months or years of care we may need before the end…well, that’s not for the faint of heart.
So, it’s probably fair to characterize long term care planning itself as the elephant in the room of retirement planning. It looms there, silently ignored.
Although the problem of long term care has been around for a long time, it has become a greater challenge in recent decades. As longevity increased, the diseases of advanced age impacted more people; many of these conditions require care. Moreover, recent advances in medicine continue to convert illnesses that at one time would’ve been terminal into conditions that “you die with, not die from.” But here’s the rub: living with any of them often means needing long term care.
Concurrently, problems have been brewing in the long term caregiving industry for decades. The Covid-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the industry, when residents in congregate living buildings, such as nursing homes, were among the most vulnerable, and therefore many of the first and most numerous pandemic deaths.
Considering that the problem of coping with long term care is a challenge that virtually all employers and families face, the federal response has been lukewarm and haphazard. It almost seems the feds, rather than offer any kind of comprehensive national solutions, would rather watch what states, insurance companies, and foundations come up with piecemeal.
As a long term care insurance broker, I can tell you that many Americans are definitely concerned; one of the most common phrases I hear from people considering LTC insurance is, “The government has to do something about this!”
A brand-new U.S. Congressional committee, The 21st Century Long Term Care Caucus, has been created in the House, which will, according to an announcement,“identify and implement solutions to issues facing the long term care sector and patient community.” Although the Senate has had the Senate Special Committee on Aging since 1961, the House has had no similar setup.
Turning now to the long term care challenges currently facing the nation: two critical items are: 1) workforce shortage and 2) how care will be funded. The House Caucus on Long Term Care will consider that 406,000 workers have left assisted and skilled nursing facilities since the outbreak of the pandemic. And the vast majority of Americans of retirement age have no plan for funding long term care.
Maybe something will change in our children’s lifetime. We can hope at least. However, the problem of long term care is complex, and if a solution were easy, it would’ve already happened.
The takeaway for consumers and the people who care about them. The ability to privately pay for care can put you in a much stronger position to secure the caregiving help you need, in the setting you desire. And long term care insurance allows you to privately pay without using retirement income/assets and with little or no disruption of your legacy planning/estate plan.
In the meantime, it’s in your best interest to take a look at the long term care planning elephant in the room. By planning for your care, and funding the plan with long term care insurance, you’re facing a reality that most people ignore, putting you and your loved ones in a good position.
If you have any questions about your long term care insurance or planning please do be in touch. Baygroup Insurance can be contacted at http://www.baygroupinsurance.com/forms/contact-us or call us at 410-557-7907 for more information.